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The two permanent lifestyle changes that could stick around long after COVID-19 is gone.

For the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic reached our shores, Australians have a fairly clear idea of what “the road back” to some semblance of normality actually looks like.

It looks like the three-step Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia by July Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday following a highly-anticipated National Cabinet meeting.

The framework, which will be rolled out by state and territory leaders when they deem it appropriate for the safety of their residents, will see social distancing restrictions lift and businesses re-open in three distinct phases.

WATCH: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces step one of Australia’s coronavirus plan. Post continues after video.

Video by 9News

“We walk before we run,” the Prime Minister said of the plan for the weeks and months ahead.

“We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, if we wish to reclaim the ground we lost, we cannot be too timid. There will be risks. There will be challenges. There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan. There will be inconsistencies. States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances. There will be undoubtedly be some human error. No one is perfect. Everyone is doing their best.”

The three-step plan and national framework announced by the Prime Minister is as follows:

Step One:

  • Gatherings up to 10 people in businesses and in public, and five guests in your own home.
  • Children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities.
  • Working from home, if able.
  • Recreational activities such as golf, lap swimming and boot camps.
  • Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening.
  • Outdoor bootcamps restarting.
  • Local and regional travel.
  • An easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees, outdoors, and 10 at weddings.

Step Two:

  • Gatherings of 20 people in your home, business or public spaces.
  • More retail openings on sector based COVID safe plans.
  • Working from home, if able.
  • Organised community sport to start.
  • Gyms reopening.
  • Beauty parlours reopening.
  • Amusement parks, galleries and cinemas reopening.
  • Interstate travel.
  • Caravan and camping grounds reopening.

Step Three:

  • Gathering sizes increased to 100.
  • Return to workplace.
  • Nightclubs, food courts, saunas reopening.
  • All interstate travel.
  • Consider Cross-Tasman, pacific island and international students travel.
COVIDSAfe plan
The government today released their three step plan for Australia's exit out of isolation. Image: Federal Government.
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For the millions of Australians whose lives have been uprooted by COVID-19, the announcement brought hope. A light at the end of a brutal months-long tunnel.

And as we now begin to allow ourselves to consider what life will be like when we return to 'normal', a couple of permanent lifestyle changes look set to stick around long after COVID-19 is gone.

Speaking about the medical aspects and implications of the proposed road forward plan on Friday, chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy said he sees two of our pandemic lifestyle changes maintaining a permanent place in our daily lives.

The first? Proper hand washing.

"Even if COVID is gone – and we don't know whether it will be fully gone from society – that will help with flu seasons and help with general health in the community," he told reporters.

"I think that one of the two permanent changes I can see forever is good quality hand hygiene."

By good quality hand hygiene, we're talking about:

  • Washing hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds several times throughout the day.
  • No handshakes for the foreseeable future.
  • Using hand sanitiser when necessary.

The second permanent coronavirus lifestyle change is one many would argue was a long time coming - our 'she'll be right' attitude towards working through illness.

coronavirus
The days of powering through working sick from the office are over. Image: Getty.
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“I think we will see a permanent change in that cavalier attitude of going to work when you've got a cold or a flu. I think we've all been guilty of that at various times, I know I have,” Professor Murphy said.

"That's off the agenda for every Australian for the foreseeable future. Please. We're all going to have to change that mentality... we need a 'stay at home if you're unwell' mentality."

With a full flu season ahead of us, Australians are urged to take a sick day or work from home if they have even the slightest cold or flu symptoms. Offices will also likely implement stricter red card policies to encourage employees to stay home when sick rather than powering through.

And for workers who've previously felt like they had no choice but to turn up to work with a cold over taking a sick day, an upside to isolation is how it's shown many bosses and workplaces that employees can work effectively from home.

Hand washing and staying home when sick might seem like two minor changes compared to the many we've faced over the last few months, but they're important ones to take with us on the road back to normality.

Feature image: Getty.

What lifestyle changes will you be carrying with you when life returns to 'normal'? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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