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The varying lockdowns of Australia: How each state is easing - or retaining - Covid-19 restrictions

Australia is beginning to dial back Covid-19 restrictions thanks to each state making their own decisions on just how far they want their reductions to go.

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The number of new daily cases in Australia have also been dropping. Source: 1 NEWS

Much like New Zealand, Australia went into a nationwide lockdown when Covid-19 was recognised as a serious threat in a bid to stop the coranvirus' spread, and after a month of stay-at-home procedures states are now beginning to loosen the reins.

Both nations have been applauded for their efforts at beating the curve of the pandemic, with a similar number of cases per capita. Australia’s is very slightly lower, but with higher hospitalisation rates.

New Zealand’s death toll from the virus is 19 compared with Australia’s 93, but it has a fifth of its neighbour’s population of 25 million.

The thing that separates them, though, is the approach to their lockdowns. New Zealand took the "go hard" approach and shut down all non-essential services during it's four-week lockdown while in Australia, services such as baristas and hairdressers were allowed to continue.

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has argued New Zealand should have followed Australia's footsteps to keep local businesses and the economy afloat but the Government has argued it has done what is right for New Zealand specifically.

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The Opposition leader said New Zealand could look across the Tasman for an example in re-starting the economy after Alert Level 4. Source: 1 NEWS

But now as New Zealand adapts to life at Alert Level 3 and approximately 75 per cent of the nation's economy is back working, Australians are going even further with loosening their restrictions.

Here's a breakdown of how the restrictions in each Australian state and territory look this weekend and moving forward:

Northern Territory

Northern Territory is making biggest moves when it comes to relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

As of yesterday, people living in the northern state are no longer subject to the 10-person limit guideline for outdoor activities.

The changes mean there are no limits on wedding and funeral attendance as long as social distancing guidelines are used. Playgrounds have also been reopened and things such as boot camps, non-contact sports, camping, sailing, water parks and sailing are also permitted.

The drastic changes come after no recorded coronavirus cases for over three weeks.

Western Australia

"Cautious relaxation" of some coronavirus measures are being implemented in Western Australia this week with the biggest change being the two-person rule easing to a 10-person limit.

It means small groups can now meet up, making things such as boot camps and group exercise possible, as long as social distancing is maintained.

Unlike Northern Territory, though, gyms, outdoor gym equipment, playgrounds and skate parks remain closed.

However, the Western Australia government is allowing activities such as a picnic in the park with friends, barbecues, sport, fishing, sailing and camping as long as the 10-person limit is adhered to and there is enough space for everyone’s personal bubbles.

Dining in is still banned, but takeaways are allowed.

There are still some strict measures in place, though, for things like pubs, nightclubs and churches.

Queensland

After almost five weeks of tough lockdown measures, Queensland is getting some stay-at-home restrictions lifted this weekend.

From today, Queenslanders can leave their homes for recreation but a 50km limit is in place for their travel.

The new rules mean residents can now ride a motorbike, jet ski or boat for pleasure, have picnics, visit national parks, shop for non-essential items or simply go for a head-clearing drive.

However, physical distancing guidelines remain in place and outings are limited to members of the same household, or an individual and one friend. Households can also have two visitors at their homes.

New South Wales

New South Wales has been hit hardest by Covid-19 but the state’s government says it’s now ready to ease social restrictions slightly.

New rules implemented this week allow people to visit friends in their homes. This includes families with children being able to visit other households.

The NSW government said improving mental health and reducing social isolation were the biggest drivers behind their changes.

Access to Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches have also been permitted on weekdays between 7am and 5pm, but only for the purposes of swimming and surfing. Other beach activities such as walking, jogging and sunbathing are still prohibited.

South Australia

South Australia is yet to ease restrictions but that comes after taking a more moderate approach to the coronavirus rules than some of the other states initially.

Social distancing has been enforced throughout their response, with fines issued for breaches, but beaches were never closed and services such as wineries, breweries and cellar doors have been operating takeaway services after restrictions were relaxed earlier in the month.

Social gathering numbers also remains at a maximum of 10 people with appropriate distancing required.

The state has also gone over a week without any new Covid-19 cases.

Victoria

Victoria is opting to keep its stage-three restrictions in place for the time being and likely won’t adjust them until their state of emergency can be lifted on May 11.

It means Victorians essentially remain in a lockdown much like that experienced by Kiwis at Alert Level 4, where gatherings are effectively prohibited and travel must be for essential purposes only.

Unlike New Zealand’s Alert Level 4, though, it's fine for Victorians to go to work and attend school. But their government says when someone can do those things at home, they should.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said earlier this week he wanted 100,000 people tested for Covid-19 over two weeks before making any decisions on relaxing stage-three restrictions.

Mr Andrews said he understood maintaining stage-three measures might not "be the news people want to hear".

Tasmania

On Thursday, Tasmania’s government announced locals would have to wait for coronavirus restrictions to ease.

Premier Peter Gutwein said current state-wide restrictions won’t be adjusted until at least May 15 but they would be reviewing measures in the lead up until then.

Mr Gutwein did say if there were any relaxation of measures, it would likely begin with parks, reserves and recreation spaces.

Until then, though, all travel unless essential is off the table and most businesses are closed as well.

"I am hopeful that in coming weeks the advice from Public Health will be that we can begin loosening some restrictions, however this will only occur if the health risk is low," Mr Gutwein said.

The premier said Tasmania's border restrictions would likely remain as well as it is the state's "strongest defence against the virus".

Australian Capital Territory

Perhaps most surprising, the coronavirus-free ACT – which on Thursday became the first Australia jurisdiction to neutralise Covid-19 by reaching zero active cases – says it has no plans to wind back restrictions.

That is in part due to the more lenient rules ACT began with but the capital state now says easing the restrictions further could lead to problems with its surrounding state of NSW, where things are stricter.

"Were we to reopen bars and restaurants, but they remained closed in NSW, then we would get quite an influx of people into the territory and that would lead to an increased risk," Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

Instead, Mr Barr suggested the most likely early easing of restrictions would be around public gatherings, going from a maximum of two people back up to 10, but that has yet to be permitted.