Australian governments are easing some restrictions, but the economic trajectory is looking much less promising than the trajectory of the virus.

This is not over. Any sense of complacency would simply be wrong, he said on Tuesday, arguing that he would not allow gains to be frittered away by giving into frustration. (Try persuading a frustrated Victorian golfer of that logic, with Victoria the only state banning golf.)
The domestic economic prognosis only seems to become more bleak by the day.
Scott Morrison should still be grateful that Victoria and NSW pushed him into a more extensive national shutdown on March 22, pre-empting discussions in national cabinet, by announcing their own tough intentions that morning.
No matter the inevitable inconsistencies about permitted services and pastimes, the extent and rapidity of immediate closures around Australia greatly helped reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases.
The impressive result is not only better and quicker than Australian governments and public health authorities anticipated. It has also enabled Australia to claim similar rates of success to New Zealand in levelling the virus trajectory. Yet this is without Australia adopting the strict eradication target and even stricter stage four lockdown that has paralysed the New Zealand economy over the past month.
Not that many stricken Australian businesses and millions of individuals without work or facing limited hours and reduced wages indefinitely would really appreciate the difference. The domestic economic prognosis only seems to become more bleak by the day. Forget initial hopes of a V-shaped recovery. Westpacs announcement of a new $1.6 billion impairment charge due to COVID-19 is just the latest indication of the severity of the recession engulfing the economy amid the collapse of so many businesses.
Greg Hunt is pleased with progress on the health front. Alex Ellinghausen
But until this week, the Ardern government also banned restaurants and cafes from even offering takeaway food and had completely closed down whole sectors like manufacturing, construction and forestry. It meant Bunnings stores here have done roaring business, for example, but could not open in New Zealand except for limited supplies to trades.
As the Ardern government now moves to a slightly more relaxed Australian-style shutdown, it is claiming vindication. But Australia is also moving to further ease some of its more limited restrictions, with the degree and style depending on the state.
Not surprisingly, the Northern Territory is contemplating reopening pubs by June 1 while Western Australia, having comprehensively locked itself away, is now allowing social gatherings of up to 10 people. In a dig at NSW, Premier Mark McGowan said pointedly that WA was not a police state with the same ludicrous enforcement of rules. But from Friday, even NSW will allow two adults plus children to visit others in their homes.
Such a mishmash of rules doesn’t make it any easier for business. Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, argues talk of restarting NZ-Australia air travel raises the obvious question of Australias inconsistent and overly cautious cross-border barriers including between NSW and Queensland.
Some state governments introduced border restrictions that resulted in a patchwork of rules and created a nightmare for communities and business, he said.
A more conciliatory Health Minister Greg Hunt maintains that each time a restriction is lifted in one state is good news for every state. He prefers to emphasise the most important figure of only one case nationally of community transmission with no identifiable link in the previous 24 hours. Our goal is to get Australians back to work and back to their lives as soon as we possibly can, he said on Tuesday.
European countries, with far more shocking figures, are also experimenting in similar disjointed fashion. The UK is waiting instructions from a recovered Boris Johnson. Italy will start reopening construction and manufacturing from May 4, retailers on May 18 and bars, restaurants and hair salons on June 1. Spains children were allowed to play outside for the first time last Sunday. Germany has allowed smaller stores to reopen along with hair salons, some schools, and travel to neighbouring countries from May 4. France is developing a plan to start easing restrictions from May 11.
The US approach is typically chaotic, turbocharged by the Trump White House, but the drive to reopen is gaining traction in most states beyond New York. Not even the fear of a second wave of infections can stop that global momentum given the scale of economic disaster.
Australian governments will cautiously feel their way along the same “road out”. To just what economic future is far less certain.