The government will begin easing restrictions on movement and gatherings in just one more week, earlier than planned.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians had "earned an early mark".
"We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society. We can't keep Australia under the doona. We need to be able to move ahead," he said.
The national cabinet had decided that Friday, May 8, was the day when restrictions would begin to be lifted, he said.
Mr Morrison did not outline which businesses will be allowed to return first, but sport looks likely to be first out of the blocks.
Mr Morrison indicated earlier this week that he wants to see restaurants and cafes open again, although that looks set to be with strict rules on numbers and social distancing.
On Friday, he said people wouldn't be allowed to "cluster together around the bar ... or, you know, around on some stools around a small bench, things like that, that's not going to work"
But he said, "sitting down at tables with appropriate distance between the chairs and all that sort of thing, well, that's different. So we are going to have to think."
Mr Morrison said once the government began reopening the economy, it wanted to keep moving forward - and not facing openings and closures as coronavirus cases emerged.
Friday's announcements also reinforces the decision in many states to begin reopening schools from Monday May 11. The ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT was "preparing to move to face-to-face delivery during Term 2 if the circumstances allow us to do that sensibly". It would begin with younger children, and also students in Year 7 and 12.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Australia continued to get fewer than 20 new cases a day.
Professor Murphy said there was little value in testing people without symptoms in the community, given the low positive rate. But authorities would begin sampling sections of the community in "cohorts", "just to make sure that our confidence that we don't have asymptomatic transmission is correct", he said.
Those cohorts would include groups of elective surgery patients, aged care workers and health care workers with their consent, he said. Teachers were also likely to be tested, not because they were at higher risk but to "reassure them", he said.
States and territories had been able to stand down some of their workforce, given the limited cases. Australia now had sufficient masks, ventilators and intensive care capacity, although was still working on other protective equipment for workers, he said.
The national health protection committee has released a progress list for its 15 "precedent conditions" that must be met before restrictions can be lifted, saying Australia is on track to meet 11 of them and would expedite work on the remaining four.
The four include a boost to testing, state and territory surveillance plans and resources, downloads of the mobile tracing app and stocks of gowns and goggles.
Professor Murphy said uptake of the mobile phone tracing app not high enough yet, with 3.5 million downloads so far. That was the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle of contact tracing, he said.
Mr Morrison also pushed the CovidSafe app as like putting on sunscreen, urging Australians to "slip, slop, slap the app".
No authority had been provided for the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to travel to Australia for the planned restart of the NRL, Mr Morrison said. Those decisions were in the hands of the Border Force, and the NRL would get no special treatment, he said.
Clubs, pubs and restaurants have been closed for almost six weeks, since Monday, March 23. Since that date, only takeaway has been allowed. Churches, casinos, cinemas, gyms, indoor sports venues and entertainment venues were also closed on that date. Funerals and weddings have also been strictly curtailed and tight restrictions have been placed on the number of people allowed to meet at one time.
While shops and shopping centres were allowed to remain open, many have made their own decisions to close, as have many workplaces.
"Six weeks ago we didn't think we would be here today," Mr Morrison said. "We didn't think we would have made this much progress on coronavirus, and we have."
Australia now needed "growth-oriented policies" to overcome the stiff economic headwinds, he said.
He made it clear earlier this week that international travel was off the agenda for the foreseeable future, other than the possibility of opening links with New Zealand. He has also said that large gatherings, including attending sport and church, will not return yet.
Australia had recorded 6762 cases by 6am Friday, with 16 new cases in the previous 24 hours and only 950 cases still active. Deaths stood at 92.
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