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Reluctance to be a first mover is now turning into a race for state premiers!

The risk averse Victorian premier Daniel Andrews declared that the state’s tourism sector is back in business with a significant easing of restrictions from next month.

The decision comes two days after his counterpart in South Australia made a surprise decision to reopen pubs and clubs immediately as it tries to play catchup with New South Wales.

Positive sentiment could lift these ASX shares

Victoria will open the ski season from June 22, while overnight stays will be allowed from June 1, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The move will not be a major earnings booster for ASX shares linked to the tourism industry. Interstate travel is still barred so forget about Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd (ASX: SYD) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) for the moment.

But this latest development from one of the most conservative state leaders will provide a further lift to sentiment for the likes of Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) and rival Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT).

And the big rebound in the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index:^AXJO) from its bear market low of March 23 shows how a little bit of good feeling can make a big difference.

More easing in the near-term

The pressure is building on removing the ban on interstate travel, particularly in Queensland where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is resisting calls to open its borders until September at the earliest.

International travel to a select few countries that the COVID-19 pandemic under firm control, such as New Zealand, may also happen sooner than what many think.

The big easing of social restrictions by the Andrews government was more liberal than expected and is due to the mass coronavirus testing in the state.

Is mass testing the answer to COVID-19?

Victoria tested 6340 per 100,000 people – making its population the most tested in Australia and one of the world’s most tested in the world if the state was a country. The state has undertaken more than 420,000 coronavirus tests.

South Korea have used mass testing as a way of containing the virus and is hailed as one of the most successful countries in the world to squash the COVID-19 curve.

But some experts do not believe mass testing is the answer and they point to Japan where the death rates are low and testing is extremely limited.

Last sector to recover from COVID-19

Victoria is not extending the easing to offices though. The premier is not allowing employees to return to their regular work desks, and that is bad news for landlords such as GPT Group (ASX: GPT) and DEXUS Property Group (ASX: DXS).

Premier Andrews believes high-rise dense office environments are the perfect breeding grounds for coronavirus.

This makes me wonder if office-exposed real estate investment trusts (REITs) will be the last in the property sector to recover from the COVID-19 disaster.

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Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Flight Centre Travel Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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