COVID-19: ANZ Flattens Curve, Restrictions May Ease
Australia and New Zealand have succeeded in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection, with Australia’s national daily infection increase now around 85 per day, with NZ falling below 30 new infections over the past 24 hours, and likely see significant further falls over the coming week.
While there’s no suggestion restrictions will be wound back entirely, the success of the distinctly different levels of social distancing rolled out in both countries suggest it’s possible to hold back community transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people at a modest physical distance in public spaces, while maintaining a strict culture of hand sanitisation.
NZ will revisit its strict Stage 4 lockdown in a fortnight, while Australia, which has responded to the crisis with Stage 2 and Stage 3 restrictions on a state-by-state basis, is likely to follow a broadly similar timeline reflecting the country’s layered governance.
While NZ has experienced stricter formal measures over the past few weeks, the Australian public and most businesses responded to the crisis with widespread self-imposed social isolation weeks before state governments acted, with road trips falling more than 80 per cent across tollways in metropolitan areas, and public spaces and public transport increasingly deserted from mid-March.
The success of NZ’s Stage 4 lockdown is also likely to inform Australia’s future strategy – if NZ can eliminate COVID-19 from the community entirely, the country may be able to return to more or less normal life, albiet with borders firmly locked. Should NZ succeed, a tough month in lockdown may well be seen by governments in Australia as a price worth paying to avoid the economic pain of an open-ended lockdown.
Conversely, a wind-back of restrictions in Australia is likely to see a continuation of working from home where possible, combined with home schooling (the horror!) and a continuation of restrictions on large group meetings, combined with a softening of restrictions in public spaces, including beaches and parks. There’s also likely to be greater freedom of movement between metropolitan and regional centres.
It’s also possible some businesses closed by the restrictions, such as restaurants, may be able to reopen if they can ensure personal space is kept to 1.5 metres, and strict hand and surface hygiene standards are maintained. In work environments that remain open, the same restrictions on personal space and hand and surface hygiene will continue to apply, but restrictions on small meetings may ease where applicable.
Security services in ANZ are generally considered essential services, given the industry’s fundamental support for solutions from smart city CCTV to medical alarm monitoring, and much, much more.