Nationals pushing to reopen regional areas

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wants coronavirus restrictions eased in country areas.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wants coronavirus restrictions eased in country areas.

Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud has launched a push for regional Australia's coronavirus restrictions to be less tough than cities.

Ministers in the junior coalition partner have pushed within government for regions to be treated differently, while backbenchers are concerned about a "city-centric" virus response.

Mr Littleproud wants rules eased for country communities rather than a state-wide approach, provided health experts give the green light.

"There's a very serious question that needs to be asked of health officials: give us the medical expert advice as to why it shouldn't open up," he told Sky News on Wednesday.

He said some infection-free communities in his electorate were at least 800 kilometres from the nearest coronavirus case.

"No one is travelling and yet they are facing the same economic burden that all the rest of the nation is with no scientific backing to that," Mr Littleproud said.

The Queensland MP said it was time for chief medical officers to explain why regions shouldn't reopen.

"I've got local pub owners who are losing hand over fist - I'm worried they won't come back," he said.

Mr Littleproud said relaxing rules should be accompanied with measures to mitigate health risks.

He's hopeful Friday's national cabinet decision about relaxing restrictions will consider the difference between country and city areas.

"We have flattened the curve and these communities need to be looked at differently. State governments should be agile enough to look at that," Mr Littleproud said.

Australian Associated Press