Keeping views to boost the ailing economy, Australian officials announced a series of plans on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, to open up public life across the country amid heavy tariff imposed by China in a few commodities imported to Australia. Some state governments have announced their plans to implement relaxation of the coronavirus related restrictions as the new cases of virus-infection in the country were sharply declined.
Relaxing Restrictions in Australia
Only 11 new cases were reported in Australia over the past 24 hours, the country recorded over 7,000 infections and 100 deaths with the completion of around 1.1 million tests among its population of 25 million, declared by Health Minister Greg Hunt. Since the Australian government is able to put some controls over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, states and territories are implementing a three-step federal government plan to unwind lockdown measures that have been in place for two months.
New South Wales (NSW), the country’s largest state, announced that it would allow people to resume travel for pleasure from next month, effectively reopening tourist regions on its southern coast, which were badly ruined by wild bushfires before the epidemic. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “We will play our part as the largest state, traditionally the economic powerhouse of the nation, to make sure we generate as much economic activity as possible in a safe environment.”
Most of the Australian states including Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania have all reported low numbers of cases; thereby, South Australia declared that it planned to move more quickly to phase two, which would allow more people to enjoy eating and drinking in restaurants and bars.
Disputes with China
The resumption of business and social life across Australia is likely to be partly affected since a dispute has emerged with China, which prompted the latter country to start imposing heavy taxes on some products imported to Australia. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global inquiry into the origins of the virus pandemic but China was disappointed with a more targeted inquiry pushed by Australia. Subsequently, Beijing this week imposed heavy barley tariffs on Australian imports.
As part of its opening of lockdown, the Australian government was considering to resume Australian universities and talking to Universities’ administrators about allowing the return of some international students, a sector that contributes more than A$30 billion ($19.6 billion) to the domestic revenue. However, analysts considered that the move would be affected by the present dispute since Chinese students accounted for almost 40% of the international higher education population in Australia.
In Victoria, the country’s second-most populous state, health authorities declared that a policy on controversial smartphone contact tracing app installation was implemented for the first time to track the movements of an infected person. Nonetheless, authorities have informed that the use of the app would be restricted and to be limitedly used by state health officials.
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