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Friday, May 7, 2021

Numerous public gathering breaches after restrictions eased

Despite local enforcement agencies having to attend to several public gathering breaches over the weekend, it’s now been over a week without a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in the ACT.

There are now no known active cases within ACT, with the last confirmed case having been deemed recovered over weekend.

The ACT’s total number of confirmed cases remains at 107, with 104 recovered and released from self-isolation. The death toll remains at three. Overall more than 11,800 negative tests have now been completed in the ACT.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said Access Canberra, Health Protection Service and ACT Policing were all out over the weekend undertaking “enforcement roles”.

The Health Minister indicated that ACT Policing will have more to say tomorrow when they’ve had a look at the weekend’s data; however, she understood they had to break up a few larger groups of community sport training, social sport, and gatherings at shops that exceeded the new limits.

“It was a lovely autumn weekend and many shops reopened and people were clearly taking advantage of that,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said “it was a shame to hear that some people visiting reopened shops or while getting takeaway coffee over the weekend were not complying to the requirements”.

Ms Stephen-Smith said despite the gathering restrictions being eased by the ACT Government on Friday, Canberrans still need to remain vigilant.

She advised people adhere to the rule of 10 at both organised gatherings and in public spaces.

“If you’re in a public space and there’s more than 10 people gathered together waiting for a shop or waiting for a coffee, it’s actually your responsibility to take a step back and say ‘well maybe I’ll come back later’,” she said.

Regarding a timeframe that Canberrans can expect the ACT to progress through the Federal Government’s three-step process to ease restrictions, Ms Stephen-Smith said each step should last at least three to four weeks.

“We’re working through step one restrictions … I would expect three to four weeks before we move to the second step, and another three to four weeks then before moving to third step,” she said.

Ms Stephen-Smith explained that working in three to four weeks blocks is important due to the incubation period of the virus, allowing governments to track any potential outbreaks prior to loosening restrictions further.

Since Friday 8 May, ACT Health have expanded their COVID-19 testing symptoms to include sudden onset of loss of smell or loss of taste, loss of appetite, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.

Ms Stephen-Smith encouraged anyone suffering from those symptoms to present at either the EPIC drive-through or the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre.

“You won’t necessarily be tested if you have those symptoms … but please do turn up and seek a test,” she said.

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