© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia's two largest states will further relax public corona virus restrictions in libraries, community centers and nightclubs, officials said on Sunday, although the number of new infections has increased.
New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, said that a limit of 50 people for indoor venues such as restaurants and churches would be abolished as of July 1, as long as the venues abide by a rule of one person per four square meters.
Nightclubs and music festivals could also operate from August if the number of cases remains low, said NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian. The state reported the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in weeks on Saturday, and state officials said Sunday that nine new infections had occurred since late Friday.
In neighboring Victoria, where pubs and other venues are currently limited to 20 people, indoor companies may have up to 50 seats from June 22nd, said Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.
All sports for children would resume, he said. Indoor sports centers and physical relaxation rooms such as gyms can accommodate 20 people, with a limit of up to 10 adults per group, he added.
Tight restrictions on closures and the closure of state and national borders have allowed Australia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with many parts of the country claiming to have eliminated the disease.
With just 102 deaths, much less than in most other industrialized nations, the federal government has increased pressure on leaders to open internal borders again, a move that is seen as the key to reviving the country's economy.
"We'd like to open everything up tomorrow. We can't. Because if we did, we would be almost certain to have a second wave," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Australia's international borders remain closed at least until September 17, but Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that officials were investigating two ways to reopen the borders.
"One way is to use our quarantine system for international students and, appropriately, for people who offer national benefits, be it business or other," Hunt told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The second option that was considered was to allow bilateral travel between "COVID-safe" countries like New Zealand without the mandatory two-week quarantine period, he added.
The Australian education sector relies heavily on paid international students and has been hard hit by border closures.
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