Australia’s most populous state to ease restrictions

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is set to allow the reopening of restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools

Empty Pyrmont Bridge in Sydney in March

Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is set to allow the reopening of restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools today as restrictions ease statewide.

The move comes amid extensive testing that has shown a significant slowdown in the spread of COVID-19. Wednesday saw just six new confirmed cases and one death, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to 47.

Although Australia’s federal government last week outlined a three step plan for reopening the country, which suggested maximum restrictions could be lifted by July, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gave no specific timeline for the further reopening of her state’s economy. NSW has already experienced a slump in several sectors owing to social distancing restrictions along with losing a record number of 221,500 jobs last month. Despite easing restrictions for the housing sector, a property market recovery is unlikely for at least the next several months.

Expect a rising unemployment rate, widespread failure of small businesses and the shaky rebound of the housing market to drive substantial state investment. Government spending on social programs, particularly affordable housing, will increase in the medium term in an effort to stabilise the market by addressing diminished housing demand.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.