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Scott Morrison changes cap for indoor gatherings, flags return of people to events

“If you want to open up borders for international students, then you have to open up borders for Australians.”

Mr Morrison praised the Queensland government, which said it would open its state border next month. However, he suggested Western Australia might keep its border closed for longer.

Mr Morrison made it clear the changes were intended to take place through July rather than on July 1, with each state and territory to decide when to move to the final stage of eased restrictions under the national cabinet’s roadmap. He also ruled out nightclubs re-opening, something slated for stage three, noting they are “one of the areas of failure” overseas.

People will be able to go to the football and other ticketed outdoor events in stadiums with up to 40,000 capacity under the new plan, but organisers will only be able to fill 25 per cent of their venues.

Larger venues will be treated differently in decisions yet to come, but Mr Morrison suggested stadiums like the MCG may be able to accept people with a 10,000 person limit as long as there was approval from the chief health officer of the state or territory. He said more than 10,000 people at a venue has implications with crowds at entry points and on public transport.

While the decisions mark another major step towards easing the rules, they came with a warning from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy about the health risk of joining Black Lives Matter and other protests.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said protests are "inherently unsafe".

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said protests are “inherently unsafe”.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“These sort of events really are dangerous,” Professor Murphy said, adding that the peak medical officers on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee asked people not to attend the mass gatherings.

“You cannot make them safe. Despite all the attempts of organisers to try and make them safe, those sorts of events where people are crowded together, and where you can’t know who is there, are inherently unsafe.”

Mr Morrison also urged people to avoid the protests because of the “double standard” they set when others observed the social restrictions, but rejected calls to cancel welfare payments to those who marched.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann left this option open earlier in the day when a Sky News host asked him whether protesters should lose entitlements and he replied: “That is a conversation that would be worthwhile having”.

Asked about that comment, Mr Morrison said: “We won’t do that.”

Mr Morrison said on Thursday the protesters should be arrested and charged if they broke social restrictions, but he said on Friday the enforcement was a matter for state and territory authorities.

Invited to speak in Parliament on the protests, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said people should “follow the medical advice and should not participate in gatherings that are against that medical advice”.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her message to potential protesters was “please respect the health orders” and do not go.

“Don’t risk your own safety, and don’t risk getting a fine,” she said on 2GB.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said now was “not the time for political protest” and Queensland Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said people should “find other ways” to have their say rather than attending further protests.

Pat Turner, the chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said Australians should take heed of the medical advice and not go to the protests.

“The advice is very clear, and we cannot afford a second wave,” she told ABC TV.

“What I urge all Australians to do is to look at other ways that they can show us, as First Nations people, their support.”

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