Gyms, gatherings, travel: What we know about Australia's timeline for lifting restrictions.


In the past 24 hours, Australia has recorded 12 new cases of coronavirus. Twelve. In case you haven’t been following the stats, that’s good. Really good.

There are currently fewer than 1700 active COVID-19 cases in the country, with our daily increase in infections falling to 0.2 per cent.

We have lost 76 lives, and although any death is a tragedy, to put our position in the fight against coronavirus into perspective: America has recorded 49,000 deaths, with more than 800,000 cases, Spain has 22,000 fatalities with 200,000 cases and the UK has lost 18,000 with 138,000 infected.

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While it’s crucial that we, as a country, do not get ahead of ourselves – otherwise, we could go the way of Singapore with a second surge of infections – the path to freedom for Australians now seems like a real, tangible thing.

Some beaches in Sydney and Queensland have already reopened for exercise with plans for elective surgery to resume from April 27. Schools will slowly start going back from mid-May in some states.

Some Sydney Beaches Reopen For Exercise As Australian Coronavirus Infection Rate Continues To Decline
Sydney's Coogee beach has re-opened for exercise. Image: Brook Mitchell/Getty.

So what's next? When can we see our friends? Go out to dinner? To the gym? Well,  National Cabinet is considering the latest Australian modelling when it meets today.

Here's everything we know about what might happen next.


The Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has said some restrictions on the size of gatherings may be relaxed in the "coming weeks".

"We certainly would not be considering large gatherings. Certainly, some relaxation of the size of small groups is possible. Things like community sport. Some retail measures. But we have to weigh up the public health risk," said Murphy ahead of talks with the government today.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also indicated that 'baseline' restrictions could begin to be eased in three weeks but has refrained from indicating which measures could be eased.

Experts, however, suspect removing the "two person rule" will be the next move with the Daily Telegraph reporting that we may soon be allowed to have 'family dinners'.

Australia's flattening
Australia's curve is well on the way to being flattened. Image: Worldometers/Mamamia.

Two epidemiologists told the publication small gatherings of extended families will be allowed early on as our lockdown restrictions are eased.


“I think these sorts of very small groups, repeated week-to-week type interactions… if they are well managed and… (cancelled) if someone’s got a sniffle, there is a good argument that these things should be able to go ahead especially when community prevalence is low,” Professor James McCaw said.

While nightclubs will likely be off the table for some time, restaurants may be able to start operating soon in a socially distanced manner. Peter Collignon, a professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, told The Sun-Herald pubs will probably remain closed until spring.

Mass gatherings - like music festivals and sporting events - will be among the final restrictions to be lifted.


Sadly, for gym lovers, experts predict gyms won't be able to reopen until after winter aka September.

Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control Professor Phil Russo told the Daily Mail opening gyms would be "quite challenging" due to their operation in confined spaces.

At the moment, people are allowed to exercise outdoors as long as it’s with members of their household or with one other person but social distancing rules still apply.

Australians Observe Lockdown Restrictions During Coronavirus Crisis
We'll likely be allowed more people in outdoor workouts first. Gyms are unlikely to open until after winter. Image: Brook Mitchell/Getty.

Russo predicts there will be a "staged roll-out" when gyms are eventually open.

"It may start with an aerobics class that once had 40 people, it would start with 10 in it," he said.

"Exercise bikes could be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart from each other and gym classes could run for less time," he added.

Australian National University microbiology professor Peter Collignon mirrored this view, telling the Mail it would be "very difficult" for gyms to open in the next few months, with social distancing restrictions unlikely to be changed until after winter.


Domestic travel

While Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says "we're not there yet" in terms of regional travel, Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway told the ABC he thinks we'll be able to travel interstate by Christmas.


Flight Centre boss Graham Turner is more optimistic however, telling the publication he believes it will start again in late May and "pick up during June" depending on what border closures remain in place.

world cases
We might be flattening, but many in the world are still seeing cases soar. Image: Worldometres/Mamamia.

Once restrictions are lifted, industry experts are predicting many will take up van-life and road-trip across Australia.

The Australian Tourism Industry Council, however, doesn't think there will be a bottleneck of bookings when we're given the go-ahead, given Australia's economy has taken a massive blow, and our unemployment rates are so high.


International travel

International travel will be the last restriction to be lifted, alongside mass gatherings, with the federal government warning they won't even consider this as an option for three to four months.

"We have just recommended to the national cabinet...that we continue the very restrictive bans on Australians essentially leaving the country unless there are exceptional circumstances. They are extraordinary measures but the international spread of this virus is huge," said Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy this week.

Flight Centre boss Graham Turner told the ABC he predicts international travel will resume in three to five months.

International travel
International travel will be the very last restriction lifted. Image: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Speaking to the ABC, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters hinted at wanting to create a "trans-Tasman bubble" and allow travel between our two countries sooner rather than later.

"If the figures keep on going that way, then that is a serious possibility," he said.

Scott Morrison hasn't shut down the idea, but neither has he encouraged it at this stage.

“We are aware of their interest in that. It has not got much beyond that. We are not at present contemplating any border changes... We will work closely with New Zealand. We have all along," the Prime Minister said.

Read more about COVID-19:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Feature image: Getty.