With that, we’ll be closing the blog for today. Thanks as always, for reading, and thanks to Matilda Boseley and Mostafa Rachwani for their great work on the blog before me.

Here’s what happened today:

We’ll be back tomorrow bright and early with all the latest news. Stay safe, and see you tomorrow.


Have confirmed the child killed in stolen car in #Kimberley last night was 12-year-old girl. People in Fitzroy Crossing are grieving and overwhelmed. They've been warning of this. There are no easy answers but if this was Perth or Sydney it be big story and urgent response.

— Erin Parke (@ErinParke2) July 26, 2021

The Northern Territory government has failed in a bid to suppress the details of a class action settlement it has reached with youth detainees, after a federal court judge dismissed arguments including that there would be “considerable media interest” in the settlement.

But the settlement figure available to about 1,200 former detainees will not be revealed until 8 November, according to a judgment handed down by Justice Debra Mortimer on Monday afternoon.

The government applied earlier this month for a suppression order that would cover the amount of compensation, the legal costs, that a settlement had been reached with a denial of liability by the government, and an apology given on behalf of the government to those who had been detained as juveniles.

Maria Pikoulos, a barrister for the NT government, argued that the order was necessary because, among other things:

[T]here is likely to be considerable media interest and reporting of the terms of the Settlement Notice and information contained in it. In recent years, youth crime and justice has attracted considerable media interest in the Northern Territory.

Mortimer dismissed this, finding that:

There is no doubt that is the case. Contrary to the Territory’s submissions, this fact tends against the making of suppression orders over the settlement sum.

Mortimer ruled that the details of the deed of settlement should remain unavailable to be viewed by third parties until after the settlement approval hearing.

The class action was launched in 2017 by current and former detainees of the NT’s juvenile detention centre who said they had been abused between 1 August 2006 and 23 December 2016.


The Queensland government is being urged to assess the impact of its budgets policies on gender inequality and the pay gap, AAP reports.

The Queensland Council of Social Services says the Palaszczuk government has done well to monitor gender disparity since 2015, but further action is needed.

The Palaszczuk government’s Women’s Economic Statement in its 2021/22 budget details general spending measures that could also improve women’s economic security.

QCOSS chief executive Aimee McVeigh says the government should assess the impact of all budget measures, rather than just spending, on the gender disparity.

“The gender pay gap and other gender equality indicators will remain and widen if new, proactive steps are not taken,” she said in a statement.

A QCOSS analysis said a gender gap persists in many more areas than just pay, such as the number of hours worked.

Almost half of all working women are part-timers, but only around one in five working men work part-time.


Labor will try to prevent the rorting of grants funds by introducing a bill requiring ministers to explain, in real time, when they reject recommendations from their department.

Paul Karp reports:

More potential exposure sites have been listed in Sydney:

NSW Health has been notified of a number of new and updated venues of concern associated with confirmed cases of COVID‑19.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) July 26, 2021


Two people die of Covid-19 in NSW

Two more people have died of Covid-19 in NSW today, NSW Health has just announced.

A woman in her 80s has passed away at home this afternoon in Pendle Hill, and a man in his 80s has passed away this morning in Campbelltown Hospital.

These are the 9th and 10th Covid-19 related deaths of the current outbreak, with 66 in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic.


You may have seen a photo today of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez sunning themselves on a yacht.

It may have reminded you of something that happened, hazily, in the bygone days of 2002.

Helen Sullivan and Kate Lyons can explain why.

The gang-gang cockatoo, the animal emblem of the Australian Capital Territory, could soon be listed as a threatened species after the 2019-20 bushfire disaster reduced already declining population numbers by as much as a fifth.

Lisa Cox reports.

And here’s my write-up of Dean Boxall’s “wild cavorting” as Ariarne Titmus won her gold medal this morning against Katie Ledecky.

Now Chalmers is asked about why Labor is dropping its negative gearing policy as well. Labor pushed to change the policy during the 2019 federal election.


You made the argument, many times actually to me, that the negative gearing system was unfair.


First of all, obviously, we listened and we learned from the last election. We said we wouldn’t take an identical set of policies to the next election that we took to the last election.

People want us to look forward rather than trying re-prosecute fights from the past. We also recognise, as do the serious economists, that what is driving house prices at the moment is a range of factors, including extremely low interest rates and a lack of supply.


Jim Chalmers is asked “Do you think the stage three tax cuts are good economic policy?”


Yes ... it will give people that certainty and clarity around their tax scales.

He adds: “This is only one aspect. This is only one sliver of economic policy.”


Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers has been asked why Labor decided to drop its opposition to the government’s stage three tax cuts.

The ABC’s Patricia Karvelas asks him how this reduces inequality, which Labor campaigned on at the start of the pandemic.

“You said you wanted to look at everything and make it equitable,” she says.

“This is not the only opportunity to do that,” Chalmers says.

“There is more than one way to make Australia more fair, more sustainable, whether it’s making sure that multinational corporations pay their share ... getting access and affordability in the childcare system ... making sure that we build more social housing.”

He also earlier said the news today was to “provide certainty and clarity” ahead of any future election.

“We have spent much of the last two years ... consulting and listening and said all along we would take our time to come to our view but we would announce a position in advance of the election.

“People can factor that in when they go to the polling booth, whether the end of the year of the beginning of next year.”


Supermarket workers in Sydney hotspots to have priority vaccine access

Supermarket workers in LGAs of concern will soon have priority access to Pfizer vaccines.

Announced earlier today, Woolworths, Aldi, Metcash and Coles have all secured special access to the vaccine for their workers, specifically those in Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland and Blacktown.

A staff member is seen restocking the click and collect facility at the Granville Woolworths in the Cumberland LGA.
A staff member is seen restocking the click and collect facility at the Granville Woolworths in the Cumberland LGA. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

The change means they will be able to access the Pfizer vaccine at the Sydney Olympic Park mass vaccination hub from Wednesday, where 500 appointments will be made available to them.

In a statement sent to workers today, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said pop-up clinics would also be developed at the company’s distribution centres in Yennora, Minchinbury and Lidcombe.

This reflects the essential nature of these sites as part of New South Wales food infrastructure. Once established, we expect all team members working on-site at these locations to have access to the clinics and vaccinations.

It is now clear that accelerating the rate of vaccination in Australia is key to protecting our communities and loved ones and the easing of restrictions.

Bernie Smith, the NSW secretary for the SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, welcomed the change, and said the union had been advocating for it for some time.

The union congratulates the retailers on securing this priority access to Pfizer vaccines for essential workers in these supermarkets, online retail centres and warehouses.

This is a significant breakthrough in protecting the health of frontline retail workers ensuring the community retains access to the essentials of life during the protracted lockdown in Australia’s biggest city.


Human rights groups say Australia’s difficulty securing enough Covid vaccines from global pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer is a reason why the Morrison government should support a push to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.

The proposal to waive the standard 20-year medical patents for Covid vaccines so developing countries can make and sell cheap copies of patented vaccines was initially raised by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization in October.

It has since gained the backing of more than 100 lower and middle-income nations, and in recent months, wealthier countries including the United States have reversed their opposition to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) waiver.

However Australia remains one of the few holds outs, along with the United Kingdom and the European Union. Australia has faced mounting pressure over its position on the waiver, which has even triggered protests at the Australian consulate in San Francisco.

Human Rights Watch is renewing calls for the Australian government to support the push, with researcher Sophie McNeill saying Australia’s silence on supporting the waiver “raises concerns about whether pharmaceutical companies are putting pressure on Canberra”.

McNeill said:

When a wealthy country like Australia can’t secure enough vaccine supply, it is clear that global vaccine production and licensing arrangements are far from meeting the world’s needs ... the Morrison government’s continuing silence begs the question as to what more would be needed for the government to publicly support a Trips waiver.

A recent poll found a majority of Australians across the political divide supported the waiver. Human Rights Watch’s calls echo comments made by the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network’s convenor Dr Patricia Ranald, who last week wrote in Guardian Australia about how “pharmaceutical company patent monopolies are the elephant in the room in the debate about Covid-19 vaccine shortages in Australia”. You can read Ranald’s piece here:

Signs of AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines outside a doctors surgery in the lower north shore suburb of Lane Cove in Sydney.
Signs of AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines outside a doctors surgery in the lower north shore suburb of Lane Cove in Sydney. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Brittany Higgins has welcomed the government’s decision to accept all 10 recommendations of the Foster review into how federal parliament responds to serious incidents.

The government put out a press release announcing this earlier today.

Higgins, who was instrumental in bringing the review about, said she was “pleased” to see this and said the reforms would make Parliament House a “safer workplace for all future employees”.

I am so pleased to hear that all 10 recommendations of the Foster Review will be implemented.

These reforms, most notably the independent complaints mechanism, will ensure Parliament House is a safer workplace for all future employees. 🙏

— Brittany Higgins (@BrittHiggins_) July 26, 2021


Sydney Covid crisis could take months to recede if other outbreaks are anything to go by - depressing read (but with good charts) from @joshcnicholas looking at peaks and troughs of covid waves

— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) July 26, 2021

Political editor Katharine Murphy reports that Labor has agreed to keep the Coalition’s stage-three tax cuts and dump its own negative gearing changes (which it took to the 2019 election).


Hi all, Naaman Zhou back here with you.

Here is Elias Visontay’s full write-up of the Covid vaccine leave news we broke on the blog a few hours ago.


And with that, my time on the blog has come to an end, and I will hand it back to Naaman Zhou for the rest of the afternoon. Thanks for reading.


So, a break from Covid news for a quick tip – you can check out all the events Australians will be competing in today at this very handy link:


Well, that was a sudden end. The ABC cut away from Greg Hunt before he was able to discuss why we haven’t received any data on the vaccination rates in the three key LGAs in south-west Sydney (Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool and Fairfield). It would have been good to hear his take, considering the concern shown by state authorities about those areas.


An interesting question here, as a reporter has asked Greg Hunt if the government’s “mixed messaging” on the AstraZeneca vaccine has contributed to the spread of misinformation.

Here’s what the health minister had to say:

What is critical here is we continue to follow the medical advice. One of the things that has happened in Australia is that we have prioritised the medical advice and that is what has kept us safe as a nation.

I respect absolutely the position of the medical advisors, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the important message which comes out of ATAGI’s revised advice for people in Sydney is that people of all ages have a clear message from ATAGI that the benefits of AstraZeneca outweigh the risks.

That’s a decision of ATAGI in relation to the Sydney outbreak and the benefits outweigh the risks for all ages. I think that is a very important message.

The simple answer is we deal with any of the misinformation. There are people who put out false information with regards to vaccines and, frankly, I condemn it in the same way that I condemn the protests on the weekend because they were dangerous, where they were in breach of state public health orders, they were frankly endangering people.


Federal health minister Greg Hunt has stepped up for his press conference, and begun by welcoming another vaccination record, nearly 1.1 million last week.

He also said that there have been 11.2 million vaccinations so far, 3.3 million with double doses and 7.8 million with their first dose.

People wait for 15 minutes after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the Melbourne Showgrounds COVID-19 Vaccination Centre.
People wait for 15 minutes after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the Melbourne Showgrounds COVID-19 Vaccination Centre. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images


Good afternoon everyone. Federal parliament is due to return for the August sittings next week. Given Parliament House is basically a stationary cruise ship, and Canberra (touch wood) has no cases of coronavirus (and the ACT chief minister and his heath advisers would like it to remain that way) – the presiding officers have given parliamentarians and building occupants an update on how the coming sittings will be conducted given the conditions in Sydney and the risks everywhere.
Here’s the sum of the parts.

  • Parliament will be closed to the general public.
  • The numbers of members and senators attending sittings in person will be substantially reduced.
  • Parliamentarians have been requested to only bring essential staff to Canberra.
  • The numbers of parliamentary departmental staff will be reduced by approximately 60%.
  • All external departments and agencies have been asked to minimise attendance of public servants unless on essential business.
  • Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery have also been asked to scale back the physical staff presence in bureaus.
  • School group bookings and all event bookings will be cancelled or postponed.

I need to share something joyful, which these days can be hard to come by.

Ariarne Titmus’ gold medal winning performance has been celebrated across the country, but perhaps nowhere more so than by her coach, whose reaction has become an instant meme:

Ariarne Titmus’ coach’s reaction after she won gold in the 400 metres - instantly iconic

— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) July 26, 2021

I’m so happy for him.


BREAKING: An Albanese Labor Government will establish a powerful, transparent and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission.

— Mark Dreyfus (@markdreyfusQCMP) July 26, 2021

So, there are a couple of press conferences coming up, including finance minister Simon Birmingham at 1:45pm AEST from Adelaide and health minister Greg Hunt at 1:30pm AEST from Melbourne.

Will they crossover, as many of the state Covid updates have? We shall see.

Good afternoon, and thanks to Matilda Boseley and Naaman Zhou for their guidance this morning. I’ll be taking you through the news for a little while, so let’s dive in.


I’ll be handing over to my colleague Mostafa Rachwani for the next little while.

Australian shares hit a record high this morning, with the ASX200 rising to 7417.6 points, just five minutes after trading began. It dipped back later and is currently at 7,396.9 points.

This comes after the ASX200 broke its previous record last week.


In the Olympics, Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus has just won a gold medal in the women’s 400m freestyle, beating the US’s Katie Ledecky.

Titmus, who is only 20 years old, is now a world and Olympic champion.

You can follow our Olympics liveblog here.

Ariarne Titmus of Australia celebrates after her Gold medal win in the Women’s 400m Freestyle Final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre during the Tokyo Olympic Games, Tokyo.
Ariarne Titmus of Australia celebrates after her Gold medal win in the Women’s 400m Freestyle Final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre during the Tokyo Olympic Games, Tokyo. Photograph: Joe Giddens/AAP


Hi all, it is Naaman Zhou here with you. Thanks to Matilda Boseley as always for captaining the blog this morning.

Handing you over to the iridescent Naaman Zhou to take you through the afternoon’s news.


NSW quietly announces two hours of vaccine leave for public workers

The New South Wales government has quietly announced it will give hundreds of thousands of public sector employees two hours of paid vaccine leave as it tries to contain the spread of Covid-19 among essential workers, but unions want the provision to be strengthened.

The state government, which is the largest employer in NSW, issued an updated communication to its agencies on 16 July outlining arrangements to manage employees and support vaccination uptake.

It has told all NSW government departments that, to support employees receiving a Covid vaccine, “agencies may … provide access to special leave of up to two hours or an equivalent payment at base rate of pay”.

The two hours of vaccine leave will be offered in addition to existing leave entitlements, but if an employee experiences side-effects from the vaccine they will have to access paid sick leave.

You can read the full report below:

People queue up at the New South Wales Health mass vaccination hub in Homebush.
People queue up at the New South Wales Health mass vaccination hub in Homebush. Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images


Health Minister @MartinFoleyMP says the announcement on Post-Lockdown-5 settings will be tomorrow morning.


— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) July 26, 2021

Minister for Finance @Birmo is in Adelaide today and will hold a doorstop responding to speculation around Labor’s tax policies at 1:15pm ACST (1:45pm AEST) #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) July 26, 2021

More than 800,000 vaccine doses have now been administered in SA. Vaccination is our pathway out of COVID-19 and I urge all South Australians to get your jab when eligible. Thank you to all our hardworking health staff who are keeping our community safe and our economy strong.

— Steven Marshall, MP (@marshall_steven) July 26, 2021

Victorian press conference:

Victorian health minister Martin Foley says Victoria Police will be taking over the case of three Sydney removalists who spread Covid-19 into Victoria by allegedly not following all the requirements of their border permit, in the “imminent future”.

I think we indicated that it would be with Victoria Police the next business day. Monday is the next business day after Friday, I am aware that after having had the comments brought to my attention before this meeting, I double-checked and we are more than confident that the really good cooperation that our public health enforcement team have been working with VicPol you will see the file and the related material formally with Victoria Police in the imminent future...

If you’re going to make sure that the quite specific provisions of the public health orders and the public health act are framed and provided in the most appropriate way, that VicPol can make a decision based on that material, then it has got to be done properly because, as we all know, if you get the procedure wrong then you get the outcome wrong.


#Breaking: Victoria Police will take over the case of the trio of Sydney removalists in "the imminent future". #COVID19VIC

— 10 News First Melbourne (@10NewsFirstMelb) July 26, 2021

COVID-19 UPDATE: 19,000 people identified as being at one of the 80 exposure sites.
New case in #ModburyCluster is man in 80s, he’s been moved to Tom’s Court with his wife who is currently negative. @7NewsAdelaide

— Kimberley Pratt (@KimberleyPratt_) July 26, 2021

SA press conference:

Premier Steven Marshall says it’s a “good idea” for people in South Australia to keep working from home for the next week.

If you think about where we are, we are not out of the danger zone. So we are saying to people, even with this relaxation on restrictions, we do ask people, we ask them to think about mobility at the moment.

If people are comfortable working from home for another week, I think that is a very good idea.

The premier also flagged that high levels of mask-wearing compliance may allow restrictions to ease faster.

We will be providing further details tomorrow in regards to masks. I think you can expect that we will be asking people to wear a mask a lot more often than what they have been in the past. And this is really a defence.

If we see a high-level usage of masks, that is going to, I think, give confidence to the transition committee to continue to reduce some of our other restrictions because we know that this is an aerosol transmission. We know that it is highly transmissible and the more we see people wearing masks, the better off we are going to be as a state overall.


VIC press conference:

As previously stated, all 11 cases were quarantining throughout their infectious period, so there are no new exposure sites.

There have been 180 confirmed cases in the community in Victoria, and more than 21,000 people are still in quarantine. One of those cases has recovered — so it’s now 179 active cases.

There are five people in hospital, two in ICU and one on a ventilator.

Weimar said:

We would like to extend our best wishes for their recovery, and for everybody who is recovering from coronavirus across Victoria and indeed across Australia.

In terms of other areas of concern, there are 506 primary close contacts at the LaCrosse high-rise apartment building in Docklands, after one resident tested positive. That resident has since moved into hotel quarantine. So far, 483 have been tested and 150 have returned negative results, including all those who lived on the same floor as the positive case.

Residents of the Isola apartments in Richmond are expected to be out in a few days.

And in some very welcome news some of the residents of Ariele apartments in Maribyrnong have already been released from quarantine and the rest will be out in the next few days.

Kate Matson, the deputy health secretary in charge of Victoria’s Covid response, said that everyone who is in isolation should get a text message reminding them to get a test on day 13, then a follow-up call once a negative result is in, followed by written confirmation, usually via email, that your quarantine will end at a certain time.

If there are no day 13 test results, quarantine will be extended by another 14 days. So get tested and follow up with Vic Health if you didn’t get a reminder text or phone call.


VIC press conference:

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar has run through the new cases in Melbourne.

Two of the new cases are linked to the Ms Frankie restaurant in Cremorne. One unknowingly positive case dined in the venue on 15 July. Today’s two new cases bring the total outbreak connected to that one diner to 46.

Weimar praised the restaurant and staff for their efforts. He said:

Can I also give a shout-out to all the community support for the restraint and the ongoing work people are doing to get it ready for reopening when conditions allow. They have worked incredibly hard in this restaurant, and we are very supportive and recognise the pressure on the business as they have dealt with this outbreak. They have handled themselves in an outstanding fashion throughout this, and their excellent work on QR codes and compliance has enabled us to make swift progress over the past two weeks. The other nine cases we are reporting today are all household primary close [contacts].

The other nine cases are all household contacts of other positive cases. They are two cases linked to the Trinity Grammar outbreak, two linked to the Bacchus Marsh Grammar outbreak, two linked to Aami Park, two linked to the City of Hume, and one for Young and Jackson’s.

The Victorian Minister for Health, Martin Foley.
The Victorian Minister for Health, Martin Foley. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


NSW press conference:

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she will be announcing all changes to the state’s Covid-19 restrictions at once (probably Friday, by the sound of things).

It is important for us to convey what life looks like on July 31 in the one go, so everybody knows what life looks like at that time. In relation to financial support, that will depend on decisions government takes in the next few days on what life will look like beyond July 31.

We won’t allow any section of the community to feel either left behind or feel that they can’t cope with the financial stress they are experiencing.

Our health crisis that we have has to be matched by economic support and we have always had that balanced approach in New South Wales and that won’t change. We are putting people ahead of our budget and that is really important.


NSW to open walk-in AZ vaccine hubs in Greater Sydney

NSW press conference:

There was an interesting exchange right at the end of the NSW press conference, with chief health officer Kerry Chant giving us a forward sizzle for the announcement tomorrow that AstraZeneca walk-in vaccination hubs will be established for people of all ages.


On vaccinations, since we have had this change in the health advice for AstraZeneca, is it possible to open our state-run hubs to a walk-up system for an AstraZeneca jab?


You have thought ahead and I will be announcing that tomorrow, that we have got a number of...


You’re announcing it now.


I won’t tell you where, just because at the moment there is some work being done and I don’t want it to be swamped just as they are setting it up.

There is a massive strategy and can I acknowledge my colleagues who have been working so hard over the weekend with their local health districts and community partners to identify sites that may be appropriate for walk-in visits.

What are the most vulnerable communities, which groups in the communities don’t have access to the vaccine, and how can we make it easier to get vaccinated? That work has been going on day and night over the weekend and there will be some announcements tomorrow.


NSW press conference:

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she won’t rule out some settings changing from Friday, but from the sounds of things this won’t involve any massive easing of physical distancing laws.


I don’t want to rule that out. Some settings might change. We might need to go harder in some areas and release some settings in others.

Please know our government is always looking at the best options we have available ... as I say, our mission is to allow our citizens to live as safely and as freely as possible. That is always our position during the pandemic.

That remains our position. It has to be based on the best health advice.


Okay, here is everyone’s favourite part of the 11am press conference crush!

Nick Evershed is delivering the goods with some helpful charts explaining the NSW and Victoria daily case stats.

There is a breakdown of NSW case numbers by isolation status:

Breakdown of NSW case numbers by isolation status

And here is the trend in local cases, using the seven-day average for NSW:

Trend in local cases, using the seven-day average for NSW

And Victoria:

Trend in local cases, using the seven-day average for Victoria


SA press conference:

Premier Steven Marshall says there is “every indication” the state will come out of lockdown at midnight on Tuesday as planned.

But he says there needs to be a “sensible pathway out”, with a week of restrictions to come into play from 12.01am on Wednesday, including density requirements on indoor and outdoor retail.

He says mask wearing will have to continue for some time.

There will be limits of 10 people for household gatherings (members of households included), 50 people for funerals and weddings, and gyms will reopen with density requirements.

Some activities will remain banned for the week, and Marshall says he will provide an update regarding sport on Tuesday.

He says there was a discussion regarding regional areas, but “ultimately it was resolved [that] we went into this as a state, we’ll come out of it in a state”.


Victorian press conference:

The Victorian health minister Martin Foley is speaking in Melbourne now. Victoria recorded 11 cases overnight, all of which are linked to the current outbreak, or “the delta strain from the two incursions from NSW” as he put it, and all were quarantining for the whole infectious period.

There is no firm announcement on lockdown lifting as yet, but Foley suggests things are looking good. (The current Victorian lockdown expires at 11.59pm tomorrow.)

He said:

As we stand here today, nothing has yet been finalised but we are mindful of the need, as soon as possible, to share that with the people of Victoria. At our briefing with public health officials this morning, we did clearly take some comfort from the fact that over the weekend, the 22 locally acquired cases had all been quarantining for the entirety of their infectious period, and presented no public health risk.

But it is still 22 cases, and when you reflect on where we have been over the journey of these last 18 months, as we have dealt with the reopening from our breaks, 22 cases over two days is a significant figure. It is not a risk we take lightly, but equally, we do take some, we do take comfort from the fact that they have all been in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period.

What it points to is that we are on the right track, and we will make a decision based on the decision of the public health team on the most up-to-date advice.

(However, he makes a plea for more people to get tested.) Some 25,404 people got tested yesterday — that’s almost 20,000 less than late last week.

Now that we are coming to two weeks of that (Delta strain in) circulation, we need to make sure that testing numbers stay high. It gives our public health team that extra notice in their material, it gives them a further tool in their toolkits to make sure that they’ve got the best possible data.


Another week of heavy restrictions for SA

SA press conference:

Premier Steven Marshall confirms that a number of restrictions will remain in the state for at least another seven days after the lockdown lifts from Wednesday.


It’s very likely that some of those restrictions will remain even after that subsequent week, but we’ll be able to provide further detail as we get closer to that next deadline.

So restrictions that will apply from one minute past midnight tomorrow night:

    • A density requirement of one person per four square metres, food and beverage consumption seated only, but the outdoor and indoor restrictions on ... dancing and singing to continue for the next seven days.
    • Masks will be required in all high-risk settings, personal care services, passenger transport services and healthcare services in South Australia. We will provide a further update tomorrow but we are really wanting there to be a very high level, continued use of masks in our community ...
    • Household gatherings and private activities are limited to 10 people maximum per household – that includes the members of the household.
    • Weddings and funerals can have up to 50 people, and [are] otherwise bound by the overall density arrangements with a particular venue.
    • Gyms may reopen but it’s a density of one person per eight square metres in the first instance.
    • Sporting communities, we will update ... tomorrow. We’re working with the sporting associations and the Department of Sport and Recreation. We would like to see training resume, and we would also like to see competitions resume, and we’ll provide further information with regards to that tomorrow.


No announcement on Victorian lockdown today

Despite the Victorian lockdown being slated to end at midnight tomorrow, state leaders say they still require the rest of today’s data in order to make an informed decision on the next steps for the state.

Health minister Martin Foley:

In terms of restrictions, as we made our position clear yesterday, we want to make sure that with restrictions ending at 11:59pm tomorrow that we make that decision based on the most up-to-date and accurate of data and advice from our public health teams, so suffice to say ... nothing has yet been finalised but we are mindful of the need as soon as possible, as [soon as] a decision has been made, to share that with the people of Victoria.

At our briefing with public health officials this morning, we just did, clearly, take some comfort from the fact that over the weekend, the 22 locally acquired cases had all been quarantining for the entirety of their infectious period and presented no public health risk. But it is still 22 cases and when you reflect on where we’ve been over the journey of this last 18 months, as we’ve dealt with reopening from outbreaks, 22 cases over two days is a significant figure.

It’s not a risk that we take lightly but, equally, we do take some ... comfort from the fact that they have all been in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period.

Face mask-clad pedestrians walking through Southbank in Melbourne.
Face mask-clad pedestrians walking through Southbank in Melbourne. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AFP/Getty Images


SA records one new local case, will lift lockdown from midnight Tuesday

At the South Australian press conference, premier Steven Marshall has confirmed the state recorded only one new local case overnight, an elderly man who was in isolation for his entire infectious period. He is connected to the winery cluster.

This means SA’s seven-day hard lockdown will lift.


We have put ourselves in a very, very good position. We’re in day six of a seven-day lockdown.

But we are on track to lift other restrictions at midnight tomorrow night. So first thing on Wednesday morning, we will be out of the lockdown situation.


The Victorian and South Australian press conferences are about to start, so I will turn my attention to them. I’ll still bring you NSW updates and every post will be labelled to avoid confusion.



[Victorian premier] Daniel Andrews said if you showed him modelling which shows the lockdown is working, he will give you Pfizer. Are you planning to enter negotiations with Victoria on that, if we’re desperate for Pfizer in New South Wales?

Gladys Berejiklian:

National cabinet made their [position] very, very clear to me on Friday. I argued my little heart out but the position of the national cabinet was very clear. I am someone who will always fight for NSW but I am also someone who will work with what we have. What we have is a change in health advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, so I am urging, as Dr Chant has said, for everybody to come forward and get vaccinated.

As Dr Chant said, we will make sure that we’re careful with how we distribute the Pfizer. Pfizer is in limited supply at the moment. We are expecting more supplies later on. When it comes to classes of people who, for whatever reason, can’t take the AstraZeneca, we will make sure the Pfizer is provided to them.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian delivering her Covid-19 update in Sydney this morning Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


A reporter asks Gladys Berejiklian again if the prime minister lobbied her in any way, and again she avoids answering directly.

Can I be honest and say a lot of people have given me a lot of free advice. The best advice I will continue to rely on is that of Dr Chant and her team, the New South Wales health experts.

They are the experts and theirs is the advice which [we base] our decisions and announcements on. I make that very clear. I know it is easy for people to have a view on these matters.

I don’t blame people when you’re frustrated, you are stuck at home, having to home school or you are laid off work, these are incredibly difficult times and everybody has an opinion. I respect that. We live in a democracy.


A reporter has asked if, before the first lockdown, Scott Morrison encouraged Gladys Berejiklian “in any way, to avoid a lockdown?”, and if “in recent days, the prime minister attempted to encourage [her], in any way, to tighten the lock down?”.

The New South Wales premier didn’t really answer.

What is really important for the people of NSW to know is that the decisions our government takes are based on the best health advice.

I learned very early on in this pandemic that the best way to support our citizens, to keep them safe and to allow us to live as freely as possible, is to base all of our decisions on the health advice.

We also know and appreciate that you have to really balance out those strict health measures with keeping society functioning. That is why it is of concern to us and while we are addressing the settings around households and work places, they are still the two places where the virus is continuing.


107 more fines issues over Saturday's anti-lockdown protest in Sydney

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller says officers are continuing to follow up and fine those involved in the weekend’s illegal anti-lockdown rallies.

He warned against people attending a similar rally next weekend, despite his Victorian counterpart making a point this morning not to speak about such plans publicly for fear of inadvertently advertising the event.


Morning, ladies and gentlemen: 227 tickets issued overnight for breaches of the health orders, 107 linked back specifically to the protest on Saturday. Backing out the figures, can I thank the community because we are seeing an increase in compliance across particularly the Sydney metro area and those beach areas with the health orders. We thank you for working with us.

We have received 10,000 Crime Stoppers reports since Saturday in terms of criminal behaviour and breaches of the health order at the protest, which is an amazing outcry by the community, not just in terms of their disgust at the protest but the way that the police, the mounted unit in particular, retreated during that. We have a strike force established and they will continue to investigate and chase down every individual that we can identify. [They] will be either arrested and/or given tickets for their behaviour and it is not just about whether it is an unauthorised protest, it was about the danger that they put all of us at in terms of the Delta variant.

There are some discussions, there is information on the internet at the moment about a potential protest this Saturday. Can I just put this warning out now to everyone: we will be heavily policing that event. We will take the ground very early. You will be arrested ...

The community has spoken about that behaviour. The premier has spoken about that behaviour and it won’t be tolerated again.

Protesters march along Broadway and George St towards Sydney Town Hall during the World Wide Rally For Freedom anti-lockdown rally at Hyde Park in Sydney.
Protesters march along Broadway and George St towards Sydney Town Hall during the World Wide Rally For Freedom anti-lockdown rally at Hyde Park in Sydney. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


'Distressingly' few people over 60 getting AZ jab: Chant

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant says it’s distressing to see how few people who are eligible for AstraZeneca are taking up the opportunity.

Ultimately, if we had more vaccine, we could do more but we do have a good vaccine, which is AstraZeneca. I would urge you to get vaccinated and take up the opportunity for accessing AstraZeneca.

It is actually quite distressing, when I review the numbers, to see how few over-60-year-olds and over-70-year-olds we have managed to reach and, for me, anyone who is over 60 or over 70 should be going to their doctor as a matter of urgency – or their pharmacist, which will be opening up across the state in coming days – and get a dose of vaccine and please keep yourself safe.

Vaccines are not a short-term solution. You don’t see any effect for about two to three weeks after, more like three weeks, but they are part of a complementary strategy to a very tight lockdown and working with impacted communities to really be part of the solution.


NSW could distribute 350,000 Pfizer doses a week if supply was there, Chant says

Chief health officer Kerry Chant has been very firm this morning that the main limiting factor of getting Pfizer doses in arms in Sydney is supply, not state vaccination capacity.

There is a scarcity of supply of Pfizer. We do not have unlimited supply.

What we have to do is look at how we can best use the available Pfizer supply to both bring disease burden down, stop transmission and spread, and also how we can protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Unfortunately, we are not in a situation where we have plentiful supplies. There actually wouldn’t be any constraint on us vaccinating many people. Our mass vaccination clinics, our GP network, our pharmacy network has incredible capacity [such] that we could turn on very large-scale vaccination ...

That we could well have a very rapid push of well over 350,000 just ourselves, if we had the opportunity to do so. It is about supply constraints of the Pfizer vaccine.

Health workers dressed in PPE speak to patients as they line up at the Westmead Hospital COVID-19 vaccination centre in Sydney.
Health workers dressed in PPE speak to patients as they line up at the Westmead Hospital COVID-19 vaccination centre in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Kerry Chant has been asked if the plan is to remain in lockdown until the number of cases infectious in the community is zero or close to zero, or until 80% of the population of Greater Sydney is vaccinated. (Both prospects could be months away.)


The premier indicated that those discussions are ongoing about the path before but I think what we have learnt is the Delta variant, with that Delta variant, you don’t have much leeway.

It is such a highly infectious strain of the virus and because we are tackling an issue that whenever we get to a case in a family, the family’s already been infected or inevitably over the next couple of days will become positive.

It has no grace period. With the previous strains, we could get to people early enough and so I think with that challenge, we need to ensure that our approach aligns with that.


By the way, we are expecting to hear from Victoria and South Australia in about 15 minutes. I will do my best to bring you updates from all three events.

AZ jabs now available in some NSW pharmacies

Kerry Chant noted that a number of pharmacies will be able to administer AstraZeneca vaccines from today.

There are a number of pharmacies in southwestern Sydney that will be able to administer AstraZeneca today. And these pharmacies will be listed on our website, highlighting where to get the vaccines.

AstraZeneca vials are seen at a mass coronavirus vaccination hub.
AstraZeneca vials are seen at a mass coronavirus vaccination hub. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP


Chief health officer Kerry Chant says families gathering is still one of the driving factors in spreading the disease.

We are seeing that the transmissions at the moment are being driven by two factors.

One is ongoing contact between households, and can I just express my deep understanding of how it is so important, people’s extended families and friends. But at this time when we’re responding to such a crisis, it’s really important that people only stay within the household unit, and don’t have any mixing between households.


In better news, nearly 100,000 NSW residents were tested yesterday, especially notable given that there is generally a sizeable drop-off in weekend testing.

Cars queue at a pop up Covid testing clinic at the Blacktown Showgrounds in the western suburbs of Sydney.
Cars queue at a pop up Covid testing clinic at the Blacktown Showgrounds in the western suburbs of Sydney. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


76 cases infectious in the NSW community

Once again the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announces the number of cases that were infectious in the community.

While 51 were in the community during their whole infectious period, 25 were in isolation for just part of that time. That’s 76 people in total.

Eleven cases are still under investigation.

Fifty-eight cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period and 25 cases were in isolation for part of their infectious period. Fifty-one cases were infectious in the community, and the isolation status of 11 cases remains under investigation.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) July 26, 2021


NSW records 145 local Covid-19 cases overnight

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now.

To 8pm last night we had more than 98,000 people come forward to get tested: not only is that close, obviously, to 100,000 tests but, on a weekend, I want to thank everybody for taking the effort and time and responsibility to do that.

We had 145 cases of community transmission to 8pm yesterday: 51, unfortunately, were infectious in the community during that time.


The treasurer has been asked about the significant groups of people who are “falling through the cracks” of these federal support payments, such as those on other government support schemes such as Youth Allowance.

Josh Frydenberg:

I will make a couple of points. Our welfare system is designed that you can work a certain number of hours each fortnight without affecting the sum of that payment. That is the income-free area. After which, if you earn more through working casual hours, then that starts to eat away at the level of that welfare support, so there is effectively a taper rate.

What this means in practice is that if you have lost those hours that you were working, your income support, your welfare support can actually go up. The system is designed to flex to increase if you have lost some of those other casual hours. That will be occurring in a number of cases right now.

At the same time, we are conscious of this issue and will continue to examine all settings but, as it stands, somebody who is on welfare support, who had been working a large number of hours and therefore had their welfare support reduced by a significant amount, will now see their welfare support increase as a result of them no longer getting that extra income from those extra hours.


Josh Frydenberg is out and about this morning giving an update on the federal income support payments offered to people who have lost work in areas that are designated commonwealth hotspots.

The real crux of this press conference is to say “JobKeeper isn’t coming back”, after the NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, called for its reintroduction amid Greater Sydney’s Covid -19 outbreak.


These payments that we are providing, in terms of income support, through Services Australia, is happening faster than it would have done under JobKeeper. This money is making its way into pockets as quickly as 40 minutes from the time of the application. These payments are very targeted...

When we introduced JobKeeper, firstly, the whole country was effectively into a lockdown. Right now, we have three states, but hopefully two will be coming out of that lockdown this week. The labour market was at a different point in time last year, when Treasury said to me there was a potential for the unemployment rate to go as high as 15%. As you know, it came down to 0.9% in the most recent jobs data, and we have also seen job adverts increased month on month...

They are also targeted because they are based on the number of hours lost rather than the turnover reduction of the business that you work for. Also, the net has been cast wider with all casuals being eligible for these payments.



The message from our medical experts is abundantly clear - go and get vaccinated. If you want your family to be safe, go and get vaccinated. If you want to make lockdowns a thing of the past, get vaccinated. If you want Australia to open up, get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is our ticket out of this crisis. Significantly, there is no alignment between the medical advice and the situation on the ground in Greater Sydney.


There were some updates from that press conference on the man who allegedly breached quarantine orders to enter Queensland, but I’ll bring you those after we hear from the federal treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, who is speaking now from Melbourne.


Jeannette Young says health officials are considering if someone being fully vaccinated might affect the incubation time of the virus, although it’s also possible the man picked it up in hotel quarantine or in the community.


His first test had a very high CT value, which means there was very little virus there, so little virus that we couldn’t even do gene sequencing on it, so that suggests that he was very, very early in his disease or very late in his disease or [there] was persistent shedding – that is why we did further testing.

But his second test, while he has been in quarantine – we immediately put him in quarantine for isolation after his first test – second test has come with a higher amount of virus. That means he is entering his disease, if that makes sense. So it is early on and he is progressing. So it should be low risk. But, look, we don’t know.

He is fully vaccinated and we still don’t fully understand what that means in terms of the time it takes to become infectious and what it does about the viral load. So there are so many unknowns here. We are ... asking that people who have been to any of those sites to contact us so we can talk to them.


Here is Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young with details of the new case.

So, one new case in Queensland. I’m not sure of the acquisition of this case: it could have been in China, it could have been in hotel quarantine or, indeed, it could have been in the community down in the Gold Coast.

This is an individual who returned from China, spent two weeks in hotel quarantine, had three negative tests, then was released from hotel quarantine in Brisbane, returned home to the Gold Coast on 12 July, then became, he and his family became unwell on 13 July, so they went and saw their GP and got tested and we got that first test result back yesterday.

It was a very, very high CT value so not a lot of virus. We got a second test done and that has come back at a moderate level of the CT value, which means there is a reasonable amount of virus, that means he is definitely at the acute stage of a new infection. So we will just work through what that means.

We have already spoken to him, of course, and worked out where he has been out in the community and we have put all of those exposure sites up on our website. There are quite a number of those for people to be aware of stop so, please, anyone who has been on the Gold Coast or in Brisbane since 13 July please look at our website and check and see if you have been to any of those exposure sites.


Queensland’s new Covid-19 case is somewhat of a mystery.

The man returned from China, fully vaccinated, and completed his mandatory quarantine period.

He later tested positive in Queensland after becoming unwell.

Queensland Health Minister announces 1 new community case - a man who returned from China. He is fully vaccinated and completed mandatory quarantine. Has now returned a positive test result after becoming unwell. Unclear where he contracted the virus.

— Ben Murphy (@BenBMurph) July 26, 2021


MP Craig Kelly banned from posting on Twitter for one week

Controversial MP Craig Kelly’s Twitter account has been placed in “read only” mode for seven days after he allegedly repeatedly breached policy to prevent the sharing of “misleading” Covid-19 information.

Kelly posted on his Telegram account over the weekend about being unable to use Twitter so Guardian Australia tech reporter Josh Taylor contacted the company to find out what’s going on.

Here is Twitter’s statement:

We took enforcement action on @CraigKellyMP for violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our COVID-19 misleading information policy.


One local Covid-19 case recorded in Queensland

Queensland records one locally acquired case of Covid-19. I missed the start of the press conference so I will get back to you with details on that case.

Monday 26 July – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

1 new locally acquired case.

0 new overseas acquired cases.#covid19

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 26, 2021


Well... I guess I’ll bring you the updates on this later if there is any.

Why would you put your presser on at 11.15am of all times! The middle of presser-geddon!

Greens Leader @AdamBandt is in Melbourne today and will hold a press conference discussing income support for lockdowns, 11:15am #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) July 26, 2021

The number of patients being admitted to hospital with severe liver injuries caused by herbal and dietary supplements claiming to promote muscle growth or weight loss is increasing, with some people harmed so severely they required a liver transplant.

A study led by Dr Emily Nash from the Royal Prince Alfred hospital examined hospital records of 184 adults admitted to the AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre with drug-induced liver injury between 2009 and 2020. She and her co-authors found liver injury cases linked to herbal and dietary supplements increased from two out of 11 patients (15%) during 2009–11, to 10 out of 19 patients (47%) during 2018–20.

Liver injury from overdose from paracetamol, a widely used medication to treat fever and pain, and antibiotics, is common, and the authors found 115 patients with paracetamol-related drug-induced liver injury during the study period. Of the 69 with non-paracetamol liver injury, 19 cases involved antibiotics, 15 involved herbal and dietary supplements, and the rest involved anti-tuberculosis or anti-cancer medications.

You can read the full report below:

Gladys Berejiklian all but rules out 'singles bubbles' for people living alone -

'If you're living alone, you can meet with someone else to exercise within 10kms'. #nswcovid

— Ben Fordham Live (@BenFordhamLive) July 25, 2021

Oh, if you want updates on day three of the Olympics by the way, look no further than the Guardian Toyko live blog!

It’s being run by the fantastic Tom Lutz who know far, far more about the games than me, who only just learnt handball was a sport yesterday.

Also speaking of press conferences, it looks like Steven Marshall will be standing up to update SA residents at 11am ACST, which is 11.30 AEST, on whether the state’s lockdown will end on Tuesday.


No surprises here but Gladys Berejiklian will be giving the NSW Covid-19 daily update at 11am.


Liberal ministers boasted that they had “secured” funding for commuter car parks, despite the infrastructure department later claiming they were election commitments.

Labor has seized on the social media posts of David Coleman, Michael Sukkar and the then urban infrastructure minister, Alan Tudge, to argue that spending had already been locked in as a decision of government before the campaign, rather than being contingent on Coalition victory.

The social media posts call into question the department’s defence of the program, that most of the projects were election commitments, which the finance minister, Simon Birmingham, has said meant “the Australian people had their chance” to judge it and had “voted the government back in”.

Labor is seeking to open a new inquiry into the $660m commuter car parks within the $4.8bn urban congestion fund, urging the joint committee of public accounts and audit to investigate, partly because Tudge is yet to explain his handling of the program.

You can read the full report below:

New Zealand vows to get citizens home before trans-Tasman bubble bursts

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has committed to getting New Zealanders home from parts of Australia, before they will be required to enter compulsory quarantine.

New Zealand is shutting down the quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia for two months as the country grapples with a number of serious outbreaks of Covid-19.

Travellers who return before Friday will not be required to enter managed isolation, unless they are returning from NSW, but Ardern told TVNZ she is open to extending the period for those who miss out on “green flights” this week.

Our commitment for New Zealanders is that there is enough capacity to bring everyone home over the course of this period. If we find that people are missing out on bookings, that there is not enough space, we said we will consider extending, if we need to ...

We will get everyone home before the suspension kicks in.

Roughly 21,000 New Zealanders have left for Australia since the trans-Tasman bubble opened, but it is unclear how many of those have left permanently.

Ardern told RNZ that “early suggestions are that we will be able to meet demand across the course of the week”.

The government will assess capacity and demand on Wednesday, to determine if it needs to extend the quarantine-free travel period.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (left) has suspended the quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia due to rising Covid cases in NSW.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (left) has suspended the quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia due to rising Covid cases in NSW. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images


An update on Victoria Police’s efforts to identify all those who attended the anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Saturday.

Victoria Police speaking to @3AWNeilMitchell re investigation into Saturday's protest attendees..
Q: Had anyone dobbed in yet?
A: Ahh. Neil.. "we've certainly had some community-minded individuals get in touch with us"..

— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) July 25, 2021

Victoria Police AC Luke Cornelius tells @3AWNeilMitchell he "wouldn't call it dobbing in".
Q: What would you call it?
A: "I'd call it.. performing your public duty.."

— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) July 25, 2021

SBS to provide live interpreting service in Arabic and Vietnamese during NSW Covid press conferences

FYI to anyone whose first language is Arabic or Vietnamese!

Very cool initiative from SBS/ the NSW Government.

On Facebook, SBS will provide a live interpreting service in Arabic and Vietnamese during the daily 11am media conference.

— Eden Gillespie (@edengillespie) July 25, 2021


Treasurer @JoshFrydenberg is in Melbourne today and will hold a press conference at 10:30am #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) July 25, 2021

The NSW premier was also asked what else she’s got in her “kit bag” if the current greater Sydney lockdown by it’s self isn’t enough to contain the Delta variant.

Firstly, can I say, if you look at the vaccination rates around the world and the Delta strain, other countries with higher vaccination rates than ours, have seen thousands and thousands of cases and so many deaths because of Delta.

Please know that we have avoided that in New South Wales. If we had not done what we’ve done and we would ... have had thousands [of cases] ...

In other states that had up to five lockdowns, this is our second.

I don’t want to compare ourselves to other states but what I will say is this. That is that for the last 18 months we have done very well at keeping the virus at bay; we’ve all [brought] home thousands of Australians on behalf of the nation, have allowed our population to live safely and freely, we are now in a very difficult situation with Delta so different to anything we’ve seen in the difference with Australia as we need to get our vaccination rates up as well ...


NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has (kind of) shot down reports this morning that the greater Sydney lockdown will be extended until September.

She was asked about these rumours on Sunrise this morning.

I don’t know who came up with that date but I can assure you this, we are working really hard with our health experts to really make sure we are making those important decisions to give the public as much information as we can.

Obviously this week we will be communicating what life beyond July 31, and the next few weeks looks like.

Really, part of the answer as to whether we will come out of this lockdown is down to a few things. Firstly, what all of us are doing, and when you see yesterday’s activity with thousands of doing the wrong thing, it just breaks your heart.

Not only was I disgusted, but it was a heartbreaking way to see when all of us are working so hard, to see that could really set us back when you see so many people doing the wrong thing.

And we also appreciate that even during times of bereavement and other family matters, it’s really hard for us just to stick to our household but we absolutely have to. So the quicker all of us stick to the rules, the quicker we can get out of this and you know that our government’s mission is to keep our population safe but also to allow us to live as freely as possible and that’s the balance we need to find.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/AAP


Dozens of Queensland virus exposure sites listed after two positive Covid cases infectious in community

Gold Coast and northern Brisbane residents are being urged to self-isolate and get tested if they have Covid-19 symptoms after two positive cases were infectious in the community, reports Marty Silk from AAP.

A NSW man allegedly breached Covid-19 rules in Sydney to fly to Ballina where he was picked up by a flight attendant and drove into Queensland on 14 July.

The pair have been infectious in the community since then, with Queensland Health adding 37 new Covid-19 exposure sites across the northern Gold Coast and in Brisbane suburbs of Chermside, Banyo and Nundah.

The NSW man initially received a negative test result but allegedly failed to follow health orders to continue to self-isolate and caught Virgin flight VA1139 from Sydney to Ballina in northern NSW on 14 July.

He then travelled across the Queensland border by car with the QantasLink flight attendant, who tested positive for Covid on Friday. It was later confirmed he was in fact Covid-positive and had received a false-negative test result.

The matter has been referred to NSW police.

Deputy premier Steven Miles said on Sunday the flight attendant likely caught the virus from the man. Miles said anyone in Brisbane or the Gold Coast with respiratory symptoms should immediately get tested.


Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca has welcomed changes to the Australia Techincal Advisory Group on Immunisation’s advice, which now recommends everyone over 18 in the greater Sydney area should “strongly consider” getting vaccinated with any available vaccine, including AstraZeneca.

This change comes as Delta cases continue to spread in NSW, with a number of young people falling seriously ill from the virus, including a woman in her 30s with no preexisting condition who the NSW premier confirmed had died with Covid-related illness yesterday.

In wider Australia, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still only recommended to those over 60 years of age.

Here is what the company had to say about the change:

AstraZeneca continues to support the medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) on the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, with the latest update provided in the context of outbreaks of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.

Regulatory authorities around the world have stated that the benefit of using our vaccine significantly outweigh the risks across all adult age groups, and this has been reiterated by Atagi and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), particularly in the context of the Delta outbreaks.

Real-world evidence published by Public Health England demonstrates that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine maintains very high levels of protection against the Delta variant. In less than 12 months, more than 750 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been released for supply to more than 170 countries. Our vaccine continues to be an important tool in overcoming the Covid-19 global health emergency, underpinned by our commitment to provide broad and equitable access, at no profit during the pandemic.


Opera Australia to receive $4m in government assistance

Federal arts minister Paul Fletcher has been out and about this morning spruiking the federal government’s announcement that Opera Australia will receive $4m in support from the Arts Sustainability Fund in order to ensure its survival.

The company was left in dire straits after being forced to postpone its production of The Phantom of the Opera in both Sydney and Melbourne due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

Fletcher spoke to ABC News Breakfast about this just before:

[The company] employs over 400 people, who have specialised skills from costume and set making, and of course all of the musical key skills. If Opera Australia were not to survive the pandemic, it would be very bad not just for Opera Australia, but for opera lovers, but also for the broader arts ecosystem.

That’s the intention behind the Sustainability Fund. We have supported a significant number of arts companies through the Sustainability Fund – Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Theatre Company, and a range of others, and the whole intention of this $35m Sustainability Fund of which $4m today is now going to Opera Australia is to be there to support our significant companies to get through the pandemic because they’re so key to our overall art sector.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher.
Communications minister Paul Fletcher. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Western Australia on alert over ship with sick crew

Western Australia is again on Covid-19 alert after a bulk carrier in waters off Perth reported it was carrying crew members with flu-like symptoms, reports AAP.

The Darya Krishna was on Monday morning travelling south off Yanchep, a coastal town about 56km north of Perth.

The vessel left Singapore on 18 July and was heading to Kwinana, south of the CBD, where it’s supposed to dock later in the day.

WA premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday it’s believed about four of the 20 crew on board had flu-like symptoms.

While none of the sick have been confirmed as having Covid-19, authorities are concerned because the ship had docked in the Indonesian port of Batam on its way to Australia.

Indonesia is in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak and is averaging about 1,500 daily deaths. The total number of infections is more than 3.1 million.

McGowan raised the issue of visiting ships at last Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

State and federal transport ministers agreed to examine what could be done in conjunction with major shipping companies, with a focus on preventing crew members from roaming the streets while in Indonesia.

The shipping companies need to put effort into keeping their crews on board when they’re in Indonesian ports ...

The prime minister was very good about it. He acknowledges it’s a major problem.

• This blogpost was amended on 28 July 2021 to correct information about Indonesia’s current coronavirus outbreak: the country is averaging 1,500 daily deaths.


Barnaby Joyce defends George Christensen's right to promote illegal anti-lockdown rallies

OK, back to the deputy prime minister.

While Barnaby Joyce said he doesn’t agree with the anti-lockdown comments from his MP George Christensen, he defended the rightwing politician’s right to voice his beliefs.

I don’t agree with [the comments] ... Let’s be realistic about this, everybody has the right to say what they want*.

What do you intend for me to do? To go up there – without knowing what to say it – to tackle him**.

Do you think that that’s the process, by reinforcing a sense of ‘you don’t have the liberty to say what you like’.

We are all intelligent sentient beings and so are your listeners, and they can hear something from a range of views and say, ‘Well, that sounds like a load of rubbish and I don’t agree with that’*** ... it’s up to you whether you agree with it or not ...

What you were implying there is that any person that has the capacity to tell George Christensen what to do****. I mean, are you proposing that we lock him up?*****

*Yes, but you are still his boss.


***But Joyce, many have interpreted Christensen’s social media posts as supporting people attending an illegal protest.

****No, the host is implying that YOU have the capacity to do this because, as previously mentioned, you are his boss.


Barnaby Joyce (left) and fellow Nationals MP George Christensen.
Barnaby Joyce (left) and fellow Nationals MP George Christensen. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Firefighting experts from Western Australia and NSW will travel to Canada tomorrow to assist in the country’s out-of-control wildfires.

23 #NSWRFS members will join an Australian contingent of more than 50 fire management specialists heading to Canada tomorrow. Crews from #NSW & #WA will depart Sydney to assist with the hundreds of fires burning across the Country. Photo: @DarrylDyck #canadafires @AFACnews

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) July 25, 2021


Victoria records 11 local Covid-19 cases, all in isolation

Victoria once again records a day of zero new cases out in the community while infectious.

The state’s recorded 11 locally acquired cases again on Monday, but the department has confirmed “all new locally-acquired cases are linked to the current outbreaks, and all were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period.”

Reported yesterday: 11 new local cases and 1 new case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).
- 13,953 vaccine doses were administered
- 25,404 test results were received
More later: #COVID19VicData [1/2]

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) July 25, 2021

The deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is speaking to ABC radio now, following a controversial day for his Nationals party, with MP George Christensen coming under fire for attending and supporting anti-lockdown rallies across Australia.

I’ll bring you Joyce’s comments in a second, but just for background, Christensen attended a lawful rally in Mackay, but also has appeared to endorse the rally in locked-down Melbourne, arguing on social media that civil disobedience was “moral” and “the only response to laws that restrict freedom”.

You can read more about Christensen’s comments and the prime minister’s response below:

South Australian premier will announce the end of lockdown today

And here are some more details on what is to come for SA, with the premier pretty much confirming that he will announce the end of the state’s lockdown today when speaking with Adelaide radio station FiveAA.

Steven Marshall told the station that although many restrictions will remain, students can expect to be back in the classroom by Wednesday.

RECAP from our chat with Premier Steven Marshall at 7:05am.
- No serious escalation in cases overnight
- Positive news to be announced this morning at the press conference today re lockdown
- Path out of lockdown to contain restrictions, but schools are on track for Wed return

— FIVEaa (@1395FIVEaa) July 25, 2021


South Australia records 'no serious escalation' in Covid cases

Good news for South Australia: premier Steven Marshall has confirmed there has been “no serious escalation” in cases in the state overnight.

SA reported three new Covid-19 cases on Sunday but the premier said because they were all in “strict quarantine” the state is still on track to end its lockdown on Tuesday.

With more good news overnight it seems more and more likely that that lockdown will lift on schedule.

BREAKING: Premier @marshall_steven says “no serious escalation (in cases) overnight” and he’ll have some “positive news for people of South Australia later today” regarding lockdown. @TheTodayShow @9NewsAdel

— Ollie Haig (@ollie_haig) July 25, 2021


Child and woman die in Melbourne home fires

Two people have died in separate Victorian house fires, including a child in Melbourne’s outer east, reports AAP.

Three adults and two children were able to flee a Dandenong house as the blaze started on Sunday night.

A small child could not be saved despite the efforts of a neighbour, a man in his 30s who was taken to hospital with serious burns.

On the other side of the city, the body of a woman in her 50s has been found in an extensively fire-damaged home at Laverton.

The fire at the Badge Court home took hold just after midnight and two other occupants were taken to hospital after suffering smoke inhalation.

Crimes scenes have been set up at both homes, with a forensic chemist and fire investigators to examine their cause on Monday.


Now let’s jump back and have a look at what else opposition leader Anthony Albanese said when speaking with the Today show.

He was asked if he agrees with the NSW treasurer’s pleas to the federal government to bring back jobkeeper.

People are losing their jobs. We need to give more support to individuals as well as to small businesses. I don’t care what they call it. They can call it something else but we need more support because, if you don’t get it, if you lose those businesses, it ends up costing you more because, to build back after something’s destroyed, costs more than keeping something going. That’s the basic principle here ...

Scott Morrison, I think, one of the things that characterises him is he never acts until it’s too late and then [his] action’s too little. It doesn’t matter whether it’s bushfires, it doesn’t matter whether it is the introduction of jobkeeper [which] originally only occurred after the queues were wrapped around Centrelink offices around the country. He dismissed it when we supported wage subsidies and said they’d be unnecessary as a dangerous idea.

There is something about that reluctance that he has. We saw it last week with the reluctance to say sorry. He just waits and waits, whether it’s actions about gender and the treatment of women, including in Parliament House. The action is always delayed until it’s forced to happen.

I think there will need to be more support but the sooner it happens, the less businesses will go to the wall.


Victoria may learn its lockdown fate today

Now one of the biggest things to look out for today is potentially learning if Victoria will come out of lockdown as scheduled on Tuesday.

Victoria’s premier says the state is “well-placed”, but warned some restrictions are likely to remain for some time.

Daniel Andrews on Sunday said he was confident the lockdown wouldn’t be extended again, given there was a downward trend in numbers, in both the total new local cases and the number of people in the community while infectious.

Victoria recorded 11 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Sunday, all of which were linked to known outbreaks and were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

These numbers are the trend that we wanted to see, these numbers are more than promising, but we just have to wait and see what comes through tomorrow and Tuesday to be certain that we can ease restrictions ...

I will foreshadow, there will still be rules after midnight Tuesday, it’ll be important that we all follow them.

Victorian cabinet ministers and the public health team will meet today to discuss the new set of restrictions, but Andrews has already flagged masks will remain compulsory for some time.

People wait in line at a pop-up Covid testing facility in Docklands, Melbourne on Sunday.
People wait in line at a pop-up Covid testing facility in Docklands, Melbourne on Sunday. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


Good morning everyone, and welcome to the new week!

It’s only Monday but there is already plenty to talk about, so why don’t we dive into the news?

First up this morning, federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese has criticised the NSW government’s handling of the Sydney Delta Covid outbreak, saying Gladys Berejiklian should have locked the city down sooner, and accused her of delaying for political reasons.

If you have a look at how Victoria and South Australia have gone, then it’s pretty clear that the rhetoric that was there, that NSW doesn’t lock down, that Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian were saying, was just not right.

We did need to take action. We do need to get the numbers down. What it means is that the lockdown is longer than it would have been had action been taken earlier.

Zooming out, the greater Sydney Delta outbreaks has been putting pressure on Australia’s international travel bubble with New Zealand.

New Zealand’s leadership is considering abandoning that “state by state” approach to the trans-Tasman bubble, and have indicated quarantine-free travel could stay closed to even safer Australian states until Delta is under control across the whole country.

On Friday, the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern banned quarantine-free travel from Australia for an eight-week stretch, due to last until 18 September.

But deputy prime minister Grant Robertson told TVNZ his government was now looking at a one-in, all-in approach that could see safer states such as Western Australia and Tasmania treated the same way as those with outbreaks.

The precautionary approach says you need to look at this Australia-wide ...

The reality, particularly on the mainland of Australia, is that unfortunately those are big borders ... once [Delta] gets in there it is difficult to contain.

We still think we can operate a trans-Tasman travel bubble but we think we need to have Delta under control.

With that, why don’t we jump into the week. Strap in everyone, it could be a big one!


Naaman Zhou (now) and Matilda Boseley and Mostafa Rachwani (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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