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What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Saturday May 16.

Queensland restrictions ease.

Restaurants, cafes and beauty salons have started reopening across Queensland as coronavirus restrictions ease across the state.

Up to five people are now allowed to visit a home, while groups of 10 people can congregate outside for exercise or recreational purposes as public parks, playgrounds and barbecues reopen.

Cafes and restaurants can also have up to 10 people dine-in now.

Coffee Club in the leafy inner-city Brisbane suburb of Ascot was among the many cafes that opened their doors to customers early on Saturday.

“It is great to see some familiar faces returning,” manager Kaili Yang said.

Regular customer Peter Lepper joked it had been a long 10 weeks being locked out of his favourite cafe as he tucked into bacon and eggs.

“It will be nice to begin returning to our normal routines,” he said, referring to the lifting of some social distancing restrictions that were imposed to control the spread of the virus.

A maximum of 10 people can now also attend a wedding, while up to 20 people are permitted at indoor funerals, and 30 at those held outside.

Road trips are also back on the agenda from Saturday with residents allowed to travel up to 150km from home, increasing to 500km for those in the outback.

PM warns of an end to free childcare.

Keeping free childcare beyond the coronavirus pandemic is not sustainable, the Prime Minister has warned parents.

The federal government has temporarily made childcare free, guaranteeing services their taxpayer subsidies at late-February levels as long as they don’t charge parents fees.

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This gives most centres about half their usual income, plus any JobKeeper wage subsidy they might be eligible for.

It was designed to stop centres closing amid collapsing enrolments as parents pulled children out of care due to health fears or because they could no longer afford fees after losing work.

The measure is due to end on June 28, but the government could extend it for a further three months if needed.

Today’s numbers. (Post continues below.)

Early Childhood Australia has suggested the government should guarantee two days a week of free care to all children under school age on a permanent basis.

Asked about that plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government’s intention had always been to return to the mixed subsidy and parental payment arrangements that were in place before the pandemic.

“Suspending the normal payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements … that is not a sustainable model for how the childcare sector should work, and nor was it intended to be,” he told reporters.

No final decision has been made whether to extend the emergency arrangements until September.

Australia wins UN backing for COVID-19 inquiry.

Australia has secured the support of the European Union’s foreign policy chief for an independent inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Australia has been leading calls for the probe, despite increasing diplomatic pressure from China.

In an op-ed published in several European newspapers overnight, the EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell wrote, “To strengthen our defences against future pandemics, we also need a thorough, independent scientific inquiry into the origins of the crisis.”

The EU’s support follows the backing of the United States and Great Britain, and furthers the chance of the inquiry being approved at the World Health Organisation’s governing forum on May 18.

The Chinese Communist Party has condemned the proposition as “politically motivated” and this week suspended imports of beef from four Australian abattoirs and threatened huge tariffs on barley.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia will stand its ground.

“We draw very clear lines about things that are very important to us, as does the Chinese government,” he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“We respect their lines, as we expect our lines to be respected, whether it’s on our foreign investment rules, or our rules around technology, our rules regarding human rights and things of that nature.

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“I don’t think any Australian would want us to compromise on those important things, and those things are not to be traded, ever.”

Queensland aged-care facility in lockdown.

A Queensland aged-care facility is in lockdown after a nurse at the facility tested positive for coronavirus.

There are fears for the health of 115 residents and 180 health care workers at the state-run North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.

“It is very, very concerning,” Queensland’s chief health officer Jeanette Young told reporters on Friday.

The worker is suspected to have been contagious since May after possibly becoming infected during a trip to Brisbane.

Dr Young said it was “very unfortunate” the woman had been working while unwell.

“We’re clarifying what exactly happened there,” she said.

A rapid response team was sent to the North Rockhampton centre after the nurse returned a positive test at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Health Minister Stephen Miles said the team was working to identify staff and residents who had been in contact with the infected nurse.

“They are rapidly testing a large number of people to identify whether anyone else has been affected,” he told reporters.

“The centre is currently locked down and any staff in contact are in quarantine and have been tested.”

He said the last Rockhampton case of coronavirus was seven weeks ago, on March 30, and the last active case was considered to be resolved on May 1.

“This just serves to underline that even after cities have long periods of time without active cases, things can turn very, very quickly,” Dr Miles said.

– With AAP

Read more about COVID-19:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home as much as possible, 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: AAP.

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