The prospect of a visit to the pub to watch a game of footy is seemingly edging ever closer as some states start to ease restrictions and the national cabinet prepares to consider lifting some broader curbs next week.
The Australian Border Force has given the go-ahead for players and staff from the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to travel to Australia to take part in a proposed National Rugby League competition to start in late May.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the ABF commissioner had carefully considered the request from the NZ Warriors, and advice from the Chief Medical Officer,.that 36 foreign nationals do not pose a risk of serious harm to public health in Australia.
"New Zealand is a country which like Australia acted very quickly to close its borders," Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters on Saturday.
"It has been very successful like Australia in reducing community transmission."
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison also floated the prospect of pubs reopening if enough people download the coronavirus tracing app.
Dr Kidd said more than four million have now registered for the COVIDSafe app, which uses Bluetooth connections to determine who infected people came into close contact with.
He believes it is "realistic" to expect millions more to sign up before the national cabinet sits next Friday to consider lifting restrictions.
But he conceded that app is not yet live and won't up and running until next week, and health officials can not use the data but will be able to trace back from the time when someone downloaded the app.
Australia Medical Association president Tony Bartone cautioned the NRL and other sporting codes against rushing to start or restart competitions until medical experts say it is safe to do so.
"Sport is a big part of the Australian way of life, and the absence of sporting events is obviously affecting many people," Dr Bartone said in statement on Saturday.
"But we have to put the broader public health implications first."
While the lifting of restrictions will be a relief to many Australians after weeks of isolation, a federal opposition frontbencher Andrew Giles believes people are equally concerned of a "second wave" of a virus that other countries thought they had under control.
"I think everyone has really taken very seriously the experience of Singapore, which was of course lauded as a great example of how to manage the pandemic, and of course they have been struck by a very significant second wave," Mr Giles told ABC television..
Just under 6800 virus cases have been reported across the country, with the death toll standing at 93 - extremely low by international standards.
As Queensland eased some restrictions, state health officials have issued a public health alert after a Qantas flight passenger was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Anyone travelling on Qantas flight QF614 on April 22 has been urged to contact 13 HEALTH following the diagnosis overnight.
NSW has also eased some restrictions, but its health authorities are investigating possible breaches of infection control at a Sydney aged care facility at the centre of a coronavirus cluster.
Of the five new COVID-19 cases in the state over the last 24 hours, two were recorded at Anglicare Newmarch House.
There have been 61 cases and 13 deaths related to transmission at the western Sydney facility.
Meanwhile, a new coronavirus outbreak has been uncovered in a Melbourne meat processing facility, as authorities warn Victoria's progress in fighting the pandemic remains "incredibly fragile".
Seven new cases have been confirmed in Victoria.
Health Minister Jenny Mikako revealed eight staff at a meat processing facility had tested positive to COVID-19, including three overnight.
Australian Associated Press
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