Australia to relax some domestic travel curbs

The move will allow New South Wales state to open up tourist regions on its southern coast that...
The move will allow New South Wales state to open up tourist regions on its southern coast that were badly damaged by huge bushfires before the virus wreaked further havoc. Photo: Getty Images
Australians in the country's most populous state will be able to vacation within its borders next month, when art galleries and museums will also reopen, as officials seek to boost an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will allow New South Wales state, home to Sydney, to open up tourist regions on its southern coast that were badly damaged by huge bushfires before the virus wreaked further havoc.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people would still need to adapt to a "new normal" as officials maintain some of the social distancing measures that have been credited with keeping both Covid-19 cases and deaths relatively low.

"We want people to enjoy themselves, to feel free, but at the same time please know that nothing we do is the same during a pandemic," she said during a televised media conference.

"We want to people to feel encouraged and hopeful about the future, but we also want people to be realistic, in that a Covid-safe environment will look and feel very different to what it did before the pandemic."

Australia has reported just over 7000 infections, including 100 deaths, among its population of 25 million.

NSW, the hardest hit state, logged just four new cases over the past 24 hours, all international travellers already in quarantine. More than 7000 test results over the same period showed no community transmission, Berejiklian said.

Australia's states and territories are implementing a three-step federal government plan to unwind lockdown measures at a staggered pace, meaning different areas of the country have different restrictions.

In Victoria state, authorities were using a controversial smartphone contact tracing app for the first time to track the movements of a person who was confirmed on Monday to have the disease.

Almost 6 million Australians have downloaded the app, still short of the 40% of the population the government has said would make it an effective tool, amid privacy concerns about the use of the data.

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