Australia to relax some domestic travel curbs

Australians in the country’s most populous state will be able to vacation within its borders next month, when art galleries and museums will also reopen, as officials seek to boost an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will allow New South Wales state, home to Sydney, to open up tourist regions on its southern coast that were badly damaged by huge bushfires before the virus wreaked further havoc.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people would still need to adapt to a “new normal” as officials maintain some of the social distancing measures that have been credited with keeping both COVID-19 cases and deaths relatively low.

“We want people to enjoy themselves, to feel free, but at the same time please know that nothing we do is the same during a pandemic,” she said during a televised media conference.

“We want to people to feel encouraged and hopeful about the future, but we also want people to be realistic, in that a COVID-safe environment will look and feel very different to what it did before the pandemic.”

Australia has reported just over 7,000 infections, including 100 deaths, among its population of 25 million.

NSW, the hardest hit state, logged just four new cases over the past 24 hours, all international travellers already in quarantine. More than 7,000 test results over the same period showed no community transmission, Berejiklian said.

Australia’s states and territories are implementing a three-step federal government plan to unwind lockdown measures at a staggered pace, meaning different areas of the country have different restrictions.

China recorded five new coronavirus cases for May 19, down from six a day earlier, the National Health Commission reported on Wednesday.

Four of the new cases were local tranmissions and one was a so-called imported case involving a traveller from overseas, the commission said in a statement, compared with 3 imported cases reported the previousday.

The total number of Covid-19 infections in China to date now stands at 82,965, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

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