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Life under social isolation or mandatory "stay home orders".


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WA nurses in Victoria spared two stints in isolation
A West Australian nurse who contracted COVID-19 while volunteering in Victoria, as well as her WA colleagues who are close contacts, will be spared from hotel quarantine in Perth after they complete two weeks of isolation in Melbourne.

WA's coronavirus residential rent laws extended until March to stop increases and some evictions
Western Australia's emergency residential rent laws have been extended for another six months, barring rent increases and some evictions amid the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The McGowan Government's moratorium was due to come to an end this month, but has been extended to March 28 next year to help "preserve stability and certainty in the rental market".

The measure is aimed at stopping renters in private and public housing, as well as tenants in residential long-stay parks and boarders and lodgers, from being dumped into the rental market.

"For residential tenancies, low vacancy rates for residential rental properties have and will continue to place upward pressure on rents," WA's Attorney-General John Quigley said.

"Western Australia is entering a period of economic recovery, albeit with the ever present threat of a second wave of infection.

"Those who have been able to return to work are only just starting to recover and adding significant potential rental housing affordability and availability issues to their worries at this time would be an awful proposition."

The moratorium also stops landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent, if they are suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic.

But Mr Quigley said landlords maintained the right to terminate a lease if the tenant was not facing COVID-19 financial hardship.

"I want to stress, tenants who are not in COVID financial hardship must still pay their rent, otherwise they face the prospect of eviction."

Those same allowances for commercial tenants will also be extended, but the State Government is tweaking the rules around who is eligible to include only those who meet hardship thresholds, consistent with the JobKeeper payment tests.

Under the commercial measures, landlords must offer rent relief to businesses suffering a 30 per cent reduction in turnover.

Up to four weeks of Government-funded rent relief for those who can prove COVID-19 hardship will also continue.

The changes will be made through regulations being drafted.

Unnecessary protection, REIWA says
Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA) president Damian Collins said he was incredibly frustrated by the decision, saying the Government needed to be "taught an economic lesson".

"The worst thing you can do when you have a shortage of rental stock is to dissuade investors from coming back in the market," he said.

He said REIWA estimated only two per cent of tenants were still impacted by COVID-19.

"We're putting in legislation extending a period for the other 98 per cent who don't need that protection," he said.

"Unfortunately, we're going to see investors sit on the sideline … the rental shortage is only going to get worse and the only party to blame for this will be the Government."

The Property Council said it was surprised by the six-month extension given the WA economy was "recovering so well".

"We're continuing to hear stories of retailers that are trading better than last year," Property Council executive director Sandra Brewer said.

"We think it was an extraordinary measure to require property owners to pay their rent of their tenants, and the case for that just isn't here in WA right now.

"So unless the Government is able to provide support for those landlords, we're quite concerned for the financial predicament they're in."

Rental advocates pleased with extension
Tenancy WA executive manager Carmen Acosta said the service had been bracing for an inundation of people facing evictions if the moratorium had ended on September 29 as planned.

"From April 1, 90 per cent of the callers to Tenancy WA have been COVID-related," she said.

"[They are saying] 'I am concerned, I have lost my job, I can't pay my rent, I have tried to negotiate — that's not working, I am worried that my tenancy agreement is coming to an end.'

"This is something that the sector has been advocating for so we are absolutely pleased the Government has listened to us.

"There is no question that we have been blessed here in WA, but we also know the immediate impact that has occurred in Victoria and New South Wales — that is the sort of thing that can happen in WA at any point in time.

"And we cannot deny the unemployment rate and how it has significantly increased over the last three months, so those are the things that I would caution the likes of REIWA to really be looking at."


Virgin Australia scraps numerous regional routes
Virgin Australia will scrap several regional routes as part of its post-coronavirus restructure.

The airline will stop offering flights from Sydney to Albury, Uluru, Hervey Bay and Port Macquarie.
Other regional destinations to be phased out include Melbourne to Mildura and Mount Isa.

Airline bosses said the routes were not commercially viable with anticipated demand.

Woolworths boss warns of potential stock shortages during Christmas
The head of supermarket giant Woolworths Brad Banducci warned the Victorian government its stores in the state could suffer stock shortages of certain products in the lead up to Christmas if government restrictions that have crippled its supply chain are not eased.

Mr Banducci also expressed concens that potential shortages on shelves of key goods could prompt shoppers to move between stores looking for the items they need, running contrary to the Andrews' government's goal of limiting travel due to COVID-19.

Mr Banducci issued the warning in an industry roundtable with the Andrews government hosted by the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday night.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have been told by multiple sources that Mr Banducci warned the government if supply chains were not operating at 100 per cent capacity over the coming months, individual stores could start to see stock shortages across certain products, similar to what was experienced in March and April.

This could lead to broader shortages across the Victorian network as customers shop around to find what they need.

Supermarkets are currently running at reduced capacity in their distribution centres and warehouses due to the Victorian government's restrictions on supply chain operations which required businesses to drop staff by a third.

The industry secured some concessions from the government after they warned the restrictions could cause food shortages across the state, however, the retailers are now concerned on how the strained supply chains will cope with the Christmas rush.

Fred Harrison, who operates 50 independent IGA supermarkets in Victoria, said supply chains were currently "fraying at the edges" and voiced similar concerns to Mr Banducci.

"We're starting to see warehouses not keeping up with stock requirements," he said. "It is right on maximum, so any extra volume, which you normally get in the spring and summer, that's the problem."

"We're going to struggle for Christmas hams this year."

Mr Harrison said independent wholesaler Metcash, which supplies IGA stores, had raised similar concerns.

In a statement, Mr Banducci said Woolworths recognised Victoria was facing a "unique challenge" and was working with the government to reduce movement around the community to prevent the spread of the virus.

"As part of this, we've shared data-driven insights on anticipated shopping behaviour in the lead up to the busy Christmas season to help inform policy-making as it relates to our supply chains," he said.

"We remain committed to working closely with the Government to help reduce community movement wherever possible, while also ensuring Victorians have access to their essential needs in a COVIDSafe environment this Christmas."

Major supermarkets, including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi, were recently granted approval from the competition regulator to work together on issues such as food supply until March next year.
<< We start getting fresh seafood (prawns, crabs, barra and snapper fillets in to portion and freeze usually in November - will move this forward to October this year to be sure we can get our seafood goodies in for the festive season , even If we are unsure if we'll have family visiting this or if we'll still be self isolating at Xmas & NY & AusDay this year.
Similarly we get our leg of ham in usually at start of December, will take our chances as it's nicer fresh than frozen then thawed.
Turkey , will get a thigh and a breast roll in November and keep in the freezer.
If we can't get a Ham , might get a roast leg of lamb and a pork roast ( I do super crackling !! ).
Drinks - will order in a month early.
Chips , lollies and Xmas nibbles in November rather than waiting til early December.
All our Xmas stuff will be bought online and delivered this year.>>

Show rides sit idle as coronavirus pandemic stalls travel and rural shows cancelled
With the pandemic forcing the cancellation of many regional shows, travelling amusement ride operators and food van vendors are parked up with nowhere to go.

Steven Karaitiana has lived a career following in the footsteps of his showman grandfather who once spruiked show attractions while travelling across Australia.

But since the pandemic hit, Mr Karaitiana's amusement rides and food trucks have been gathering dust in storage.

The 58-year-old regional Showmen's Guild of Australasia representative said if the stalling persisted he feared the carnival atmosphere of sideshow alley would fade into the past.

"This [pandemic] has really got us on our knees at the moment," Mr Karaitiana said.

"This is a like a slow death."

During a normal year, Mr Karaitiana would have returned from events in the Northern Territory and started touring rural shows throughout central New South Wales.

But dozens of travelling show families like his are sitting idle throughout the region, eagerly awaiting borders to open and events to resume.

Mr Karaitiana said many of them were under financial strain despite having access to government wage subsidies.

"There's a lot of equipment under finance," he said.

"Some of them have had that three months' grace to hold their payments and that's ended.

"We're all worried about our future."

Border closures troubling
Fellow travelling showman Anthony Laurie, from Dubbo, is staying in Forbes until he could get back on the road with his family and amusement rides in tow.

But the third-generation showman and father of four children said state border closures were also hindering the travel of equipment safety inspectors.

"The inspector I usually use is located in Brisbane, so he can get down here but he can't go back otherwise he has to quarantine," Mr Laurie said.

"I'd probably have to pay for it. It just wouldn't be viable."

He said the cost of vehicle registrations, maintenance and insurance would be difficult for many operators to meet once events resume.

Mr Laurie wanted governments to reassess heavy vehicle registration fees for his industry.

"I'd probably be lucky to do 15,000 kilometres a year but in saying that we're paying the same registration as an interstate truck driver who does that in probably two weeks," he said.

"It's going to be a very costly operation to get moving again."

Financial help needed
Mr Karaitiana said the drought and recent bushfires also had an adverse impact on regional show societies and travelling show operators.

But he said current problems paled in comparison to what his showman grandfather, Roy Bell, survived.

"My grandfather went through the Great Depression and Second World War with absolutely no work at all," he said.

Mr Karaitiana was optimistic the industry would bounce back but was calling on governments for assistance to get operators back on the road.

"The economics, whatever happens in regional Australia, that plays a huge part on our existence," he said.

"We need help."

How error in numbers used to justify COVID-19 shutdown went unnoticed
Australia was plunged into strict lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic based on incorrect figures and a massive over-estimation of how many patients would require ICU treatment.

Research by The Peter Doherty Institute had estimated a peak daily demand of 35,000 intensive care beds would be required in the scenario of an uncontrolled outbreak in Australia.

But the modelling had confused ICU admissions with the number of people who would need to be taken to hospital during the pandemic.

As a result, New South Wales hospitals were predicted to be hit with 12,000 ICU patients rather than the 3,000 admissions the modelling had meant to show.
The data was used by the federal government to justify nationwide business shutdowns, border closures and social distancing restrictions when the virus took hold in Australia in March.

<< We all saw what was happening in NY , Italy , Spain, UK , France in March and April, and the CMO can be forgiven for taking tough decisions what likely saved Australia from similar pandemic case loads and death rates.>>

Then-Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said at the time the figures forecast an 'horrendous scenario' with a 'daily demand for new intensive care beds of 35,000-plus'.

He said such a demand would be 'completely beyond the realm of any country to create'.

The Doherty Institute's Professor Jodie McVernon said the modelling mistake - which was published in April - was noticed in June and the government was notified, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Disease modelling experts at James Cook University in Queensland noticed the error when they discovered a large discrepancy in predicted ICU admissions between different parts of Australia.

James Cook University infectious diseases physician Emma McBryde claimed her researchers had told the Doherty Institute of the mistake and the organisation said the error would be corrected.

An error in the graphical representations of modelling conducted by the Doherty Institute utilised by the Commonwealth Government in the public health response to COVID-19 was noticed in June,' University of Melbourne professor and Director of Doherty Epidemiology Jodie McVernon said.

'The conclusions of the model regarding response strategies needed to ensure ICU capacity requirements were not exceeded, were accurate and didn’t affect its implications for policy.

'This error resulted from a single line in the code used to plot a graph, meaning that it showed the number of hospitalisations rather than the number of ICU bed admissions.'

'We informed the Commonwealth Government at the time this error was realised having cross-checked and confirmed that it only referred to two visual outputs.

'A more detailed description of the modelling with the corrected graphical representations was submitted for peer review to the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal and was accepted for publication on August 30 2020.'

But she claimed no revision had been made three months later.

'Leaving something inaccurate uncorrected on the public record is pretty close to research misconduct,' she said.

'I strongly believe we locked down too hard.'

The revelation comes as Australia's hopes for a coronavirus vaccine were put under threat after trials in the UK were paused over major safety concerns.

Late-stage studies of AstraZenec's vaccine candidate are on hold after a patient became seriously ill on Tuesday.

The company is investigating if the illness, which has not been specified, is a serious side effect or had nothing to do with the shot.

The federal and state governments have repeatedly said we will have to live with the virus until a vaccine is rolled out.

But the jab being developed at Oxford University is the only overseas candidate that Australia has agreed to buy while other developed countries have signed several deals.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire for 'putting all of Australia's eggs in one basket'.

Labor's health spokesman Chris Bowen said: 'The federal government needs to invest urgently in a range of potential Covid-19 vaccines.'

He pointed out that 18 countries have signed 51 deals to buy various vaccine candidates. The US has six and the UK has five.

Australia has also agreed to buy a vaccine being developed at the University of Queensland - but it only started human trials in July.

There are 37 vaccines in human trials around the world and Australia is trying to buy more of them.

Victoria meanwhile recorded another day of double-digit coronavirus infections on Wednesday, with just 76 new cases across the state.

A further 11 deaths have also been announced, taking the state's death toll to 694.

The figures are a marked jump from previous days after the state recorded 55 infections on Tuesday and 41 on Monday - the lowest number in two months.

In order to move to the next step of easing restrictions on September 28, Melbourne must record an average daily infection rate between 30 and 50 over the next two weeks.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will not be able to have customers dine outside until October 26, as long as the statewide case average has fallen under five for the previous fortnight.

Customers won't be allowed inside until November 23 and only if there have been no cases at all for the previous two weeks.

The strict draconian curfew enforced in Melbourne will be also be extended to October 26 but will be increased to 9pm-5am. Currently it begins at 8pm.

Retail shops are also expected to open their doors from October 26 along with hairdressers under strict safety measures.

Public gatherings will also increase to ten people.

Queensland recorded eight new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the state's biggest daily rise in nearly five months, including three more workers from Ipswich Hospital.

The other five cases were members of the same family who were under quarantine in a household when they were diagnosed. These cases are linked to the cluster at the Queensland Correctional Services Academy.

The spike in cases follows New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitting she 'does begrudge' Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of her decision to keep the southern border shut.

Speaking on Today on Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian said there was no health basis to keeping the border restrictions.

'I do begrudge her because the situation has got very low community transmission,' Ms Berejikilian said.

'And NSW has shown that you can have open borders.'

Tensions between the two leaders have been simmering for months over Queensland's decision to keep the southern border closed.

Ms Berejiklian said a number of Queensland residents were in New South Wales hotels under quarantine with COVID-19.

She claimed if NSW had high numbers like Victoria then closing the border was a sensible measure, however, states with a confident health system and low numbers should not be isolated.

'When the case numbers are so low at this stage and yes, it's a daily battle, why would you close your borders? Why would you hurt your businesses and jobs in your own state?'

‘Distress and fear’: poverty looms for a million Australian children once coronavirus supplement slashed
Welfare campaigners have warned 1.1 million children will be affected by this month’s cut to the coronavirus supplement, as a survey of single mothers finds the cash boost has reduced stress and anxiety.

The federal government has so far resisted demands to delay a cut to the pandemic top-up to jobseeker, student and parenting payments by $300 on 25 September, arguing the boost was always intended to be temporary.

But Terese Edwards, the chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children, said the $550-a-fortnight supplement had been “life-altering” and its reduction was causing “distress and fear”.

She pointed to a survey of 600 single mothers conducted by the organisation that found the income boost had reduced stress for 88% of respondents because they could now afford to pay their bills.

Related: Inequality is already rising in Australia. Tax cuts would entrench it for no economic benefit | Greg Jericho

It found 69% of respondents believed their family was healthier because they could now afford nutritious food, while 64% were sleeping better.

The extra income was most likely to be spent on groceries (79%), followed by energy costs (56%) and car expenses (51%).

Edwards said she had spoken to single mothers who had lost work in industries such as hospitality and tourism who were particularly worried about their futures.

“Women who have never been on jobseeker payment say they categorically don’t know how they are going to manage,” Edwards said.

About 244,000 single parents receive parenting payment ($790-a-fortnight plus the $550 Covid supplement and the family tax benefit), while those with children older than seven get jobseeker payment ($565 plus the $550 Covid supplement and the family tax benefit).

The coronavirus supplement is also provided to students receiving youth allowance or Austudy.

Toni Wren, the executive director of Anti-Poverty Week, said government data showed about 1.1 million children lived in families receiving the supplement in July.

That included 500,000 children whose parents were receiving the jobseeker payment.

“Our main concern is that now it is one-in-five Australian children whose parents are receiving that payment,” Wren said.

Among those facing the cut is Adelaide woman Lisa Birch, a single mum of two children aged four and two.

Birch, 34, studies and works one day a week at an after-school care program. She also receives parenting payment, with most of her income going to rent and childcare.

“Last year I was really struggling to make ends meet,” she said. “I was selling stuff on Facebook, using Foodbank and trying to get through.

“The supplement just balanced it all out. I’ve been able to get my car fixed, get textbooks for uni.”

Birch knew she would still get “a little bit more” than she had before the pandemic, but was “pretty gutted” about the cut.

“I know there is stuff I won’t be able to do anymore,” she said. “With the supplement I’m ahead on my bills so it’s probably back to just trying to get by.

“I used to be a teacher and work full-time and now I’m a single mum living on these payments. I understand it’s a stop-gap measure but to go without so much has just been really tricky. It’s not the life I want my kids to grow up with either.”

Edwards has been running a campaign – 550 Reasons to Smile – aimed at showing the tangible difference the payments have made for single mothers.

Birch sent Edwards a photo of the new tyres that she was able to buy to fix her car, while other photos included new lightbulbs, medication and a full fridge of food.

Edwards said several woman had told how the supplement allowed them to go to the dentist, while one mother had been able to buy her 15-year-old son a birthday present for the first time in years.

The reduction to the supplement on 25 September comes with about 5 million people in Melbourne under stage four restrictions that include a nightly curfew and the closure of key industries.

Under a Victorian government roadmap unveiled on Sunday, workplaces including retail and hospitality will remain closed until at least 26 October.

That is a month after the cut to the supplement, which coincides with reductions to the jobkeeper wage subsidy.

“I get messages from women in lockdown in Melbourne who have a feeling of real confusion,” said Edwards.

Related: Australia's jobless benefits will be among worst in OECD after Covid supplement cut

“Not only will their jobs not be there when they get out of lockdown, they are going to have the coronavirus supplement cut as well.”

Analysis by the Guardian last month estimated about 420,000 Melburnians under stage four lockdown would be affected by the coronavirus supplement cut.

Meanwhile, geographical analysis from the Parliamentary Library released this week found the largest increases in jobseeker recipients during the pandemic had taken place in Coalition electorates in south-east Queensland and Labor-held electorates in western Sydney and Melbourne’s west.

The largest increase was in the tourism-focused Liberal electorate of Moncrieff, which covers the Gold Coast, but there were also large increases in the Labor electorates of Calwell and Lalor in Melbourne’s north and west.

The Greens-held seat of Melbourne, which covers the CBD and inner suburbs, ranked eighth.

By raw figures, the electorate with the most jobseekers facing a cut to their incomes is the Labor seat of Spence, in Adelaide’s north, where 17,864 people were getting the payment in late June.

That was followed by the Liberal seat of Leichhardt which covers Cairns (17,114), Calwell (16,505), and the Labor seat of Lingiari in the Northern Territory (15,991).

Guardian Australia reported on Monday that by one measure the jobseeker benefit would be the third-lowest unemployment benefit in the OECD once the supplement tapers down to $815 a fortnight in two weeks.


BD.org Sicko
Original Poster

















No one hospitalized with Covid19 in SA, Tas, ACT, NT.






BD.org Sicko
Original Poster
He also put a question mark over a rule, published by DHHS, that people in a social bubble arrangement would need to wear masks during visits.

"That's obviously the policy advice from my team ... I want to go back to them on that because I'm not sure about the practicality or feasibility of that, so that's one to explore, put that in the to-be-determined basket," he said.

The Premier, however, later said single bubble visits were different to intimate partner visits and masks should be worn.

In the radio interview, Professor Sutton was asked about alleged "tensions" between him and the Premier, and said they were "incorrect".

"I get along pretty well with all sorts ... my gig is to provide straight-up, robust advice," Professor Sutton said.

"I think we've worked very well together."11 SEPT VIC

Victoria reports 43 new COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths
Victoria , which is at the centre of the country's coronavirus outbreak, on Friday reported 43 new cases and 9 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours.
Victoria accounts for about 75% of the country's more than 26,500 COVID-19 cases and 90% of its 797 deaths.

Brett Sutton has 'enough to get on with' during Victoria's coronavirus crisis without state controller role, Daniel Andrews says
Key points:
The State Health Emergency Response Plan says the Chief Health Officer should be appointed state controller
Mr Andrews says it's a broad role and Professor Sutton never asked him for it
Having him perform both roles would not be 'the best use of the best skills', the Premier says

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has responded to revelations Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was denied the role of "state controller" during the pandemic, saying Professor Sutton had "enough to get on with".
Professor Sutton has been the public face of the state's pandemic response.

The state controller is responsible for logistics, planning and communications during a public health crisis. Under Victoria's Health Emergency Response Plan, it should be performed by the Chief Health Officer.

This week, the state's hotel quarantine inquiry heard that Professor Sutton disagreed with a decision not to appoint him to the role.

But asked about the decision, Mr Andrews said: "Dr Sutton has got enough to get on with, providing detailed, expert epidemiological and public health advice.

"That is where his focus is and needs to be.

"The role of the state controller is much broader role — much, much broader.

"And in my judgement, I think if you had a different arrangement and you were asking someone to provide both expert advice in their primary field, as well as coordination of many things that are well away from medicine and science and public health, I don't think that's the best use of the best skills."

On Thursday, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) deputy secretary Melissa Skilbeck told Victoria's hotel quarantine inquiry that Professor Sutton wanted to take on the state controller position — but she thought the job should be given to someone with more logistics experience and more time.

She told the inquiry that Professor Sutton was against the decision.

The state controller role was initially shared between Andrea Spiteri and Jason Helps from Emergency Management Victoria, who were appointed in early February.

DHHS secretary Kym Peake took on the role of state controller in late July, during Victoria's surging second wave.

The ABC approached the DHHS seeking a response from Professor Sutton, but the department said the issue was addressed at Mr Andrews's press conference today and they would not be adding anything further.

Current strategy is 'working well'
Under the State Health Emergency Response Plan, the state controller reports to the Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp.

The document says the public health commander (a function performed by the Chief Health Officer) should also fulfil the role of state controller in a public health emergency.

"The Public Health Commander will be appointed State Controller for identified public health emergencies (most likely to occur in circumstances where a public health emergency is anticipated)," the document says.

The plan says the Public Health Commander, who is also the Chief Health Officer, should be appointed state controller.

In a statement to the hotel quarantine inquiry, Deputy Public Health Commander Finn Romanes said if Professor Sutton had been appointed state controller, "public health expertise may have been more embedded in the governance of the hotel quarantine program".

Mr Andrews said the current arrangements in place were "working well".

"There'll always be debates and discussions about whether they could be otherwise. I don't have the luxury of having those debates," he said.

"These arrangements make sense. They're working."

Mr Andrews was asked if he and Professor Sutton were not on the same page.

"I wouldn't say that at all. You can have differences of opinion," he said.

"It's certainly not a request or a view that Brett's ever put to me.

"He's just getting on and doing his job. I'm getting on, doing mine. We work very well together. Very closely together. And I think the arrangements we have got in place are exactly the right ones."

Mr Andrews then said he wasn't conceding the point that there were differences of opinion, adding that he hadn't heard Ms Skilbeck's evidence concerning Professor Sutton's view.

Sutton says rumours of tensions are 'incorrect'
Professor Sutton has been absent from the daily press conferences for the past few days, but is expected to be present at tomorrow's briefing.

On Tuesday, he told radio station 3AW Melbourne's contentious curfew was not his idea, but he was consulted on it and he wasn't against it.

Daniel Andrews dismisses human rights complaint over Melbourne Covid curfew
Victoria reported 43 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with 16 of those connected to known outbreaks or positive cases. The state also recorded nine new deaths, including seven linked to outbreaks in aged care.

But the Victorian premier continues to face pressure over the controversial curfew, after both the state’s police chief and chief health officer previously said they were not responsible for the policy.

On Thursday, The Australian reported that Liberal Party MP Tim Wilson had written to the Human Rights Commission, urging it to examine the curfew on the basis that “citizens’ rights and freedoms [are] being limited based on the ease and efficiency of the powers of the state against the rights and freedoms of Victorians”.
Wilson has asked the commission, which he once headed, to examine whether it had grounds “to take action in light of the significant limitation on the rights and freedoms imposed on Victorians by the curfew for the ease of government interests”.

But Andrews dismissed that complaint on Friday, saying the curfew was “not about human rights. It is about human life.”

“That is my answer to Mr Wilson. And what he chooses to do with his time is a matter for him. Police need rules they can enforce,” Andrews said.

“This strategy only works if we limit movement [and] if we want our police to be spending all their time having to move people on from Maccas car parks, where there are pop-up social gatherings that are not lawful – I’m going to have police wasting their time doing that. There are very few legal reasons to leave your home.

“The curfew doesn’t change that. It simply means police have an easier job. Given the year that Victoria police has had, and the sterling work they’re doing, we ought to do everything we can to make their job just a little bit easier.”

Andrews has refused to say where the idea for the curfew originated, saying only that there were “cabinet records of all decisions”.

“Anyone who finds fault with that measure [can] find fault with me,” he said.

“Every decision ultimately is something that I’m accountable for as the head of the government. Let me be really clear with you – the curfew position at the moment will not be changing. Because it is working. It is working. And if you don’t limit movement, you won’t limit the number of cases.”

Andrews on Friday released traffic data which he said showed there had been “an immediate and pronounced and sustained drop in road use” following the curfew.

The premier had the day before been grilled by reporters about data to justify the need for a curfew, given it was not a policy recommendation from either the chief health officer or Victoria police.

There are now only 74 active cases of the virus in regional Victoria, an overall increase of two. Despite one of those being a mystery case from the town of Echuca, Andrews said it was possible some regional restrictions could be lifted as early as next week.

“Let’s deal with that Echuca issue and be in no doubt there is a significant amount of work going on to understand that and whether there is any more virus in that community,” he said.

“And we are poised to be able to take not just one but potentially two steps as early as next week.”

Elsewhere on Friday, New South Wales recorded 10 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, with four linked to known clusters.

Two of those were linked to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club, taking that cluster to five, while one was a close contact of a case connected to Liverpool hospital’s emergency department.

The hospitals cluster remains at 14 cases, after a previously confirmed case in a worker from Concord was excluded following further investigations.

NSW deputy chief health officer Jeremy McAnulty said contract tracers in the state were still working with the eastern suburbs club to determine who was at the venue during the outbreak.

No, Daniel Andrews didn't boost testing in order to blame protesters for COVID-19 increase
CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check's weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read the latest edition below, and to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

CoronaCheck #38
As Victorians face more weeks, even months, of tough coronavirus restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews and his government have faced increasing criticism on social media. This week, we've taken a look at a claim that testing was deliberately bolstered by Mr Andrews in the lead up to anti-lockdown rallies in an effort to blame protesters for an increase in COVID-19 cases.

We've also investigated claims that the Victorian Government removed mortality data from an official website in order to conceal a fall in the number of deaths in the community more generally.

Did Daniel Andrews boost testing in order to blame protesters for increased COVID-19 cases?
A Facebook post shared in a group with nearly 12,000 members, called Free News Network Eureka Rebellion 2, claimed the Victorian premier was boosting COVID-19 testing in a ploy to blame anti-lockdown protesters for an increase in positive cases.

"Andrews did 70,000 extra tests on the Thursday leading up to the protests," it said.

"So incoming propaganda. There will be high case numbers. He will try to blame protestors. And use high numbers to do extra testing and keep the lockdown going."

The post, which included a screenshot of the "COVID live" website, also repeated a common myth that the testing cannot distinguish between COVID-19 and the flu.

But Daniel Andrews addressed the increase in testing numbers during his daily last Thursday, explaining that the spike was the result of an update that included previously recorded negative test results and did not represent an increase in the rate of testing.

"This jump in tests is largely attributable to a very large batch of negative tests that have been brought to book and included in the overall total of yesterday's tests," he said.

The actual number of tests conducted in the previous 24 hours had been consistent with average levels over the preceding weeks, the Premier added.

"The normal number I would report to you was in fact 17,098 — that's the results that have been received in that last 24 hours."

As the 70,000 or so tests were all negative, their inclusion in the official statistics had not resulted in an increase in the number of detected COVID-19 cases.

The flu versus COVID-19
Previously, the myth that getting a flu shot could cause a false positive reading for COVID-19. But could the presence of influenza in the immune system throw off a COVID-19 test, as the Facebook post suggested?

investigated the origin of the myth after a series of Facebook posts went viral. They found the claim appeared to have originated from a screenshot taken of the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

The CDC reported that positive antibody tests for COVID-19 could be the result of a previous infection from another virus in the coronavirus family, such as the common cold.

But antibody tests, also known as serology tests, differ from the nucleic acid testing used to diagnose cases of COVID-19.

Antibody tests can be conducted almost instantly and typically test blood samples for the presence of protective antibodies produced by the immune system to fight off COVID-19.

Due to the unreliability of these tests, as highlighted in the guidelines of Australia's , they are not used to confirm a positive case without additional evidence.

Australia's testing regime primarily relies on viral PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, where a sample is swabbed from the throat and nose and tested in a lab.

These tests are highly specific and as the "gold standard" for COVID-19 testing.

The case of the disappearing death data
Elsewhere on Facebook, posts have circulated claiming that Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria removed official death rate data from its website in an attempt to conceal a fall in the overall number of deaths since the pandemic took hold.

In a number of posts, brought to light through collaborative journalism project CrossCheck, users have suggested that there have been fewer deaths in 2020 overall than could have been "expected" normally, based on an extrapolation of historical data.

Meanwhile, in an "open letter" addressed to Premier Daniel Andrews and published by conservative magazine Quadrant, a "dozen Melbourne doctors" referenced a supposed decrease in overall deaths as part of their argument that the Victorian Government response to the virus has been "ill-focused, heavy-handed and unjustifiable".

"In Victoria we have had 541 LESS deaths this July compared to July last year (3,561 deaths compared to 4,102 deaths in July 2019)," the doctors wrote.

So, have the number of deaths actually fallen during the pandemic? And was the data removed from the web?

Well, the historical data has certainly gone missing from its previous home on the Births, Deaths and Marriages website. As of September 9, the for deaths registered per month shows figures dating back only to September 2019.

However, a search of archived snapshots of the web page shows that data dating back to January 2010 was available until , but was removed some time before .

A spokesman for Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria told Fact Check that after an issue was identified, the figures were removed from the website on August 14 "to ensure the accuracy of data provided to the public".

"This change was for all registered event data, not just deaths — and is completely unrelated to COVID-19," the spokesman said.

"Figures for deaths registered per month prior to the last 12 months, can be provided upon request."

He added that a count of deaths per year dating back to 2010 remained available .

As to the whether deaths had fallen amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Births, Deaths and Marriages data available through the archived web page shows that in raw numbers, the first eight months of 2020 saw were more registered deaths than in the same period for any previous year, barring 2019.

And while the "dozen Melbourne doctors" are correct to say that on those numbers there were fewer deaths in July 2020 than in July 2019, the data shows the number of deaths in 2020 so far is just 11 fewer than for the same period last year.

But Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, told Fact Check that comparing the figures using monthly data was problematic, particularly when using figures from 2019.

"If you look at the Victorian data, we had underreporting in February [2019]," Professor Bennett explained.

"That was a glitch in the way the system worked and the figures didn't catch up until June and July.

"So, month to month, the data isn’t reliable."

When it came to comparing actual death numbers to the expected figures, Professor Bennett said there were a number of things to consider, including a drop in population growth due to border closures, changes in the way deaths were reported, and very low rates of influenza (partly in response to lockdown restrictions and people self-isolating).

"It paints quite a complicated picture, especially if they're using the month-to-month data, which is something to be very wary of."

Even so, Fact Check compared actual deaths in 2020 to a baseline of expected deaths for 2020, calculated by using a five-year median figure for each month for the years to 2019. This is a method , and one Professor Bennet said would suffice as a simple exercise.

Applying that baseline, the data shows that the number of deaths so far in 2020 were higher than expected in the first four months of the year, lower in May, June and July, and slightly higher again in August.

It's worth noting that while the Facebook users and letter-writing doctors argue that restrictions should be lifted in response to death totals staying within normal range despite deaths from COVID-19, lockdowns and restrictions are designed to the spread of the virus in the community. If successful, it follows that death rates would not increase.

Do aged care operators have to account for how they spend their taxpayer funding?
As COVID-19 exposes serious failings in aged care, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Aged Care, Ged Kearney, has lashed the Federal Government for what she claimed was a lack of transparency in the sector.

"People may not know that, across the whole aged care sector, about $20 billion of federal funding goes into that sector without proper accountability or transparency for it,” she said. “They don't have to acquit for where that money goes."

Fact Check this week found that claim to be

Two-thirds of the $20 billion spent on aged care each year goes towards residential care, with these service providers only required to report high-level information about how they spend their taxpayer subsidies.

This reporting is focused on financial outcomes and viability, and providers are not required to show spending on individual facilities, let alone individual residents.

However, that does not mean there is no accountability in the sector.

Residential care providers must report annually to the Government, with non-government operators required to include an additional, independently audited financial statement.

Meanwhile, for complex care at home, providers must submit annual financial reports detailing various categories of expenditure, as well as a monthly statement.

Finally, there is basic support at home, where consumers pay for services as they go. These providers report regularly to the Government on the services they deliver and must return any unspent government grants.

Birth trauma rates expected to rise due to coronavirus restrictions increasing parents' anxiety
When Naomi Andrews and her husband decided to have a baby, they had never heard of coronavirus. Nine months later in their birthing suite, it was all they could think about.

"While we have a happy, healthy baby, and that is the most important thing [to us], it was definitely not the experience that we thought we were going to be having," Ms Andrews said.

Her birth "didn't go to plan" and required an emergency caesarean, but she said when she looked to medical professionals for reassurance, it was hard to find behind their personal protective equipment.

"So while people's eyes can be really expressive, you're missing a lot of the social cues that you would usually get from having people's full face," she said.

"So it was really hard to tell what they were thinking, which, when things started not going to plan … there was a lot of extra confusion and uncertainty for me because I couldn't see people looking back at me reassuringly.

"My glasses kept on fogging up … it was really hard to wear the mask and focus on my breathing and focus about what's happening around me."

She said her pregnancy was "lonely" and that she was taking a proactive effort to seek postnatal support.

"It definitely makes it harder when a reassuring hug is not something that's able to be given," she said.

"The trauma I guess, comes from that emotional side of it.

"Mine [birth] went the way it had to go and I felt safe the whole time."

'Even your partner's wearing a mask'
Australia's largest provider of continuity of midwifery care, My Midwives, said it has seen higher level of intervention in birth, as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Managing Director Liz Wilkes believed this is because women are experiencing less control in their birthing environments.

"That's obviously to some degree unavoidable, but it does contribute markedly to increasing those levels of anxiety … which then is leading on to an increase in psychological birth trauma," she said.

"At times, you've got people approaching you looking like they're in hazmat suits and that has an impact on the woman's experience."

Ms Wilkes said the birthing environment meant that the "cascade of hormones" that protects women in birth does not occur.

"She's actually getting adrenaline instead of oxytocin and that leads to that sort of 'fight or flight' and really increases anxiety and also increases negative impacts in birth," she said.

"So things like epidurals are increasing, which is really a big marker for us, because when we start seeing women needing extra pain relief, we normally know that it means that our job is not being done as well."

Ms Wilkes said early international research, led by Professor Hannah Dahlen, is examining the birth space in relation to COVID-19.

"We're starting to see just the tip of the iceberg," she said.

"Early research [is finding] really high levels of distress and distress tends to obviously lead to birth trauma."

Struggles not just in the birth suite
Ms Wilkes said the postnatal period and early mothering journey also effected, with many traditional ways of debriefing cancelled.

"It is important to actually unpack and unpack and unpack … All the research around birth trauma shows that's how women deal with it best," she said.

Brooke Taylor-Gough works with women in Toowoomba seeking a calmer birth as hypnobirthing childbirth educator, kinesiologist and reiki practitioner, specialising in grief and loss.

"It's [birth trauma] something that's always been swept under the carpet anyway," she said.

"Because of everything that's happening it's not in the forefront of anyone's minds, apart from the couples."

Ms Taylor-Gough said new mothers are also missing out on crucial family support and mother's groups.

"We're living in a Western society that doesn't honour the postnatal period how it needs to be already and then compound that with … a pandemic — it's tragic."

A Queensland Health spokesperson said due to recent cases in Queensland, extra restrictions were implemented for hospital visitors on August 22 in some local government areas to protect anyone receiving care.

"You can still visit someone in hospital if you are a partner and/or support person for a patient admitted for care related to their pregnancy," the spokesperson said.

"Queensland public hospitals are still offering high-quality maternity services to pregnant women.

"Individuals should speak with their midwife, doctor or obstetrician about any questions or concerns they have about how changes could affect their birth plan."

Cancer screening, heart attack and stroke presentations down in Victoria during coronavirus pandemic
Key points:
Victoria has seen a 30 per cent drop in reports for the five most common cancers
Stroke Foundation Victoria says people are not presenting to emergency departments when they experience signs of stroke, because they are fearful of catching coronavirus or worried about over-burderning the health system
There are 323 active coronavirus cases in healthcare workers in Victoria, down from a peak of more than 1,100
Hospitals are reporting a "concerning" decline in the number of Victorians seeking treatment for heart attacks and strokes, as well as essential cancer screening, during the state's coronavirus second wave.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the number of people presenting to emergency departments with strokes was down 24 per cent on the same time last year.

For heart attacks, the number of ED presentations was down 18 per cent.

"This does suggest that people are putting off seeking urgent and important medical care that could make that critical difference to their life," Ms Mikakos said.

"I want to stress that our hospitals are safe for people to attend.

"We have had a significant decline, with a great deal of effort from health services, in healthcare worker infections in recent weeks."

There are 323 active coronavirus cases in healthcare workers in Victoria, down from a peak of more than 1,100 about a month ago.

And while some of the decline in traffic to emergency departments is good news — influenza cases are down 80 per cent on the last three years — there are fears much of it can be attributed to people delaying urgent medical care due to fears of catching coronavirus.

Stroke Foundation Victoria state manager Eamonn O'Toole said delaying treatment was "not worth the risk".

"We know fewer people have been presenting to hospital at the first sign of stroke because they are fearful of contracting coronavirus or over-burdening our doctors and nurses," Mr O'Toole said.

"If you delay calling triple-0 it could result in a longer hospital stay, serious disability or even death."

He urged people to remember the FAST test (face, arms, speech, time) when assessing a potential stroke, and to check if the patient's mouth had drooped, if they could lift both arms and if their speech was slurred.

"Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple-0 straight away," he said.
Delaying cancer screening 'can lead to tragedy'
There has also been a decline in important cancer screening, with a 30 per cent reduction in reports for the five most common cancers: colorectal, prostate, breast, melanoma and lung.

"This is very concerning because deferred care can lead to worse health outcomes," Ms Mikakos said.

"It can lead to longer hospitalisation stays, it can lead to tragedy."

Ms Mikakos said it was important that people continued visiting their GP and taking any regular medications.

"And if they have any lumps or bumps or symptoms that they are concerned about, please do not defer seeking medical care," she said.
BreastScreen Victoria chief executive Terri Smith urged anyone due for their regular breast screen to book an appointment as soon as possible.

"It's vital not to delay your regular check," she said.

"Breast screening can find cancer that may be too small to see and feel, and more likely to be successfully treated if found early."

She said clinics were taking every precaution against the risk of COVID-19, including spacing out appointments to allow for physical distancing and more cleaning between appointments.
Ms Mikakos said health services were increasingly using telehealth to conduct appointments where possible.

Four per cent of specialist clinic appointments were conducted using telehealth in 2018-19. That figure is now at 46 per cent.

At the Royal Children's Hospital, about 70 per cent of clinical consultations are being conducted via telehealth.

Over the past week, there have been 385 new coronavirus cases in total across Victoria. Of those, 89 were in healthcare workers, which accounts for just over 25 per cent.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said about 70 per cent of all healthcare worker infections were in aged care settings.

DHHS warns company off asking close COVID contacts to isolate
Victorian health officials told a commercial cleaning company that employees who shared a shift with an infected worker were not 'close contacts' and did not need to isolate.

Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services read Melbourne company Demos Property Services, which specialises in COVID disinfection services, the riot act after it dared to ask what it believed to be close contacts of a COVID-infected worker to go home.

In a series of documents seen by Daily Mail Australia, DHHS suggests the company could face legal repercussions after it sent the nine workers home.

The cleaners had all worked a shift with a colleague found to have tested positive to COVID 19.

It is understood the worker's infection was linked to the outbreak within Victoria's COVID-plagued aged care sector.

As part of the company's COVIDSafe plan, it sent the workers home and asked that they isolate for 14 days and be tested.

But the company's managers were shocked at the response they received from DHHS officials upon learning of the company's seemingly responsible actions.

In an email dated September 3, a team leader from DHHS' Novel Coronavirus Response Team stated it did not class the nine workers as close contacts.

'I recommend that you review (the company) COVIDplan; it is your prudence and prerogative to furlough the 9 staff who shared the same shift as the case, however please note that these staff members are not deemed close contacts by the DHHS and thus we will not be liable for your actions,' the team leader wrote.

What Does DHHS Consider A Close Contact?
Close contact = greater than 15 minutes face-to-face, cumulative, or the sharing of an indoor space for more than two hours, with a confirmed case during their infectious period.

Period for contact tracing = Contact needs to have occurred during the period of 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms in the confirmed case until the confirmed case is no longer considered infectious to be deemed close contact.

'Furthermore, I strongly urge you reconsider your stance that the confirmed case will not be permitted to return to work (even with DHHS clearance letter) if she does not return 2 x consecutive negative results' as this does not align with case and contact management guidelines set out by the DHHS.'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week slammed the Victorian Government for its performance in contact tracing.

Victoria's daily coronavirus case total dropped on Thursday to 51 new cases recorded overnight.

But the state hit a grim new milestone after seven deaths were recorded, with 701 total deaths.

'New South Wales has a stronger capability when it comes to tracing,' Mr Morrison said on Monday.

'And we want to provide support — as we already have — to the Victorian government through the ADF.'

The cleaning company had already endured a previous bad experience with the health department after it took three weeks to respond after another of its cleaners contracted the virus.

'The above is instructing us to 'water down' our requirements for allowing people to return to work post being tested positive for COVID-19,' a Demos manager returned fire to DHHS.

'How will we beat 'this terrible enemy' as our Premier refers to COVID by not being as cautious as we are?

'Our approach is one of caution – and has been from the outset of this Pandemic. Our Covid-Safe Plans ensures the safety of all our staff, clients and community as a whole and will not be amended.

'Furthermore, the last case which we had of an employee (DHHS contact 3 weeks post event) tested positive for over a week post his clearance. The doctor retesting him confirmed that, as this is a 'new' virus, we cannot be 100% certain that it is not communicable post a definitive.'

The company further lashed out at DHHS' tardy response to the positive infection, which it claims took more than two full days to contact the company after it was notified.

'We were contacted 52 hours post lodgement by Dept of Jobs, Precincts and Regions,' DHHS was told.

'Representatives from Jobs Precincts and Regions confirmed that due to no resourcing at DHHS and 'contact tracing problems' they had been seconded to 'assist you' with these calls and preliminary information collection.'

The infected worker had also told DHHS contact tracers that she worked for Demos a day earlier when she received the positive result, but it was ignored.

DHHS had attempted to blame the delay on the company and a lack of transparency between other government departments.

Demos Property Services general manager Penelope Demos expressed dismay at the DHHS response and told Daily Mail Australia its CovidSafe Plan was where all business' should be at.

'It's just an ongoing comedy of errors by DHHS,' she said.

Ms Demos said the company would not be adjusting its CovidSafe Plan to meet DHHS' 'lower requirements'.

'I'm not going to be taking a risk by putting our clients at any risk,' she said.

Ms Demos said that under Premier Daniel Andrews' state of emergency powers, the usual workplace authority - WorkSafe - is not in control of workplace safety.

'They're no longer the highest authority. It's actually DHHS with their lower standards and WorkSafe are bound by them when they write their reports,' she said.

A DHHS spokesperson said the DHHS provides public health advice on what companies should do with employees identified by DHHS as positive cases or close contacts, and provides general advice on how to ensure workplaces are COVID-safe.

'The case and contact management team does not provide legal advice in any circumstances - and certainly not about what companies should do with employees who are not identified as positive cases or close contacts.'

Victorian real estate body contradicts minister over boycott of rent reduction talks
Victoria’s peak body for real estate agents is standing by advice to members not to take part in rent reduction talks, directly contradicting the state’s consumer affairs minister, who claims the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has changed its position.

The confusion comes after Victorian authorities made contact with the REIV, seeking an assurance that it was not asking members to break the law by breaching the profession’s code of conduct.

Evictions in Victoria are frozen until 28 March next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the state government has introduced rules to allow residential and small business tenants to either negotiate a rent reduction or have one fixed by the Victorian civil and administrative tribunal.In a statement issued on Sunday, described by one property lawyer as a “tantrum”, the REIV advised members to tell their landlord clients not to participate in rent reduction talks with tenants.

The REIV said agents should instead tip cases into VCAT, which it claimed was already dealing with a backlog of 4,000 cases. VCAT declined to comment on whether there was a backlog or how big it was.

In an email to REIV members, obtained by Guardian Australia, president Leah Calnan said she was “incredibly disappointed” with a state government decision not to allow property inspections and auctions until the end of October, accusing it of ignoring “the plight of property owners and the real estate sector”.

“As such, we now call upon members to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, forcing every request into the dispute system, a system that has already failed to cope with the caseload,” she said.

The call raised concerns that agents who followed the REIV’s advice might breach professional conduct regulations available on the peak body’s own website.

Consumer Affairs Victoria director Sam Jenkin “has sought assurance from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria that it is not advising estate agents and their representatives to breach their legal obligations, and will consider if further action is required”, a spokeswoman said.

“Estate agents and their representatives are required to abide by professional conduct regulations, including to seek and act in accordance with a client’s instructions, act in the client’s best interests, act fairly, honestly and in good faith and be timely and courteous in all dealings.”

On Thursday, Victoria’s consumer affairs minister, Melissa Horne, said she welcomed the REIV’s “recently amended advice to landlords and agents to continue to assist in negotiating rental reductions”.

It is believed Horne based her view that there had been a change in the REIV’s position on statements made by Calnan in a video posted to a private social media group for REIV members.

Guardian Australia has not viewed any such video.

After being informed of the minister’s statement, an REIV spokesman said the body had not changed its position and stood by the statement made it on Sunday.

“Nothing’s changed,” he said. “All we’ve clarified to members is that it’s up to them whether they participate [in rent reduction negotiations] or not.

“If we change our position we’ll put out a release about it.”

Property lawyer Hana Lee, from Melbourne firm Forty Four Degrees, said she was concerned that agents who followed the advice of the REIV might breach clauses of the regulations requiring them to act in the best interests of clients, be timely and courteous in their dealings with people and not to not engage in conduct that is unprofessional or detrimental to the reputation of the industry.

She said it was “concerning that, as the industry organ, they are advocating for this sort of behaviour”.

“The concern there really is that it’s the peak body of the real estate industry in the state and they are having a little bit of a temper tantrum and saying we are not going to do the work that we are obligated to do if you won’t let us do the work that gets us paid,” she said.

She said her firm was dealing with 30% to 40% more rent disputes than before the pandemic. This included a number of residential tenancy disputes, which were previously rare, she said.

The REIV has previously accused tenants of refusing to cooperate with agents and landlords.

But Lee said there was “consensus across the board that the real estate agents have been quite difficult to deal with, non-responsive, and that’s been going on for many months now”.

She said residential renters should not need a lawyer to resolve disputes with their landlords.

“But people are emotional, they are stressed out, and they find they cannot communicate with their agents, who are not responding, they are being quite negative.”

Meanwhile, many small businesses have been forced to shut down by state government restrictions and do not have any revenue coming in, she said.

Related: A day in the life of Victoria’s Covid contact tracers: ‘The puzzle is blank and once you get it together it's fantastic'

Some landlords were willing to cut rents, but in other cases “the real estate agent will sometimes respond, sometimes not, but they will constantly say they don’t have negotiations from the landlord”.

“Negotiations will drag on for months, we’ll have to take it to the SBC [Small Business Commission],” she said.

She said real estate agents should realise there were other industries far harder hit by the crisis.

“A house will still be standing at the end of the lockdown and an investment can be recouped in the long run, but there are businesses that are failing and we have clients that entering into liquidation because they don’t have a choice,” she said.

“Perhaps show just a little bit more empathy about the fact that they are not the only ones being negatively affected by this.”

Growing calls to reopen for regional Victorians living in lockdown with no active cases
Hundreds of thousands of Victorians across the state are living in coronavirus-free zones.

But for now, they're still subjected to a tough stage 3 lockdown.

Pub owner Mitch Duncan, who runs The Farmers Arms Hotel in Daylesford, is one of them.

"The frustrating part that a lot of people don't understand is that if you have no cases, why can't you open up?" he said.

His local government area (LGA) of Hepburn, with a population of about 15,000, has no active cases of COVID-19.

The area has recorded two cases since the start of the pandemic.

He said he and other business owners could not see the sense in remaining closed when the risk was low locally.

"Common sense would suggest that any region, town or area that doesn't have any active cases should be allowed to be able to fully open," he said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said decisions would be made on science, data and modelling, but that regional Victoria was "on the cusp" of easing restrictions.

"That community that has got no cases, they are jealously guarding that. There's a point of pride for those communities," he said yesterday.

"I have a unique understanding of how frustrating it is for those who don't have much — or any — virus, and the fact that rules apply to them."


Almost 700,000 people across 33 LGAs
As of Thursday, there were than 694,000 people living in regional and rural Victoria in LGAs with no active cases.

There are 33 LGAs without a single active infection, ranging from Mildura in the north-west to the Alpine region in the north-east; Glenelg in the south-west and Wellington in the south-east.

Several LGAs bordering NSW and South Australia also have no active cases, while some of the state's regional centres, like Bendigo and Shepparton, have seen their cases dwindle to single figures.

Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner said he would like restrictions to be eased — although caution was required, he had confidence in the local contact-tracing teams.

Ballarat, which has had just shy of 60 cases in total, is now at zero.

Geelong in the west and Latrobe in the east are dealing with cases in the low teens, while Colac battles a recent outbreak that has resulted in 29 active cases.

The Premier was asked yesterday why regions with no cases, such as Mildura, were being lumped in the same basket as Colac, more than 500 kilometres away.

Mr Andrews said that would involve divvying up the state into lots of different zones, drawing boundaries and having them policed by checkpoints.

The Premier stressed it could be as early as next week that Regional Victoria would meet the thresholds needed to trigger an easing of restrictions.

That includes getting to an average of under five new daily cases over a two-week period, and fewer than five "mystery" cases, where disease detectives couldn't track the source of transmission.

As of yesterday, regional Victoria had a rolling average of 4.5 new daily cases, and eight mystery cases.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said there was not a "hard and fast rule" about the dates.

Health officials would need to consider a range of factors, like if there was a spike in recent days, if the cases are linked and the outbreak setting.

"The date, I'd say, is sort of like a due date for a pregnancy. Only 5 per cent of babies are born on the actual due date, and there's a range before and after," Professor Cheng said.

Country areas have shown resilience
Shannon Dube, member manager at Business Wodonga, said the lockdowns had been emotional in her community, with the added complexity in being located on the border with NSW.

"Our businesses have been really resilient, and doing the absolute best they can. But unfortunately, it's just been extremely difficult," she said.

"Definitely, there is some sense of frustration, [in that] the cases have been quite low.

"We do recognise the lines do have to be drawn, however, there is definitely frustration around making sure that everyone is treated equally when things aren't always equal."

Ms Dube said the length of the restrictions and multiple rule changes had taken their toll, but was heartened to see the community coming together to develop an e-commerce platform and adapt.

She said she had seen businesses "do everything they possibly can to stay safe, to give that confidence".

"Obviously they're looking forward to opening up and getting back to some sense of retail and business norm," she said.

"Everyone is extremely eager to have that happen."

A survey released yesterday revealed some insights into how Victorian businesses viewed the Government's roadmaps for reopening, suggesting regional businesses were perhaps more optimistic.

The survey was conducted by Glow Research for marketing company Sensis, and 17 per cent of the 400 small to medium businesses surveyed were in regional areas.

Nearly one in five, or 19 per cent, of businesses in Melbourne said they would take more than a year to return a profit, compared to just 4 per cent in the regions.

Sensis CEO John Allan said there was also a "big difference" between the city and the country when asked how difficult it would be for their businesses to survive with the new roadmaps.

Forty-three per cent of the regional businesses said there would be "no impact" on their survival, compared to about a quarter of Melbourne businesses.

Craving clarity, but optimistic overall
Mr Duncan said he still needed more clarity on what "predominantly outdoor dining" means for his business as restrictions ease.

"It's still ambiguous," he said.

"I think that's the frustrating part. I'm really still positive about the outcome. We will get there."

He said he trusted the health experts advising the Government, but he hoped for some new approaches.

Areas still battling outbreaks could be ringfenced, and there could be harsh penalties for crossing infected postcodes, he suggested.

"If it doesn't work, just be smart enough to close it down and change direction," he said.

The tourist town often relies on Melburnians taking a weekend away, and when restrictions initially eased a few months ago, "it was like the floodgates are open — the business can back absolutely full throttle," Mr Duncan said.

But he said Daylesford had enjoyed strong business from non-city visitors, from Gippsland, Geelong and Bendigo, and he was looking forward to welcoming them back.

During the shutdown, his chefs were trying out new dishes at home, and he had renovated the hotel and focused on business ventures outside the hospitality industry.

"It's actually been OK for us to be honest. Not doom and gloom by any stretch," he said.

"You have to look on the bright side of it and then find the good."

Christmas to 'look different' with iconic traditions cancelled (in 2020) acct pandemic
Christmas will "look different in lots of different ways" for Victorians this year, Premier Daniel Andrews says.
<< downsized
<< fewer family members and friends able to get together at homes , restraunts, other social venues
<< shortages of festive foods
<< shops lot as well stocked (with stuff that might become gifts
<< no work xmas parties
<< fewer people travelling interstate
<< no one travelling overseas

The iconic Christmas display windows at Myer's Bourke Street Mall will not happen amid overcrowding fears, while the traditional carols by candlelight on December 24 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl remains under a cloud.

"It won't be a normal Christmas," Mr Andrews said.

<< but lots of families will deck out their homes with fairy lights and decorations and the light so Xmas will become more a local community event and localised to the local streets

"We don't want it to be a lockdown Christmas.
We want it to be a Christmas that can be as close to normal as possible, a COVID-normal Christmas.

"That means it will look different in lots of different ways."

But, in a sign of hope, he said the state will have "moved to a very different set of rules by then".

As for fireworks on New Years' Eve, he said chances were "very low".

"But, again, the key point here is it is hard with any certainty to predict a week or two weeks," Mr Andrews said.

"We do our level best to make sure that we have got as many inputs into the modelling, we have got many different people testing all of our thinking, making sure we have come to the right conclusion, but New Year's Eve is a long way off."

The government was "in detailed discussions" with supermarkets about possible food shortages during "the busiest period of the year".

"Some restrictions we have with warehousing at the moment is a challenge," he said.

"That is what the industry tells us. Not right now, but it will be a challenge later. We continue to work with them to try and refine those."

But he added: "I'm confident we will find a ballpoint that sees everything we need on the shelves whilst also making sure that those warehouse settings particularly, which have been high risk are as safe as they possibly can be."

How to eat out for FREE: Aussies could be paid to help save industry
Australians could soon be paid to eat in restaurants for free as struggling businesses try to bounce back from COVID-19.

Every household in Victoria could receive a $100 meal voucher for a restaurant or pub of their choice under the new proposals.

Restaurant and Catering Australia is pushing Dan Andrews' government to bail out the struggling industry with the $650million plan.

Similar schemes have been rolled out in the UK, where 40 million meals were offered at half price, and Tasmania, on Monday.

Melbourne has been under Stage Four lockdown since August 2, the state's second round of restrictions since March.

Residents are under an 8pm to 5am curfew, can only travel 5km for shopping or exercise and restaurants and cafe's are takeaway only.

Wes Lambert, CEO, of Restaurant and Catering Australia told radio station 3AW it is the fastest way to get businesses back on their feet.

'It's time for Dan to pay for his plan,' he told listeners.

'Until we get bums back on seats in Victoria, into restaurants, there will be no recovery.'

Mr Lambert has suggested a meal voucher of up to $100 be distributed to every Victorian household after the curfew is lifted.

The Tasmanian government launched 'Make Yourself At Home' on Monday which saw $7.5million dollars worth of vouchers snapped up in 40 minutes.
The $100 accommodation and $50 experience vouchers are designed to encourage people to travel and eat out again.

Diners in the UK were offered half-price meals from Monday to Wednesday in August as part of 'Eat out to help out'.

'Nearly 40 million meals were subsided by the UK government to bring the restaurant industry in the UK out of the brink,' he told listeners.

He said it can be hard for state and federal governments to implement a new scheme quickly - so the industry would follow either Tasmania or the UK if necessary.

'This is the fastest and best way to help the hospitality industry get back on its feet and to get consumers back and dining,' Mr Lambert said.

'Hate is cheap,' Melbourne tower resident says after Pauline Hanson's stubby holder stunt
Ahmed Faid, an Eritrean-Australian living in Melbourne’s Flemington flats, has some simple advice for One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and others targeting his community.

“She needs to learn,” he said. “Not just her, everyone. Even the ministers in our federal government.”

“They need to understand people and then build their policies and their understanding. It’s all about knowing people. It’s all about coming closer to people.”

On Thursday, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age revealed Hanson had sent stubby holders en masse to those living in the locked-down North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers in July, emblazoned with her face and the words “I’ve got the guts to say what you’re thinking”.

The items were mailed shortly after Hanson vilified residents in the towers as “drug addicts” who “cannot speak English”.

Related: Melbourne tenants should have had choice over ‘distressing’ mail from Pauline Hanson, councillor says

Faid said the actions were nothing worse than what his community hears and sees in rightwing media. But he warns such attitudes are laying the ground for acts of hate and says Australia has a “national responsibility” to foster better understanding, harmony, and respect.

“They are winning ground, they are pushing forward,” he said.

“Nothing in this world is cheaper than promoting hate, because hate doesn’t need any knowledge, it doesn’t need any justification. Hate’s cheap.”

Australia Post’s role in the scandal is also under scrutiny after revelations it threatened the City of Melbourne council with legal action unless it allowed the stubby holders to be delivered, reportedly along with a note saying “no hard feelings”. The council had stopped the mail from reaching the residents over fears it would increase tensions and inflame an already difficult situation.

Australia Post’s chief executive, Christine Holgate, is expected to be grilled over the scandal during an upcoming Senate estimates hearing.

Labor is alleging a “quid pro quo” between Australia Post and One Nation in order to secure the crossbench party’s vote to preserve a temporary easing of regulation.

“If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck let’s call it a duck,” the shadow home affairs minister, Kristina Keneally, said on Thursday. “This looks like a quid pro quo between Australia Post and One Nation. Australia Post delivering beer coolers or beer holders for One Nation in order to secure their vote in the Senate.”

She said Senate estimates was “no doubt” going to “take a very serious look at this”, unless the government tells the public precisely what happened.

Australia Post denies it spoke to One Nation or Hanson about the delivery at any point.

The organisation is also now under pressure to release all documents linked to the affair and disclose whether it had ever made any similar interventions in separate cases.

The crossbench senator Rex Patrick has lodged a freedom of information request with Australia Post for records of any prior threats, and the documents associated with the Hanson delivery.

“Do I think it proper for Australia Post to deliver mail and parcels in a reliable and timely manner – yes! Some would argue that they’ve been waiting some time for Australian Post to do exactly that,” Patrick said.

“But how many times has Australia Post’s general counsel written threatening to call in the police to ensure good service? I suspect not often. This requires further investigation.”

The council has not been spared from criticism itself. The City of Melbourne was responsible for distribution and deliveries during the hard lockdown of the towers, and decided to withhold these deliveries from the residents.

The Guardian has spoken with one councillor, Philip Le Liu, who says the council should have given residents a choice of receiving the mail, if they wished to.

Le Liu has since requested a formal investigation into the council’s handling of the incident.

Hanson’s office has not responded to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

She tweeted yesterday: “Talk about a storm in a stubby cooler! – PH”
<< Actually , most Australians regard her as a bigotted loudmouthed fool and only a very number of Australian support her or what stands for , most of us wish she's just go away and disappear , never to be seen or heard from ever again . Only one media network talks to her how , yes , you guessed it , SKYE News and the associated radio channel segments run my Alan Jones and his cronnies >>

Melbourne couple are fined $1,652 for driving 300km to mow their lawn
A Melbourne couple who drove more than 300km to regional Victoria to mow their lawn have been fined for breaching their city's Stage Four Lockdown.

The man and woman drove from Preston in Melbourne's inner north to their second property in the small country town of Koondrook on the Murray River in northwest Victoria on Thursday.

Police said when they asked the couple why they had travelled so far, they said 'the grass would have got too long if we didn't come up'.
<< Silly people, should have picked up the phone and called JIM'S LAWNMOWING if they were that desperate , or looked up a local lawnmowing guy who lived in the town and asked him to do the mow , most of these guys are taking payment by PayPal or over the phone via credit card so it's very easy to arrange and lots cheaper >>

Melburnians are only permitted to travel to regional Victoria for work, medical care, care giving and to buy goods and services, provided it is their closest location.
Since 'mowing the lawn' is not an acceptable reason to travel so far, the couple were fined $1,652 each on the spot.

The couple were just two of 100 Victorians fined for breaching the chief health officer's directives in 24 hours.

Two men from Craigieburn who caught a taxi to the Yarra Ranges were pulled over at a vehicle checkpoint and fined.

One man said he as travelling to Gruyere to buy a vintage car while the other said he was going to buy tyres.

A man and two women were also fined after being caught hosting a birthday party at a short-term rental property on the Bass Coast.

Another 22 were fined for failing to wear a face mask when leaving home for one of the four approved reasons, 31 were fined at vehicle checkpoints and 30 were fined for curfew breaches.

Police have now issued 9,769 infringements since Stage Three restrictions were reinstated in Melbourne in early July, a total of more than $14 million in fines.

Melbourne's Stage Four lockdown began on August 2.

Vic Police brace for more lockdown protests
Heathrow area risks fate of 1980s mining towns, says airport boss
Humpback whales appear in Kakadu river

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius has slammed "selfish" anti-lockdown protesters ahead of another weekend of planned rallies in Melbourne.

The senior police chief revealed his growing frustration as he fronted up to the media for the third week running to warn against "yet another" protest set to take place in Melbourne's CBD tomorrow in defiance of coronavirus restrictions.

"I feel a bit like a dog returning to eat his own vomit," he said.

"I am incredibly frustrated. If people were less selfish and a bit more grown up, we wouldn't have to keep doing this."

He said those who did attend rallies should be prepared for a "strong" police presence, with repeat offenders risking a court summons and potential $20,000 fine.

Anyone parading as being out for exercise or another approved reason but who was further than five kilometres from home also risked fines and arrest.

"Don't take us for fools," the assistant commissioner warned.

He warned that those who had already been issued with a $1652 fine for breaching Public Health Orders but who continued to defy police orders could be arrested and summoned to appear in court, where fines of up to $20,000 can be issued.

"Clearly with those people, the $1652 fine is not having enough of an impact… so we will be charging and put them before the courts," he said.

The warning comes as the top cop revealed a 43-year-old man had been arrested at his home in Melbourne yesterday.

He has been charged with inciting illegal activity over his role in organising multiple days of protests planned for this weekend, Assistant Commissioner Cornelius said.

Officers had also issued verbal warnings to "a number" of people who had expressed interest in attending the rallies.

The police response comes after Victoria Police copped heavy criticism last week when a video of officers handcuffing a pregnant woman accused of planning a 'Freedom Day' rally was shared on social media, making headlines around the world.

Assistant Commissioner Cornelius defended the officers' conduct, saying he believed they were polite and professional and acted "appropriately".

Speaking today, the police chief said he didn't care about protesters' political persuasions or reasons for rallying.

"This isn't about targeting particular groups or particular qualities," he said.

"We're not interested in your reason. We're interested in holding you to account for breaching that law.

"Please, please don't leave home to engage in an activity that risks spreading the deadly virus and risk making us all stay home longer."


BD.org Sicko
Original Poster
New South Wales reports just 4 new coronavirus cases
Just four new coronavirus cases have been locally sourced in New South Wales, with another six in hotel quarantine.

Two of the new cases are patrons from the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club in Sydney's Waverley, after infected revellers went to the bar on several nights last week.

One of the new infections is a household contact of a previous case linked to the Liverpool Emergency Department.

The last case is from a household contact after they were associated to a cluster of cases in the CBD.
Health authorities are racing to trace any contact of known infections from the Legion Club in Waverley.

Two of the seven cases recorded in NSW on Thursday were also linked to the club that has now been closed.

Anyone who was at the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club in Waverley between 5pm and 6.30pm on August 28 has been told to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until they receive a negative result.

The two persons involved also attended the club while infectious on the evenings of September 1, 4, 5 and 6.

This prompted NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeremy McAnulty to warn everyone in the Waverley area to monitor for symptoms.

'Anyone who lives in that area is urged to be alert for symptoms of COVID-19 and isolate, seek testing right away if they occur and stay isolated until a negative test is received,' Dr McAnulty said.

'If you are unwell, get tested and isolate right away - don't delay.'

There are currently 83 patients being treated for the deadly disease and 6 are in intensive care.

NSW has had 54 deaths from coronavirus in total.

An infection that had previously been reported in a staff member at Concord Hospital has now been excluded.

'Anyone previously identified as a close contact has been notified and informed they are no longer required to complete 14 days isolation,' Dr McAnulty said.

'This includes close contacts previously identified at Paperboy Café in Concord and Plus Fitness Epping.'

It comes after more than 50 venues across Sydney were put on alert.

NSW Health has issued 'close contact' warnings for 13 venues, stretching all the way from the city's western suburbs to the east coast.

The venues are in Ashfield, Concord, Epping, Moorebank, Newtown, Oatlands, Paddington, Parramatta, Prestons, Randwick and Sydney city.

Diners at popular Chinese restaurant New Shanghai Night in Ashfield, in the inner west, must self-isolate after a positive COVID-19 case visited on Friday September 4.

There is also a close contact warning for Oatlands Golf Club in Sydney's north-western suburbs and for punters who visited the beer garden and pavilion at Albion Hotel in Parramatta.

More than 30 venues were also visited by a positive case, with attendees urged to monitor for flu-like symptoms.

NSW Health warns that anyone who has been to the below venues during the identified times should watch for COVID-19 symptoms.


Chemist Warehouse: 2pm to 2:30pm on August 28

Woolworths 10am to 11am on August 27

Balmain Community Pharmacy 11am to 11:20am on August 31


Westfield: Platinum Fitness First 7am to 5pm on August 31

Attendees will be contacted and advised by NSW Health whether they are casual or close contacts.


Quality Suites (foyer) 3:15pm to 4:30pm on August 29

Rydges Hotel 2pm to 3:15pm on August 29

Carslaw Building toilets, University of Sydney 8pm to 8:20pm on August 28


Gram Café and Pancakes 11:10am to 12:15pm on August 27

Sushi Rio 5:45pm to 7:30pm on August 27

Westfield 1pm to 1:50pm on August 27


Clovelly Hotel 12:45pm to 1:45pm on September 5


Croydon Park Pharmacy 1pm to 2pm on September 3


Metro Fuel 3:15pm to 3:35pm on August 27


Leaf Café & Co, Lidcombe Shopping Centre 11:30am to 1:30pm on August 31


The Railway Hotel 10pm to 11:30pm on September 4


Fitness First Maroubra 8am to 12pm on September 5


Big Bun 3:30pm to 4pm on August 27

Stockland 9am to 11am on August 29


BWS (123 King Street) 5:15pm to 5:40pm on August 28

Newtown Train Station 5:10pm to 5:20pm on August 28

Off Ya Tree clothing and body piercing store 7:15pm to 7:55pm on August 28


Macquarie Shopping Centre 2pm to 5pm on September 5 including:

Food Court from 2:15pm to 2:45pm

Coco Tea from 2:45pm to 3pm

Myer from 3pm to 3:30pm

Time Zone from 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Tommy Gun's Barbershop from 4:30pm to 5pm


Aldi 10am to 10:30am on September 1


Bunnings Warehouse 12pm to 2pm on August 27


God's Power Ministries Heckenberg 2:50pm to 3:30pm on August 30


Charles St Kitchen 10:45am to 11:30am on September 5


Rosebery Post Shop, 371 Gardeners Road 1:30pm to 1:40pm on August 26


Rouse Hill Town Centre (including Target) 12:30pm to 1:30pm on September 5


Stanhope Village Shopping Centre (including Kmart) 8:30am to 9:30am on September 7


St Ives Shopping Centre, 166 Mona Vale Road 5:30pm to 6pm on August 26

Coles, St Ives Shopping Centre, 166 Mona Vale Road 1pm to 2pm on August 28


Virgin Active Margaret Street Gym 5:10pm to 6:40pm on August 26

If you are contacted by NSW Health and identified as a close contact you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days


Missing Spoon Café 4:45pm to 5:30pm on September 5


Warriewood Square shopping centre 12:30pm to 2:30pm on August 29 including Kmart, Coles, Aldi and the food court.


Eastern Suburbs Legion Club

Anyone who attended the club between 5pm and 6:30pm on August 28 is being directed to immediately get tested for COVID‑19 and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Additionally, anyone who attended the club on the following days must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop: September 1, September 4, September 5, September 6


Eastwood Ryde Netball Association 12:15pm to 1:30pm on September 5


Mater Clinic 8:30am to 9am on August 28


China Doll Restaurant 6:30pm to 10:00pm on September 3

NSW coronavirus cases rise by 10 as health authorities warn COVID-19 still 'circulating' in community
Key points:
Sydney's eastern suburbs coronavirus cluster grew by two cases today
The source of the cluster is still unknown, Dr McAnulty said
Two other cases confirmed today were linked to the CBD cluster

People who attended a Blue Mountains swimming pool are being urged to self-isolate immediately after a positive case emerged.

Blue Mountains City Council confirmed the closure of Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre after a positive COVID-19 case attended on September 4.

In a post on Facebook, the council said it was notified of the case late on Friday that anyone at the centre between 11:30am and 1:30pm on that date should quarantine until September 18 and get tested.

The centre has been closed for cleaning.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said it would be a "nervous time" for the community and staff present that day.

"Our team will be giving them every support possible and liaising with NSW Health throughout the quarantine period," he said.

NSW health authorities earlier today confirmed 10 new cases of coronavirus, warning COVID-19 "continues to circulate in the community".

Six of those are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

The other four infections were locally acquired and linked to known cases or clusters.

NSW Health's Jeremy McAnulty said said one new case was a household contact of a person associated with Liverpool Emergency Department.

The other new case was a household contact of a person linked to the Sydney CBD cluster.

Dr McAnulty said two new cases attended the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club at Waverley which means a total of five people have now been infected.

The source of the original infection was not yet known, he added.

Prior to this cluster, Sydney's eastern suburbs, a former coronavirus hotspot, recorded minimal cases in the last couple of months.

Health authorities said they were concerned several known clusters were continuing to grow.

"COVID continues to circulate in the community", Dr McAnulty warned.

"So we must all be vigilant."

There have been four mystery cases in the past week in NSW, where authorities were not able to trace the source of an infection.

Dr McAnulty said a staff member at Concord Hospital who was previously diagnosed with coronavirus had been cleared following further testing.

He said that meant anyone who was a close contact has been relieved of the 14-day mandatory isolation period, including people who attended Paperboy Café in Concord and Plus Fitness in Epping.

There are now 14 people associated with Concord and Liverpool Emergency Departments who have tested positive for COVID-19, including nine healthcare workers.

Investigations into the source of these infections are ongoing.

Paediatrician Kate Jardine said the growing cluster in two NSW emergency departments could be linked to the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) required.

Healthcare workers are presently required to wear a standard blue surgical mask while treating coronavirus patients in emergency departments.

"The fact that nine out of 14 cases are healthcare workers is an alarm bell and a signal to act now to ensure that N95/P2 masks are used when treating suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases," she said.

Dr Jardine pointed out that the number of Victorian cases in healthcare workers declined after the introduction of N95/P2 masks on July 31.

here were 24,760 tests completed in yesterday's reporting period.

Dr McAnulty said an additional 27,135 tests had been added to yesterday's total due to a delay in reporting.

NSW has recorded a total of 3,963 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, a woman has been issued with a $1,000 fine after allegedly trying to flee a Sydney quarantine hotel yesterday.

The 51-year-old who arrived on a flight from Melbourne on Tuesday, was allegedly stopped and spoken to by a hotel security guard.

Police allege she told the guard she was a hotel staff member and ran out a fire exit when she was asked to produce identification.

Coronavirus Australia live news: New COVID-19 health alert issued for Concord Hospital in Sydney's inner-west
Health authorities say a patient infectious with coronavirus was in the waiting room at Concord Hospital in Sydney's inner-west.

Anyone who attended the hospital's emergency department between 2:20pm and 5:00pm on September 6 for more than an hour has been been told to isolate for two weeks and get tested.

Follow the live blog for all of today's events as they unfold.

NSW Nationals ditch threat to quit Coalition as John Barilaro's leadership condemned as 'untenable'
The NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, has backed off from his threat to pull his party out of the Coalition and has instead agreed to a compromise offered by Gladys Berejiklian to hold further talks over the state’s new koala protections in cabinet on 6 October.

The Nationals had earlier resolved to push for early talks in September and had compiled a list of changes that they wanted. But the premier insisted on normal processes and declined to offer concessions.

No compromises have been offered on the policy at this stage but are possible during the talks.

The bruising 24 hours has deeply damaged Coalition relations at a time when Berejiklian has been widely recognised for her steady handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government sources said Barilaro’s leadership was now “untenable”. “He has broken the marriage and there is no ability to repair the relationship,” a government source said.

“The premier is the hardest working in the country and he’s done this. They need a new leader to stabilise the government.”

At midday Berejiklian and Barilaro issued a brief joint statement.

“Following a meeting this morning between the premier and deputy premier, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Coalition remains in place.”

“This includes a commitment to supporting cabinet conventions and processes.”

“The matter will be dealt with at an upcoming cabinet meeting.”

The Nationals have been in second Zoom meeting this morning. There are reports that one of the early rebels, Chris Gulaptis from the seat of Clarence on the North Coast of NSW, will go ahead with his threat to sit on the crossbench, leaving Berejiklian with a majority of one.

The Nationals’ leadership is a matter for the party and it is possible that Berejikian will be forced to continue working with Barilaro if he retains his party’s support.

The crisis was triggered by Barilaro threatening to end the Coalition by moving his 13 Nationals to the crossbench and abstaining from voting. But he said they would not resign from their ministries.

Berejiklian said this position was untenable and warned that if he insisted on it, she would go to the governor and swear in a new ministry on Friday morning.

That has now been averted but the mistrust is likely to linger, and senior Liberals are hoping that the Nationals will reconsider the position of Barilaro, who has become increasingly erratic in his political judgment since announcing a quickly aborted run for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro this year.

He has said he will not contest the next state election.

Possible candidates for the Nationals leadership, should they move on Barilaro, include the water minister, Melinda Pavey, the agriculture minister, Adam Marshall, and the regional transport minister, Paul Toole.

The decisive action by Berejiklian is likely to shore up her position. Several senior Liberal ministers are believed to be ambitious to take the top job, but Berejiklian’s performance during the pandemic mean she is now safe from challenge.

Whether the Liberals will budge on the koala protections remains to be seen.

The planning minister, Rob Stokes, who has carriage of the policy, has said the Nationals misrepresented many aspects of it.

“My colleague in the NSW government said farmers can’t build a feed shed or a driveway on their property without a koala study,” he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. “This is not the case. You can erect farm sheds, pour driveways, clear fence lines and engage in any routine agricultural practice that has occurred for generations without the need for development consent or a koala study.”

He also denied claims that the new policy, which expands the number of trees that indicate koala habitat, included noxious weeds, as Barilaro claimed.

The policy does have some impacts on the ability to change land use, and places a significant hurdle to subdividing rural land on the fringes of rural towns where koalas are present. Farmers who were hoping to capitalise on redeveloping their farms into housing could well be stymied.

The new state environmental planning policies include maps where landowners need to go through an assessment process with council. Farmers say this has affected their land values, but these maps do not absolutely rule out development, and instead trigger the requirement for an expert assessment.

Related: Gladys Berejiklian gives NSW Nationals deadline to reverse threat to sit on crossbench

Some of the National backbenchers have farms that are likely to be affected by the new koala protections.

Environmental groups warn that unless urgent action is taken on koalas in NSW the species will be extinct by 2050.

Stokes said koala protection “should not be about dividing our community between the city and the bush, between urban dwellers and country folk”. “Protecting the koala is protecting our shared identity as Australians,” he wrote.

He has ruled out the Nationals’ approach that actual koalas needed to be found on properties before land is declared koala habitat, warning that the summer bushfires had decimated populations.

One compromise is to offer financial assistance to farmers who need to seek expert assessments.


Queensland Premier promises extra staff for border exemptions
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has pledged to enlist as many staff as needed to deal with border exemption applications as senior Morrison government ministers described her as cold-hearted for blocking grieving people from skipping quarantine.

Queensland already has about 80 officials to grant or deny quarantine exemption applications from people seeking to travel from interstate COVID-19 hotspots, but the Premier flagged those numbers could increase.

The state's border stance has come under fire after officials denied 26-year-old Canberra nurse Sarah Caisip's plea to leave hotel quarantine and attend her father's funeral with her grieving mother and sister.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the Premier to intervene on Thursday in a private phone call. The Premier then publicly accused the Prime Minister of bullying.

Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann described Ms Palaszczuk as "so cold-hearted and so harsh and so nasty", while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton questioned her judgement over the decision.

"I don't think she is a mean person. I don't think Annastacia Palaszczuk is a bad person, but I think she is making bad calls and I think the inconsistency is what really annoys people," Mr Dutton said.

In her first press conference in seven days, Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday these were "absolutely heartbreaking and gut-wrenching times" for people stuck at Heathrow Airport waiting to come home and people who cannot see loved ones in Victoria and Western Australia.

"I'm human just like everyone else. These issues hurt me deeply. They hurt me deeply because during this pandemic I have lost loved ones as well. I know exactly what people are going through," said Ms Palaszczuk, who had fought back tears in public three times this week.

"As I said to the Prime Minister, I don't make these decisions, the Chief Health Officer does."

Ms Palaszczuk said the state has tasked "around 80 people" to grant or deny border exemption applications.

She flagged that number could swell because "it is absolutely crucial we have as many staff as is needed to deal with these complex and heartbreaking issues".

The new specialist team of eight clinicians, to deal with medical exemptions, have fielded more than 400 calls in its first week of operation.

"These people are human beings as well," she said.

A day earlier, Ms Palaszczuk said she would "not be bullied and nor will I be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country", leading the Queensland LNP to accuse the Premier of "playing the victim".

Ms Caisip, who moved from Queensland to Canberra in February, was locked in hotel quarantine and denied permission to attend her father's funeral in Brisbane, even though there have been no COVID-19 cases in the ACT for more than two months.

Ms Caisip was eventually permitted to view her father's body on Thursday, while wearing full personal protective equipment.

"I got to see dad so that was better than nothing," she told 4BC.

"It was really strange being in a funeral and that time of saying goodbye I couldn't even get the support from mum or my sister."

Mr Morrison intervened in another border case on Friday when he donated $1000 of his own money to help cover the quarantine cost for a NSW family desperate to enter Queensland to say goodbye to their father, Mark Keans, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

Anyone entering from somewhere Queensland has decided is a hot spot - which includes all of NSW, Victoria and the ACT - must apply for an exemption to enter the state and has to pay for their own hotel quarantine for 14 days.

No exemption is needed during a medical emergency.

Returning Queensland residents do not have to apply for an exemption but must also complete 14-days hotel quarantine at their own expense.

The committee of the nation's leading medical experts is working to get a common definition for a virus hotspot as a top priority, with the Prime Minister seeking to use the medical advice to pressure other leaders to lower their border walls.

Queensland has has reserved the right to see how the hotspot definition process develops.

"We haven't seen any details and there might be two [other] states that actually give it a trial and see how it goes," Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Northern Territory will reopen its borders to Sydneysiders from October 9 provided NSW continues to keep community transmission under control.

However, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said Victoria had a long way to go before the NT would relax travel restrictions on its residents.

Federal deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said the news of some reopening of borders would hearten many Australians.

"It's very important, though, that travel of people between jurisdictions is done in a COVID-safe way and that we're not risking the transmission of COVID-19 from one jurisdiction to another," he said.

Dying dad able to farewell kids
A father dying in a Brisbane hospital will be granted his "final wish" to say goodbye to his four children after a huge outpouring of support to fund the tragic farewell and a backflip by the Queensland government.

Overnight, the NSW-based family of Queensland father Mark Keans, 39, was finally granted permission to cross the border to visit him but said they feared they wouldn't be able to afford the "astronomical" coronavirus quarantine costs.

It comes as a medical company has now offered to fly Mr Keans across the border into New South Wales, to see his family.

Mr Keans is dying of cancer and doctors have said he is unlikely to survive beyond Christmas.

Donations to the family have now reached $200,000, smashing their goal of $30,000 to fund the trip.Yesterday Mr Keans' father, Bruce Langvorne, said the family had been told they were all allowed to travel across the border but must wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) to visit him in hospital and fork out as much as $20,000 for transport and hotel quarantine.

"Honestly cannot thank everyone enough for all the generous donations," the organiser of an online fundraising page wrote.

"Mark's family are so very appreciative and this will take the financial burden off of their shoulders so now they focus solely on Mark.

"Thank you again everyone."

A Queensland-based company, Medical Rescue, has come to the family's aid, offering to fly Mr Keans into NSW so his family can avoid crossing the border and the huge costs that come with it.

The company contacted the Today Show and said it could take Mr Keans, with medical care, across the border into the Tweed region, so he can have that final goodbye with his family.

They are now working through their options, deciding which path to take.

The family has attracted a national outpouring of support after it was first revealed the Queensland government had given permission for only one of Mr Keans' children to cross its strictly closed border.

Elderly Ruby Princess passenger has spent 77 days in ICU with COVID-19
An elderly COVID-19 patient in Queensland has been revealed as the person who has spent the longest time in hospital of any coronavirus case in the state.

The man, known only as Richard, contracted the virus on the Ruby Princess cruise in March and has spent 77 days in intensive care.

The 81-year-old will next week move into a rehabilitation bed where he will be taken care of during the final phases of his recovery, Queensland's Health Minister Steven Miles said.

"I want to make special mention today of Richard," Mr Miles said during this morning's daily coronavirus update.

"He knows better than anyone just how awful this disease can be, how great our hospital services are at saving lives from COVID but also how long it can take to recover."

The state has recorded more than 1,090 recovered cases of COVID-19 and 10 people remain in hospital with the virus.

Queensland announced two new cases in the last 24 hours, both in hotel quarantine, bringing the state's total number of active cases to 28.

"Both of them were in quarantine and were known to be direct contacts of already confirmed cases," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

"One of them, the seventh member of a household, all who now have had COVID-19 but who were in quarantine and the other a confirmed community contact of a case."



Luxury multimillion dollar yacht Lady Pamela skipper fined $4500 for lying to border authorities
The skipper of the luxury yacht Lady Pamela has been fined $4500 in a Queensland court this morning for lying to border authorities.

Greg Numa, 64, pleaded guilty in Southport Magistrates Court to breaching the Public Health Act for making a false or misleading statement to an emergency officer.

The 30-metre superyacht arrived on the Gold Coast on August 24 after a two-week journey from Victoria.

Millionaire construction magnate Mark Simonds, his wife, their son, and their son's girlfriend were among those on board.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young initially granted the seven people on board exemptions from mandatory quarantine.

However, these were revoked and the seven were placed in self-funded hotel quarantine in Surfers Paradise after revelations the yacht had stopped in several ports in NSW, a declared hotspot.

Police detailed three instances where Numa disembarked along the NSW coastline, despite repeatedly telling a Marine Safety Queensland officer that nobody left the yacht.

Another BLM rally in QLD . this BLM rally in Brisbane erupts into chaos

this wont help their cause.
What started as a peaceful rally outside the Brisbane Watchhouse this morning quickly descended into violence when protesters began putting red paint on their hands and defacing police cars and the watchhouse.

This prompted police to start making arrests, leading to scuffles between authorities and ralliers.

Protesters then swarmed police vans containing the arrested protesters, blocking their path to the watchhouse.

They could be heard yelling at officers to "get a real job" and "let them (the arrested protesters) go".

They had been blocking Roma Street, a major thoroughfare in Brisbane's CBD, and have defaced the Police Watchhouse and police cars with paint.

Specialist police negotiators have been brought in an attempt to diffuse the situation.

The rally follows the death of a 49-year-old Indigenous woman, who was found dead in her cell at the Brisbane Watchhouse early yesterday morning.

She had been in the watchhouse since Monday, after being remanded in custody for drug and property matters on Sunday, police said.
<< so she was were she needed to be , while waiting her turn infront of a magistrate >>

9News understands she had a prior medical condition which may have contributed to her death.
<< black deaths in custody are an explosive trigger in NSW, QLD, Vic, SA , NT and WA where most urban people of aboriginal heritage live >>


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Coronavirus forces Adelaide Christmas Pageant move from CBD to Adelaide Oval in twilight event
Australia's most well-attended parade will go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, but in a much different format to usual.

The Adelaide Christmas Pageant will be held on the evening of Saturday, November 14, at Adelaide Oval.

It will have up to 25,000 people, depending on the venue's negotiations with SA Health, rather than the 300,000 people who normally attend the daytime event as it parades along major CBD roads.

Premier Steven Marshall said the pageant going ahead would bring "lots of relief from right across South Australia".

"It's going to be different from other years but it is going to go ahead," he said.

"The good news is at the end of the parade we are going to have a very special guest that will be joining us in South Australia and that is Father Christmas."

Attendees will be chosen by ballot and the pageant will be broadcast live on TV.

"We have had an agreement with SA Health to go up to 25,000 [attendees], but of course we're still a long, long way from November 14," Mr Marshall said.

"But if we continue to do well in South Australia then I'm sure that that relationship that we've had with SA Health and the Adelaide Oval will mean that we can get to the maximum number."

Pageant director Brian Gilbertson said Father Christmas had been given a permit to come into South Australia from the North Pole, as the Easter Bunny did in April.

"It's an interesting year, it's been a difficult year, but we want to end the year with a celebration like we do every year with the pageant leading up to Christmas," Mr Gilbertson said.

"But what we can tell you is Father Christmas has got his permit.

"He's coming to South Australia and we're going to enjoy it very much."

Mr Gilbertson said it would be the first time the pageant had been held as a twilight event or in an arena since it began in 1933.

He encouraged children to draw with chalk on their driveways, rather than the city streets, to welcome Father Christmas.

Last year's Christmas pageant was also different to usual, ending at the Adelaide Town Hall rather than in North Terrace.

South Australia has no active coronavirus cases.

The last positive case was on Tuesday in a traveller from South Africa on her way to NSW.

Border rule stopping nurse from being with cancer-stricken mum
A Victorian woman living near the South Australian border is on tenterhooks wondering if she is going to be allowed to visit her desperately ill mum.

Alicia's mother Rosemary has been battling stage four cancer since 2017.

A recent scan revealed it was spreading fast, and Rosemary can no longer walk.

Alicia told 9News she was desperate to be by her mum's side.

Alicia, a registered nurse, lives in Dartmoor in Victoria.

She has a cross-border community members exemption, allowing her to get to Mount Gambier to shop, and to travel within 40km of the border.

But she can't get to her mum, who lives in Normanville.

"Which is really difficult, to be stuck out here knowing that I am allowed to cross the border for basically work only, and allowed to go home," she said.

Alicia applied for a compassionate exemption two weeks ago.

After an initial refusal, SA Health is reconsidering its decision and has asked repeatedly for more information.

Four days ago, Alicia sent a supporting letter from her mum's doctor about her condition.

Yesterday, she was asked if her intentions were to relocate to South Australia.

"I wrote back and said that basically, my intentions were to be with my mum for as long as I needed," Alicia said.

Premier Steven Marshall said today that at every opportunity, SA Health had "tried to accommodate" exceptions – especially on compassionate grounds.

But Alicia is still waiting for an answer.

"It's a really tough spot to be in … I just want to be with my mum," she said.

Limestone Coast border community at 'highest risk' from Victoria's easing of coronavirus restrictions
A South Australian regional medical chief warns the Limestone Coast community faces the greatest risk when coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in Victoria.

Regional Victorians will welcome some restrictions being rolled back next week as part of a state-wide roadmap.

From Monday, up to five people from two households can meet outdoors, retail can open with density restrictions and school students will make a staged return in regional Victoria.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Elaine Pretorius said health officials were closely monitoring the easing of restrictions in Victoria given the region straddled the state border.

"The Victorian roadmap has some very clear markers of when they will be changing, which indicates the risk to us," Dr Pretorius said.

"This helps us plan when all of these restrictions, especially around our aged care, start to be relaxed."

Concern over 'strange' anti-masks protests
Dr Pretorius said it was critical South Australia's Limestone Coast remained COVID-19 free.

"We are seeing very strange anti-masks protests and people protesting about their freedom, but I also think we need to be pragmatic and recognise the impact on people's lives, on our cross-border community and on our economy," she said.

Despite some restrictions set to ease in regional Victoria, she said this would not trigger any changes to the Limestone Coast coronavirus protocols and screening.

"This is simply because the risk for us remains higher than the rest of South Australia," Dr Pretorius said.

"We have a very unique situation in the south-east, so I suspect for those first two steps [in Victoria] we will still continue to screen people [entering regional hospitals] and be very specific asking where they have been.

"We will continue to insist on masks in those [first] two steps in Victoria. When they probably get to the 28 days with no cases, that will be the opportunity for us to start relaxing [protocols]."

Dr Pretorius said testing rates would likely "ramp up" in the Limestone Coast when Victoria moved out of restrictions.

"Testing is what is going to tell us if there is anything that has flared up," she said.

"On Monday, we hit the 20,000-testing mark in the south-east. That is an extraordinary effort. We will continue testing, along with wastewater testing."

Region closely monitors Victoria's roadmap
Dr Pretorius said the Victorian roadmap out of restrictions would be rolled out sequentially.

"In the first step they still will need to have reason to travel from home. We have been a little concerned about whether people will do the right thing in Victoria," she said.

"We are worried that some people may flout those rules."

Conceding Victorians had experienced a "dreadful time", she said people travelling outside their 40-kilometre zone increased the risk for the Limestone Coast community.

"There will be outdoor restaurants starting to open up in Victoria. When people start to gather in larger groups then the risk increases a little bit again," Dr Pretorius said.

She said the health network had been undertaking exercises to prepare for possible COVID-19- positive cases in regional aged care facilities.

"We are doing another practice run today just to make sure we are very slick," she said.

"South Australia has taken a slightly different view when someone is diagnosed with COVID, they will not be managed within the facility."

She said these patients would be moved to a COVID-19-designated hospital in Adelaide.

"I think this is very sensible. We have seen our quickly it spreads in facilities," Dr Pretorius said.

A practice run has also been undertaken at Mount Gambier's designated medi-hotel which is housing people who needed to quarantine.

"We feel very safe at the moment and very confident that we have planned for every scenario," Dr Pretorius said.

Aged care facilities monitors risk from Victoria
Aged care provider Boandik, the largest on the Limestone Coast, said it was closely watching Victoria's next steps.

"Boandik monitors the incidence of COVID-19 in regional border areas and use that to determine risk for our residents," its chief executive Gillian McGinty said.


"We have been at stage three of the plan where residents were restricted from going out into the community. This was due to the Victorian situation.

"As our border areas are now clear of COVID-19 we have moved back to stage two of our pandemic plan and residents are now able to go out into the community."

Ms McGinty said the organisation was recommending residents should avoid crowded and high-traffic areas due to the risk, which is also recommended by the World Health Organisation.

"We continue to promote effective infection control for all stakeholders," she said.



NT flags date to lift Sydney hotspot ban
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced from October 9 Greater Sydney will not be declared a coronavirus hotspot.

If cases remain low in Sydney residents will be able to travel from that date.

Victoria will remain a hotspot for the foreseeable future.
he Northern Territory will open its borders to residents from the Greater Sydney area in four weeks' time if Sydney's COVID-19 case numbers remain low.

Currently, people who have spent time in Greater Sydney have to undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine on arrival in the NT.

But NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said if Sydney continued to contain its coronavirus cases, the NT would remove Greater Sydney from its hotspot list on Friday, October 9.

Mr Gunner said the Territory's decision had been influenced by health advice related to the sustained downward trend of cases in Sydney, successful contact tracing and a high rate of testing.

"The testing being done and the links of almost all new cases, the known clusters, gives us a high degree of confidence that there are no unknown outbreaks occurring," he said.

But Mr Gunner said the NT Government would closely monitor coronavirus cases in the region.

"If things change [and] the trend goes back up in Sydney, we will not hesitate to keep their hotspot status in place for as long as we need to," Mr Gunner said.

The Northern Territory's list of COVID-19 hotspots includes 32 local government areas in Greater Sydney and the state of Victoria.

Mr Gunner said while progress on containing coronavirus in Victoria was "encouraging", the state's hotspot status would remain and it would be some time before his Government considered removing it.

"Victoria will continue to be a hotspot for the purposes of travel to the Northern Territory," he said.

Chief Health Officer urges caution with visitors
The Northern Territory declared Greater Sydney a hotspot in July.

NT Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie said if the region's hotspot status was revoked as planned, Territorians needed to remember to be cautious when hosting visitors from interstate.

"Consider not being close to people you haven't seen for a good while, in other words, kissing and hugging," he said.

"Consider maybe not going and visiting vulnerable persons immediately.

"If you haven't seen someone for a while, maintain your 1.5-metre distance."

Last month, the NT Government revoked the hotspot status of Brisbane as well as some regional areas of NSW.

New South Wales reported 10 new cases of coronavirus today.

NSW Health said six cases were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, while four were locally acquired cases linked to a known case or cluster.

The total number of cases recorded in NSW since the pandemic began is 3,963.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in the NT and on Monday it will be 28 days since the NT's last case recovered.


Border Force approved Tom Hanks' return to Australia under Peter Dutton's instructions.
Peter Dutton’s department provided federal approvals for Tom Hanks and 11 other family, staff, cast and crew to enter Australia, despite the home affairs minister accusing the Queensland government of rolling out the red carpet for the Hollywood star.

Annastacia Palaszczuk pointed the finger at Dutton’s Australian Border Force at a committee hearing on Friday, after Dutton told Channel Nine the state government had allowed “Tom Hanks from California”, while blocking “Tom Hanks from Chermside or Castle Hill”.

Guardian Australia has confirmed federal involvement, including that Queensland chief health officer, Jeannette Young, wrote to ABF commissioner Michael Outram supporting an exemption for Hanks and 11 other family, staff, cast and crew.

The spat is part of a broader federal public relations offensive seeking to discredit Queensland’s travel ban by targeting decisions such as the refusal to grant an exemption to Canberra woman Sarah Caisip to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane.

Although Western Australia is the only state to formally refuse to reopen its border by Christmas, Queensland has not agreed to the commonwealth’s definition of a coronavirus hotspot, giving it latitude to refuse arrivals from states with low or no community transmission until well after the 31 October state election.

Border restrictions are set to be eased in the Northern Territory, which announced on Friday that, from 9 October, greater Sydney will no longer be classified as a hotspot, allowing residents to travel to the Top End without 14 days quarantine.

On Friday, Dutton said all governments “want to make sure that everybody’s health is taken care of, but at the moment this indiscriminate application of the border restrictions is really having a very negative impact on people’s mental health and it is really devastating families … and there is no consistency”.

“If you are Tom Hanks from California, you are okay.

“If you are Tom Hanks from Chermside or Castle Hill, sorry, you are not coming in, even to your brother’s funeral or your dying daughter. It is just unacceptable.”

Dutton said the problem was of Palaszczuk’s making and called on her to fix it “sooner than later”.

Hanks is in Australia to complete filming of an Elvis Presley biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. He and the other crew are quarantining at the production’s expense at a Gold Coast hotel.

The quarantine arrangement is set out in the Queensland’s film industry Covid-safe plan, with crew subject to the same confinement to their rooms and random checks by police, although the hotel is not a designated quarantine hotel.

The LNP opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, has also criticised the arrangement, accusing the Queensland government of “double standards” and suggesting it amounts to celebrities choosing where to quarantine.

Palaszczuk was asked about the controversy at an economics and governance committee hearing into the Queensland government’s Covid-19 response.

She replied: “In relation to allowing that film to happen, I understand that our department had to write to the federal government through border force to get that approval.”

Related: Morrison says Australia risks 'losing its humanity' after woman denied permission to attend father's funeral

“So, there was a federal – my understanding is that there was federal approvals as well for the film to continue.”

Since Australia closed its borders in March, all departures and arrivals have required exemptions from the ABF. After the production sought an exemption from ABF, Young wrote to Outram on 30 June supporting the application by confirming that Queensland would accommodate cast and crew.

In July, the federal government announced $400m of funding to attract international film and television productions to Australia.

Guardian Australia has contacted the ABF and Dutton for comment.

On Thursday, Scott Morrison said that he was “mystified” by Queensland’s decision to refuse to allow Caisip to attend her father’s funeral, telling Sky News that such decisions meant Australia is “in danger” of losing its humanity.

“We have got to find a better way to deal with the heart here.”

Cheap intrastate / interstate offshoot of Virgin - Tigerair is officially SHUT DOWN as coronavirus wreaks havoc
Budget airline Tigerair has officially shut down after 13 years in the air as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry.

The low-cost carrier, which was run by Virgin Australia, made the announcement on Thursday night.

'There is no denying these are tough times for everyone in the travel and tourism industry,' a spokesman said.

'And sadly, after nearly 13 years of operation we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the Tigerair Australia brand.'

The COVID-19 pandemic had grounded all Tigerair planes and forced its pilots out of work.

Virgin Australia had acquired the airline in 2014, though said there was insufficient customer demand to keep it running any longer.

Tigerair had been the only direct competitor of Qantas-owned, rival Jetstar.

The airline ran domestic and regional flights and was well known for its affordable plane tickets.

Many disappointed flyers have since taken to social media following news of its closure.

'Vale Tigerair,' one person wrote.

'You saved me a lot of money over the past few years and were usually more reliable than the other airlines.'

SOURCE: Virgin Australia Group

Another person commented: 'Just got an email to say TigerAir just folded and like I’m legit sad about it.'

Customers with Tigerair flight credit will be able to put it towards Virgin Australia flights.

The closure of Tigerair comes after Virgin Australia creditors agreed last Friday to sell their airline to Boston-based Bain Capital for $3.5billion.

Virgin Australia was co-founded by British businessman Richard Branson.

Though in April the airline became the world´s largest to seek bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic grounded much of the aviation industry.

The new deal deal will see Virgin Australia cut 3,000 jobs and end many of its international flights.

Long-haul routes from Australia to Los Angeles and Tokyo will be scrapped as the airline resets the business for lower global demand.

The airline plans to shed its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 planes and use Boeing 737s, along with some smaller aircraft for regional and charter flights.

It plans to reemerge with cheap fares as a value-based carrier.

Paul Scurrah, the chief executive of Virgin Australia Group, said the sale moves the airline closer to leaving bankruptcy protection and allows it to focus on the future, in which it will continue competing with its larger rival, Qantas Airways.

'It's vital for Australia to have two major airlines for consumer choice, value airfares, and to help support the recovery of Australia's robust tourism sector after this crisis is over,' Scurrah said in a statement.

Australia state leaders defend COVID-19 curbs as cases ease
Australia's state leaders on Friday defended regional shutdowns and internal border closures against increased federal government pressure for restrictive coronavirus measures to be lifted as new case numbers ease.

While infections have declined in the hot spots of the country's second wave in recent days, many state and territory leaders have retained tough containment measures, including barring inter-state travel, fearing a fresh outbreak.

Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said border security staff were forced to make "difficult and tough decisions", referring to a decision by state officials to refuse to let a woman from a virus-free region of the country to attend her father's funeral.

The family's plight has become a flashpoint for growing tensions between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state leaders over Australia's handling of the pandemic.

Morrison had criticised decisions by Queensland officials to first bar the woman entry to the state while her father was seriously ill, and then deny her request to leave quarantine early to attend the funeral.

Morrison, who is keen to give the national economy a kickstart after it slid into its first recession in almost three decades, has also urged Victoria state to consider lifting a night curfew in Melbourne.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has stood firm, saying it was critical to control the movement of people in the state's capital, which has been the centre of Australia's second wave of infections.

"If you can limit movement, then you will see less people doing the wrong thing," said Andrews, who last week extended an initial six-week hard lockdown in Melbourne until Sept. 28.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, on Friday reported 43 new cases and nine deaths over the past 24 hours, continuing a steady downward trend from a peak of more than 700 cases in a single day in early August.

Victoria, home to one-quarter of Australia's 25 million population, now accounts for about 75% of the country's more than 26,500 COVID-19 cases and 90% of its 797 deaths.

New South Wales, the country's most populous state, reported 10 cases, while Queensland logged two new cases. The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories.


Australia to assist with PNG's COVID-19 economic recovery
The Australian Government is lending another $130 million to Papua New Guinea, which is struggling with budget woes. International Development Minister, Alex Hawke, says Australia is stepping up to help.


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No covid19 cases hospitalized in SA, Tas, ACT, NT






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Victoria records 37 new cases of COVID-19 as coronavirus death toll rises to 716
Victoria has recorded 37 new cases of coronavirus, the first time new daily cases have dropped into the 30s since June, and six further deaths.

The deaths of two women and one man in their 80s and two women and one man in their 90s take the state's COVID-19 death toll to 716.

All 6 fatalities are all linked to aged care.

The number of "mystery" cases in the state, where the source of the transmission cannot be traced, has dropped by seven since Friday's update.

There are 58 active cases in regional Victoria and no new cases outside of Melbourne since yesterday.

Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day coronavirus daily case average has dropped for the fifth day in a row to 61.6, and regional Victoria's has dropped to 4.3.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the situation in regional Victoria was "a clear, clear indication" the state could achieve low numbers by following the roadmap.

Melbourne and regional Victoria are set to move into slightly relaxed restrictions from Monday.

Melbourne's average needs to fall below 50 to move to the second step in easing restrictions on September 28, which includes outdoor gatherings increasing to five people from two households, outdoor pools reopening and outdoor personal training resuming.

After a week of increased scrutiny over the decision to extend Melbourne's curfew as part of the roadmap, Mr Andrews said it was about "giving police the easiest set of rules to enforce".

The Government has been criticised for continuing with the citywide curfew despite concerns it is not there on health advice.

"It is about making sure that the police are not having to waste their precious time dealing with things that shouldn't be happening and can easily be prevented, by putting a curfew in," Mr Andrews said.

Regional Victoria on track to open up early
The next trigger point for regional Victoria is continuing to record a 14-day average below five cases per day and going two weeks without a "mystery" infection.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said regional Victoria was "on track" to hit targets that will allow it to skip a step and open up earlier as long as mystery cases remained low.

He said there was "every expectation" the 14-day case average would remain below five per day.

Professor Sutton said there would be additional cases that "we can and should expect".

"We want them to be associated with known active cases or outbreaks so that we can be satisfied that we are tracking each and everyone of them," he said.

CHO addresses 'hotchpotch' comments
Professor Sutton was asked about comments published by the Saturday Paper, in which he reportedly said the state's pathology system was "a hotchpotch of public and private providers that are not that are not able to be stewarded centrally".

The state has come under criticism for its test and trace system, which has been under pressure during the second wave.

Asked about the comments today, Professor Sutton said the Government had worked "extremely hard" to make sure coronavirus testing by private providers was being done as fast as possible.

Professor Sutton acknowledged there had been room for improvement in the contact tracing system, but said Victoria was at a better point now than it had "ever been".

He said some some of the improvements made to contact tracing in recent weeks included IT upgrades and getting more people doing interviews by phone.

'Entirely possible' targets for COVID normal could change
University of Melbourne professorial fellow in epidemiology Tony Blakely, who contributed to the modelling the Government relied on to extend lockdown, told the Herald Sun newspaper an average of fewer than five daily coronavirus cases across two weeks was too restrictive to reach the last step of opening up.

Professor Sutton said there was every possibility the threshold could be increased to 10 if the data warranted it.

"If we get to a point where it is clear it is not possible to get to no community transition we will make a call on that," he said.

"We will investigate those numbers … and make a judgement about whether five is the appropriate target. They're judgements to make down the track."

Professor Sutton said the roadmap was "to lay out general movements" but added it was "entirely possible" it could change.

Pet groomers, beauty parlours to open earlier than scheduled
Mr Andrews said when metropolitan Melbourne entered its second step of reopening, scheduled for September 28, pet groomers would be allowed to resume some services.

Pet owners will be able to drop off and pick up their pets when the service is complete, but it must be at a venue and not a mobile pet grooming business.

Mr Andrews said changes would be made to the timeline for beauty and personal services reopening.

Under the roadmap announced last week, beauty and personal services were due to open under the last step.

Mr Andrews announced they will now be able to open when hairdressers do, during the third step of reopening, as long as masks can be worn during the entire appointment.

The third step is scheduled to take place from October 26.

Mr Andrews warned it meant services such as facials, face tattoos, and facial piercings could not occur because a mask would not be able to be worn by the client.

Mental health statistics show self-harm higher than last year, lower than August
Mr Andrews said there had been a 26.7 % increase in young people presenting to emergency departments for suicidal ideation and intentional self-harm in the past six weeks compared to the same period last year.
However, it is down from a 33 % increase recorded in August.

Mr Andrews said it was encouraging the trend was coming down.

"The additional resources we are putting into hospitals will be very important," he said.

There has been a 5.9 % increase in presentations for urgent mental health services compared to same six week period last year but that figure is down from a 19 % increase in August.

St Basil's chairman stands down as data shows 580 coronavirus aged care deaths, mainly in Victoria
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia says the chairman of the Melbourne nursing home at the centre of the nation's most-deadly aged care COVID-19 outbreak has stepped down.

According to a new snapshot from the Federal Health Department, St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner in Melbourne's north has had 183 coronavirus cases and 44 deaths.

The home is operated by the Greek Orthodox Church, which announced on Friday that St Basil's chairman Konstantinos Kontis had resigned from his position.

However, the church said Mr Kontis had been asked to remain on the St Basil's board to deal with practical and legal issues stemming from the pandemic.

In a Facebook post, Archbishop Makarios Griniezakis, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, said "with the help and prayers of our faithful people, we will move forward to a new day".
"… the efforts to stem the pandemic in certain residential aged care services in Victoria, as well as to support them, did not go as well as people had hoped," the post said.

The ABC tried to contact St Basil's and Mr Kontis for comment but did not receive a response.

The new Federal Health Department data shows 95 per cent of Australia's coronavirus aged care deaths have occurred in Victoria.

St Basil's has had the highest number of coronavirus deaths, with 44 residents who have died with COVID-19. Of the home's 183 COVID-19 cases, 92 residents and 91 staff have been infected.

The national snapshot shows there have been 580 aged care residents in Australia who have died with COVID-19 and 2,082 cases among staff.

All but 29 deaths were in Victorian aged care homes.

High case numbers among aged care residents and staff
There are 25 nursing homes in Victoria that have now recorded death tolls in the double-digits.

There are 83 active outbreaks in residential aged care homes.

The data also shows 82 of these aged care centres are in Victoria and one is in Queensland.

Other Victorian nursing homes to record double-digit deaths are Epping Gardens with 36 resident deaths from a total of 187 cases, including 85 staff.

Kalyna Care in Delahey in Melbourne's north-west has had 100 cases and 24 resident deaths.

Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir in Melbourne's north has had 21 resident deaths.

At Baptcare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee there have been 217 cases and 20 resident deaths.

Coronavirus cases at this home have included 99 residents and 118 staff.

In Kilsyth, in Melbourne's outer east, Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes has had 20 resident deaths and 115 cases, including 54 staff.

The data shows 19 deaths for residents at Newmarch House at Kingswood in Sydney's west, including two people who died with COVID-19 but were considered to have passed away from other causes.

The 71 cases at Newmarch House included 37 residents and 34 staff.

The Victorian data comes from the Public Health Events Surveillance System (PHESS), while other information has been collected by the Federal Government.

Flu deaths down markedly
The data also shows the aged care death rate is lower this year than last year, despite the pandemic.

To July 31, 32,398 aged care residents have died, compared to 33,383 at the same point in 2019.

The snapshot concludes that is likely due to increased influenza immunisation rates, and increased infection control protocols introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data also found a drop in aged care deaths from the flu.

Last year, 837 older Australians died of the flu, compared to just 28 so far this year.

Health workers' care packages fighting loneliness in lockdown
A team of Gippsland healthcare workers is on a mission to make sure vulnerable people don't feel alone during lockdown.

Ten staff at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service have created care packs, which are delivered to the elderly living independently, or people living with a disability

"It's as much for them as it is for us, they are part of our family," support services coordinator Janelle Wilmott said.

"They are so socially isolated, their loneliness and the depression, we just like to keep in contact."

Merilyn Hewitt, 77, said receiving a fortnightly care package from a familiar face was the best part of her day.

"It's lovely, it's like I am remembered, and I am included in a community," she said.

Before COVID-19 restrictions were in force, Merilyn attended the Planned Activity Group sessions weekly for her source of social interaction.

But since lockdown restrictions came in, this package drop off is some of the only interaction she gets.

The care packs change from week to week, surprising recipients with games and baked goodies, helping to keep them entertained.

"They had photographs of the staff on one side of the page when they were four or five years old, we had to guess who they were," Ms Hewitt said.

The healthcare workers also make weekly phone calls to the 60 people on their books, making sure they remain connected with the social and health support they need.

"It's just a matter of listening to them and listening to if they have any complaints, so it's just listening and providing as much support as we possibly can to them," Ms Willmott said.

The team said running this program was not just about their participants, but said keeping in touch with their local community has also helped them stay strong as they work through this pandemic.
Quarantine inquiry told of 'confusion' about who was in charge
The inquiry into Melbourne's hotel quarantine fiasco has heard that senior health officials had been confused about which department was in charge of the program.

Emails were shown to the inquiry, revealing confusion at the top end.

DHHS emergency management and health protector director Merrin Bamert said they "clearly" had concerns about "escalation points".

It was also revealed today that security guards working at the hotels – 32 of whom contracted COVID-19 – wanted PPE to protect them from the disease.

The commander who helped set up the program today defended its safety. "They wanted to wear things even though the advice was keep your distance, wash your hands, only use a mask when you're within 1.5 metres," Pam Williams said.

"If staff used appropriate distancing practices, then it wouldn't be (dangerous) and it wasn't for most of the people who worked there a dangerous place to work."

But the company brought in to deep clean the hotel wasn't told Rydges had been designated a quarantine destination, nor that there had been an outbreak among workers.

"We need to make our staff aware of that for their safety," Michael Girgis of Ikon Services said.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton, emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp, and chief commissioner Shane Patton, are all expected to front the inquiry next week.

'She deserved better': Melbourne aged care home continued to charge Covid victim as she lay in hospital
Kam Atkins says his mother “deserved better” than dying of Covid-19, and that the aged care home where she was infected with the virus continued to charge her fees even as she lay in hospital for almost one month fighting for her life.

Atkins said he contacted the home, Menarock Rosehill in Victoria, to ask that nearly $1,500 in fees be refunded but has yet to receive a response. It follows reports from the families of other residents of the home that they continued to be charged even after their loved ones were taken to hospital and died.

Atkins’ mother, Norma, died on 30 August in hospital, and her son said since her death the home had acted “as if she never existed”. He had not received a condolence card and had unsuccessfully tried to inquire as to why she was still charged fees until her death despite her being in hospital since 2 August.

Related: 'I want answers': family of Melbourne aged care Covid victims call for coronial inquest into their deaths

Atkins said information from the home about his 92-year-old mother had been lacking throughout the ordeal. When Norma was transferred to hospital, Atkins was told by the home his mother had been taken to the Epworth Hospital in Brighton, but when he called the hospital she was not there.

“The home got the hospital wrong, she was actually taken to Epworth Richmond,” Atkins said. “We had to ring around just to find out where she was.” At 9pm on 30 August, a doctor rang Atkins to tell him his mother had died. The next day, Atkins rang the the chief executive of the home and when he told her his mother had died, he said she responded: “Yeah, I know.”

“I thought to myself, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’,” Atkins said. “Why didn’t I get a call? Since then, I’ve heard nothing about her death. I haven’t even had a condolence card. I have no idea to this day how the virus got into the home, or how my mother became infected.”

Atkins said he did receive a call from the chief executive, however, to tell him that people had been speaking to the media about the outbreak and deaths in the home, and that she was disappointed information was leaking. Guardian Australia has seen emails from the home to other family members telling them they would no longer be receiving information unless it related directly to their relative due to the leaks.

Guardian Australia has repeatedly contacted the chief executive of the home for comment but is yet to receive a response. As of Monday, 16 Menarock Rosehill residents had died.

Three days before her death, nurses allowed Atkins to visit his mother to say goodbye. He had last seen her on 8 July, the day before her birthday, and the last day families could visit before the home was closed to visitors to protect against Covid-19. Atkins said when he last saw his mother in the home, they shared a cake and celebrated her birthday.

“The next time I saw her in the hospital, I looked at her and thought, ‘That doesn’t look anything like my mother’,” Atkins said. “I stood and talked to her and even though she was non-responsive the nurses, who were angels and just wonderful, told me she heard me. I just remember how shallow her breathing was and it was just heartbreaking watching this strong lady slowly dying.”

Related: Revealed: more than 40% of Victorian coronavirus aged-care deaths were residents in just 10 homes

“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”

Until she became infected with Covid, Norma regularly painted her nails and had her hair set every week, Atkins said. She listened to Scottish and country and western music, and enjoyed watching movies. Atkins said he was close with his mother, and they used to laugh together a lot.

He was devastated to learn through reading Guardian Australia that one of Norma’s friends in the home, Sybil, and her husband John, had also died. Sybil and Norma were at one point roommates, and used to listen to music and watch movies together, he said.

“Sybil and John were lovely people and my mother thought the world of them,” Atkins said. “They all deserved better.”

Atkins said he did not blame the staff at the home, who he said were trying their best during a terrible situation, but said that the board of directors of the home needed to give families information about how the virus took hold.

There have been 577 aged care deaths related to Covid-19 since the pandemic began, 546 of them in Victoria. More than four out of every 10 Victorian aged-care deaths due to Covid-19 occurred across just 10 facilities.


Victorian Opposition wants return to stage 3 coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne as epidemiologists question roadmap
Victoria's Opposition is calling for stage 3 restrictions to be reintroduced in Melbourne as soon as next week, rather than continuing with stage 4 and the current roadmap out of lockdown.

About 250,000 people were stood down from their jobs or told to stay home from work when stage 3 restrictions were tightened to stage 4 in early August.

Stage 3 restrictions mean people who can work from home must do so, but most industries are allowed to operate.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien has been critical of the lockdown's harshness, but until today had not outlined a detailed alternative plan.

Now, he has called for Melbourne to return to stage 3 restrictions, with mandatory mask-wearing, from next week.

"It's time to go to stage 3 restrictions with masks for Melbourne," he said.

"It's time to get … all our kids back in the classroom, for the start of term 4. This is important. We've got a chance to get some of our lives and livelihoods back.

"That would be a sensible way to get some businesses safely reopened, with COVID-safe work plans. Why keep people out of work unnecessarily?"

Under the two roadmaps announced last Sunday, one for Melbourne and one for the rest of the state, there are five "steps" out of lockdown, each involving a threshold for case numbers.

The first step begins in Melbourne on Monday and sees most current stage 4 lockdown restrictions continue, with some tweaks.

The most substantial easing of restrictions, known as the third step, will only come into effect in Melbourne from October 26 — but only if the state records an average of fewer than five new daily cases, and a total of five "mystery cases", over two weeks.

It is then retail and dine-in hospitality venues are due to reopen, and a potential staged return to school for year 3 to 10 students could take place.

Premier Daniel Andrews has consistently warned if restrictions are eased too suddenly it could plunge the state back into a third wave.

Daniel Andrews accused of 'ignoring the modellers'
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely, who co-authored the modelling used by the Government, said the target for moving to the third step was "too stringent".

He told the Herald Sun newspaper the target of fewer than five daily coronavirus cases across two weeks was overly cautious.

"That's their [the Government's] call, it's not one I would have made," he said.

Professor Blakely said he would have aimed for an average of 10 cases per day, rather than five.

His University of Melbourne colleagues, dean and assistant vice-chancellor of health ****ij Kapur and professor of mathematical biology James McCaw, said "no major city in Europe has attempted to suppress transmission to this extent".

In a piece for The Australian newspaper, the professors wrote that many of the assumptions used in the modelling may change in coming weeks.

"Could Melbourne get to fewer than five cases over a fortnight by October 26? Yes, it is possible. But it would be quite a remarkable achievement," they wrote.

"Just as we laud the government for providing clear guidelines based on a September 3 model, we urge the government to keep refining the models, perhaps build in considerations such as aged-care versus community, or rural versus metro, into future modelling."
Reviewing roadmap a decision for 'down the track': Sutton
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was "entirely possible" the targets for the roadmap could change as the data did.

"But they are judgements to make down the track and we will do it on the basis of how things are going over the next few weeks," he said.

There have also been criticisms levelled at the Government over the decision to extend the Melbourne-wide nightly curfew until the third step, despite the Chief Health Officer and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner both saying the recommendation did not come from them.

Mr Andrews today said the curfew was about "giving police the easiest set of rules to enforce".

But Mr O'Brien said "this is a Premier who is increasingly going rogue".

"He's been ignoring the modellers, and ignoring the police and the CHO [Chief Health Officer] when it comes to the curfew," Mr O'Brien said.

Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson, who represents the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, has recently asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to examine whether the curfews are a violation of people's rights and freedoms.

"The simple reality is we need to make sure that measures are necessary, sustainable to maintain public confidence, and when they're not, they should go," he told ABC Weekend Breakfast.

Andrews floats possibility of tighter border restrictions between Melbourne and regional Victoria [ to protect regional Victorians from Melbournians' very much higher covid19 prevalence ]
Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested Victoria could tighten and strengthen its border enforcement measures between regional Victoria and Melbourne as the regions look at reopening ahead of schedule.

Mr Andrews said his government would defend the border between regional Victoria and Melbourne "very tightly".

"We've got a different set of circumstances in Melbourne - much more virus in Melbourne. We can't have a situation where people are travelling for anything other than essential reasons into regional Victoria," Mr Andrews said.
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Video: Regional Victoria a 'step ahead' of Metropolitan Melbourne: Andrews (Sky News Australia)

Regional Victoria a 'step ahead' of Metropolitan Melbourne: Andrews

Andrews floats possibility of tighter border restrictions between Melbourne and regional Victoria
Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested Victoria could tighten and strengthen its border enforcement measures between regional Victoria and Melbourne as the regions look at reopening ahead of schedule.

Mr Andrews said his government would defend the border between regional Victoria and Melbourne "very tightly".

"We've got a different set of circumstances in Melbourne - much more virus in Melbourne. We can't have a situation where people are travelling for anything other than essential reasons into regional Victoria," Mr Andrews said.

Daniel Andrews holding a sign posing for the camera© Provided by Sky News Australia
"We know it's inconvenient to be stopped for lengthy periods of time at roadblocks but my feedback from regional Victorians is they're proud they've got such low numbers and they jealously guard it."

Great Australian Dream being shredded in Melbourne

Ordinary Melburnians are struggling under draconian lockdowns with up to 97 per cent of home borrowers unable to pay their mortgages in some suburbs.

Melbourne is home to seven of Australia's ten worst postcodes for mortgage stress where home borrowers can't service their loan and pay their bills on time.

Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews' Stage Four lockdowns are financially hurting young, growing families in the suburbs and the prospect of more restrictions risks causing more businesses to close.

The big banks in September are also auditing borrowers to see if they can start servicing their loans again after six months of mortgage repayment holidays.

Unemployment too is tipped to hit double-digit figures by Christmas for the first time since 1994.
Australia's worst suburbs for mortgage stress
1. Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale South in Melbourne's north: 97 per cent

2. Narre Warren East, Narren Warren North in Melbourne's outer south east: 96.8 per cent

3. Grasstree Hill, Honeywood in Hobart's north: 96.6 per cent

4. Belgrave, Tecoma in Melbourne's outer south east: 96.1 per cent

5. Armadale, Armadale North in Melbourne's inner east: 95.6 per cent

6. Aberfeldie, Essendon in Melbourne's north: 95.2 per cent

7. Rose Bay in Sydney's east: 94.5 per cent

8. Mount Evelyn in Melbourne's outer north east: 94.1 per cent

9. Endeavour Hills in Melbourne's outer south east: 93.8 per cent

10. Kambah in Canberra's outer south: 93.5 per cent

Source: Digital Finance Analytics data on the proportion of borrowers by suburb who were in mortgage stress in August 2020

In Australia's worst-affected suburb Pascoe Vale, in Melbourne's north, 97 per cent of borrowers are suffering from mortgage stress, Digital Finance Analytics data showed.

At Narre Warren, in Melbourne's outer south east, 96.8 per cent of mortgage holders are in dire straits.

The awful story was similar in nearby Belgrave with 96.1 per cent of borrowers struggling in the suburb that is home to the closed Puffy Billy steam train tourist attraction.

Rich and poor suburbs alike are in trouble in Australia's second biggest city with 95.6 per cent of borrowers struggling in upmarket Armadale as a similar proportion, 95.2 per cent, buckle to financial pressure in working class Aberfeldie and Essendon in the city's north.

Outer suburbs more than 30km from the city centre were also a red zone with 94.1 per cent of mortgage holders financially treading water in Mount Evelyn as 93.8 per cent of borrowers at Endeavour Hills wondered about their next bill.

Digital Finance Analytics principal Martin North, an economist, said this was not just an economic crisis - with many borrowers a month away from disaster.

'The pressure on these households is not just financial, it translates into both social and economic pressures as well,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has spent $164billion on stimulus programs.

Mr North feared the problem of mortgage stress would worsen as government crisis-spending programs were wound back as unemployment rose.

The Australian Banking Association has this week also confirmed 450,000 home and small business borrowers, on six-month mortgage repayment holidays, would be audited in September and October to see if they could service their loans again.

'The banks are already asking hard questions of some people,' Mr North said.

'In fact, I've got some feedback from speaking to individuals in my focus group that the banks are already putting pressure on them to consider selling their property.

'In other words, rather than actually just saying, "We'll give you another six-month extension" they're actually suggesting they should be proactive and sell the property.

'There's going to be more pressure on people - September, October, November - to put their property on the market.'

By March, the extended mortgage holidays are set to end - creating a new round of chaos.

'That will be the next critical, crunch point too,' Mr North said.

'We can assume that this is going to be the trend, not just for a few months but potentially for two or three years.'

The prospect of forced sales is also worrying the Reserve Bank of Australia, which predicted in a paper published last month that 40 per cent house price falls were 'an extreme but plausible scenario' - echoing what happened in the United States, Spain and Ireland after the Global Financial Crisis more than a decade ago.

The RBA is also predicting that unemployment will rise from a 22-year-high of 7.5 per cent to ten per cent by the end of 2020, a level unseen since April 1994.
Propertyology head of research Simon Pressley said the lockdowns were likely to see 30,000 Melbourne residents leave the city, or even Victoria, during the next two years.

'Whether they relocate to a nearby Victorian regional location such as Bendigo, Wodonga, the Great Ocean Road region or whether they completely leave the state, thousands of Melburnians will take action to regain their freedom,' he said.

'Prolonged uncertainty for one's income is unsustainable. Lockdown is no lifestyle.'

Digital Finance Analytics compiles telephone and focus group data every month from 4,700 respondents.

Every month, it creates heat maps showing suburbs suffering from the highest levels of mortgage stress with areas marked in red indicating 89 per cent or more borrowers can't pay their bills.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia had the world's second highest debt-to-income ratio of 186.5 per cent, largely as a result of high house prices.

Hundreds of police officers shut down 'Freedom Walk' protest



Police have arrested at least six anti-lockdown protesters after swarming the streets of Melbourne in a bid to shut down a 'Freedom Walk' rally.

Officers on horseback and in riot gear were seen marching across the city in preparation for the protest that was due to kick off at 11am on Saturday in the city's Tan walking track.

Demonstrators have already been taken away in handcuffs as police attempt to avoid a repeat of last week's protest that saw violent clashes leading to 17 arrests.

One man was arrested on Saturday after holding an anti-lockdown sign and calling out to police outside the Shrine of Remembrance.

The man told News Corp he wasn't a conspiracy theorist but was anti-government and nodded when asked if it was 'worth the fine'.

Police moved to the Shrine of Remembrance and surrounding areas and set up checkpoints.
Helicopters will also patrol the Tan track as officers block main roads to stop protesters.

Another mask-wearer was seen being spoken to by an officer while holding a sign that read: 'I am just exercising...my human rights'.

One elderly woman had her details taken by police after she held up a sign with the message: 'open our churches'.

One woman was dramatically restrained on the ground by multiple officers at the Observatory Gate because she wouldn't give her ID, the Herald Sun reported.

She was shoved into the back of a police car while screaming to be let go.

'They've arrested me because I won't say my name. I've been in Melbourne all my life, I just want to go for a walk,' the woman said.

Meanwhile a man with a picture of Premier Daniel Andrews stuck to the back of his face shield paraded through the protest while another had a mask saying 'sack Daniel Andrews'.

A couple were also seen walking through the Tan singing 'I Am Australian' while strumming a guitar.
The 'Freedom Walk' is believed to be the doing of sacked Clive Palmer political candidate and conspiracy theorist Tony Pecora, 43.

Mr Pecora was arrested by police after allegedly planning the event and charged with two counts of incitement.

The 43-year-old allegedly created the event on social media under the alias Arkwell Tripellego.

He believes the deadly coronavirus was 'genetically engineered by world banks to kill off weak humans'.

He then quoted Midnight Oil, allegedly telling police if someone contracted coronavirus at one of his events 'it would be better to die on your feet than live on your knees'.

Organisers say the event will be legal and only available for people who live within 5km of the Tan.

'Come together, get healthy and talk about getting our freedoms back,' the event says.

There are talks surrounding another protest on Sunday.

Marty Focker, who previously went viral after he was fined for having a barbecue in his neighbour's backyard was also arrested on Saturday.

'I'm not sure how far my house is but he ( police officer) said it's a bit further away,' Mr Focker said.

His neighbour who was also arrested at the 'Freedom Walk' questioned why he wasn't allowed to be there.

'I'm walking, yes I'm 5km away but this is the place to be today,' he told police as they arrested him.

'You guys are all here, why can't I come here?'
On Friday, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius unleashed on anybody thinking about attending the march and warned police would be out in full force.

'I feel a bit like a dog returning to eat his own vomit,' he said.

'I am incredibly frustrated. If people were less selfish and a bit more grown up, we wouldn't have to keep doing this.

'Don't take us for fools. We'll have no hesitation in issuing fines.'

Mr Cornelius said as well as the $1,652 fines, people could be charged in court and forced to pay up to $20,000.

Mr Andrews also pleaded with people not to take part.

'All you're potentially doing is spreading the virus,' he said on Friday.

Mr Pecora was granted bail on Friday with conditions disallowing him from using social media or contacting other organisers.

Under Stage Four restrictions Melburnians can only leave their homes for exercise if they stay within five kilometres of their house and only for one hour.

They can exercise with one other person.

It comes a week after last Saturday's 'Freedom Day' protests that erupted at the city's Shrine of Remembrance with police tackling demonstrators to the ground and dragging them away in handcuffs.

Thousands turned up to the protest - many without masks - but they were no match for the wall of police officers.

Police arrested 17 people and issued 160 fines to those at last week's protest.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews has announced regional Victoria is on track to ease coronavirus restrictions in a matter of days as cases across the state continue to plummet.

Police have arrested at least six anti-lockdown protesters after swarming the streets of Melbourne in a bid to shut down a 'Freedom Walk' rally.

Officers on horseback and in riot gear were seen marching across the city in preparation for the protest that was due to kick off at 11am on Saturday in the city's Tan walking track.

Demonstrators have already been taken away in handcuffs as police attempt to avoid a repeat of last week's protest that saw violent clashes leading to 17 arrests.

One man was arrested on Saturday after holding an anti-lockdown sign and calling out to police outside the Shrine of Remembrance.

The man told News Corp he wasn't a conspiracy theorist but was anti-government and nodded when asked if it was 'worth the fine'.

Police moved to the Shrine of Remembrance and surrounding areas and set up checkpoints.

Helicopters will also patrol the Tan track as officers block main roads to stop protesters.

Another mask-wearer was seen being spoken to by an officer while holding a sign that read: 'I am just exercising...my human rights'.

One elderly woman had her details taken by police after she held up a sign with the message: 'open our churches'.

One woman was dramatically restrained on the ground by multiple officers at the Observatory Gate because she wouldn't give her ID, the Herald Sun reported.

She was shoved into the back of a police car while screaming to be let go.

'They've arrested me because I won't say my name. I've been in Melbourne all my life, I just want to go for a walk,' the woman said.

Meanwhile a man with a picture of Premier Daniel Andrews stuck to the back of his face shield paraded through the protest while another had a mask saying 'sack Daniel Andrews'.

A couple were also seen walking through the Tan singing 'I Am Australian' while strumming a guitar.

The 'Freedom Walk' is believed to be the doing of sacked Clive Palmer political candidate and conspiracy theorist Tony Pecora, 43.

Mr Pecora was arrested by police after allegedly planning the event and charged with two counts of incitement.

The 43-year-old allegedly created the event on social media under the alias Arkwell Tripellego.

He believes the deadly coronavirus was 'genetically engineered by world banks to kill off weak humans'.

He then quoted Midnight Oil, allegedly telling police if someone contracted coronavirus at one of his events 'it would be better to die on your feet than live on your knees'.

Organisers say the event will be legal and only available for people who live within 5km of the Tan.

'Come together, get healthy and talk about getting our freedoms back,' the event says.

There are talks surrounding another protest on Sunday.

Marty Focker, who previously went viral after he was fined for having a barbecue in his neighbour's backyard was also arrested on Saturday.

'I'm not sure how far my house is but he ( police officer) said it's a bit further away,' Mr Focker said.

His neighbour who was also arrested at the 'Freedom Walk' questioned why he wasn't allowed to be there.

'I'm walking, yes I'm 5km away but this is the place to be today,' he told police as they arrested him.

'You guys are all here, why can't I come here?'

On Friday, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius unleashed on anybody thinking about attending the march and warned police would be out in full force.

'I feel a bit like a dog returning to eat his own vomit,' he said.

'I am incredibly frustrated. If people were less selfish and a bit more grown up, we wouldn't have to keep doing this.

'Don't take us for fools. We'll have no hesitation in issuing fines.'

Mr Cornelius said as well as the $1,652 fines, people could be charged in court and forced to pay up to $20,000.

Mr Andrews also pleaded with people not to take part.

'All you're potentially doing is spreading the virus,' he said on Friday.

Mr Pecora was granted bail on Friday with conditions disallowing him from using social media or contacting other organisers.

Under Stage Four restrictions Melburnians can only leave their homes for exercise if they stay within five kilometres of their house and only for one hour.

They can exercise with one other person.

It comes a week after last Saturday's 'Freedom Day' protests that erupted at the city's Shrine of Remembrance with police tackling demonstrators to the ground and dragging them away in handcuffs.

Thousands turned up to the protest - many without masks - but they were no match for the wall of police officers.

Police arrested 17 people and issued 160 fines to those at last week's protest.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews has announced regional Victoria is on track to ease coronavirus restrictions in a matter of days as cases across the state continue to plummet.

Victoria marked its ninth day in a row of double digit figures on Saturday with just 37 new coronavirus cases - its lowest daily increase since June 26.

Mr Andrews said there are only 58 active coronavirus infections in regional Victoria and no new cases since Friday's update.

He remains hopeful the Stage Three restrictions will be eased by the middle of next week, allowing regional Victoria to be 'essentially open'.

'Regional Victoria remains on track to be open to take not one but two steps,' Mr Andrews said on Saturday.

'It is very good news for regional Victoria and I hope every single person in metro Melbourne is looking to the numbers in regional Victoria and seeing what can be delivered.

'Regional Victoria is so close, just a few days and they will potentially be able to take not just a single step but two of those steps and be essentially open.'
About 100 people attended the protests at various locations in the city, with a large police presence outnumbering those taking part in the so-called “freedom walk” at the popular running track the Tan and Fitzroy Gardens.

Victoria police have arrested 14 people at illegal anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, with 51 fines issued for breaching stay-at-home orders.

Coronavirus lockdown costing sex industry 'millions', as 'illegal' suburban brothels shut down
Victoria Police have fined more than 80 people for operating, working in or visiting "illegal brothels" during Melbourne's stage 4 lockdown, with sex workers and industry leaders saying their sector is cash-strapped and pushed to the brink during the pandemic.

Melbourne's licensed brothels have been shut since late-March and sole operators have only had a short window in the last six months to legally work, with many uncertain of their futures under Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown.

Officers from the Sex Industry Coordination Unit raided homes in Clayton and Ormond last week, arresting two people and issuing $1,652 fines to others who were allegedly hiding inside.

In July, similar raids occurred at a Glen Waverley apartment which was being used to illegally "facilitate sex work", police claimed.

Dylan O'Hara, a representative from peer support group Vixen Collective, said some were struggling financially because they had been unable to access JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments, instead relying on donations through the sex worker association Scarlett Alliance.

"Because of the stigma that we face and the legal system that we're dealing with, there's a lot of additional barriers," Dylan said.

"Sex workers predominantly work as independent contractors, but because of the need for privacy that we have and the need to protect ourselves from stigma and discrimination, that produces a disincentive to out yourself to the government.

"It can make it difficult or even impossible to actually provide evidence of your prior earnings and financial records in order to access the urgent government support."

Oldest profession adapts to social distancing
Some have shifted their work online to continue to earn an income, including Melbourne escort Estelle Lucas.

Ms Lucas, 29, has worked in the industry since she was 18 and started offering socially-distanced dates outside with clients before Melbourne's stage 4 lockdown began.

With curfews and limits on how far people can travel now in place, Ms Lucas offers dates over video calls and creates online content from home, which her followers pay for.

"I do make new content but I have limitations on what I can do. If I was doing content creation to the level that I would want to do it, I'd need a professional photographer on a set, but because of lockdown I can't leave my house," she said.

"You have to be really resourceful."

Ms Lucas is paying off a mortgage and said the pandemic had made her reconsider her future.

"Given the current situation that we're in, I'm looking at moving my career in a different direction. It would require me to go back to uni and get my masters," she said.

Victorian brothels have 'lost millions'
Melbourne's Boardroom brothel closed its doors in March at the start of the pandemic, and under Victoria's current COVID-19 roadmap, will not be allowed to reopen until November 23 at the earliest.

Even then, the State Government's roadmap stated operations would be "heavily restricted", with conditions easing when the state reaches its "COVID Normal" threshold, after there have been no active cases for 28 days.

"We originally assumed this would be a two-to-three week situation," owner Milan Stamenkovic said.

"There's no prospect of opening until the end of November. Probably the most negative impact is the absolute uncertainty."

Ms Stamenkovic said his business' lost revenue was "in the millions", and said other licensees were "absolutely in fear" for their futures.

While government business relief payments had been helpful and JobKeeper meant staff could be kept on, Mr Stamenkovic said ineligible workers on visas would be doing it tough.

Demand remains high despite restrictions
In-person sex work is banned under Victoria's current restrictions, however online classifieds sites have remained filled with ads from private sex workers offering in and outcall services.

Ms Stamenkovic said demand from clients remained high, but Dylan O'Hara said there was only a small number of non-compliant workers who continued to offer services.

"If someone is working right now it is going to be because they have extremely limited financial options and they're in extreme need," Dylan said.

Dylan was also critical of the police crackdown, describing it as "punitive".

Ms Lucas agreed, saying many sex workers were "squeezing the blood out of every stone to survive".

"There's so much talk of illegal hairdressers but you don't see the cops putting in fake inquiries to entrap hairdressers," she said.

Ms Lucas said she was aware of peers who had been robbed, assaulted and raped while working during the lockdown, but they had not reported it to police because they feared being prosecuted.

'Illegal brothels' operating out of homes
Mr Stamenkovic also had concerns that some underground brothels — which previously traded out of suburban massage parlours and undercut licensed, fee-paying venues — appear to have shifted to private homes.

The illegal sites have been notoriously difficult to police and shut down, with fears workers may be poorly paid and exploited in unsafe conditions.

Mr Stamenkovic, who opened The Boardroom brothel in the 1990s, estimated the 90-odd legal venues were outnumbered by unlicensed rivals by five-to-one.

"The amount of illegal activity that was conducted during the lockdown, and prior to lockdown, was huge," he said.

In a statement, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said it was conducting proactive patrols to ensure the public and businesses were complying with the Chief Health Officer's directions.

"As part of these patrols and ongoing investigations, officers from the Sex Industry Coordination Unit have arrested a number of individuals who they believe to be operating illegal brothels at private residences," the spokeswoman said.

"While our priority is to ensure community safety, Victoria Police continues to take all allegations of illegal sex work seriously and will investigate based on the intelligence we receive."

The Victorian Government is midway through a review looking at whether decriminalising sex work would achieve better public health and human rights outcomes.

Reason MP Fiona Patten is chairing the review, which is expected to make recommendations to the state's Consumer Affairs Minister by the end of the month.


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NSW coronavirus infections rise by 7 as Sydney hospitals cluster grows
NSW health authorities have issued an alert for those who attended a Sydney Hospital on the weekend to immediately self-isolate.

NSW Health said a person with COVID-19 was in Concord Hospital's emergency department waiting room from 2:20pm to 5:00pm on September 6.

They were asymptomatic and wearing a mask at the time, but authorities said anyone in the waiting area at the time for more than one hour must get tested and self-isolate until September 20.

The case has already been included in the Concord Hospital cluster, which has reached 11 cases.

It comes as NSW health authorities recorded seven new coronavirus infections overnight, including two associated with a growing cluster linked to emergency departments at two Sydney hospitals.

Of the seven cases detected in the 24 hours to 8:00pm last night, two were returned travellers in hotel quarantine and the remaining were linked to known cases or clusters.

One of the new infections is a student who attends St Paul's Catholic College Greystanes, in Western Sydney, and was identified as a close contact already in self-isolation.

Another two cases are linked to Concord Hospital, in Sydney's inner west and are a staff member and a close contact of a previous case.

There are now 14 people associated with the Concord and Liverpool emergency departments who have tested positive to COVID-19, including nine health workers.

"Investigations into the source of these infections are ongoing," NSW Health's Jeremy McAnulty said.

Dr McAnulty said two cases also reported visiting the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club in Waverley several times whilst infectious.

NSW Health said it was working with the club to conduct contract tracing of members who attended at the same times.

It said it was also investigating whether someone who attended the site on Friday, August 28 may be the source of cases associated with the club.

No known cases were infections while at the club that evening, NSW Health said, but anyone who was there on that day between 5:00pm and 6:30pm should get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Health authorities also said any persons who attended the venue at the following times is considered a close contact and should immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.

Tuesday, September 1 from 6.00pm
Friday, September 4 from 4:30pm
Saturday, September 5 from 4.15pm
Sunday, September 6 from 5.00pm
Monday, September 7 from 3.00pm
There were 24,760 tests in the 24-hour period, compared with 20,852 the previous day.

Western Sydney KFC restaurant, eastern suburbs bus routes and Blue Mountains school under alert for coronavirus
NSW Health has put out fresh alerts for a Blue Mountains school, eastern suburbs bus routes and a Western Sydney KFC outlet as the state records six new cases.

One of Saturday's new cases is from the Blue Mountains Grammar School in Wentworth Falls, which is now being cleaned.

Close contacts are being identified and must get tested and isolate for 14 days.

The KFC alert is for the restaurant in in the Western Sydney suburb of Emerton.

Anyone who visited the restaurant on Monday, September 7 from 12:00pm to 9:30pm must monitor for symptoms and get tested if they appear.

Close contacts linked to the case have been told they must get tested and isolate for 14 days and stay isolated even if a negative result is returned.

Anyone who travelled on the following bus routes must monitor for symptoms and get tested if any develop.

379 Bronte Beach to Bondi Junction station, September 7, 11:08am-11:24am
316 Avoca Street, Randwick to Bondi Junction station, September 8, 10:44am-11:05am
Four of the new cases are linked to the Concord Hospital outbreak.

That cluster across Liverpool and Concord hospitals has now reached 18 cases.

Another new case is a household contact of case connected to the St Paul's Catholic College, Greystanes, cluster.

The other case is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

An alert remains for the Katoomba Aquatic Centre for September 4 from 11:30am to 1:30pm.

People are being asked to monitor for symptoms, however mild, and get tested.

The state carried out 20,211 tests in the last reporting period.

NSW Health deputy chief health officer Jeremy McAnulty urged people to keep coming forward for testing.

"COVID-19 continues to circulate in NSW so maintaining high rates of testing is vital. We urge anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to come forward for testing," he said.

NSW Covid-19 hotspots: list of regional and Sydney outbreak locations
List of outbreaks in NSW
If you were at the following venues on these dates you must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, even if your test is negative.

Paperboy Cafe, Concord: 10am to 12pm on Sunday 6 September
Plus Fitness, Epping: 9am to 10.15am on Saturday 5 September
Oatlands Golf Glub, Oatlands: 6.30pm to 8.45pm Friday 4 September
Four in Hand Pub, Paddington: 6.30pm to 10pm on Wednesday 26 August, guests who attended downstairs at this time for more than two hours
It’s Time For Thai, Newtown: 5pm to 8pm on Friday 28 August
Kuleto’s Cocktail Bar, Newtown: 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Friday 28 August
City Tattersalls fitness centre, Sydney: 8am to 2pm on Wednesday 19 August, Friday 21 August, Sunday 23 August, Monday 24 August, Tuesday 25 August. Other members of City Tattersalls should get tested if they have even the mildest symptoms.
Hyde Park Medical Centre, Sydney: Monday 24 August to Saturday 5 September. Anyone who worked at Hyde Park Medical Centre (including physiotherapy, pathology, dermatology and dental practices and pharmacy on the ground floor of the building) should get tested immediately and self-isolate until a negative result is received.
Virgin Gym, Zetland: People who attended the active dance class at 7.40pm on Monday 24 August.
Fitness First, Randwick: Anyone who attended between Sunday 23 August and Tuesday 1 September should monitor for symptoms and if they develop, get tested right away and self-isolate.
Life in the Spirit Ministry, Prestons: Sunday 30 August, 12:30pm to 2:30pm
New Brighton Golf Club, Moorebank: 6:15pm on Friday 28 August to 12:30am on Saturday 29 August
With the growing number of cases in the area, NSW Health is asking all people who live in, or have visited, the following areas in the past two weeks to get tested if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 at all, even the mildest of symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat.

Bankstown (suburb)
Cumberland local government area (LGA)
City of Sydney (East) LGA (includes central Sydney and the suburbs Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Centennial Park)
Fairfield LGA
Ku-ring-gai LGA
Liverpool LGA
Mt Druitt (suburb)
Parramatta LGA
Randwick LGA
Sutherland LGA
Waverley LGA
Willoughby LGA
Woollahra LGA
If you were at any of the following locations on these dates, monitor yourself for symptoms and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms occur.

Chemist Warehouse, Balmain: 2pm to 2.30pm on Friday 28 August
Woolworths, Balmain: 10am to 11am on Thursday 27 August
Balmain Community Pharmacy, Balmain: 11am to 11:20am on Monday 31 August
Platinum Fitness First, Bondi Junction: 7am to 5pm on Monday 31 August
Quality Suites (foyer), Camperdown: 3:15pm to 4:30pm on Saturday 29 August
Rydges Hotel, Camperdown: 2pm to 3.15pm on Saturday 29 August
University of Sydney Carslaw building toilets, Camperdown: 8pm to 8.20pm on Friday 28 August
Sushi Rio, Chatswood: 5.45pm to 7.30pm on Thursday 27 August
Westfield, Chatswood: 1pm to 1:50pm on Thursday 27 August
Gram Café and Pancakes, Chatswood: 11:10am to 12:15pm on Thursday 27 August
Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly: 12.45pm to 1.45pm on Saturday 5 September
Croydon Park Pharmacy, Croydon Park: 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 3 September
Metrol Fuel, Greystanes: 3.15pm to 3.35pm on Thursday 27 August
Leaf Café & Co, Lidcombe: Lidcombe Shopping Centre11:30am to 1:30pm on Monday 31 August
Randwick Golf Club, Malabar: 11.50am to 12.20pm on Tuesday 25 August
Fitness First, Maroubra: 8am to 12pm on Saturday 5 September
Big Bun, Merrylands: 3.30pm to 4pm on Thursday 27 August
Stockland, Merrylands: 9am to 11am on Saturday 29 August
Archie Bear cafe, Mosman Rowers: 11am to 12pm on Monday 24 August and 9am to 9.30am on Tuesday 25 August
Newtown Train Station, Newtown: 5.10pm to 5.20pm on Friday 28 August
BWS, Newtown: 5.15pm to 5.40pm on Friday 28 August
Off Ya Tree Clothing, Newtown: 7.15pm to 7.55pm on Friday 28 August
Aldi, North Strathfield: 10am to 10:30am on Tuesday 1 September
Bunnings Warehouse, Padstow: 12pm to 2pm on Thursday 27 August
God’s Power Ministries Heckenberg, Prestons: 2:50pm to 3:30pm on Sunday 30 August
Charles St Kitchen, Putney: 1.30pm to 1.40pm on Wednesday 26 August
Rosebery post shop, Rosebery: 1.30pm to 1.40pm on Wednesday 26 August
Rouse Hill Town Centre, Rouse Hill: 12.30pm to 1.30pm on Saturday 5 September
Stanhope Village Shopping Centre (including Kmart), Stanhope Gardens: 8.30am to 9.30am on Monday 7 September
St Ives shopping centre, St Ives: 2.30pm to 3.30pm on Monday 24 August and 5.30pm to 6pm on Wednesday 26 August
Coles St Ives Shopping Centre, St Ives: 1pm to 2pm on Friday 28 August
300 George Street, Sydney: Wednesday 19 August, Thursday 20 August, Friday 21 August, Monday 24 August
Virgin Active Mary Street, Sydney: 5.10pm to 6.40pm on Wednesday 26 August
Virgin Active Pitt Street, Sydney: 5pm to 6.30pm on Tuesday 25 August
Missing Spoon Cafe, Wahroonga: 4.45pm to 5.30pm on Saturday 5 September
Warriewood Shopping Centre, Warriewood: 12.30pm to 2.30pm on Saturday 29 August, including Kmart, Coles, Aldi and the food court
Magpies Waitara restaurant, Waitara: 24 August from 11.30am to 1.15pm
East Ryde Netball Association, West Ryde: 12.15pm to 1.30pm on Saturday 5 September
Mater Clinic, Wollstonecraft: 8.30am to 9am on Friday 28 August
If you travelled on any of the following public transport routes on these dates, monitor yourself for symptoms and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms occur.

Tuesday 25 August:

Central Coast train, at 6.49am from Woy Woy, arriving 7.36pm at Gordon, stopping at Woy Woy, Berowra, Hornsby, Gordon
Central Coast train, at 7.53am from Hornsby, arriving 8.28am at Woy Woy, arriving at 8.28am, direct
T4, Sydney eastern suburbs train, at 8.32am from Bondi Junction to Martin Place, arriving at 8.42am, stopping at Edgecliff, Kings Cross
T4, Sydney eastern suburbs train, at 5.51pm from Martin Place to Bondi Junction, arriving at 6.05pm stopping at Kings Cross, Edgecliff
T1 Blacktown to City train, at 6.58am from Blacktown to Central, arriving at 7.45am
T1 City to Blacktown train, at 6.25pm from Townhall to Blacktown arriving at 7.18pm
Wednesday 26 August:

T4, Sydney eastern suburbs train, at 7.56am from Bondi Junction to Martin Place, arriving at 8.07am, stopping at Edgecliff, Kings Cross
T1 Blacktown to City train, at 6.59am from Blacktown to Central, arriving at 7.41am
T1 City to Blacktown train, at 6.38pm from Townhall to Blacktown arriving at 7.35pm

Cafes in Sydney's suburbs boosted by coronavirus pandemic as people stay away from business centres
It's a warm feeling — a barista at the local coffee shop remembering your name and order.

And, with plenty of people working from home, it's the sort of familiarity that's increasing in Sydney's suburbs.

Just ask Luke Garcia Bantatua, whose Coffee Drs cafe in Hornsby has never been busier.

"My business has been booming, since the beginning of COVID-19 we've actually had the opposite effect, we've almost tripled in sales volume from before the pandemic hit," he said.

"Locals are stuck at home all day and want that daily walk for coffee — so with a few places closing their doors in the area — they've found us in this little corner.

"I've met so many locals who never knew we even existed.

"It's something no-one would have foreseen, the rise of the town."

Data from transport app Citymapper revealed people in Sydney have slashed their travel significantly this year.

Last week, levels numbers of trips planned in the Citymapper app (public transport, walking and cycling) were down 40 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

Google mobility data shows visits to places of work in Australia has reduced by 18 per cent on September 6, compared to a baseline in the first five weeks of the year before the pandemic began.

The number of people in Australia staying at home on Sunday, September 6, compared to a Sunday before the pandemic, has increased by 7 per cent.

That shift has manifested in different ways around Sydney, and business centres like Chatswood and the CBD have been hit hard.

Dane Ross's cafe in Chatswood sells the exact same beans as Coffee Drs, but he hasn't seen any new customers, despite his business being flanked by seven apartment towers.

"We thought we'd just convert our office-worker heavy focus to locals but it was surprising," he said.

Mr Ross estimated the residential buildings in his area, which is a hotspot for foreign property investors, were only 30 per cent full.

His cafe — named Apothecary Coffee — is open Monday to Friday and was popular with white-collar workers, many of whom were based in several large Government offices nearby.

"We're down 50 per cent in revenue now but having said that we're trying our best to pivot and keep taking care of the locals we do have," he said.

Liza Chehade's Parramatta cafe, Homage Specialty Coffee, is also open only Monday to Friday.

She says her business, in Sydney's geographical centre, has managed to capture a new market amid the pandemic.

"The business seems to be back where it was pre-COVID," she said.

"Parramatta was a ghost town during the first lockdown but in the last three months it's picked up.

"We're seeing more locals than ever who haven't known we were here.

"Most of our market was corporate or the building industry considering we don't open on the weekends but now we're seeing that change."

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data 2016 census data, 45 per cent of people who live in the Parramatta local government area commute to work on public transport.

However, Transport of NSW data shows patronage for opal trips has plummeted by more than 50 per cent in the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Chehade and employee Bianca Scarcella say Parramatta's CBD has gained a community feel, as more locals stay put.

"It's a really weird time but we're all in it together in experiencing something so different — so having a community cafe with a vibe like we do it engages people to tell them they're not alone," Ms Scarcella said.

"One customer got us a gift when he returned to the office because we brightened his mornings when he was depressed working from home - and he just said it was a nice feeling to start my day off with you girls.

"I don't think he expected to find that during this time."

Luke Garcia Bantatua put his success down to several business decisions, including investing in his website to take online orders at higher volumes, and renovating the inside of his premises to create a coffee bean tasting station and retail space.

He is also focusing on service.

"It's not enough to just take an order, you need to know what their life is about, what they're going through," he said.

"They're not coming for just coffee. When they've had a rough day this is where they come."

NSW Government issues school principals with COVID-safe guidelines for formals and graduations amid coronavirus
Dancing can go ahead at school formals and students are even allowed to bring a date, after the NSW Government confirmed the right-of-passage events can go ahead from the end of the HSC exams.

Under the COVID-safe guidelines issued to principals on Friday, graduations are also back on the school calendar.

But singing at either event will still be strictly banned.

"Singing in groups (whether by choirs or by audiences) or chanting is a particularly high-risk activity and must not take place at this time, irrespective of whether singers or chanters are wearing masks," the plan reads.

Year 12 students will also be asked to bring their own pen to sign yearbooks or T-shirts.

The guidelines ask schools to hold dancefloors outside or in a well-ventilated area with "sufficient room for 1.5 metres physical distancing".

Students can dance with a date but they must "have an established relationship" with the partner if they are outside the school community.

The partner must also be from the same local community and already be socialising with the school cohort.

For graduation ceremonies, each student can invite two people from their immediate family or household.

School formals and graduation ceremonies will be allowed to take place from November 12, the day after the last HSC written exam.

Those events were first banned on August 17 but the rule was overturned just three weeks later.

The change came after a petition to allow formals gathered more than 50,000 signatures online.

"Because they are one-off events, health will give specific advice which is obviously less strict than advice normally given for events of that nature," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

It is a reversal from her insistence there would be "no singing, no mingling, no dancing" for weddings and hospitality venues.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant this week said year 12 students had already been in close proximity to each other throughout the school year.

"Just remember, a lot of these students have been sitting together in indoor environments sitting their exams," she said.

Dr Chant also said an alcohol-free venue would mean students were at a lower risk of transmitting coronavirus while dancing.

Newcastle approaches homelessness head-on, getting rough sleepers off the streets thanks to COVID-19 silver lining
Noel Johnston used to wonder how someone could become homeless until he found himself sleeping in his car.

He moved to Newcastle from Moree at the start of the year, but when several job interviews fell over due to the COVID-19 crisis, he quickly ran out of places to stay.

"I did become homeless for a bit, there was a family breakdown situation and it was very unsettling," Mr Johnston said.

"I've always been very independent, and worked since the age of 16, so it was very scary.

"I'm used to that kind security so it was very foreign at the time and I felt really lost."

He said there needed to be more open discussion about homelessness without people feeling shame.

"I ended up in my car one night, and I thought, 'I've hit rock bottom'," Mr Johnston said.

"And there's no embarrassment or anything. I feel like it needs to be talked about."

Getting people off the streets
Mr Johnston now has a permanent place to live and works as a mental health worker trying to prevent homelessness.

He is one of hundreds of homeless people in Newcastle who have been taken off the streets over the past 12 months.

In August 2019, the NSW Government expanded an assertive outreach program into Newcastle as part of a commitment to halve street homelessness across the state by 2025.

So far the program has conducted 600 patrols, helped more than 200 rough sleepers into temporary accommodation and found safe and stable housing for 110 people.

Belinda McDaid is the team leader at the Newcastle Assertive Outreach and believes the new approach, bringing assistance to those who need it and following up until they get suitable housing, is working.

"We're out every morning bright and breezy at 6:00am and we look for people, we look for signs of people sleeping rough," she said.

"The community can also tell us who to visit.

"If they see someone sleeping in a car they'll tell us and business people who may see people in their doorways also contact us."

Pandemic provides silver lining
There were fears the coronavirus pandemic would see the number of people becoming homeless skyrocket, but Ms McDaid said, while numbers did increase initially in Newcastle, the crisis had in fact provided solutions.

Local hotels have more rooms available for temporary accommodation as COVID-19 restrictions continue to put the squeeze on people travelling.

"We've been able to access temporary accommodation very fast so that's made a huge difference," she said.

"Also, people who wouldn't normally approach us, out of fear for their own health, have approached as well, so the engagement has been more effective.

"We've been able to house more people during COVID than we have all year, so the percentage of people we've successfully housed has doubled during that time.

"We really are in a time where there are a lot of things happening in the homeless sector and it's been hugely beneficial for people, particularly rough sleepers."

Tough target, positive progress: minister
The NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward admitted when he took on the portfolio he realised his government had set a daunting target.

"I know how tough this target is, and all I can say is I'm doing everything I can to meet that target of halving rough sleeping," he said.

"I think we've made some really positive progress."

Mr Ward says he is committed to halving street homelessness across NSW.

"I'd like to be able to achieve this target before 2025. I'd like to see nobody on our streets," he said.

"But the systems we're changing, the reforms we're putting in place, are certainly seeing more people than ever before find safe and stable homes, and that is what we are committed to."

Mr Ward said homelessness was a intricate issue to address.

"Street sleeping is only one component of homelessness," he said.

"It's also people couch-surfing, people in unstable or dilapidated housing, but street sleepers are the most complex group mostly because of the reasons why they're on the streets in the first place.

"Things like mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, family violence, financial hardship, so these are very complex people that need tailored supports."

'I can see how it happens'
From his new home, Mr Johnston says he is keen to dispel the stigma surrounding homelessness.

"There's a stigma that homeless people have just given up on life, are on the street and don't want to help themselves, when there are actually many factors that come into it," he said.

"I was one of those people actually that looked at people and thought, 'How can someone become homeless?'.

"But now that I've experienced it and lived it, I can see how it happens and I don't think it is just the old man looking grubby on the street — it is people from all difference levels and backgrounds."

Cancelling this year's Sydney to Hobart will be unpopular but the 2020 race is already doomed
As a former competitor and lifelong spectator it stings to imagine a Boxing Day without a Sydney to Hobart skirmish. Officially, race organisers are deferring a final decision until October, but there is no way the yacht race can go ahead in 2020 unless there are drastic changes to current health guidance.

The bluewater classic is one of the slickest sporting events on the annual calendar, and the race committee, athletes and media operators are all truly world class. They need to be.

This event caters for a global audience, and after 75 consecutive editions it now transcends sport as a cultural and economic tour de force for the states of Tasmania and New South Wales. Images of the start and finish are broadcast around Australia and the world.

There is no doubt a cancellation will be a difficult and unpopular decision given the unwanted economic consequence inflicted on professional athletes, boatbuilders, photographers, sailmakers, freelance journalists, event staff, caterers, equipment manufacturers, hospitality workers, event staff, hoteliers, publicans, tourism operators, restaurateurs, airlines and countless others that derive income from the event.

Not to mention the joy, camaraderie and friendships forged or strengthened on docks or amid the salt spray that will be surrendered in 2020. Or the lost Boxing Day chats featuring Wikipedia-pipped facts about Wild Oats XI to impress family and friends gathered in a post-Christmas haze to watch the race from the shoreline or on television. If ever there was an end of year staple to look forward to, it would have been this year as a small reward for those who have suffered during the lockdowns.

For a race steeped in decades long heritage and with hefty social and economic considerations at play, a decision to delay a final call in the hope of a drastic change is understandable. But the organisers will be forced to make the only decision they can in one month: to cancel the regatta and stage it in 2021.

Sailor and community safety is paramount – to be accredited and cleared to start the race each team needs to have at least half the crew graduate the Safety and Sea Survival Course and have at least two accredited senior first aid certificate holders. The boat certification process and equipment scrutiny is an even more exhaustive audit.

Race organisers have a reputation for being unapologetic in their tough stance on competitor and spectator safety. It would be inauthentic for the race committee to ignore their core value – safety – and as they cannot guarantee community and sailor safety due to the spectre of Covid-19, they have no choice but to delay.

Given the international talent pool drawn upon for this race, its global pedigree is in jeopardy this year. Boats are shipped to the start line from some of the most famous ports in the world and entire teams and individual sailing mercenaries alike fly in for it. America’s Cup conquerors, Olympic gold medalists, Sail GP champions and Volvo Ocean race winners have all lined up for the 628-nautical mile start line in recent years.

Given the restrictions and cost of global travel many of the highest-profile sailors would not be able to make their way to the start line. For an international race with a storied 75-edition history, having a line honours champion from a heavily diluted competitor pool could in some way diminish the prestige of the race, as victory would not be honed in competition against the world’s finest.

As a former competitor and lifelong spectator it stings to imagine a Boxing Day without a Sydney to Hobart skirmish. Officially, race organisers are deferring a final decision until October, but there is no way the yacht race can go ahead in 2020 unless there are drastic changes to current health guidance.

The bluewater classic is one of the slickest sporting events on the annual calendar, and the race committee, athletes and media operators are all truly world class. They need to be.

This event caters for a global audience, and after 75 consecutive editions it now transcends sport as a cultural and economic tour de force for the states of Tasmania and New South Wales. Images of the start and finish are broadcast around Australia and the world.

There is no doubt a cancellation will be a difficult and unpopular decision given the unwanted economic consequence inflicted on professional athletes, boatbuilders, photographers, sailmakers, freelance journalists, event staff, caterers, equipment manufacturers, hospitality workers, event staff, hoteliers, publicans, tourism operators, restaurateurs, airlines and countless others that derive income from the event.

Not to mention the joy, camaraderie and friendships forged or strengthened on docks or amid the salt spray that will be surrendered in 2020. Or the lost Boxing Day chats featuring Wikipedia-pipped facts about Wild Oats XI to impress family and friends gathered in a post-Christmas haze to watch the race from the shoreline or on television. If ever there was an end of year staple to look forward to, it would have been this year as a small reward for those who have suffered during the lockdowns.

For a race steeped in decades long heritage and with hefty social and economic considerations at play, a decision to delay a final call in the hope of a drastic change is understandable. But the organisers will be forced to make the only decision they can in one month: to cancel the regatta and stage it in 2021.

Sailor and community safety is paramount – to be accredited and cleared to start the race each team needs to have at least half the crew graduate the Safety and Sea Survival Course and have at least two accredited senior first aid certificate holders. The boat certification process and equipment scrutiny is an even more exhaustive audit.

Race organisers have a reputation for being unapologetic in their tough stance on competitor and spectator safety. It would be inauthentic for the race committee to ignore their core value – safety – and as they cannot guarantee community and sailor safety due to the spectre of Covid-19, they have no choice but to delay.

Given the international talent pool drawn upon for this race, its global pedigree is in jeopardy this year. Boats are shipped to the start line from some of the most famous ports in the world and entire teams and individual sailing mercenaries alike fly in for it. America’s Cup conquerors, Olympic gold medalists, Sail GP champions and Volvo Ocean race winners have all lined up for the 628-nautical mile start line in recent years.

Given the restrictions and cost of global travel many of the highest-profile sailors would not be able to make their way to the start line. For an international race with a storied 75-edition history, having a line honours champion from a heavily diluted competitor pool could in some way diminish the prestige of the race, as victory would not be honed in competition against the world’s finest.

a large ship in the water: Spectators packed on a boat in Sydney Harbour at the start of the 2019 race. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP© Provided by The Guardian Spectators packed on a boat in Sydney Harbour at the start of the 2019 race. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
As protests in recent years have reinforced, sailors defend the letter of the law, so it is unlikely any competitor would break from the health guidelines of experts. While sporting competition is continuing in empty stadiums around the world the allure of this race is the spectator involvement. The crammed start with boats pushing up against the edge of the course is without peer – it makes all sailors bristle with anticipation every year.

Limitations on the amount of people who are able to gather outside in a public place and the addition of social distancing places serious limitations on spectator craft on Sydney Harbour. But even with dispensation from that, it would be harder to navigate beyond the same state government guidance which recommends ceasing sporting activities that result in an overnight stay. That is an un-clearable hurdle for a race that stretches on for days.

This is an incredibly physical race – as recently as 2015 nearly a third of the fleet had to retire due to boat breaking conditions. The race skirts three different state coastlines – NSW, Victoria and Tasmania – and while a boat in distress would find safe harbour regardless of closures, this would take valuable emergency resources away from the states.

Those making it safely to the finish line would have to pre-register for a QR code and be advised to quarantine in Tasmania for 14 days. As is tradition most of the sailors – after racing from just under 48 hours to closer to a week – almost universally head to the shoreline and grab a cool drink to celebrate their milestone. If it is a requirement to head straight to a hotel for a period of quarantine it quells the joyous Constitution Dock camaraderie and is a significant deterrent for professionals and amateurs alike.

Community wellbeing will always be at the forefront of the organiser’s approach and they will make the only call they can, but some of the highest profile crews have already hinted their intention. The last three yachts to claim line honours victories – Wild Oats XI, Comanche and Infotrack (which won as Loyal) – are yet to enter the race. The Derwent is destined to be less dynamic this December.

Nick Vindin has competed in three Sydney to Hobart yacht races, capturing two top-five line-honours finishes as crew on Maserati and Rio100.

In NSW’s south, police said they had charged two men at an Albury border checkpoint, with one of the pair allegedly travelling on a false permit. A check of the vehicle allegedly found drugs and both the men were charged with possession and will face court.


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Queensland records three new cases of coronavirus as Steven Miles returns fire at the Prime Minister
Queensland's Deputy Premier has accused the Prime Minister of leading what he claims is a 'planned and orchestrated attack' on Annastacia Palaszczuk, over the state's refusal to allow a Canberra woman to leave hotel quarantine in Queensland and attend her father's funeral.

The statement followed the Premier's announcement that Queensland had recorded three new coronavirus cases.

Annastacia Palaszczuk said they were all contacts of previously confirmed infections and were in quarantine.

The state now has 31 active cases of COVID-19.

Yesterday, Ms Palaszczuk announced two new cases in home quarantine.

She became emotional as she defended her tough border stance after coming under increased pressure following the Chief Health Officer's decision to prevent people from attending funerals of loved ones.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and several senior ministers condemned the Premier, with Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann labelling her "nasty" and "cold-hearted".

Steven Miles said the criticisms were politically motivated.

"It's difficult when you have the Prime Minister, Peter Dutton, Mathias Cormann, just about every bloke in the Federal Government come out and attack you and that takes a toll," Mr Miles said.

"But I know our Premier has stood strong on the LNP's attacks on our border restrictions and will continue to do so.

"Those three blokes, none of them are known for their compassion, they just piled on. People can judge them for that.

"Has he [Scott Morrison] ever cried about the hundreds of people who died in aged care under his watch, has he ever cried about the Ruby Princess which saw people spread right throughout this country with COVID-19, does he cry right now the tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas unable to return home?

"They are all things he is responsible for but he has never once taken any responsibility, never once expressed any regret, so I would urge you to consider the motives from the Prime Minister in this extraordinary attack on the Premier."

He said Mr Morrison was rolling out senior LNP figures in a bid to get Deb Frecklington elected as Queensland Premier in the upcoming state election.

"These [border] restrictions apply in Tasmania, South Australia, WA, the Northern Territory but did you see once Scott Morrison talk about any of those states that don't have elections coming up? No you didn't," Mr Miles said.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the state would continue to act on the advice of Jeannette Young and he believed "most Queenslanders" would understand why.

"There has been tremendous pressure on the Premier, Chief Health Officer and Health Minister since January every day, but the results have been extraordinary in Queensland compared to any other state and any other country," he said.

"The most compassionate thing is to save lives and stop funerals. We don't as politicians make the decisions, we let the health experts, the doctors, make the decisions and some of them are unpopular but they save lives.

"Queensland is one of the best jurisdictions in the world in terms of responding to the COVID crisis.

From day one when we declared a health emergency, the first state in Australia to do so in January, we acted on health advice from the very beginning and that's why there has been so few deaths in Queensland."

He said that model needed to be continued.

"We don't need politicians making decisions about the COVID crisis, we need doctors making those decisions," Mr Bailey said.

"Of course everybody feels incredible compassion for those who can't go to funerals, but we don't want more funerals. It's very hard for everybody but we have to keep our eye on preventing infections and deaths."

Labor MP apologises for flouting COVID rules
Meanwhile, a Labor backbencher has apologised after NewsCorp published a photo of him apparently flouting social-distancing rules in July at his 40th birthday party.

Stretton MP Duncan Pegg attended a restaurant with a COVID-safe plan, and says a belly dancer "inadvertently" pulled him to his feet.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington seized on the incident, saying year 12s were not allowed to dance at formals.

"But yet a Labor MP can belly dance at his 40th birthday. I think that's particularly galling," Ms Frecklington said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Mr Pegg had admitted his error.

"He's done the wrong thing, but I understand he's accepted that and he's apologised," Mr Miles said.

"People make mistakes, Duncan's made one here, he's said as much.

"That's unfortunate, of course we'd prefer that didn't happen."

Mr Pegg was not available for interview.

He posted photos on his Facebook page campaigning in his electorate on Brisbane's southside.

Mr Miles said LNP members had also breached COVID-19 guidelines in the past.

Two children among Queensland's new cases
Queensland has recorded three new cases today, bringing the state's total number of COVID-19 cases to 1,149.

The new infections include one man aged in his 20s in hotel quarantine and known to be a contact of the Queensland Christian Soccer Association outbreak.

There are also two young girls aged, between zero and nine, who are linked with the Brisbane youth detention centre cluster.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said no new cases had been detected this week following a positive case on Russell Island.

"It's very heartening to see we haven't had a community transmission case on the southern Morton Bay islands," he said.

Mr Miles said the true test to determine whether a possible outbreak has been prevented will be next Saturday, 14 days after the initial case was confirmed.

<< This will involve 2 of my grandnephews who are in the army based at Townsville >>
At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, over 3,500 ADF troops were deployed, some of which are due for a break. Up to 700 soldiers from Townsville are on standby to head south to lend a hand.

Australia's biggest meat processors at odds over JobKeeper's influence on job cuts
Claims the Federal Government's JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme contributed to the demise of hundreds of jobs at JBS Australia have been challenged by the labour hire company at the centre of the criticism and the meat processor's biggest competitor.

Australia's second largest beef processor, Teys, said it could not access JobKeeper and had not benefitted from the Federal Government initiative through labour hire companies.

Earlier this week, Australia's largest meat processor, JBS Australia, announced it would shed 600 jobs as it moved to scale back operations at its Dinmore plant in Ipswich.

The company had been heavily critical of the JobKeeper program, which it claimed had created inequality in the meat processing sector and contributed to its decision.

But Teys said, while it did use labour hire companies, it received no direct or indirect benefit from the wage subsidy.

"We are getting absolutely no advantage through labour hire companies accessing JobKeeper," head of corporate affairs John Langbridge said.

"I don't know specifically whether [the workers] are getting it or not, but I know we're not getting any advantage.

"We've effectively got nothing to hide, our tax records are made public, and you'll see exactly where our expenses are," Mr Langbridge said.

Meanwhile, the labour hire company at the centre of the criticism said it was frustrated by suggestions of impropriety.

Regional Workforce Management, a specialist supplier to the meat processing industry, and its parent firm Food Industry People, said it did not pass on any of the JobKeeper subsidy to clients.

"We have not passed on any subsidy in relation to JobKeeper to individual clients that may not have been able to qualify in their own right," CEO Brad Seagrott said.

"We are not a dodgy labour hire company and we actually qualified in our own right because we service multiple agricultural industries," he said.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud also hit back at claims by JBS and the Australian Meat Industry Employees' Union (AMIEU) that the JobKeeper payment was distorting the market.

"We've always said from the start that the big businesses were big enough to look after themselves and their employees," he said.

"Had we not brought in JobKeeper, you may've seen significant job losses in small abattoirs and it's important not to generalise and say all abattoirs are getting it."

Mr Littleproud said the situation could be put down to supply and demand in the marketplace.

"There's always a pendulum that swings — particularly in the meat sector when we go through a prolonged drought and it'll take time to work though," he said.

However, the Australian Meat Industry Council said it hoped the Federal Government would examine different models to enable all processors, regardless of turnover, to qualify for JobKeeper and other supports.

"It might be a bridge too far, but certainly we've been working on more novel ways to slow the impacts of COVID on our processing and further meat industry groups and as of yet it's still a standard response," CEO Patrick Hutchinson said.

Impact on the price of cattle
Other industry figures want more focus on potential weaknesses in Queensland's beef sector and less on JobKeeper.

"I think it'd be great if we could understand where the exposure is and what the possible gaps could be created by [the JBS decision to shed jobs]," Agforce cattle president Will Wilson said.

"[JBS] are the biggest [processor] and if we don't have them, what sort of state are we going to be in and that might be a market signal.

"We need at least two bidders [at the saleyards] to get market pressure, so the risk is when we lose bidders, and that's happening, that's where we start to see risk on market value and we need to try to protect ourselves so we've got someone in there bidding," he said.

Optimism in the beef sector
Southern Queensland grazier and former chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia David Crombie said, while processors were doing it tough, the long-term future of the beef industry was sound.

"This is part of a continuum, it's how it's always been, it's how it always will be," Mr Crombie said.

"Processors will buy cattle as cheap as they can to supply the markets they've generated [and] cattlemen will want the maximum price they can get for their product.

"It's an adversarial system but I think the fundamentals of the industry are strong and will come through this, but it may take some time."

Grieving mother refused exemption to attend son's funeral in Queensland
A 72-year-old woman in NSW has been refused an exemption to Queensland border restrictions to attend her son's funeral.

Indigenous woman ( prisoner in remand ) died in custody from natural causes, police say
An Indigenous woman found dead in custody yesterday morning appears to have died from natural causes, police say.

The 49-year-old woman was found dead in the Brisbane watchhouse at about 6am yesterday.

She had been remanded in custody on property and drugs charges on Monday and was awaiting transfer to another facility.

Clashes over Tory plan to seed the UK's next Apple with state aid
VW Beetle enthusiast finds car sold 40 YEARS ago in Tasmania paddock

Video: Police investigating death of man in Toorak (9News.com.au)

An Indigenous woman found dead in custody yesterday morning appears to have died from natural causes, police say.

The 49-year-old woman was found dead in the Brisbane watchhouse at about 6am yesterday.

She had been remanded in custody on property and drugs charges on Monday and was awaiting transfer to another facility.

Iván Villazón wearing a suit and tie: Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd has expressed his condolences for the loved ones of an Indigenous woman who died in police custody in Brisbane.© 9News Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd has expressed his condolences for the loved ones of an Indigenous woman who died in police custody in Brisbane.
Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said the transfer process could take up to 10 days, meaning the woman's length of time in the watchhouse was not abnormal.

It is understood she suffered underlying medical conditions, but Mr Codd said he was not aware if she had asked for medical treatment.

An independent investigation is underway into the woman's death.

"We're very much looking forward to any insight they can provide," Mr Codd said.

"One death is too many for us. That's a tragedy for the family, and the community."

He also criticised a "small group" of protesters outside the watchhouse today for violent and unlawful behaviour.

The rally had gathered in response to the woman's death.

Mr Codd acknowledged that most of the protesters had been peaceful - despite breaching COVID-19 regulations - but said 18 people had been arrested on charges of wilful damage, obstructing police and obstructing roadways.

And he warned that others at the rally, including key organisers, could be penalised for breaking health laws.

"Obviously there are significant issues - sensitive issues - relating to incarceration rates and deaths in custody, that are worthy of discussion and debate," he said.

"We will continue to facilitate, whenever we can, the safe and peaceful assembly over even the most sensitive issues."

Mr Codd praised the "discretion" shown by police in dealing with protests and rallies under COVID-19.

Protests in Brisbane over Indigenous death in custody
At least 18 people have been arrested at protests in Brisbane over the death of an Aboriginal woman in police custody.

More than 100 people marched the city’s CBD to police headquarters on Friday morning.

Participants were protesting that a 49-year-old Indigenous woman who died in Brisbane watchhouse on Thursday.


in Western Australia, a woman who recently returned to Perth from NSW has been fitted with an electronic ankle tracking device after breaching Covid-19 quarantine restrictions.

The 33-year-old is the first person to be electronically monitored for a quarantine breach under measures recently introduced by the WA government.

She had been allowed to enter WA on 1 September and was ordered to self-isolate alone at her home for 14 days. However, when police conducted a check on Thursday, they found two men visiting.

The woman was issued with a $1,000 fine and moved to a Perth quarantine hotel. But after consideration of the circumstances of the woman’s breach, the state emergency coordinator determined it was necessary to monitor her location during the quarantine period, police said in a statement on Saturday.

They said the monitoring device would remain in place until the end of the woman’s quarantine period.

Hotel quarantine leaves man with disability in severe pain as family given non-accessible room
There are calls for urgent improvements in the way people with disabilities are treated in mandatory quarantine, after a West Australian man spent two weeks in a non-accessible hotel room and was left in severe pain.

Jeff Phillips lives in chronic pain following a diving accident and has underlying health issues that make him vulnerable to COVID-19.

But despite that, he was told his family could not be accommodated in a suitable accessible room in Perth and was denied a request to quarantine at home.

The hotel room he ended up in with his wife Alison Atkinson-Phillips was so unsuitable for his needs, he ended up having to shower on a toilet seat frame, with neither the bathroom nor the rest of the room set up for people with a disability.

They are also set to be charged more than $6,000 for their hotel quarantine stint, having had to pay for a second room for their teenage daughter rather than being placed in an accessible family room.

Ms Atkinson-Phillips said the inappropriate accommodation took an enormous toll on her husband.

"I just spent two weeks watching his pain increase day after day after day," she said.

"They phoned up every day and he said 'my pain is getting worse', and there was nothing they were able to do about it."

[Atkinson-Phillips tweet]
No reply to home quarantine request
Prior to arriving in Western Australia from the United Kingdom in late August, the Phillips family included information about Jeff's disability in their application.

They say they were told they would be assessed for possible home quarantine once they arrived in Perth, and further information was taken from them once they were in their hotel.

But Ms Atkinson-Phillips said they never got an answer on their application to spend their 14-day isolation at home during their two-week hotel stint.

"We are already home from quarantine and we still have not heard back from WA Health," she said.

Ms Atkinson-Phillips said being stuck in a non-accessible hotel room, rather than being allowed to quarantine at home, had devastating consequences for her husband.

"The only way he can manage his pain is techniques like having a bath or walking around, and those were just not available to him," she said.

"He is already taking maximum painkillers, he cannot take anymore.

"I don't think he slept for the last three nights we were in the room."

'Diabolical' ordeal for couple
Before flying in, the family had been seeking to return to Australia for weeks but were thwarted by a cap on international flight arrivals into the country.

Prior to that, they had bunkered down in the United Kingdom when the pandemic first hit, fearful of catching the virus if they flew home because of Mr Phillips' underlying health issues.

Ms Atkinson-Phillips said they were offered an accessible room at one point, but that could not have accommodated their daughter and would have forced the 15-year-old to isolate on her own, away from her parents, for two weeks.

Their case was raised in State Parliament this week, with Greens MP Alison Xamon saying it rung alarm bells over the treatment of people with a disability in hotel quarantine.

Ms Xamon said while she supported mandatory quarantine, appropriate steps should be taken to cater for the disabled community.

"What has happened to this couple is diabolical," Ms Xamon said.

"But by no means is it unrepresentative of what is happening to far too many people coming into our compulsory quarantine arrangements.

"This is not a case of one couple falling through the cracks, it is happening over and over and over again."

'We explore every possibility': Cook
Health Minister Roger Cook said authorities running the hotel quarantine system went to significant lengths to look after people with disabilities.

"If people do struggle to be able to be accommodated in a hotel environment, we explore every possibility for that person to do home quarantining," Mr Cook said.

"Every effort is made to keep people comfortable and in an appropriate setting."

WA Health said it had a specialist team in place to deal with guests "with care needs and disabilities".

"On arrival, if a person with disability is identified by the Department of Communities and/or the hotel reception team, a disability accessible room will be provided," it said in a statement.

"If equipment is required to promote safety and independence in hotel quarantine, then equipment can be sourced from the closest treating hospital."

A social worker speaks out: WA kids at risk as child protection workers 'inundated'
Critical safety issues in child protection cases are being missed because caseworkers are inundated with paperwork and increasingly complex cases, a Department of Child Protection social worker has revealed.
Becky, who did not want her surname published due to the risk to her job from speaking out, voiced the concerns at a vigil at Parliament House on Wednesday to remind the government that every child in care counted.

In an emotional speech, she said turnover and burnout for case workers were major challenges, with children in care subject to a revolving door of social workers and unable to develop trust in someone who would stand by them for years.

Despite public sector rules stopping workers from speaking out against the departments they are employed by, Becky addressed the gathering, which included Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk, to highlight major problems threatening the safety of children under the care of the Department of Communities.

She said staffing levels had not kept up with the substantial increase in reports of children needing help.

Workers could not ensure children received the regular visits they required to build quality relationships with their case workers.

This meant investigations were not as thorough as they had to be and were not completed as quickly as they should be. Sometimes critical things were missed, Becky admitted.

"As child protection workers, we feel that we haven't been able to do our job as well as we wanted to for a very long time," she said.

"We are inundated with paperwork and our daily work is becoming so much more complex than when we first started, and yet the time we have left to do this is becoming shorter and shorter. And this means our children are at risk."

Becky hit out at Premier Mark McGowan, who she had recently heard thank public sector workers for coming back to their offices, pointing out child protection workers continued their important frontline jobs, visiting families during the COVID-19 crisis.

The alternative of leaving children without that important safety net was not an option.

"Is it too much to ask that the work we undertake to be accurately acknowledged and adequately funded?" she asked.

Community and Public Sector Union branch secretary Rikki Hendon said it was brave of a social worker to speak out for children in care.

"The laws that apply to public servants limit their ability to speak about their work or employer in a critical way," she said.

"We believe the current frameworks impinge on public sector workers' rights to contribute to important community discussions. But it is important to hear those voices."

Her appearance at the vigil came as it emerged the Department of Communities had developed a new social media policy to stop staff making "disparaging" online comments about the department.

The policy covers all online communication via social media, whether during work hours or not, and extends to banning any disparaging communication in connection with the department.

Breaches of the policy may result in disciplinary action.

"Although pervasive, systematic and ongoing surveillance of staff internet access logs will not occur, the Department of Communities may monitor or investigate staff internet access," the policy document said.

The union said the policy was implemented without proper consultations and infringed too far on the rights of case workers as citizens to participate in public discourse.

"The ambiguous language used in new policies creates fear and confusion amongst public sector workers about what they can and cannot speak about publicly," Ms Hendon said.

"We are concerned that this will deter public sector employees from whistleblowing in the public interest and will create a self-perpetuating culture of self-censorship and fear."

But Director General of the Department of Communities, Michelle Andrews said the updated social media policy was in no way designed to limit or discourage staff from engaging appropriately with social media and was similar to policies used in other departments.

It was designed to discourage incidents of bullying, harassment or vilification of Department of Communities clients or its employees through digital platforms.

WA youth on JobSeeker are urged to 'get a job' by concerned minister
Young people on JobSeeker payments have been urged to 'get a job' as positions in bars, restaurants and holiday parks in Western Australia remained unfilled.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said she was 'concerned' by the number of young people on the $1,115.70-a-fortnight payment.

'Right now with the number of people that are unemployed it is very concerning that we have jobs that need to be filled,' Ms Ruston told The West Australian.

'We need to make sure that we get those jobs filled because we don't want people to remain unemployed. But clearly something needs to be done to make sure we are providing the right incentives for people to take up these jobs.

'To any young person or anyone unemployed, think about the long-term implications of not pursuing or getting a job or turning down a job. These are temporary payments that will not last forever.'

The coronavirus supplement to the JobSeeker allowance is set to reduce by $300 on September 25, bringing down the total fortnightly payment to $815.70.

Nationally, more than 1.6 million people were on JobSeeker payments or youth allowance in June.

Unlike restrictive NSW and locked-down Victoria, WA is largely open to business with little to no restrictions on the hospitality and tourism industries - although its border remains closed to other states.

WA has recovered 88 % of jobs lost since March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but still has 12 % to go.

Victoria has only recovered 10 % of jobs lost since March 14 due to its lockdown, while other states had fared much better.

New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland have recovered roughly two thirds of jobs lost in the initial lockdown.

Tasmania and the ACT have only recovered half of lost jobs while the NT has recovered 85 per cent.

Tourist town of Kalbarri is booming but has run out of worker accommodation

West Australians are heeding the State Government's call to wander out yonder to stimulate regional business, but it has come at a cost.

Holiday accommodation in the Midwest coastal town of Kalbarri, 570 kilometres north of Perth, has been booked out for months thanks to a rush of people exploring their own state while interstate and international tourism has been shut off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business owners and workers, however, say the flipside of the boom is a lack of housing for people in the service industries.

They are being forced to cut back services, and at least one is considering closing because of a lack of housing for themselves and staff to rent.

The owners of a successful family cleaning business which services local accommodation providers say they may be forced to leave or move into a caravan with three of their children, because they cannot find a place to live.

Amanda and Owen Hooton said they and their children have had to leave their rental home but are struggling to find an alternative.

"The turnover for our business in two months has been amazing [but] we have got nowhere to live," Mrs Hooton said.

"It is really hard, no sleep. It is the stress."

Her husband Owen said the holiday market has squeezed out long-term renters.

"It is that busy here with the holiday market that there are no private rentals available," Mr Hooton said.

"For people that want to come here and work there is nothing here."

Customers to serve, but no staff
Restaurant owner Melissa Finlay described business this year as "a rollercoaster".

"It has just been a crazy, crazy year. From highs to absolute lows," she said.

"From being shut down, no one here, scrambling 'how we are going to survive', to reopening and then scrambling as to how we can get enough produce in to feed everyone."

Her seafood restaurant is advertising for chefs and wait staff but she said it is difficult when they have nowhere to stay apart from a bed in a mixed dormitory at a backpackers.

"Since reopening I have been trying to find accommodation," Ms Finlay said.

"I have rented one place in town, a two bedroom place that I have three of my workers in, and I have just managed to secure an unfurnished four bedroom house which I have only got for three months.

"I have a full time chef, but I need more."

She said a local pilot and an education assistant, working second jobs, were among her wait staff.

But the accommodation shortage was making it hard to attract staff from further afield.

She said the restaurant has the customers to open seven days but is currently only open five evenings and one lunch because of the lack of workers.

"The risk is we cannot provide the service that we want to," Ms Finlay said.

"We cannot provide the level, the quality, and it may impact badly on Kalbarri."

Plea for long-term rentals
A social media post by real estate agency Ray White in Kalbarri pleaded for home owners to rent their properties to long-term tenants.

"Another cry for housing help," it read.

"Ray White Kalbarri is desperate for permanent rentals."

It listed a description of tenants looking for homes and ended with "this is only the tip of the iceberg".

Kalbarri has benefited from the newly opened Skywalk over the Murchison River Gorge.

Figures from the visitor centre show 12,590 people went into the centre this August — 30 % more than the same time last year.

July 2020 was up 25 % on July last year.

A spokesman for the Northampton Shire Council, which takes in Kalbarri, said the council would consider any proposal for worker accommodation but was not in a position to fund a development.
An influx of holidaymakers to the town - who normally head to Bali - is putting the squeeze on accommodation for local workers.


Woman in Perth hotel quarantine becomes first Australian fitted with tracking device
A woman in hotel quarantine in Perth has become the first Australian to be fitted with a tracking device after allegedly breaching isolation orders.
The 33-year-old allegedly breached isolation directions after travelling back to Western Australian from New South Wales.

The GPS monitoring equipment was first purchased for $3 million when WA’s emergency powers were introduced in April.


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Out-of-work Aussies turn down roles on island paradise with free rent
Jobless Australians are turning down roles on an idyllic island resort offering cheap food and free rent at multi million-dollar venues.

The dream jobs are being offered by Discovery Parks in some of Australia's most sought-after locations.

Destinations include Byron Bay and Forster in northern New South Wales, Rottnest Island in Western Australia, and Lake Bonney in South Australia.

Despite the picturesque beaches and spectacular sunsets at both locations, resort bosses say they've only had international and interstate applicants - many have been rejected due to border closures.
he Rottnest Island resort, 34km off the coast of Perth, is only able to accept applicants from Western Australia due to the state's closed borders.

But resorts at Byron Bay, Forster and Lake Bonney are open to residents from other states.

Immediate opportunities are available for chefs, kitchen hands, housekeepers and waiters who can earn up to $35 an hour with free or heavily discounted meals, accommodation and ferry passes.

Discovery Parks founder and chief executive Grant Wilckens told Daily Mail Australia that applicants could be offered as job 'we soon as they fill out the paper work'.
The company has even offered to pay for interstate applicants to quarantine in hotels.

'I've been running this business for 17 years and I've never seen a shortage like this,' he said.

'Usually we have people from overseas filling these roles, but with the pandemic, Australians just aren't applying.'

Mr Wilckens explained that while he believes the JobSeeker and JobKeeper welfare benefits were a 'fantastic' way to help people during business closures, but added 'we need to be encouraging people back into the work force'.

'We've got free accommodation across most of our network, and some are in regional places like Byron and Rottnest, subsidies on food, and then subsidies on ferries and transport as well.'
He acknowledged that some potential workers might be concerned about COVID-19, but explained the company records customers' phone numbers and has a plan in place to ensure the safety of employees and patrons.

MasterChef Australia star and Pinky's Beach Club executive chef Karl Wulf fears he won't have any workers when the resort reopens in seven days.

Mr Wilckens said the company is looking for qualified chefs with experience to work along side Wulf, but all other staff don't need experience.

'All you need is a positive attitude and we can teach you the skills.'

'A lot of 18-year-old's want to take gap years overseas, but they can't do that this year, so why not see some beautiful parts of the country?'

Australian Border Force allows skilled worker to bypass coronavirus border closure on 17th try
Border Force is facing renewed criticism for its "unfathomable" handling of international arrivals, this time for overturning 16 earlier rejections on travel exemptions of a skilled worker seeking to fill critical shortages in Australia.

It is the second time in a week the agency has reversed a decision to block a foreign worker from coming to Australia.

British physiotherapist David Woodward contacted the ABC after reading the case of Spana Nakarmi, a Nepalese aged care worker, who had been blocked from returning to Tasmania after rushing back to Kathmandu to look after her sick mother just as coronavirus took hold.

It both instances, the permission was granted after the ABC contacted the agency about the cases.

"It's been really tough," Mr Woodward said.

"I'm virtually not sleeping at all, because obviously with the time zone difference, and any kind of queries that come in, I'm having to deal with them in the middle of the night.

"The stress of that is also meaning that I'm not really sleeping in general anyway — so I'm physically and mentally exhausted with the whole thing."

While Australia's borders are closed to everyone but Australian citizens and permanent residents due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ABF can grant travel exemptions for others if they have critical skills deemed to be in the national interest.

Mr Woodward, who lives near the UK city of Liverpool, was found to have such skills and received a Temporary Skills Shortage visa, but was continually denied permission to travel and take advantage of that visa.

He was offered a job as a senior physiotherapist by Sydney-based Physio Inq a few months back, after the firm spent months unsuccessfully trying to fill the role. His partner also lives in Sydney.

The physio practice specialises in aged care, as well as services for people on the NDIS.

"It's providing essential care for those people in the community who can't access health care facilities, they can't get to the hospital, they've not got the independence to do that, or they need complex care in their own homes because they can't access it elsewhere," Mr Woodward said.

The process of getting his qualifications recognised in Australia and applying for his working visa has cost more than $8,000.

Mr Woodward's numerous applications for a travel exemption was submitted with a letter of support from his employer vouching for his credentials.

"David maintains an impressive clinical history and very unique skillset that was perfect for our client base and team," Mr Woodward's manager Irene Georgakopoulos wrote.

"With extensive experience in neurological physiotherapy and the highest level of clinical prescriber available in the UK, he is more qualified than any Australian trained physio can be given our education system here.

"We are very keen to see David join us as soon as possible. We are waitlisting clients by the day, some having received no services now since Feb[ruary] 2020. This is problematic, to say the least."

While expressing relief Mr Woodward's travel exemption had finally been granted, Ms Georgakopoulos said it was "unfathomable" that he had been repeatedly rejected without clear reasons as to why he did not meet the criteria.

She said the situation had forced her practice to consider whether going through the process of hiring foreign physiotherapists was worthwhile.

'An utter shambles'
In a statement, the ABF said travel exemption guidelines were "regularly" revised.

"Each case is unique and is considered on the information provided in the application, and any supporting evidence that may be additionally provided," a spokesperson told the ABC.

"Quality assurance reviews of decisions are being regularly undertaken to ensure decisions are made consistently."

Government sources said the Department of Health also clarified its position to the ABF on which allied health workers it considered "critical" after the ABC enquired about Mr Woodward's exemption.

Aged care was quietly added to the list of "critical skills" displayed on the ABF website last week.

Greens Senator Nick McKim described the ABF's processing of travel exemptions as "an utter shambles".

"It's being run on a totally ad hoc fashion and the decision-making process is just extremely arbitrary," Senator McKim said.

"We're aware of a number of cases — physiotherapists, registered nurses who work in the aged care sector, which has a workforce under massive strain at the moment, and they simply are being rejected time after time and are unable to come back and assist their colleagues to respond to the crisis in our aged care sector."

The ABC revealed the case of Hobart-based Ms Nakarmi earlier this week, who had been rejected nine times for a travel exemption to return to Tasmania.

She was approved after the ABC inquired with Border Force about her case.

Pandemic bipartisanship is crumbling as Scott Morrison ramps up the politicking
f you can’t fix a practical problem, polarise the country. This has been the working maxim of the Liberal party since the Howard era. Climate change is the obvious case in point, where the fight, not the outcome, has become the bankable electoral currency, and we can see some of the same methodology at work in the escalating border dispute between Scott Morrison and the premiers.
It has been obvious over the past month or so that Morrison has not achieved a decisive victory in his dogged campaign to persuade the premiers to open their borders and control any Covid-19 outbreaks with localised lockdowns.

When diplomacy fails, war often follows, and that’s the point Morrison reached this week – at least with Queensland. Morrison and his ministers took a breather from carpet bombing Daniel Andrews and turned their sights on Annastacia Palaszczuk after a young Canberra woman was denied permission to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane.

I reckon Morrison’s political skills are sufficient to be able to hold his own in a ruckus with the premiers. I don’t think he needs a rapid response Greek chorus, ululating synchronously as if their lives depended on it. But the chorus turned up loyally anyway. Various News Corp publications, Ray Hadley on 2GB, Peta Credlin, flanked by a couple of serially angry Sky blokes whose names currently escape me, all reported for duty on Thursday to amplify the sad tale of a young woman unable to attend her father’s funeral.

Politics is as much a psychological battle as a practical one, so when the media braying starts, opening on early morning radio, rolling through the intra-day news cycle, and culminating in split-screen fulmination on Sky News at night, Labor governments begin to feel that an impossible weight of cultural forces is ranged against them, because the appearance of inexorable momentum is created.

This is the grim story of Australian politics since the digital disruption created a vibrant subscription market for nakedly partisan coverage – a caterwauling hell we can’t seem to escape. We achieved a brief respite from this during the opening months of the pandemic, and that was a tonic, but we are back to barracking in politics, amplified by media barracking, counterpoised by social media swarms of people standing for Dan, or for Scott, or for freedom, or for the police state – hackles permanently raised, curiosity seemingly at all time lows.

Living inside that matrix is not compulsory, fortunately, and enlightenment is generally found at a safe distance from it. So let’s turn down the tribalism and try and weigh some of the facts of the week.

Obviously the story of Sarah Caisip, the 26-year-old from Canberra who was denied permission to attend the Brisbane funeral of her father, Bernard, who died from cancer last week, is a terribly affecting one.

It seems inexplicable to me that public health officials in Brisbane continue to designate the ACT a coronavirus hotspot when there has not been an active case in the territory for two months.

If we are sad for Sarah, surely we need to be just as sad for the relatives of the more than 500 people who have died from Covid in aged care

From my perch, it’s also discomfiting that Palaszczuk outsources ultimate decision making in these cases to the state’s chief health officer. Regular readers know I’m a big wrap for experts. That’s a given. But I’m keen on representative democracy as well, where politicians make decisions based on expert advice and we vote them out if the decisions are crook ones.

So I reckon we can all agree this was a really sad story, with some genuinely head-scratching elements from a governance perspective.

But maintaining a bit of perspective also helps, because there have been so many sad stories during this pandemic. There are so many Australians currently slogging through the worst year of their lives, and all the hardship is worthy of attention, not just fragments that assist the pressing political objectives of the moment.

If we are sad for Sarah, surely we need to be just as sad for the relatives of people in aged care. More than 500 people have died prematurely from Covid in residential aged care, because there was a second wave of coronavirus in Victoria, and the commonwealth funded and regulated system that is supposed to provide Australians dignified care in their final years of life, failed them. That’s an agonising story.

If we are sad for Sarah, we should also be sad for the Australians currently stranded overseas because of the commonwealth’s decision to close the international border. Perhaps some of those people missed funerals, or couldn’t attend to family emergencies too, and I reckon some of those stories would be fully capable of breaking hearts. If you speak to federal MPs, many will tell you that the bulk of constituent work currently revolves around dealing with families with relatives unable to find their way back home to Australia because of the cap on arrivals. But somehow the state border closure story gets more attention.

It’s also a bit hard to fathom why Palaszczuk is the designated bad premier on border closures and Mark McGowan in Western Australia, these days, gets a leave pass from Canberra when his position is the most hardline in the commonwealth. Morrison initially joined a legal action to open the WA border, but clambered out of that, and now says he understands McGowan’s position, because there aren’t border communities inconvenienced by the closures in the west.

But a professional sceptic might wonder whether the dispensation for one premier and rolling war with another relates to the proximity of the Queensland election. Morrison will obviously be under significant pressure from the Queensland LNP to make life uncomfortable for Palaszczuk over the next month or so, partisan politics being partisan politics.

In ramping up the offensive against Palaszczuk on Thursday night, Morrison wondered aloud whether Australia was in danger of losing its humanity during this crisis.

Setting aside the obvious irony of Morrison, the implacable stop the boats guy, now worrying out loud about whether border closures inflict indiscriminate cruelty on innocents, and demanding somebody take responsibility for inflicting that cruelty – the prime minister is absolutely right.

We should be worried about losing our humanity, but because history tells us crises like the one we are in can lead societies into very dark places.

At the start of the pandemic, preserving our collective humanity really was the guiding force of policy making by Australian governments. That impulse set Australia apart from some countries we routinely compare ourselves against.

Related: The long shadow of the virus means there is no easy path back to prosperity | George Megalogenis

But the big question of the current phase of the pandemic is this: does safeguarding our social capital remain the most important objective, or are we flagging in the fatigue of a pandemic without an endpoint?

Let’s just take just one example that Morrison has complete control over. If concern about losing our humanity was really the test for decision making, I very much doubt that we would be cutting income support at the end of this month for people who have next to no chance of finding a job until the economy picks up.

More than one million Australians are currently unemployed. Victoria will crawl out of lockdown, not sprint.

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Council of Social Service says more than a third of people receiving pandemic-boosted welfare payments say they will live on less than $14 a day when the coronavirus supplement in the jobseeker payment is cut in a few weeks. That same survey found 80% of respondents would skip meals and reduce their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, while 47% said the income reduction would force them to ration their medicines.

How to spot a fraud: COVID 19 sees rise in fake online reviews
While some things might go back to a pre-pandemic normal once the coronavirus crisis has passed, other things will remain forever changed.

The rise in online purchases is one change that is likely to stick around.

According to Australia Post's 2020 eCommerce Industry Report, the 2020 financial year saw a 35.4 percent growth online purchases around the country, peaking in April when 5.2 million Australians shopped online.

But experts are worried the increase in online purchases has led to a rise in fake reviews as deceptive online sellers seek to take advantage of the shopping trend.
Some believe as many as 20 % of all online reviews are fake. << I THINK IT 20% ARE GENUINE - IT'S RARE >>

CHOICE Consumer Advocate Jonathan Brown said the best way to spot a fake review was to "follow the money trail".

A practice known as astroturfing sees some businesses give customers incentives to post glowing, positive reviews. Other businesses engage "e-reputation" agencies who work to write "quality" fake online reviews.

Australia to assist with PNG's COVID-19 economic recovery
The Australian Government is lending another $130 million to Papua New Guinea, which is struggling with budget woes. International Development Minister, Alex Hawke, says Australia is stepping up to help.

U.S. hospitals turn down remdesivir, limit use to sickest COVID-19 patients
U.S. hospitals have turned down about a third of their allocated supplies of the COVID-19 drug remdesivir since July as need for the costly antiviral wanes, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed on Friday.

Some hospitals said they are still buying the Gilead Sciences medicine to build inventory in case the pandemic accelerates over the winter. But they said current supplies are adequate, in part because they are limiting use to severely ill patients.
The Food and Drug Administration has allowed more liberal remdesivir use, but 6 out of 8 major hospital systems contacted by Reuters said they were not using it for moderate cases.

The slowdown suggests that a shortage of the drug is over and threatens Gilead's efforts to expand use of remdesivir, which it sells under the brand name Veklury in some countries.

An HHS spokesperson confirmed on Friday that between July 6 and September 8, state and territory public health systems accepted about 72% of the remdesivir they were offered. Hospitals in turn purchased only about two-thirds of what states and territories accepted, as previously detailed to Reuters by Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Gilead did not respond to a request for comment.

A surplus of remdesivir - which costs $3,120 for a 6-vial intravenous course - marks a turnaround from earlier in the pandemic, when supplies of the drug had fallen short of demand in some regions.

Government-led distribution of remdesivir will expire at the end of September. Hospitals said they have little information on availability after that.

Remdesivir was first authorized by the FDA in May for emergency use in COVID-19 patients hospitalized and on oxygen support after data showed it helped shorten hospital recovery time.


The agency last month expanded use to hospitalized patients who do not require oxygen support, based on data published in the JAMA medical journal showing that the drug provided a modest benefit for those patients.

The newer data has left many experts unconvinced.

"I am not terribly impressed with the study," said Dr. Adarsh Bhimraj, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. He said he remains "skeptical" about using remdesivir in patients with moderate COVID-19, especially given the price.

Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said his center has stayed focused on using remdesivir for the narrower population of seriously ill patients who need supplemental oxygen.

"No one wants to be in a position of making treatment decisions based on drug availability," he said.

Houston Methodist Hospital is holding off on broader use of remdesivir, and instead is stockpiling it in case the pandemic flares up in winter - typically the peak season for respiratory illness.

"At this point, we are buying far more than we are using because we are unsure about what will happen at the end of September," said Katherine Perez, infectious disease pharmacist at Houston Methodist.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital for a day or two due to an underlying health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure, would benefit from the drug, she added.

Mark Sullivan, associate chief pharmacy officer at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Hospitals & Clinics, said his institution also did not expand remdesivir use based on the newer JAMA data.

"We have kept our treatment protocol the same," he said.


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Victoria records 41 new COVID-19 cases
Victoria has maintained its steady downward trend of daily coronavirus infections, with 41 new cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

It comes after the state recorded 37 new cases yesterday – the lowest figure since June 25, at the start of the state's second wave.

It is also the tenth consecutive day where cases have been below 100.

Another seven Victorians have also died of the infection, bringing Australia's total fatalities to 810.Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged an average daily infection rate of between 30 and 50 as a key goal before stage four restrictions can be eased.

From midnight tonight, Melbourne residents will experience some relief from stage four measures with the increase of allowable daily exercise from one hour to two, with socialising also permitted during this time.

Single people living alone or with only their dependent children will be permitted to form "singlesbubbles" with one other person.

The premier is coming under increasing pressure to further ease the stringent measures as case numbers continue to fall.

There are now 1157 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria, including 176 health care workers.

Despite that, it remains "highly unlikely" Melbourne will meet the necessary criteria to allow businesses to reopen before the scheduled date of October 26, the premier said.

Under his government's roadmap out of lockdown, the 14-day average of daily COVID-19 cases needs to be less than five cases before businesses like hairdressers and outdoor dining can reopen.

Once this target is met, the curfew will no longer apply, there will be no restrictions on leaving home and public gatherings outside will increase to 10.

The premier said it was "highly unlikely we will meet those case number thresholds" before the scheduled date.

"It is not just about numbers, but about the passage of time," he said.

"The passage of time is, I know, very painful and very challenging for businesses and for families, but in terms of taking safe steps, it is a positive thing."

'Regional virus numbers proof roadmap is working'
Of these, just 52 are in the state's regions that are under stage three restrictions, with no new cases recorded today.

There was one case reported for the region of Horsham in the state's west, but Mr Andrews said the Horsham resident had been residing in Melbourne for the past four months and caught the infection there.

"This person's residential address is in that community which is why the case has been recorded in that way," he said.

"The case will have no impact on decisions informing when regional Victoria can take next steps."

The situation in regional Victoria was proof not only to residents there but Melbournians that the government's roadmap was working, the premier told the press conference.

The regions have recorded zero new cases of transmission today, with a 14-day daily case average of 4.1.

"I hope that people in Melbourne are looking to what is occurring in regional Victoria as proof-positive – not a model, not a theory, but the actual delivery of this plan," Mr Andrews said.

"This strategy is delivering low numbers and keeping them low and it is at that point that you can open with real confidence that having got the numbers low, we can you keep the numbers low.

"That is what we will deliver in regional Victoria and right across metropolitan Melbourne – not bouncing in and out of lockdowns, but making sure that everything that Victorians have given counts for something."

Victoria recorded 41 new coronavirus cases on Sunday bringing the state's total to 19,835 with 723 deaths, the DHHS said in an emailed release.

There are 1,157 active cases of which 116 are in hospital and 11 in intensive care.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the number of 'mystery' cases, where the source of community transmission cannot be traced, has fallen by 11 since yesterday, however he has extended the State of Emergency and the State of Disaster for another four weeks, beginning tomorrow.
Victoria's State of Disaster came into operation on Sunday, August 2, alongside the Stage Four restrictions.

The State of Emergency was already in force at the time, and the two declarations have operated together.

The State of Emergency is what allows the Victorian government to make emergency coronavirus rules such as making face masks mandatory, introducing covid-safe work plans and requiring people to isolate in quarantine.

The State of Disaster gives the police special powers to enforce them.

Mr Andrews said the two declarations underpin the emergency coronavirus rules.

'It underpins taking those safe and steady steps,' he told reporters on Sunday.

The State of Emergency and State of Disaster are now scheduled to end just before midnight on October 11.

Regional Victoria leaves stage three restrictions from midnight tonight, meaning they will be allowed to socialised outdoors in groups of up to five people from a maximum of two households.

The premier also flagged a swift move to a further lifting of restrictions for the regions, with the state set to reach the necessary case numbers around the middle of this week.

The next step in the government's roadmap allows residents to leave home for any reason, with no restrictions on distance travelled.

Public gatherings outdoors of up to 10 people are also permitted, as well as "household bubbles" of up to five visitors from one other nominated household.

Victorians should be 'hopeful and positive' about COVID pathway: Andrews
Regional Victoria is on track to reopen for business within days, after the state on Saturday recorded its lowest daily COVID-19 tally for 11 weeks.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the news should invigorate a city entering its sixth week of hard lockdown, and tough stage four restrictions could be eased in metropolitan Melbourne earlier than outlined in the state government's road map.

If current trends continue, Christmas could be "as close to normal as possible" and there could even be "significant" crowds at the Boxing Day Test.

"I think this is going to be summer like no other, it is going to be absolutely amazing to see all of us pull together, looking out for each other, having defeated this thing," the Premier said.

"We're in the 30s. People can be positive, they can be optimistic.
This strategy is working. We're gonna open this place up because we're doing it right - not popular, but right. It'll be able to stay open. And everything that every Victorian's given will mean something."
On Saturday, the state recorded 37 new coronavirus cases, including four earlier cases that had been reclassified, bringing the number of active cases to 1251.

Regional Victoria recorded no new cases, with 58 active cases overall. For restrictions to lift, there must be fewer than five cases, as a daily average across 14 days, with no cases of unknown transmission over that two week period. The 14-day average in regional Victoria is now 4.3 and Mr Andrews said regional Victorians could expect to have significant easing of restrictions by mid next week.

Under the state government's road map, the Melbourne region will be able to move to its next step of reopening on September 28 if the 14-day average for new cases is between 30 and 50.

Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day average reached 61.6 on Saturday.

Pet grooming premises - not mobile vans - would be allowed to resume operating under the second step on September 28.

Beauty and personal services will also be allowed to open earlier than previously flagged, to bring them in line with hairdressers in the third step of the road map, providing masks are worn the entire time (meaning facials will still not yet be allowed).

Under current predictions, Melbourne is expected to hit the third step of the road map on October 26.

Six Victorians lost their lives to the virus overnight - two women and a man in their 80s, and two women and a man in their 90s. All six fatalities were linked to outbreaks in aged care homes.

"It was only five weeks ago that we had 725 cases in a day," Mr Andrews said.

"Every single Victorian can be hopeful and positive that this strategy is working and we will hit our targets. If we get there beforehand, then absolutely."

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was to meet on Saturday with leading epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely to revisit modelling relied upon by health officials to draft Victoria's road map out of restrictions.

"We will sit down and make further revisions of modelling and re-prosecute the inputs and the assumptions and follow the real data as we go and we can make judgments that are different at different points in time," Professor Sutton said.

"The importance of the road map was to lay out general movements in those directions and have some really strong indicative numbers so that people understood where we were heading."

Professor Sutton also suggested authorities could revisit the five-cases target.

"It is possible that we will get to a point where the numbers are higher, but we will investigate those numbers, we will see where they are occurring and why they are occurring and how they are occurring, and we will make a judgment about whether five is the appropriate target.

"Or if it is 10 cases a day but eight are in aged care - and that is not inconceivable - we will absolutely focus our attention on containing all transmission within aged care, but otherwise lifting for the community."

The softening of rhetoric comes after leading public health academics, whose modelling was relied upon in designing the plan out of restrictions, raised concerns with the tough approach.

University of Melbourne dean of medicine ****ij Kapur and professor of mathematical biology James McCaw wrote in The Weekend Australian their modelling had been constrained by the fact it did not distinguish betwee??n COVID-19 cases in aged care settings, and those in the community.

They called on the government to continue to refine its road map, by differentiating between aged care and community cases, or even regional versus metropolitan cases.

Writing in The Age, University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said authorities should consider easing the requirement to move from stage three to stage two - which currently would require cases to fall to fewer than five a day over 14 days, and fewer than five mystery cases over 14 days.

"By this standard, NSW would be in stage three," he wrote.

"I propose that we can relax the triggers to attain transition from stage three to stage two if cases are clustered. If mystery cases are low."

The Victorian opposition called for a royal commission into the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There have been too many deaths, too much damage done and too many lies told," Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said.

"Victorians deserve the truth and only a royal commission will deliver it."

He called on the Premier to swiftly move to stage three restrictions.

"He's keeping this state locked down against the advice of the modellers, [and] against the advice of the public health experts," he said.

"Victorians deserve their lives back, we deserve some of our liberties back. This Premier needs to start listening to Victorians, because otherwise he has simply lost the confidence of the people of this state."

Mr Andrews on Saturday released new data on the mental health cost associated with the pandemic, with a 26.7 % rise in the number of young people presenting to emergency departments with suicidal thoughts or having harmed themselves, in the six weeks to September 7, compared with the same time last year.

This was down from a 33 % increase in the six weeks to August 9, compared with the same time last year.

From Monday, the city of Melbourne will move from the strict Stage Four lockdown into the first step of the roadmap toward reopening. While modest, the changes will allow for more time outdoors and social interactions.

Mr Andrews said if numbers were kept low the state could open with 'real confidence' and keep them low.

'You can open up and stay open,' he said.

'That is what we want and that is what we will deliver.

'That is what we will deliver in regional Victoria and right across metropolitan Melbourne, not bouncing in and out of lockdowns, but making sure that everything that Victorians have given counts for something and delivers us, as I said, a summer that will be like no other.'

People living alone or single parents will be able to invite one other person into their homes.

Mr Andrews said he would allow 'social bubbles' even when exercising outdoors, which will now be extended to up to two hours per day - which can be split over two sessions. Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment will reopen, and Melbourne's 8pm lockdown has been pushed back to 9pm.

Regional Victoria will also enjoy the loosening of several restrictions after successfully stemming the spread of the virus.

Up to five people from two separate households will be able to gather in public places, while outdoor pools and playgrounds will also open.

Religious services will be able to go ahead with up to five people.

'What we've seen in regional Victoria should give hope to all Victorians. If we all play our part, we can drive numbers down and get through this together,' Mr Andrews said.

'I'm so proud of Victorians for the way we are all working together to beat this virus – it means we can take our first safe and steady steps towards a COVID Normal tonight.'

Victorians living in regional communities have also been given hope that these restrictions could be further lifted in a matter of days.


Victorian GPs push for a more active role in Covid contact tracing
General practitioners are pleading with the Victorian health department to let them take a more active role in contact tracing.

The call – which includes the Australian Medical Association in Victoria, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, as well as local GPs and epidemiologists – comes as state health authorities overhauled the system around five suburban tracing hubs.

Some local doctors concerned about days of backlogs are already making their own calls to close contacts of patients within hours of a diagnosis.

Tapping into the local knowledge of GPs about popular gathering spots and transmission risks, they argue, would benefit Victoria’s contact tracing regime.

On Friday, a Victorian delegation, as well as chief scientist Alan Finkel, met with New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian and her contact tracers in Sydney, as they aim to emulate a system that relies on local health district expertise.

Dr Ines Rio, AMA Victoria’s chair of general practice, said she knew of GPs making calls to contacts of cases themselves, and said Victoria’s tracing system should be decentralised to make this more common.

“Most general practices are quiet at the moment,” she said, adding that the timeframes for telling close contacts to self-isolate could reduce from “more than a week to under an hour”.

“Once we know a patient has it, rather than call the DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services] hotline [for reporting a case] for two hours, we can ask them about their living situation and have the rest of their family tested that day and isolating.”

Rio said local GPs also had knowledge about local multicultural communities and associated transmission risks, including common gathering locations.

She also believes that if someone tests positive at a hospital or screening centre, their case information should be passed onto a GP, if contact tracers are backlogged.

Rio said that while many Victorians do not answer the ‘no caller ID’ that contact tracers appear as on phones, GPs called from familiar numbers and are easier to contact after a missed call.

The amount of time it currently takes contact tracers to tell all close contacts to self isolate, which is a matter of days, is enough time to allow them to become infectious and spread Covid-19 further, she explained.

“It’s going to be more timely, more effective, and GPs are crying out for it,” Rio said.

Dr Vishy Goonewardene, a GP at Bundoora in Melbourne’s north, has been testing patients for Covid-19 in his clinic.

He is frustrated that when a patient of his tests positive, he is only able to inform the DHHS about the patient’s result, and not let contact tracers know details of who they interacted with.

Goonewardene said that hours after a recent patient tested positive, he contacted five close contacts – family members and acquaintances they said they had interacted with in recent days – and urged them to get tested and self-isolate.

He said each of the close contacts was only contacted by the DHHS eight days later and told to self-isolate.

“As a GP, if I have someone who has the virus, I would like to hand over their information, who they’ve interacted with, so the contact tracers can begin immediately telling everyone to isolate,” Goonewardene said.

“There should be an online portal for this, and if they can’t integrate primary care physicians into this, then the most basic thing is to let the clinicians do their job and start calling themselves.

“We are all in this together.”

Cameron Loy, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Victoria chair, told Guardian Australia that while GPs should not be expected to conduct long phone interviews with all patients, the DHHS shouldn’t replicate requests for information that GPs already knew.

Related: Victoria's roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions: what you need to know

“If contact tracers in Victoria can’t get the information they need, or if GPs can get that information faster, then the contact tracers should be using GPs help,” Loy said.

Prof Raina MacIntyre, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales, said Victorian contact traces should utilise GPs.

“Given there’s greater telehealth now, and because a lot of consultations have dropped off, it’s an option to be looked at,” she said, noting GPs were overqualified to be making calls themselves.

She also encouraged greater use of technology, including fixing bugs in the Covidsafe app, and using credit card, public transport card, and mobile phone data to trace movements.

“There should be a concerted effort to use this time to be scaling up how many talented people are involved,” MacIntyre said.

A DHHS spokesman said contact tracers call every positive case within 24 hours and their close contacts within 48 hours. He also said all positive cases are asked for their Covidsafe app data.

Victorian government unveils new business support to aid lockdown recovery
Victorian businesses will have access to a $3 billion program of support including cash grants and tax relief as the state government seeks to boost the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday said the "significant" package would help businesses continue through the current difficult conditions and preserve jobs.

"[This] is without any shadow of a doubt, the biggest package of business support in the history of this state, and it needs to be unprecedented in nature," he said.

"It is an unprecedented set of challenges that business face."

The package will include:

$1.1 billion in cash grants for small and medium sized businesses to companies "most affected" by coronavirus restrictions;
The establishment of a $251 million Licensed Venue Fund with grants of between $10,000 and $30,000;
Payroll tax will be deferred for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year;
A further $137 million in tax relief on top of an existing $1.5 billion program of tax relief;
$20 million for small businesses to help them access digital programs such as Shopify, training and workshops to adapt their businesses to online operations; and
Grants of up to $20,000 to businesses in alpine resorts.
The relief measures include $27 million worth of savings from the waiving of liquor license fees, $41 million savings from a 50 per cent cut in stamp duty for commercial and industrial properties in regional Victoria.

The government said the payroll tax deferral would provide a $1.7 billion "cashflow boost" to businesses.

A planned increase in the landfill levy will also be deferred for six months.

The move comes as the government has faced a push from some parts of the business community to alter its road map for removing coronavirus restrictions to allow for more economic activity.

Mr Andrews said on Sunday he wanted to get to the other side of the second wave of cases, having protected both lives and livelihoods.

"I understand that businesses are desperate, not just for profits, but for their people. They are desperate to open up," he said.

"But being opened for a very short period of time is not the strategy."

Mr Andrews said he would speak to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the details of the business support later today.

Industry Support & Recovery Minister Martin Pakula said the new financial support would particularly help businesses who had been closed as a result of the lockdowns.

Mr Pakula named hospitality, retail, accommodation and tourism operators, hair and beauty services, repairs, maintenance, domestic cleaning, outdoor entertainment and passenger vehicles businesses as the primary recipients of the new funding.

"That crucial cash flow will be primarily targeted at those businesses which continue in the next stage to still be closed heave - heavily restricted or restricted," he said.

One group of operators who are singled out in the $3 billion package are those in Victoria's alpine areas and ski fields, with grants of $20,000 to be available to businesses in those areas to cover resort fees.

Local chambers of commerce across Victoria can apply for $20,000 grants to help members operate under ???COVID-normal'.

The grant application portal will likely be open later this week, Mr Pakula said, accessible on the business.vic.gov.au website.

Mr Andrews said there would be more information about "tailored employment support and getting people back to work" in coming weeks.

"The Reserve Bank Governor has left us in no doubt that we've got to spend and invest," he said.

Victorian Opposition calls for coronavirus royal commission into state COVID-19 response
Victoria's Opposition is continuing to mount pressure on the State Government over its handling of COVID-19, calling for a royal commission into the state's pandemic response.

The state recorded 37 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, the lowest daily increase since late June, as well as six more deaths.

The 14-day average for new daily cases in metropolitan Melbourne dropped to 61.6 and regional Victoria's dropped to 4.3.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the falling numbers were a sign that weeks of restrictions across the state were working, and urged Victorians to stick to the roadmap out of lockdown.

But the Opposition yesterday called for a return to stage 3 restrictions in Melbourne as soon as this week, the first time it had detailed an alternative plan since the roadmap was announced.

A Government report into the modelling used to underpin the roadmap found "aggressive suppression is our best bet for avoiding a yo-yo effect".

But high-profile epidemiologists have in recent days questioned the targets for the easing of restrictions in late October, with a co-author of the modelling suggesting the thresholds could be relaxed.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien is further stepping up the pressure, urging the Government to call a royal commission into the handling of the second wave.

"We're the only state to be suffering through a second wave, we've lost hundreds of lives, tens of thousands of businesses, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and millions of us are locked down," he said.

"I think that Victorians deserve the answers, they deserve the truth, and the best way to find the truth is through a royal commission."

Mr O'Brien said if the Government did not move to undertake the inquiry, the Coalition would promise to call one if victorious in the next election.

The next state election is scheduled for November, 2022.

An inquiry, led by former judge Jennifer Coate, is currently investigating failures in the state's hotel quarantine system.

"We know that the problems in Victoria go well beyond that," Mr O'Brien said.

Victoria has been criticised for its testing and tracing program, with delays prompting some doctors and industries to take things into their own hands and the Prime Minister describing NSW's contact tracing efforts as the "gold standard".

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton yesterday said the state was "absolutely in a better position" than it was before improvements were made in the system.

Royal commission push gathers steam
In its submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the coronavirus response on June 31, the president of Australian Medical Association (AMA) Victoria said a royal commission would be "necessary in order to learn and apply lessons learned from this pandemic".

In the same July submission, associate professor Julian Rait highlighted "missteps", including inconsistent messaging and a lack of transparency and accountability.

The AMA has been a proponent of extending the stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, with national president Dr Omar Khorshid last week saying it would help the state and the country ultimately recover from the pandemic faster.

Of the 716 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Victoria, the vast majority are linked to aged care — a Commonwealth responsibility.

Leading aged care health researcher Joseph Ibrahim, from Monash University, last week called for a royal commission into how the virus was able to tear through the aged care system, despite federal funding.

"We've spent $1.5 billion and we have 500 deaths. To me, we need to understand why we have so many deaths. Where did that money go?" he said on Thursday.

But Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said in response that the current royal commission into aged care was enough.

When questioned about failings in the federally-run aged care system, Mr O'Brien said "the real concern" was why the second wave was able to take off in Victoria.

"These are lessons that must be learnt, and the best way to get to the bottom of it, the best way to answer those vital life-and-death questions is through a royal commission," he said.

Victoria's state of emergency extended as Melbourne's new rules start from midnight
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the state of emergency has been extended for four more weeks, but there will be changes from today.

“Regional Victoria will take one step today, and they will potentially, around the middle of the week, reach those thresholds of less than five cases, a 14-day average. They are at 4.1 cases now per day,” Mr Andrews said.

“I wanted to remind, as part of that safe and steady steps, part of the roadmap, from 11.59pm tonight, so essentially from midnight tonight, Melbourne moves from Stage Four restrictions to the first step of our roadmap which brings small, I fully acknowledge, small changes that allow for more social interaction and more time outside.

“Social bubbles for those living alone or single parents - they will be allowed to have one other person in their home.

“Exercise is extended for two hours, split over a maximum of two sessions, but that goes obviously from one hour to two hours, and the notion of time outside, time outdoors, whilst at the moment it is just for exercise, it will also now be from midnight tonight for social interaction with one other person or members of your household.
“Of course, as we move towards the warmer months, the curfew is extended from 8:00pm from tomorrow night essentially, from midnight tonight, so apply from Monday night from 8:00pm to 9:00pm, so an extra hour of that freedom of movement.”

Victorian parliament closed as security guard tests positive to covid
A security guard at Victoria's Parliament House has tested positive for coronavirus.

Victoria's Parliament House and grounds have been closed for cleaning and contact tracing has begun.

Politicians are waiting on advice from Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to see if they need individual testing, although some have already taken this precaution.

The security guard tested positive on Thursday to the virus.
It is not yet known whether he was infectious and working when parliament sat earlier this month.

The Legislative Assembly last sat on September 3 and 4, while the Legislative Council sat on September 1 and 2, according to the Parliament of Victoria website.

Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks and Legislative Council President Nazih Elasmar said in a joint statement on Sunday that the contracted security guard had stayed home on the day and started to feel unwell.

'Deep cleaning of the areas where the person worked in the building has been undertaken and is continuing. This is on top of the ongoing high-level cleaning already undertaken in Parliament House each weekday,' the statement said.
Parliament House and grounds have been closed for cleaning until further notice, however it is likely they may be re-opened in time for the Legislative Council's next scheduled sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Parliamentary security guards are unable to work elsewhere under current contract arrangements.

Victoria's coronavirus 'single-person bubble' begins — and it's complicated for some singles in lockdown
After months isolated in lockdown, Victorians who live alone are now able to create a 'single-person bubble' with one other person to ease the loneliness.

Half a million Victorians live alone.

Under State Government policy, those single-dwellers who have romantic relationships have been able to see them under 'intimate partner arrangements' since the beginning of the pandemic.

But those not in romantic couplings have not had the same opportunity to see a friend until now.

That has been especially hard for singles in Melbourne, where a strict 5-kilometre-radius lockdown has meant many cannot even see friends around the city for a walk.

"I miss my friends. I miss my social life," Melbourne woman Anastasia Kazantzidou said.

She has especially missed her ex-husband, Leo Kretzenbacher.

The couple were married for 20 years and had two children together, before divorcing in 2008. They became good mates again about six years ago.

The duo have been keeping up their connection during COVID-19 by doing Zoom trivia nights with their friends. But they do not have the same competitive edge unless they are under the same roof working on questions together.

"I miss Leo. He's my walking encyclopedia," Ms Kazantzidou said.

They make it bubble official on Monday.

"I'm looking forward to forming a bubble and visiting Anastasia," Mr Kretzenbacher said.

"I love cooking and Leo loves eating what I cook, so we will have nice dinners together," Ms Kazantzidou said.

"And maybe Zoom at the same time with our children."

'Mum would kill me if I didn't pick her'
Not everybody is having an easy time forming the perfect bubble.

The state's policy is complicated and is creating tough choices and frustration for some Victorians.

You cannot pick an entire other household to bubble with. So if your chosen bubble lives with others, they must be home alone when you visit their house.

This means some families are having to pick between grandparents. And adult children can still only see one of their parents, even if they live together.

Melbourne teacher Cyrus Wong is in this predicament. He has gone with Mum.

"I'm the only one of her children left in Melbourne so I think she'd probably kill me if I didn't pick her," Mr Wong said.

"I love you Mum!"

For some, the issue is not who to choose, but whether there is anybody suitable to bubble with at all.

Diana Hesse moved to the regional Victorian city Ballarat just weeks before the state's second lockdown in July. She has spent the last two months home alone.

"It's been challenging. I'm a pretty positive person but it's been a rollercoaster," Ms Hesse said.

"Being alone is okay but being lonely is a whole other ballgame."

Ms Hesse has family about 90 minutes away in Melbourne, but the bubble policy does not allow regional Victorians and Melburnians to form bubbles together. This is because cases of COVID-19 are much lower in regional Victoria.

Because she is new in town, Ms Hesse does not know anybody well enough in Ballarat to ask to be her bubble.

Not to be deterred, Ms Hesse has put up an advertisement on social media.

"Ultimately it's my goal to find someone to share the bubble with and be able to visit with and relax at home," she said.

"Because there's nothing like conversation over a meal."

But Ms Hesse has to make her choice wisely. The policy says once you've picked your bubble mate, it has to be the same person for the remainder of the state's lockdown.

To make sure she does not pick somebody unsuitable, Ms Hesse is going for walks and takeaway coffees with prospective bubbles before locking in her choice.

"Everybody wants to be with somebody of their own ilk and I certainly do," Ms Hesse said.

"I'm not a homebody and I'm not interested in discussing curtains and cleaning. I like discussing books and travel and arts and people's life experience."

But she is not looking to turn a bubble into an intimate partner arrangement.

"I've had my share of romance in my life."

Would you pick a former hook-up as your bubble?
Single-dweller Andi Egan has also had her fair share of romance.

The Melbourne performer "got dumped very badly" at the very start of the pandemic.

"I couldn't even go out with my girlfriends and get over him. But since then it's been quite nice to reflect," Ms Egan said.

And she has had a lot of time alone to do that. Because she has an auto-immune disease, Ms Egan has had to be especially careful with social distancing during COVID-19.

"I have not seen anybody except for casual walks outside in six months," she said.

Ms Egan initially found the bubble policy "quite depressing" because of all of its caveats.

And because she does not want to bubble with somebody who lives with others — because of their extra risk of exposure to the virus — it has ruled out most of her mates who live in sharehouses.

But this week, Ms Egan got a bubble request from another single-dweller.

"I got a message off a guy I used to see at the pub occasionally last year and occasionally hook up with," she said.

"I don't know his last name. I know what he does for work. And he is very pleasant. We get along great.

'We'll give it a go. See how we get along. Again."

Dog prams are a thing. Here's why you might see some fur babies putting their paws up

While many people refer to their pets as their "fur babies" it is still relatively uncommon to see pets being pushed around in prams — but according to some, that could be changing.

Brisbane woman Catini Leung, the owner of Mochi, a two-year-old Japanese spitz, decided to try one out six months ago when her dog became "skittish" in new places.

"At first I was a bit iffy about it, but then when I saw the result, that Mochi was safer and we could take him to a lot more places, I was for it," Ms Leung told ABC Radio Brisbane.

Mochi can struggle when in new environments with lots of cars, sounds or people and the pram is helping to change that, proving a safe space.

"I think that's the best of both worlds," Ms Leung said.

"He can go out, do all the sniffing and enjoy the environment without having to be scared."

She said Mochi was not exposed to a lot of different environments as a puppy, so the pram helps to introduce him to new places and develop positive associations with them.

Ms Leung said while pet prams are more common overseas, she is seeing more of them around.

But not everyone is accepting and she has been approached by strangers who have said, "Dogs are meant to walk on the ground, not in a pram".

Why opt for a pram?
There are plenty of reasons a dog might use a pram — they might be old, sick, injured, recovering from surgery, or simply timid.

Puppies can also struggle to walk long distances and owners might avoid letting them walk in areas other dogs frequent, until they are fully vaccinated.

New South Wales dog owner Sarah Williams said her four-legged, three-wheeled companion Buddy enjoys cruising around Newtown in his pram now that health issues largely prevent him from walking.

"I first got him the pram about three years ago because he has a bowed leg and arthritis and was struggling to walk for any distance," she said.

"It meant I could walk him down to the beach or the park.

"He's about 12 now and has a number of medical issues that means he's pretty much immobile.

"Having the pram means we can get him out and about in the fresh air."

Ms Williams said she considered a carrier but it was too heavy.

Craig Frenchman and Karen Sutch, from Brisbane's Northside, say their seven-year-old Chippy will "just stop" and refuse to walk.

At that point all three of the extended family's dachshunds jump into the pram, especially when the ground becomes too hot in summer.

For Mia Millett, who lives in Utah in the United States, a pram has meant she can exercise for longer, even if her ageing dogs can no longer keep up.

"This pram has changed our lives," she said.

"It's allowed me to continue to be active and still include my dogs who are ageing and not able to go as far or as fast as they used to."

Prams improve quality of life: Vet
Taringa Veterinary Surgery owner and vet, Olivia Dyer, said she has seen an increase in the use of mobility aids like prams.

"I think, even so little as five years ago, I thought it was crazy, but now I'm a big advocate and I think they are fantastic," Dr Dyer said.

"They really add to the quality of life for some dogs who for various reasons aren't able to go for long walks or hilly walks, especially during our hot summers.

"I think people are much more accepting now and that it's a bit of a snowball effect: you see it a couple of times and your brain doesn't feel so surprised by the fact there's a dog in the stroller rather than a baby."

Dr Dyer said dog wheelchairs can also get a bad rap.

"It looks even more confronting than a pram," she said.

"We don't like seeing evidence of illness … you have to stop looking at wheels and the limp back-end and you need to look at the happy face and the strong forelimbs.

"Once you stop feeling that it's strange, you start to think about the practicality of it and why they might be doing it."

A spokesperson from pet store Dog Culture said they had seen a steady increase in the purchase of pet prams.

"In the past we used to get enquiries mainly from those with elderly or disabled pets," the spokesperson said.

"Now we are seeing the purchase of specialty strollers and joggers increase.

"Particularly as in recent times people have been spending more recreational time with their pets."
You can't just plonk them in a pram
Dr Dyer said people need to be sensible when using prams, making sure to be with the animal when they are in the pram and not to leave them in the sun.

She said dogs should be restrained while in the pram to ensure they cannot jump out, but the restraint should not be attached to the pram itself.

Dr Dyer said simply getting dogs used to prams could take some work to desensitise them to the new sensation.

"I think some dogs would find it stressful, so you would have to assess how your dog responds to it," she said.

"If they were really frightened of it, then don't use a pram."

ADF not used for Victorian hotel security to allay returned traveller fears: inquiry
Victoria's hotel inquiry has heard the Department of Health and Human Services did not want to use the Australian Defence Force for security because it would be daunting for those arriving back in Australia.
The state's use of private security over ADF personnel was a key focus of the inquiry.

At least 29 guards caught coronavirus from guests, spreading it across Melbourne and sparking the state's second wave.

The Emergency Management Commissioner and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton are expected to appear at the inquiry.

Hola Melbourne, think the stage 4 coronavirus lockdown restrictions are tough? Spare a thought for Chile
Marcela Paz González from Chile has a message for Melburnians who are suffering through the city's stringent stage 4 restrictions.

"The only way to get ahead is together," she said, urging everyone to abide by the myriad rules that come with a tough approach by governments trying to reign in coronavirus.

Ms González and her elderly father are now six months into a hard lockdown in Chile's capital, Santiago, which is one of the world's longest and most restrictive.

When the South American nation was hit by an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in March, schools closed, a curfew was introduced and residents were only allowed out of their homes twice a week to get groceries.

Since then, nearly half of Chile's 18.7 million people have been under strict confinement, with restrictions in some areas easing only to tighten again over the months.

"The first few days I cried a lot, I literally felt that the beginning of the end of the world had come," Ms González said.

"Our commune [neighbourhood district] has been in mandatory quarantine since April 30 and we have been locked up since Monday March 16," she said.

"Many times, we felt no encouragement, we didn't even change our clothes. We have gone through many states, then we decided to do a daily routine, so as not to fall into depression."

Despite its tough lockdown, Chile has so far had 430,535 COVID-19 cases and 11,850 deaths, according to .

Other South American nations such as Peru and Brazil have markedly higher death tolls, but much larger populations facing a variety of differing COVID-19 restrictions.

Harshest restrictions for elderly Chileans
Ms González, 49, lost her job as a gym instructor in March when COVID-19 cases started surging. She is sharing a house with her elderly father, Manuel González.

"You can only go out two times a week, with police permission, through an online permit," she said.

At first, older Chileans like her father were not allowed to leave their homes at all.

"My father, he is 92 years old, and the first few weeks he was very distressed and we cried together and he said, 'Get ready, because I think I will not survive this pandemic,'" she said.

"My dad believes that the hardest thing is to lose freedom — not being able to go out, to work or walk, always be with a mask. He feels imprisoned."

The complete ban on people aged over 75 from leaving their homes, intended to protect them from COVID-19, was eased after many older Chileans became isolated and depressed, she said.

Her father is now allowed out of the house on allotted days, three times a week.

The family's neighbourhood district remains under a strict "sanitary cordon", or quarantine, and with no prospect of returning to work in the foreseeable future, Ms González is baking bread to raise money.

"Here in Chile and Latin America, all people sell something to survive," she said.

Santiago and Melbourne have similar stay-at-home measures
Latin America is the current epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But not all Latin American countries, including Brazil with its massive COVID-19 caseload, are taking the same tough approach as Chile.

A rating system developed by the which compares the stringency of lockdown measures around the world in response to the pandemic, shows Chile's restrictions are among the toughest in the world.

The index tracks measures such as school and workplace closures, curfews and travel restrictions.

Chile has consistently rated in the 80s on the index, while Australia is currently rating about 75, thanks mainly to the stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne.

One of the project's lead researchers, Toby Phillips, said countries with the world's most stringent overall measures included Chile, Eritrea, Argentina, Bolivia, Oman and Azerbaijan.

"It is worth noting that our index looks at countries overall," he said. "So if countries have tough measures in only a single state or province, such as Victoria, then this will be a lower score than if the tough measure was universally applied across the whole country."

Mr Phillips said Chile was one of a handful of countries at the maximum level for stay-at-home measures, although this was only for specific communities, not countrywide.

"It [Chile] seems similar to Australia, and indeed, is only a few points different on our stringency index," he said.

"Victoria's restrictions are quite stringent, based on the framework we use to measure policy responses. They are not absolute maximum on our scale, but close to it."

Despite its long-lasting restrictions, the .

The Chilean government has announced a gradual "paso a paso", or step-by-step, re-opening plan with some similarities to Victoria's so-called "roadmap" to loosening restrictions.

Chile's plan also allows different levels of permitted activities at each step, but enables different districts to move forwards or backwards, depending on local conditions.

Sending strength to Melburnians
Edmundo Santibañez Engemann is one of the lucky Chileans who has not lost his job during the pandemic.

But the engineer and avid cyclist said the loneliness he felt during many months of working from home, and boredom at weekends, had taken a toll.

"Lockdown is not good for me, I'm very used to my freedom in nature."

However, he urged people suffering from lockdown blues in Melbourne to make the most of a bad situation.

"Use these time to meditate, dedicate time to children … the only formula to survive this is patience," he said.

"Finally all problems will pass."

As metropolitan Melbourne waits out its stage 4 lockdown, Marcela González said she wanted to send "a lot of strength" to Melburnians who, like her, have struggled with tough stay-at-home orders.

"This is not a time to be selfish," she said, urging people to stay the course.

After a spell of not getting out of her pyjamas all day, she suggested Melburnians should create a good routine to help cope with the lockdown.

"Every day, get dressed in front of the mirror, do some exercise, call your friends, talk to your neighbour, help your elderly neighbour who can't go shopping.

"You can always find something good, even though you are going through this horrible time."

Woman dragged from car to be charged, police say
Victoria Police say they plan to charge a Melbourne woman with assaulting police after she posted a video of her arrest to social media showing her being dragged from a car by officers.

Police arrested 29-year-old Natalie Bonner after she allegedly refused to provide her details and driver's licence at a checkpoint in Kalkallo just before 6pm on Saturday.

Ms Bonner was stopped at the checkpoint because her mobile phone was mounted on a charger on her windscreen.

Things escalated when she refused to get out of the car and also refused to provide her name to the officer.

The video shows the police officer reaching into the vehicle and undoing her seatbelt.

Ms Bonner claimed on social media that police called for backup and four officers grabbed her by the legs and pulled her from the car.

"While trying to cuff me, they had their knees in my back and I couldn't breathe," Ms Bonner said.

In the video, there is a man in the passenger seat who can be heard yelling that Ms Bonner is sick.

Victoria Police said in a statement that an officer spoke to Ms Bonner when she was first stopped, explaining that her mobile phone was obstructing her view due to its position on the windscreen and that this was an offence.

"The woman refused to remove her phone from the windscreen," Victoria Police said in the statement.

"When asked for her name and address, the woman refused to supply her details which is an offence under Section 59 of the Road Safety Act. When asked to produce her driver's licence, the woman also refused, which is also an offence under Section 59 of the Road Safety Act."

"The woman was warned that if she did not provide her details, she would be arrested.

"She still refused and was asked by police to get out of her car. When she refused this request, she was taken from the car by officers and taken into custody."

The Wallan woman was later released and is expected to be charged on summons with driving with obscured vision, fail to produce licence, fail to state her name and address, resist arrest, assault police and offensive language, police said.

When questioned about the incident, Premier Daniel Andrews defended police actions, saying "no-one is entitled to not provide their name, not provide their driver's licence" when asked to by officers.

Victorian couple fined $1,652 for driving 180km to get baby vegetables
A Victorian couple have been fined $1,652 for driving 185km to shop for their baby's favourite vegetables.

The couple had left their home in Sale, in the Gippsland region, and made the two hour journey to Dandenong in Melbourne's south-east on Saturday.

When the couple were pulled over they told police they left home to buy 'specific vegetables their baby liked'.

The couple had breached the 5km radius rule in Metropolitan Melbourne which has been established as part of the Stage Four restrictions.

The couple were slapped with a $1,652 fine - one of 200 that were handed out on Saturday.

The fines included 48 for curfew breaches, 16 for failing to wear a face mask and nine at vehicle checkpoints.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that Victoria's State of Emergency and State of Disaster were both extended for a further four weeks.

The embattled state recorded a further 41 COVID-19 cases and seven new fatalities, taking the death toll to 723 for the length of the pandemic.

In spite of the clear trend downwards, Mr Andrews has refused to let up on the LOCKDOWN measures, which include a nightly curfew and strict gathering restrictions.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the extension of the State of Emergency, which will now last until at least October 11, was crucial for the implementation of necessary COVID-safe guidelines.

Dozens arrested as police face off with anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne market

Police have arrested 74 people after anti-lockdown protesters at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market started throwing fruit at officers.

Victorian police have arrested dozens of anti-coronavirus lockdown protesters in Melbourne after they gathered for a second day.

About 250 protesters chanting "Freedom" massed on Sunday at Queen Victoria Market, where some threw fruit at police after raiding traders' stalls.

Footage was posted online of violent scuffles as officers in riot gear pushed through the crowd in between tables piled high with produce.

"There were a few tense moments when protesters started grabbing fruit and throwing it at police," an AAP photographer said from the scene.

Other videos showed mounted police riding their horses close to a group of protesters in a bid to break the gathering up.

Protesters yelled "This is not a police state" and "You've got to be on the right side of history".

"There was also a bit of aggression toward the media, calling us 'scum'," the AAP photographer said.

Some protesters marched away from the market and through city streets.

Victoria Police arrested 74 people and issued at least 176 infringement notices for breaching the Chief Health Officer's directions.

A 44-year-old man, who police believe was a primary agitator for the protests, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with incitement.

His home will be subject to a search warrant.

Another person was arrested for assault police.

Police say they were disappointed that many protesters threatened violence toward officers.

"It was extremely disappointing to see people not just protesting, but putting the lives of other Victorians at risk despite all the warnings," a spokesman said.

The rally follows others on Saturday when about 100 people demonstrated against strict Melbourne coronavirus restrictions across various locations.

Police on Saturday arrested 14 people and fined at least 50 for breaching health directions..

People protesting against coronavirus lockdown arrested in Melbourne amid clashes with police
Police have arrested 74 people during illegal anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, including an alleged "agitator" who remains in custody.

Officers said the "most significant activity" took place at the Queen Victoria Market where protesters chanting "freedom" were met with a heavy police presence.

The demonstrators at one point linked arms as they were surrounded by police officers.

Scuffles broke out as arrests were made.

A police officer was filmed placing their knee near the neck of one demonstrator as other officers handcuffed him.

When asked whether the tactic was standard police procedure, a Victoria Police spokesman said officers "often have to conduct arrests in highly dynamic circumstances".

"Such as today, where many protestors were aggressive, threatened violence towards police and were non-compliant when being taken into custody."

The spokesman said anyone who was unsatisfied with police actions at the protest could make a complaint, which the force would take "very seriously".

The spokesman said there were between 200 and 250 people involved in the protest activity, and 176 were fined.

"A 44-year-old Burwood East man, believed to be a primary agitator for these protests, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with incitement," the spokesman said.

Police said a search warrant would be issued for his home.

Another person was arrested for assaulting police. No police are believed to have been injured in the protests.

"Police were disappointed that many protestors were aggressive and threatened violence towards officers," the spokesman said.

Protest labelled 'stupid' and 'dangerous' by Premier
It is the second day this weekend and the second week in a row of similar protests in and around the city's CBD.

The so-called Freedom Walk marches are billed as "a legal walk, allowing citizens to come together, get healthy and talk about getting our freedoms back".

Any protesting is outlawed in Melbourne under the current stage 4 restrictions, and people are only allowed to exercise for one hour a day within a 5-kilometre radius of their home.

Gatherings are completely banned.

Police said investigations into the demonstration were ongoing and further fines were expected "once the identity of individuals has been confirmed".

"Protesting is selfish, protesting is stupid and protesting is dangerous," Premier Daniel Andrews said today.

"And if you do it, you will be dealt with, you will be fined.

"No protest, regardless of the cause … is safe, responsible and anything other than selfish at this time."

Yesterday, police arrested 14 people and issued more than 50 fines at what police called "disappointing" smaller protests at a number of Melbourne locations.

Last Saturday, more than a dozen people were arrested in Melbourne as "solidarity" rallies were held in Sydney and around the country.

People face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for breaching the Chief Health Officer's stay-at-home orders and can face further criminal charges.


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NSW records nine new COVID-19 cases
Nine new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in NSW including one where the source is unknown.

Of the nine cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, four are returned travellers in hotel quarantine, four are locally acquired and linked to known cases and one is locally acquired and under investigation.

NSW Health on Sunday said two of the new cases are household contacts linked to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club cluster and the other two are linked to St Paul's Catholic College Greystanes.

All four cases have been in self-isolation while infectious.

NSW Health also advised an infected person visited KFC in Concord on September 6 with anyone who was at the restaurant between 1pm and 1.20pm that day considered a casual contact.

They have been advised to monitor for symptoms.

NSW Health acting director Dr Christine Selvey urged people to immediately get tested if they feel unwell and to maintain social distancing.

"COVID-19 continues to spread in the community and we must all continue to help stop the spread of this disease," Dr Selvey said in a video update on Sunday.

NSW Health is treating 83 COVID-19 cases including six in intensive care, three of whom are being ventilated.

Blue Mountains on high alert after COVID-19 case
A local school student is among the five new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus in New South Wales

Coronavirus public health alert for second Sydney KFC outlet, as New South Wales records nine new cases
NSW Health has issued a public health alert for a second Sydney KFC outlet this weekend after a known COVID-19 case visited a venue in Concord, in the inner west.

Authorities said the infected person visited the store on Sunday, September 6 between 1:00pm and 1:20pm.

Anyone who visited the venue at the same time has been advised to monitor for coronavirus symptoms and get tested if they develop.

It follows an alert issued yesterday for the KFC outlet at Emerton, in Western Sydney.

That store's alert covers Monday, September 7 between 12:00pm and 9:30pm.

Close contacts of that case have been told to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

It comes as NSW recorded nine new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.

Two are household contacts of a case linked to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club cluster which broke out last week.

Two other cases are household contacts of a case connected to the St Paul's Catholic College cluster in Greystanes in Western Sydney.

Four cases are travellers in hotel quarantine.

The remaining case is under investigation.

Queensland border plea
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reiterated calls for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to ease border restrictions given how low transmission rates are.

It follows outrage over cases in which NSW families have been denied access to their children in Queensland hospitals.

"None of us want to see unnecessary heartache," she said.

"I just appeal to the Queensland Premier, to say to her personally, when community transmissions are so low … why is the border closed? I just do not understand it."

She said Christmas was looming and unnecessary stress was being caused to family members who were separated.

"Things are bad enough and difficult enough for us to deal with, and I just appeal to my colleagues, please think about the medium- and long-term," she said.

"Think about people's heartache and let's try and reduce the stress of our citizens, not exacerbate things."

NSW Health said 83 people were being treated for COVID-19, with six in intensive care and three being ventilated.

There were 14,426 tests done in the last reporting period, bringing the total number of tests done in the state to 2,480,838.

Ms Berejiklian said stressed that complacency could not set in as the state's cases continued to stabilise.

"Unfortunately until there's a vaccine we have to be on our guard," she said.

"Every day is a battle, every day is a challenge."

Unlikely to be more beach closures, Minister says
Meanwhile, Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said he does not believe there will be a repeat of the beach closures that occurred earlier this year.

He said police would be on hand to enforce public health orders, but "by and large" the public had got the message.

He said the previous closures had served as a firm warning to beachgoers to stick to social-distancing rules.

"I could all but rule out the fact that we would have restricted access to the beaches, because I think and I'm hopeful that the community would know what obligations they have," he said.

"It shouldn't be a police job to tell people what's safe for them and what isn’t safe for them."

Beaches were closed in March after scenes of a packed Bondi Beach drew widespread condemnation from authorities.

NSW Covid-19 hotspots: list of Sydney and regional outbreak locations
List of outbreaks in NSW
If you were at the following venues on these dates you must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, even if your test is negative.

The Crocodile Farm Hotel, Ashfield: 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Friday 4 September for at least an hour. Patrons who were there for less than an hour are considered casual contacts and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.
The New Shanghai Night restaurant, Ashfield: 6.30pm to 8pm on Friday 4 September for at least an hour. Patrons who were there for less than an hour are considered casual contacts and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.
Oatlands Golf Glub, Oatlands: 6.30pm to 8.45pm Friday 4 September
Albion Hotel, Parramatta: 8.15pm to 11.15pm on Saturday 5 September, guests who attended the beer garden and pavilion for at least an hour.
Life in the Spirit Ministry, Prestons: Sunday 30 August, 12:30pm to 2:30pm
Fitness First, Randwick: Anyone who attended between Sunday 23 August and Tuesday 1 September should monitor for symptoms and if they develop, get tested right away and self-isolate.
Hyde Park Medical Centre, Sydney: Monday 24 August to Saturday 5 September. Anyone who worked at Hyde Park Medical Centre (including physiotherapy, pathology, dermatology and dental practices and pharmacy on the ground floor of the building) should get tested immediately and self-isolate until a negative result is received.
Eastern Suburbs Legion Club, Waverley: Tuesday 1 September from 6pm, Friday 4 September from 4.30pm, Saturday 5 September from 4.15pm, Sunday 6 September from 5pm, Monday 7 September from 3pm
With the growing number of cases in the area, NSW Health is asking all people who live in, or have visited, the following areas in the past two weeks to get tested if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 at all, even the mildest of symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat.

Bankstown (suburb)
Cumberland local government area (LGA)
City of Sydney (East) LGA (includes central Sydney and the suburbs Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Centennial Park)
Fairfield LGA
Ku-ring-gai LGA
Liverpool LGA
Mt Druitt (suburb)
Parramatta LGA
Randwick LGA
Sutherland LGA
Waverley LGA
Willoughby LGA
Woollahra LGA
If you were at any of the following locations on these dates, monitor yourself for symptoms and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms occur.

Balmain Community Pharmacy, Balmain: 11am to 11:20am on Monday 31 August
Platinum Fitness First, Bondi Junction: 7am to 5pm on Monday 31 August
Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly: 12.45pm to 1.45pm on Saturday 5 September
KFC, Concord: 1pm to 1.20pm on 6 September
Croydon Park Pharmacy, Croydon Park: 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 3 September
KFC, Emerton: 12pm to 9.30pm on Monday 7 September
Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre, Katoomba: 11.30pm to 1.40pm on Friday 4 September
Leaf Café & Co, Lidcombe Shopping Centre, Lidcombe: 11.30am to 1.30pm on Monday 31 August
The Railway Hotel, Liverpool: 10.00pm to 11.30pm on Friday 4 September
Fitness First, Maroubra: 8am to 12pm on Saturday 5 September
Aldi, North Strathfield: 10am to 10.30am on Tuesday 1 September
God’s Power Ministries Heckenberg, Prestons: 2.50pm to 3.30pm on Sunday 30 August
Charles St Kitchen, Putney: 10.45am to 11.30am on Saturday 5 September
Rouse Hill Town Centre, Rouse Hill: 12.30pm to 1.30pm on Saturday 5 September
Stanhope Village Shopping Centre (including Kmart), Stanhope Gardens: 8.30am to 9.30am on Monday 7 September
Coles St Ives Shopping Centre, St Ives: 1pm to 2pm on Friday 28 August
Missing Spoon Cafe, Wahroonga: 4.45pm to 5.30pm on Saturday 5 September
Eastwood Netball Association, West Ryde: 12.15pm to 1.30pm on Saturday 5 September
China Doll Restaurant, Woolloomooloo: 6.30pm to 10pm on Thursday 3 September
If you travelled on any of the following public transport routes on these dates, monitor yourself for symptoms and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms occur.

Tuesday 8 September:

Bus route 316 Avoca St Randwick – Bondi Junction station, 8 September, 10.44am to 11.05am
Monday 7 September:

T1/T9 North Shore Line, between 9.17 to 9.29am from Milson’s Point to St Leonards
T1/T9 North Shore Line, between 9.53 to 10.14am from St Leonard’s to Milsons Point
Bus route 379 Bronte Beach – Bondi Junction station, 7 September, 11.08am to 11.24am

NSW authorities concerned about COVID / SOCIAL DISTANCING complacency
NSW authorities are concerned about complacency, as several venues were hit with fines for breaching COVID-19 measures.

Clown Doctors take to technology to help ease children's anxiety during COVID-19 restrictions

Life in Australian hospitals has been far from normal for most children in 2020, with many reporting heightened levels of anxiety — but hospitals and organisations that support them hope recent initiatives could ease some of that burden.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, patients on most children's hospital wards across the country are only allowed one guardian bedside.

They have not been allowed visitors, group art and therapy sessions have been reduced and masks are mandatory when patients are out of their rooms in some states.

Additional personal protective equipment workers need to wear is also adding to child anxiety levels, according to hospital staff.

Sydney mum, Donna Truscott, spent most of July and August in and out of the Westmead Hospital with her 15-year-old son Mason, who underwent two spinal operations for scoliosis — a sideways curve in the spine.

"Being in a hospital with a kid is one of the most difficult things, but being in there with coronavirus around you knowing that I can't have family come in, I can't have a break, it's difficult," Ms Truscott said.

Ms Truscott said one thing that helped take some of the mental strain away was The Humour Foundation's Clown Doctors.

The Clown Doctors, who are slapstick performers trained to help make sick kids laugh, first visited Mason on the children's ward but the visits soon changed to virtual ones.

The family was one of the first to experience the Clown Doctors on Call Program — a new way for Clown Doctors to virtually visit sick children no matter where they are.

"Mason's rapping with them and singing with them and doctors and nurses are walking by and they can see the joy that these people bring to children," Ms Truscott said.

"It was really important for him to have that humour and just those moments to mentally relax and not think about the pain.

"We've been lucky to have the evolution of technology so it's nice that we can have Clown Doctors zoom chat children and I hope that all hospitals across Australia embrace that.

"Maybe our Government might put forward a little bit of funding and give hospitals iPads and things like that so nurses in different wards can zoom chat Clown Doctors."

'We can visit so many more kids than we could before'
The Humour Foundation's artistic director David Symons said the new on call program was helping Clown Doctors visit hospitals and outpatients they could not physically get to.

"We can now zoom into rural, regional and remote Australia and we've now got programs happening in Townsville which we didn't have before, and there's a possibility of something happening in Armadale [in Western Australia] where we haven't had work before," Mr Symons said.

"When we fully roll it out we could be visiting 100 more kids a week."

In Tasmania, Libby Dobson, AKA Dr Wing It, and Tayna Maxwell, AKA Dr Very Much, were forced to take off their clown noses for five months, as they were not allowed to visit the state's public hospitals for safety reasons.

There are no active cases of coronavirus in Tasmania and the Clown Doctors have been allowed back onto wards to add much-needed laughter.

"I'm a mum of two small kids, so I got to practice my clown skills at home, but it was really nice to get back on the ward and do what we're meant to do," Dr Wing It said.

"It's changed a little bit, in that we're more aware of space and giving people space, and I miss bubbles, because we can't blow bubbles at the moment, but really the fun, the joy and the silliness is all there."

Virtual celebrity visits and TV games easing hospital anxiety
Other Australian hospitals are also introducing their own unique initiatives to ease children's anxiety levels and feelings of social isolation.

Celebrities, including Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie, have been virtually visiting the Queensland Children's Hospital through its in-house TV program and the hospital is also running campaigns to let children know there are friendly staff under masks.

The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne is also using its in-house TV program to keep children connected, entertained and informed.

The hospital's child life therapist Carlie Alicastro said the live "be positive" show now ran five times a week — before the pandemic began it was only twice a week.

Ms Alicastro said children were playing games like Pictionary and hospital lingo — similar to Bingo — from the hospital beds through the TV show to help normalise the hospital environment.

"That's been really beneficial for the kids because it gives them something to look forward to and it builds a routine into their day," Ms Alicastro said.

"We do find that children, their anxiety and fear around hospitalisation, is increased because they're not getting those activities that help to normalise it and make the hospital like a home.

"Part of our role on the TV show and with child life therapy is to help children understand why we're wearing PPE and to help them cope better with the clinicians coming in wearing that PPE."

Hospitals and support organisations said despite the duration of the pandemic being uncertain, the new initiatives are here to stay.


Sydney club slapped with $10,000 fine
A club and function centre in Sydney's southwest has been slapped with fines totalling $10,000 after hosting a birthday party and christening in breach of COVID-19 restrictions..

Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors visited the Croatian Club in Punchbowl on September 5 and saw about 50 guests at an 18th birthday party, some of whom were allegedly mingling and drinking while standing.

Records showed the party was booked for 75 guests, Liquor & Gaming NSW said in a statement on Sunday.

When inspectors revisited the venue on September 8, they discovered that the day after the birthday party, the club hosted a 75-person christening,

Liquor & Gaming NSW says the duty manager claimed it was too hard to cancel the christening so close to the event despite being told that a booking of that size was not allowed.

The club has been warned that it now risks closure if further breaches are detected.

"Big functions and large group bookings put people in the sort of close proximity that contributes to virus transmission, and a happy occasion can easily turn into a tragedy that directly impacts your nearest and dearest," Liquor & Gaming NSW compliance director Dimitri Argeres said.

The club was handed two fines totalling $10,000 for the alleged breaches.

More than 120 fines worth $552,000 have been handed to hospitality businesses for alleged COVID-19 breaches in NSW.

This includes two fines totalling $10,000 to the Whisky Tango Bar at Len Waters Estate.

When inspectors visited the bar in Sydney's southwest on September 5, they allegedly discovered several breaches including patron crowding exceeding the one person per four square metre rule and people standing and mingling while drinking.

"All of these issues are a recipe for transmission," Mr Argeres said,

"The majority of clusters in NSW have derived from hospitality venues because of the ease with which the COVID virus can spread in enclosed indoor areas where people are eating and drinking."

The Croatian Club in Punchbowl has been fined $10,000 after holding the gatherings on consecutive nights last weekend,
The Croatian Club in Punchbowl has been fined $10,000 after holding the gatherings on consecutive nights last weekend, despite a warning from NSW Liquor & Gaming inspectors over the first event.

When inspectors visited the club last Saturday, September 5, they found around 50 guests attending an 18th birthday party.

Some of the guests were mingling and drinking while standing, which is banned under New South Wales' COVID-19 restrictions.

The club's records show the party was booked for 75 guests.

When inspectors again visited on September 8, they discovered the following day the club had hosted a christening for 75 guests, despite being told the day before a booking of this size was not allowed.

The duty manager told inspectors it was too difficult to cancel so close to the event.

Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said the club now risks closure if further breaches are detected.

Under current restrictions in NSW, hospitality venues are not allowed to take bookings for over 10 people unless the event is a wedding reception, funeral, wake, memorial service or corporate function.

"Only these events are exempted from the 10-person limit," Mr Argeres said.

"Big functions and large group bookings put people in the sort of close proximity that contributes to virus transmission, and a happy occasion can easily turn into a tragedy that directly impacts your nearest and dearest."

There have now been a total of 122 fines issues to hospitality businesses in NSW, worth $552,000.

This includes another double fine this week, issued to Whiskey Tango bar at Len Waters Estate.

When inspectors visited the venue on September 5, they found a number of significant breaches, including no conditions of entry on display, an out-of-date safety plan, crowding and patrons standing and mingling while drinking.

"All of these issues are a recipe for transmission," Mr Argeres said.

"The majority of clusters in NSW have derived from hospitality venues because of the ease with which the COVID virus can spread in enclosed indoor areas where people are eating and drinking."

Other fines this week include:

Bar Cleveland – Redfern
Bella Blue Café – Lindfield
Brookvale Chinese Restaurant – Brookvale
Castlereagh Club – Sydney
Delizie Di Casa – Redfern
Ermington Hotel – Ermington
Harbour View Hotel – Dawes Point
La Grillade – Redfern
Lavender's Riverside Cafe - Maitland
Lord Wolseley Hotel - Ultimo
Mr B's – Sydney
Ningaloo Café Bar – Redfern
Three Williams - Redfern
Timbah – Glebe


BD.org Sicko
Original Poster
Coronavirus: No cases in Queensland overnight
Sunday September 13: Queensland's Deputy Premier has announced that Queensland recorded zero new cases of COVID-19 overnight.

Queensland Covid-19 hotspots: list of Brisbane and south-east Qld outbreak locations
Hotspot locations
All passengers sitting in rows 25 to 29 on flight VA962 from Brisbane to Sydney on 17 August must isolate immediately for 14 days. If they develop symptoms they must get tested.

All other passengers on board the flight should monitor for symptoms.

Public health officials will be also contacting all those who dined at the Jam Pantry cafe in Greenslopes on 16 August between 9.45am and 11am.

Those who attended the cafe outside those hours should monitor for symptoms.

Potential hotspot locations
According to the Queensland government, everyone who attended these locations during the listed time should monitor for Covid symptoms and immediately get tested if they develop.

8 September

Hungry Jack’s Town Square Redbank Plains Shopping Centre, Redbank Plains: 8pm to 1am
7 September

St Edmund’s College, Ipswich: morning to afternoon
4 September

Super IGA Supermarket, Russell Island: 8.00am-8.30am
Coles, Karalee: 9.30am-10.15am
Ipswich Garden Centre, Raceview: 12.30pm-1.30pm
Westfield Garden City - Pandora, Mount Gravatt: 11.20am to 11.31am
Westfield Garden City - Taylormade Memorabilia, Mount Gravatt: 11.45am to 11.59am
3 September

Super IGA Supermarket, Russell Island: 12.00pm-2.00pm
2 September

Russell Island Pharmacy, Russell Island: morning
Orion Springfield Central shopping centre – Big W, Springfield Central: 12.33pm to 12.42pm
Orion Springfield Central shopping centre – City Beach, Springfield Central: 12.42pm to 12.59pm
Orion Springfield Central shopping centre – Woolworths, Springfield Central: 1:02pm to 1.13pm
Orion Springfield Central shopping centre – Stacks Discount Variety, Springfield Central: 1.14pm to 1.19pm
Orion Springfield Central shopping centre – Peter McMahon’s Swim Factory, Springfield Central: 4pm to 4.30pm
1 September

Canaipa Nursery & Tea Centre, Russell Island: 12.00pm-12.30pm
Super IGA Supermarket, Russell Island: 12.40pm-12.50pm
Passenger Ferry: Russell Island to Redland Bay: 1.30pm-2.10pm
Passenger Ferry: Redland Bay to Russell Island: 4.00pm-4.30pm
31 August

Woolworths, Yamanto: 11am to 11.15am
Country Market, Yamanto: 11.20am to 11.40am
Priceline, Yamanto: 11.40am to 11.45am
30 August

Woolworths, Yamanto: 12pm to 12.20pm
Dominos, Yamanto: 11.45am to 12.30pm
Crossacres Garden Centre, Doolandella: 12pm to 12.15pm
Ikea Logan, Springwood: 9.45am to 10.15am
29 August

Spa Choice, Springwood: 10.30am to 11am
Spa World, Underwood: 11am to 11.30am
Fantastic Furniture, West Ipswich: 11am to 11.10am
Spotlight, West Ipswich: 10am to 10.20am
Dosa Hut, Springfield: 11.55am to 12pm
Indian Spice Shop, Springfield: 12pm to 12.05pm

AMA backs Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young over coronavirus quarantine exemptions
Queensland's medical community has spoken out in support of the state's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young after revealing she has been subject to "online trolls" over recent decisions on quarantine exemptions for funerals.

AMA Queensland president Chris Perry said the state's doctors "believe in the science of the Chief Health Officer, we believe Qld should follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer and if she says the borders should stay closed, we think they should stay closed".

"We have seen a lot of quite personal attacks on our Chief Health Officer — she's a woman, she's very highly qualified, the stress is on her and all we can say is back off, we think this Chief Health Officer is doing a great job," Dr Perry said.

"Of the chief health officers in Australia, she is probably par excellence, she is probably the one they look up to the most.

"Leave her alone, she's doing a good job, we support what she's saying and doing."

Queensland has recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Steven Miles confirmed this morning.

"A fantastic result and a credit to the efforts of every single Queenslander and, of course, our health workforce," Mr Miles said.

There are now 30 ongoing active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Mr Miles said the state had recorded a total of 1,149 cases.

The AMA spoke at Queensland's daily COVID-19 media conference at the request of the Government, but Dr Perry said he was happy to do so to back Dr Young.

The move came a day after Mr Miles condemned what he called a "planned and orchestrated attack" on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over the state's refusal to allow a Canberra woman to leave hotel quarantine in Queensland and attend her father's funeral.

Today, Mr Miles said Queensland had businesses open and people back at work as a result of the state's border and infection control measures.

"So it's important to take health advice regardless of the pressure put on us," he said.

'Mostly online trolls'
Dr Perry said Dr Young had been under stress from the decisions she had been required to make.

"There are a lot of people asking for exemptions from quarantine or a different way of doing quarantine and she's been very fair with that," he said.

"It hasn't just been footballers and wealthy people, she's been listening to people all the way through and giving exemptions when she can when it's safe for the rest of the state to have those exemptions carried through."

Dr Perry said the Chief Health Officer's critics were "mostly online trolls".

"I know the Federal Government has a different point of view about borders, we don't want to get into that — we follow what the Chief Health Officer says and we'll leave it alone at that.

"But it's mostly been online people, the bullying which occurs on social media these days, I know the Chief Health Officer gets quite a bit of that."

Dr Young was not available for comment.

Travel firms want borders reopened
A group of travel and tourism corporations will target the Queensland election campaign, calling for the state's border to fully reopen.

Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner is spearheading the campaign, targeting social and mass media in the weeks leading up to the October 31 poll.

Mr Turner said there was no reason to keep the border shut because outbreaks in Queensland and New South Wales were being managed well.

He said the campaign was not party-political.

"I certainly haven't heard any strong commitment from the LNP. We would certainly be trying to influence them," Mr Turner said.

"But we're just as much trying to influence the Labor Government to open the borders pretty much straight away, particularly with New South Wales — there's no reason at all for that to be closed."

The Sunday Mail newspaper has reported the Flight Centre campaign would be supported by Qantas, Virgin and Helloworld Travel.

Mr Miles said the travel businesses had a right to further their economic interests, but the Government remained focused on health and jobs.

"If the boss of Qantas wanted to do more and show compassion for Australians, then he wouldn't be gouging them tens of thousands of dollars just to come home," Mr Miles said.

'This is not health-related'
Speaking on the ABC's Insiders program today, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton again criticised Queensland border closures he said were made "not for health reasons, not on health advice, but for political reasons".

"The Premier is coming up to an election at the end of October and it's the indiscriminate way that the laws are being applied as well, where you've got one rule for one person and a knock back for the next," he said.

"I think that's what has got the Premier into a lot of trouble. If this was one isolated case, that would be bad enough. But many of us have been dealing with multiple cases in our own constituencies, and to see people hurt in that way, it is very difficult to watch.

"This is not health-related and in actual fact, it's creating more mental health issues in the community than already exist, and there are enough already in relation to people being locked down in the way in which they've had to change their lives."

Last week, Mr Dutton also criticised the Queensland Government for granting a quarantine exemption to US actor Tom Hanks, so he could return to Australia to work.

The Queensland Government responded by saying it was Australian Border Force who granted Hanks the exemption.

Today, Mr Dutton said Border Force made the decision "based on the letter of support from Queensland Health".

"Mr Hanks wouldn't have been approved by Border Force without the letter of support from Steven Miles and the Queensland Government," Mr Dutton said.

Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus in March on the Gold Coast and were placed in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital, before later returning to the US.

'Lost her moral compass'
Meanwhile, Palmer United Party founder Clive Palmer has released a statement condemning Dr Young for allowing Hanks into the state while grieving families were not allowed.

"The double standards being shown by the Queensland Labor Government are a disgrace," Mr Palmer said.

"These senseless border closures are causing pain, suffering and economic turmoil.

"Jeannette Young needs to resign immediately as she has lost her moral compass.

"She knows she will never get another job as she has shown her complete lack of moral fibre."
<< Folks overseas may not have heard of Palmer, this man stripped money from the Nickel mining and refining company he was CEO of and sent it bankrupt , even took the entitlements of it's thousands of employees to enrich himself , and he accuses someone else of having no moral compass --- Pot is black >>


$20 million fund to boost SA tourism industry's 'silver lining' coronavirus recovery
The South Australian Government is offering grants of up to $500,000 to the state's tourism operators to boost the sector as it recovers from the coronavirus shutdowns.

Premier Steven Marshall said the $20 million Tourism Industry Development Fund was expected to directly create 1,400 ongoing jobs in the sector.

The grants, valued at between $20,000 and $500,000, will fund up to 30 per cent of a new project, such as a new renovation, tourism experience or visitor transport option.

South Australia's tourism sector suffered a major collapse as the first wave of COVID-19 hit Australia in March.

Local operators took in about 630,000 fewer visitors in April this year compared to the same month in 2019, according to Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey.

Overnight visitor numbers began to recover through May and June, but were still almost 40 per cent below figures from those same months last year.

Coronavirus has 'silver lining' for SA tourism operators
But mR Marshall said there had since been a "silver lining" for the domestic tourism market, with closed borders forcing holidaymakers to "explore their own backyard".

He said the State Government was hoping the grants would encourage the trend.

"There's been a slight silver lining to the COVID-19 [pandemic] for regional tourism," Mr Marshall said, addressing media in the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf.

"People who have traditionally, in winter, travelled overseas are now saying: 'Well, look, let's make this an annual trip to outback South Australia or an annual trip to regional South Australia.'

"There's an uptick at the moment in terms of transactions in regional South Australia, but that could flow on to a permanent uptick."

Mr Marshall said the fund would bring forward investment, creating jobs in construction and ongoing positions in tourism.

The grants program begins on Monday and runs until early 2022, or until the funding runs out.

Aussie cricketers will fly to Adelaide to train despite border rules
Adelaide is home to one of the world's great cricketing venues and soon it will become a hub for Australian cricketers.

A new hotel built on the eastern edge of Adelaide Oval is expected to host some of Australia's top players for their quarantine when they return home.

"We've negotiated for eight of those players to come here and do their isolation at the Adelaide Oval," Premier Steven Marshall said.

Some of the big names include Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Kane Richardson – with the trio set to touch down on Friday.

Although most international arrivals can't leave their hotel room for 14 days, the eight cricketers will be allowed out for training.

Health authorities said it would be a "very secure environment".

It's a test run ahead of the world-beating India side heading down under in November.

South Australia is hoping to prove it can bend its strict quarantine arrangements to host one of the key sporting events of this summer – potentially, the Boxing Day Test.

Man jailed for eight months after two quarantine breaches within days
A man has been jailed for eight months in Western Australia for breaching the state's quarantine rules twice.

Police say the 37-year-old man arrived at Perth Airport from Queensland on August 17 and was ordered to self-isolate at a home in Beachboro, in Perth's north-east.

Five days after that order, however, officers who arrived to check on him found that he was not at the property. They then charged him with failing to comply with a public health direction.

Then, four days later, police who were doing traffic patrols in Midland pulled the man over during a second quarantine breach.

He was taken into custody and faced court on Friday, where a magistrate sentenced him to two months in jail for the breaches and six months behind bars for driving with a disqualified licence.

The man is among at least five others in the state who have also received jail terms for breaches of WA's strict quarantine requirements.


Federal Government says hotel coronavirus quarantine boost could get overseas Australians 'home by Christmas'
Key points:
About 25,000 Australian citizens overseas have registered with the Government their wish to come home
But there is a 4,000-person cap on arrivals in the country each week
The Government says the states need to offer more quarantine beds

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says the Federal Government is working "constructively" with states and territories to boost hotel quarantine capacity to allow Australians stranded overseas to get home in time for Christmas.
If we can lift hotel quarantine numbers, we can increase the number of Australians that can return home," Mr Hunt said on Sunday.

"We are working constructively with the states to that effect.

"We want to ensure that every Australian that wants to come home is home by Christmas."

The number of Australians allowed back into the country through international airports has been limited to about 4,000 a week since July.

Travellers who are able to get back must spend 14 days in quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.

National Cabinet agreed to introduce the cap to ease the burden on states' mandatory hotel quarantine systems after Victoria stopped accepting international flights while it grappled with a second outbreak of COVID-19.

About 25,000 Australian citizens, many of them in financial distress, have registered their desire to come home with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

peaking on Insiders, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he "would be happy to double the number of people tomorrow" provided states increased the number of rooms available to quarantine returned travellers for 14 days.

"It's a function of the state health directive that people need to go into hotel quarantine for two weeks, but then putting a cap on the number of beds that are available [restricts the number of arrivals]," he said.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally scoffed at the comments and accused the Federal Government of shirking responsibility.

"I have news for you Minister Dutton, you are in charge of international borders and you are in charge of quarantine arrangements — that's what the constitution says," she said.

enator Keneally argued charter flights should be arranged to help desperate citizens being price gouged by airlines.

"It is within the capacity of the Commonwealth Government, which controls our international borders and quarantine, to figure this out," she said.

"Send some charted planes out, used federal quarantine facilities that we have in place."

Senator Keneally also suggested more of the country's airports, including at Gold Coast, Canberra and Darwin, could be used, with only Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane currently accepting international flights.

Following the last meeting of National Cabinet earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said leaders "agreed to boost the capacity for international arrivals where possible" but did not elaborate on when changes would be made.

International arrivals cap
Until 24 October the following caps will apply subject to further advice on quarantine capacity:

Sydney — limit of 350 passenger arrivals per day
Perth — limit of 525 passenger arrivals per week
Brisbane — limit of 500 passenger arrivals per week
Adelaide — limit of 500 passenger arrivals per week
Melbourne - closed
Cairns - closed
Williamtown (Newcastle) - closed.
Broome - closed
Darwin - closed.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says he would be willing to double the number of international arrivals to Australia if states provided more beds in hotel quarantine.says boosting international returns is contingent on states

Dutton puts foreign journalists on notice
Home Affairs Ministers Peter Dutton has warned foreign journalists operating in Australia will be under scrutiny of federal agencies if they are providing a "slanted view to a particular community".

''If people are here as journalists and they're reporting fairly on the news, then that's fine," Mr Dutton told the ABC television's Insiders program,

His comments came after a week when two Australian journalists had to be evacuated from China having taken shelter in Australian diplomatic compounds after being questioned by Chinese police.

Mr Dutton declined to confirm that four Chinese journalists were questioned by Australia's intelligence agency in June, only to say there was "ASIO activity".

"Where ASIO has sufficient grounds for the execution of a search warrant, or for activities otherwise, then they'll undertake that activity," he said.

"If people are masquerading as journalists or business leaders or whoever they might be, and there's evidence that they are acting in a contrary nature to Australian law, then ASIO and the Australian Federal Police and other agencies will act."

He said there was no evidence that actions by the Australian agencies had put the Australian journalists in China at risk.

Mr Dutton declined to comment on a third Australian journalist, Cheng Lei, who is being held by Chinese authorities.

"We want to work very closely with the Chinese in relation to that matter, and we'll continue to do that," he said.

News Corp newspapers reported the AFP raided a Canberra apartment block housing Chinese embassy staff in May.

But Mr Dutton described it as "day-to-day community policing".

"It was related to either a drug matter or to another domestic matter, so as I understand it," he said.

Peter Dutton defends decision to let Tony Abbott travel overseas
Peter Dutton has defended the decision to allow Tony Abbott to travel to the UK, while hundreds of Australians are fighting for permission to leave the country on compassionate grounds.

<< Tony Abbott is the deposed ex-PM and ex-party leader, he's regarded by most in the Liberal Party and the National Party as a loose canon and there have been frequent accusations made that he is undermining / termite-ing Scott Morrison and wants his old job back --- they common held concensus is then federal government couldn't get rid of Tony Abbott overseas into a new role quick enough >>

The Morrison government closed Australia’s international borders in March. Since then, thousands of Australians have fought to prove they have “compelling and compassionate” reasons to travel, with at least 20% of applications rejected.

Abbott received permission to travel to the UK last month, where he has since been granted a position as a trade envoy for Boris Johnson’s government.

Hundreds of Australians are still waiting for approval to leave to visit sick or dying family members, or attend family funerals overseas. While Border Force has approved thousands of exemptions, it can take more than two weeks for permission to be granted, and in some cases it has come too late.

“We’ve provided advice to Australians not to travel overseas from as far back as January and February of this year,” Dutton, the home affairs minister, told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“We’ve been very clear about the fact that we closed our borders because of the Covid threat. And we’ve allowed people to travel to see a loved one overseas. We’ve allowed people to travel for business.”

Dutton, who led the attack this week on the Queensland Labor government for denying Sarah Caisip permission to attend her father’s funeral, said he was comfortable with his former leader receiving permission to travel overseas, despite Australians waiting for permission to attend funerals.

“On the facts of Mr Abbott’s case, the border force commissioner approved that case,” he said.

“And in many cases where people have wanted to go for funerals, they’ve also been approved as well. If you’re … trying to put an equivalence to somebody coming from Canberra or from northern New South Wales, where there have been no cases, to come across a state border, then frankly, there’s no comparison.”

Dutton said comparing the international border closure to state border closures was “chalk and cheese”.

He blamed the states, singling out Queensland, for putting a cap on the international arrivals they were willing to accept as part of the mandatory hotel quarantine program for all returned travellers, saying it was one reason more Australians were unable to return home.

While the states have capped the number of returned travellers they are willing to accept, the federal government has declined to use federal facilities, such as the Christmas Island detention centre, to quarantine returning Australians.

Dutton, who tested positive for Covid on return from a trip to the US in March, has been critical of Queensland’s border closures since the end of the first nationwide lockdown.

Caisip’s case became a flashpoint for federal-state relations in Queensland, with the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, both coming under intense criticism for denying the 26-year-old permission to attend her father’s funeral.

Caisip had travelled from the ACT, where there has been no recorded community transmission for more than two months. Despite this, it has been declared a Covid hotspot by Young because of its proximity to New South Wales, where there are limited cases of community transmission.

Dutton has also roundly criticised the Queensland government for allowing actor Tom Hanks to enter the state to complete filming of an Elvis biopic, while denying others permission to enter Queensland. The Guardian revealed on Friday that Dutton’s department, Border Force, had given permission for Hanks to enter.

Asked by the Insiders host, David Speers, why he criticised Palaszczuk but not the Liberal premiers of other states, Dutton said: “I come from Queensland.

“I’m equally critical … There’s no justification for borders to be closed in Queensland at the moment, and if the same arrangements are in WA where there’s a Labor administration, South Australia or Tasmania, where there are Liberal administrations, then that’s my view. Others that are closer to it and in those particular states can make comments about their own jurisdictions.”

On Sunday morning, the Queensland Australian Medical Association president, Dr Chris Perry, called on Young’s critics to “back off”.

“She’s been listening to people all the way through and giving exemptions when she can when it’s safe for the rest of the state to have those exemptions carried through,” he said.

“Leave her alone, she’s doing a good job, we support what she’s saying and doing.”

Hanks and his crew remain in quarantine, although not in one of the designated state quarantine hotels. As part of an agreement, Hanks and the film’s makers are paying for logistics and security, as well as hotel accommodation, but at a different resort. Under the agreement, the group faces the same quarantine restrictions as other returned travellers, including random police checks and just one hour a day outside their rooms.

On Sunday morning Dutton toned down his criticism of the Hanks exemption.

“The point is that Mr Hanks should be treated no differently than somebody else coming back, and that’s the basis on which we argue here,” he said.

“Somebody coming from the ACT where there have been no cases, having to go into a hotel in Brisbane for two weeks before they can see a loved one, who has a life expectancy of only one week, is an outrage and there’s no comparison to make there. We want to see jobs created and to see industry grow.

“We’ve provided support for the arts industry and for many others and the Queensland government has provided letters of support for other people as well, including Mr Hanks.”

Indigenous cat hunters with expert tracking skills could help protect native species, research says
Each week at the edge of the Gibson Desert in the most remote community in Australia, a group of Pintupi Traditional Owners — mostly women — follow fresh tracks by foot through the spinifex grasslands ready to catch and kill a feral cat.

Indigenous cat hunting is something that has been happening for more than a century at Kiwirrkurra, primarily for food.

But it is more than a tradition.

New research has now shown its value as one of the most effective ways of protecting threatened species in the area.

Researchers say Indigenous expert trackers could potentially be drawn upon to conduct targeted cat control.

Published online in the CSIRO's journal Wildlife Research this month, the paper explored how effective cat hunting by Indigenous tracking experts was in reducing cat impacts on threatened species.

According to ecologist Rachel Paltridge, who was one four authors on the report, the answer is "very efficient", particularly when looking at the population of the threatened bilby species in the area.

Dr Paltridge said the abundance of cats at locations where cat hunting no longer occurred was 30 per cent higher than at locations where the practice does occur.

This meant less predation of the bilbies.

"When we set-up cameras on the bilby burrows the number of cats recorded visiting the burrows is extremely low," she said.

"About a tenth of the visitation rate that studies elsewhere have found."

Cats major threat to native animals
According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia.

The pest is a major cause of decline for many land-based endangered animals such as the bilby, bandicoot, bettong and numbat.

Public hearings are currently taking place for a parliamentary inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia.

Over the course of five years 130 cats were caught in the Kiwrrkurra area, increasing in recent years.

The figures may seem like a drop in the ocean compared with the millions of feral cats in Australia, but Dr Paltridge says the area's targeted and specific approach to hunting, that allows Indigenous trackers to seek out the biggest and most destructive cats, is its biggest benefit.

She said these cats were the most difficult to catch by trapping and baiting methods.

"We're not saying it's the most effective method across the board, but at localised sites where we are trying to protect the bilby, we need a targeted method that is going to take out the predators that are most likely to kill the bilbies," Dr Paltridge said.

"And we need the method to be cheap and locally available so the program can be ongoing."

Passing on knowledge
Cat hunting has been used as a method of conservation by the Kiwirrkurra Rangers for the past six years.

Ranger John West, who is an experienced cat hunter and also an author on the paper, says it is important for them to pass on the skills to younger generations.

"It's really important that we keep teaching our kids and also the high school and younger kids that are coming with us every weekend for hunting," he said.

"They are looking for where they belong, why they are tracking the cat, getting more ideas from us and learning why it's really important so one day they can grow up and become a fast tracker.

"Bilbies are important for us to keep protecting."

For many, it is also an enjoyable pastime.

"We love to keep going hunting," Mr West said.

"Like in the past, we're learning [to] keep going.

"We love hunting, going out for cat and for anything.

"Yuwa (yes) snake, goannas, kangaroos and turkey; yuwa palya (yes it's good!)."

Dr Paltridge said the effectiveness of the cat hunting showed Indigenous expert trackers could be drawn on to conduct strategic cat control in certain landscapes, in the same way that shooters were used in other locations around the country.

"The study just shows this is another tool that can be used in the fight against cats, not only on Kiwirrkurra country," she said.

"If there was a project somewhere with a problem cat around an endangered species colony then these expert hunters could be called in as one of the techniques used."

The frequency of feral cats in modern Australia may prove a challenge, however.

The Pintupi Traditional Owners are one of what is believed to be just two Aboriginal groups in Australia that continue to cat hunt on a regular basis.

"But there's still a lot of good trackers, they may not have actually followed a cat but they're still good at finding the track," Dr Paltridge said.

Research is now being done on the impact of traditional fire management on the bilby population.
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