Joint Statement: Chief Minister & Deputy Chief Minister

Released 01/05/2020 - Joint media release

The ACT has managed the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic exceptionally well. Having no active COVID-19 cases in the ACT at the start of May is a scenario that has exceeded expectations. It is a reflection of our community’s dedication to physical distancing, as well as the hard work of the many health professionals that have spent the past six weeks testing patients and contact tracing.

However, the reality we must still accept is that it’s not over yet. Until there is a vaccine, there will always be a risk that we may return to unsustainable daily increases.

The essential public health measures in place over the past four weeks have placed a strain on the wellbeing of many Canberrans. Jobs have been lost, lives has been turned upside down and many have been deprived of physical interaction with family and friends.

Changes to ACT Restrictions 

We need to ensure that, as we respond to the pandemic, restrictions have to be sustainable in the long term.

With this in mind, the reasons for Canberrans to be outside their family home will be broadened from this weekend, allowing Canberrans to leave their home for non-essential shopping purposes.

This measure will support retail stores as they re-open (whilst maintaining appropriate physical distancing inside their stores).  Many retailers voluntarily closed their doors to support community efforts to suppress the virus. Soon many will re-open and the community is encouraged to support them whilst maintaining physical distancing.

Restrictions on gatherings inside the family home will be relaxed to allow families to visit each other with two adults plus children able to visit outside of those who ordinarily live in a property.

With travel restrictions eased in NSW, Canberrans should only travel outside of the Canberra region to visit family and friends in small groups while maintaining physical distancing. As much as possible, travel outside of the Canberra region should be carefully considered, as someone bringing the virus into the Territory from interstate remains one of the biggest threats to the ACT.

Further work is continuing at the National Cabinet on business activity restrictions and physical distancing advice. More information is expected next Friday.

This will be a gradual process, and we will need Canberrans to continue playing their part to prevent a new wave of cases.

ACT Schools

As restrictions across our community are gradually relaxed, the ACT Government is working on how and when schools can return to face to face learning.

We are doing this work in consultation with teachers and their union, school leaders, parent representatives and non-government schools. Our approach to this will need to be workable for teachers and schools, where physical distancing requirements for adults in schools is closely aligned with the advice for adults outside of the school environment.

Like other jurisdictions, the ACT Government has been assessing the circumstances over the first few weeks of the school term. As the Government has previously outlined, ACT Public Schools can deliver remote learning for all of term 2.

However, we are preparing to move to face-to-face delivery during Term 2 if the circumstances allow us to do that sensibly.

This is likely to involve a staged return in public schools, beginning with younger children who need more hands on support for learning and secondary students at key points in their learning journey, such as year 7 and year 12. Teachers and school leaders will also need some time before students return to prepare and plan staggered lunch breaks, for example. Parents will have plenty of notice of these changes.

While this planning continues, the public school hubs remain available to parents who are unable to accommodate their children learning remotely at home. It is important that parents register in advance before dropping their children at a school hub so that the Education Directorate can ensure that children are safely supervised.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Yvette Berry, MLA | Media Releases

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