The day that was, Thursday 9 September

That’s where we will leave the live blog for Thursday. We will be back with you again tomorrow.

Here’s what made the news today:

  • Once New South Wales reaches 70% of over 16s double dose vaccinated next month, fully vaccinated people will be able to visit family and friends, dine out, go to the hairdresser, gym or football as well as travel.
  • People’s vaccination status will be included in the state’s QR code check-in app.
  • Another 1,405 new Covid-19 cases and five deaths were reported in NSW on Thursday.
  • Parts of regional NSW that have had cases in the past fortnight will be released from lockdown at midnight on Friday.
  • Victoria recorded 324 new cases - its highest figure since August 2020 - as the state’s hospitals prepare for a surge in patients.
  • GPs, pharmacists and community leaders from Melbourne’s north are calling for the federal and state governments to “urgently” redirect Pfizer doses to the region, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state and more than half of Thursday’s new infections.
  • The ACT recorded 15 new cases, with the plan for the territory’s gradual steps out of lockdown due to be announced on Tuesday.
  • Canberra will also be the first jurisdiction in Australia to vaccinate half of its over-16 population, a threshold to be reached within the next 24 hours.
  • Queensland reported two locally acquired cases of Covid-19 - the brother of a four-year-old girl who has been in home quarantine, and a NSW truck driver.
  • In New Zealand, the number of new cases dropped again to 13 as the government announced it was sourcing extra vaccine doses from Spain to help meet a surge in demand.
  • The prime minister, Scott Morrison, rejected criticism his government failed to secure a Pfizer vaccine agreement quickly enough after revelations the pharmaceutical giant pushed for a high-level meeting five months before Australia announced its first deal with the company.
  • Stranded Australians may be able to return this year and quarantine at home once 80% double dose vaccinations are reached.
  • There have now been 21.8m vaccines administered in Australia, up 311,368 as of Thursday, with 65.38% of people over 16 having at least one dose, and 40.4% fully vaccinated.

Until tomorrow, stay safe.

Updated

All written Higher School Certificate exams in NSW will go ahead this year, but ongoing frustration over a lack of remote learning has prompted some students to call for them to be cancelled entirely.

The new timetable will be officially released on Friday morning, but a preliminary version accidentally uploaded on Thursday afternoon showed exams would run for 19 days, beginning with English on 9 November and finishing with food technology on 3 December.

You can read more on the link below.

Updated

A V-line train driver has tested positive for Covid-19, ABC reports.

After the driver spent time there. They attended the operations depot at southern cross over the weekend, Monday and Tuesday. The building was evacuated and deep cleaned this arvo. Driver also spent time in driver recreation room of Traralgon station on Monday @abcmelbourne

— Bridget Rollason (@bridgerollo) September 9, 2021

Obstetricians and gynaecologists are examining why Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in greater Melbourne seem to have led to a reduction in babies being born early.

A peer-reviewed paper published in the medical journal, Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and led by Monash Health obstetrician Dr Daniel Rolnik, was conducted across three maternity hospitals in Melbourne. The study included 3,150 women who were pregnant during tough Covid-19 pandemic restriction measures in Victoria during 2020, and 3,175 women who were pregnant before the restrictions were enforced.

You can read the full article below.

Here’s a breakdown of today’s cases in Victoria by LGA:

  • 5 cases in Banyule
  • 14 cases in Brimbank
  • 2 cases in Cardinia
  • 7 cases in Casey
  • 9 cases in Darebin
  • 2 cases in Glen Eira
  • 3 cases in Greater Dandenong
  • 10 cases in Hobsons Bay
  • 100 cases in Hume
  • 2 cases in Knox
  • 4 cases in Maribyrnong
  • 5 cases in Melbourne
  • 13 cases in Melton
  • 11 cases in Moonee Valley
  • 50 cases in Moreland
  • 4 cases in Port Phillip
  • 23 cases in Whittlesea
  • 45 cases in Wyndham
  • 8 cases in Yarra
  • 2 cases in Yarra Ranges

Of the 2,166 active cases:

  • 317 are aged between 0 and 9
  • 337 are aged between 10 and 19
  • 556 are aged between 20 and 29
  • 365 are aged between 30 and 39.

And here’s a bit more on the Queensland case from the very same AAP reporter.

A NSW truck driver has tested positive to Covid-19 after visiting two suburbs in Brisbane on 5 and 6 September.

The driver was infectious in the community in Archerfield and Mount Gravatt, in southern Brisbane, on Sunday and Monday and tested positive in NSW after returning from Queensland.

A public health alert is being issued for contact tracing locations in Archerfield and the Westfield Garden City shopping centre in Upper Mount Gravatt.

The government is asking Queenslanders to monitor the list of exposure venues on the Queensland Health website and follow the public health advice, as there may be more locations.

It is the second locally acquired case of Covid-19 the state recorded on Thursday after the brother of a four-year-old girl who has coronavirus also tested positive in Queensland.

However, authorities believe the risk to the community is low.

Truck driver in Queensland tests positive for Covid-19

AAP is reporting another case of a truck driver from NSW who is in Queensland testing positive for Covid-19. I will bring you more information when I get it.

NEW: A NSW truckie has tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting venues in Archerfield and Westfield Garden City in Mount Gravatt on Sunday and Monday.

Queensland Health are contact-tracing people who visited those venues.

— @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) September 9, 2021

Damaging winds in eastern parts of Victoria today.

STRONG ALPINE WINDS ON THURSDAY

DAMAGING NORTHWESTERLY WINDS, averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts of 90 to 100km/h are possible over the Victorian Alps and the Gippsland ranges Thursday afternoon and evening.

Stay informed: https://t.co/T05ONtObdB pic.twitter.com/Z8YxhklDu1

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) September 9, 2021

Updated

Some recent Victorian tier 1 sites. You can see the rest by clicking through the tweet to the thread.

📍 Brooklyn: easyauto123 Brooklyn, 413 Francis St on:
◾ 02 September, 8:00am - 4:00pm (Tier 1)
📍 Cardinia: Fruithaul, 465 Dalmore Rd on:
◾ 04 September, 5:15am - 6:05pm (Tier 1)
◾ 05 September, 5:15am - 4:30pm (Tier 1)

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 9, 2021

📍 Carlton North: Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre, 20 Princes St on:
◾ 02 September, 8:24am - 4:00pm (Tier 1)
📍Coburg: Al Alamy, 51 Waterfield St on:
◾02 September, 1:55pm – 2:55pm (Tier 1)

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 9, 2021

📍 Craigieburn: WI Building Systems, 93-95 Yellowbox Dr on:
◾ 03 September, 7:00am - 4:30pm (Tier 1)
◾ 06 September, 7:00am - 9:30am (Tier 1)
◾ 06 September, 2:50pm - 4:30pm (Tier 1)

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 9, 2021

📍 Glen Waverley: WI Building Systems Construction Site - Glen Waverley Primary School, 774 High Street Rd on:
◾ 06 September, 8:30am - 3:30pm (Tier 1)

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 9, 2021

Updated

The federal health department has agreed to make changes after an audit report found a $20bn research fund did not have adequate performance measures, AAP reports.

The auditor general also found it was “not clear” how the 10-year plan behind the Medical Research Future Fund was designed.

“There is no direct relationship between the initiatives in the 10-year plan and the MRFF strategy and MRFF priorities and it is not clear how the 10-year plan was designed,” the audit report released on Thursday said.

One of the initiatives in the plan - research data infrastructure - had no money spent on it and some of the priorities were “generic”.

The fund, managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians, was set up by the coalition government in 2015.

Since then it has provided 670 grants with a total project value of $1.8bn.

The audit concluded the health department’s management of financial assistance under the fund is “largely effective”.

But it had not actively consulted with state and territory governments on the implementation of the program.

The department had suitable arrangements in place to provide assurance that grant applications are assessed on their merit and represent value for money.

However, it did not have adequate performance measures and had “not effectively measured and reported on the performance of MRFF financial assistance in its annual performance statements”.

The department agreed to three recommendations relating to the 10-year plan, grant reporting and performance measurement.

“Since its inception in 2015 the MRFF has grown rapidly to become a central pillar of the Australian government’s commitment to health and medical research,” the department said.

Updated

Stoove was asked whether the LGAs of concern in NSW should open up at the same time as everywhere else. He said yes, because the virus will travel, not just in those hotspots.

If you then lift restrictions in one area, and the neighbouring area has high numbers of cases circulating, you would expect to see a rebound in those areas, where restrictions have been lifted. So while I would certainly advocate for a citywide lifting of restrictions, not only from a prevention perspective, but also from an equality perspective. A social justice perspective, in terms of some of those areas that have been under significant restrictions for a significant period of time.

Stoove also said Victoria needs a roadmap out of lockdown:

Yes, we do. The extent to which we make the detail of those roadmaps public, I am not so sure about. I think as broad brush strokes, you know, the types of thresholds that we need to get to, and may be some general descriptions of the types of restrictions we would want to lift, again, like you said, to give the community some hope around what is around the corner, but I would be very cautious about detailed roadmaps based on modelling.

As data lands and models get updated, they can change quite dramatically on the basis of the data that comes in. So I think a roadmap that is quite general, and provide some hope to the community, would be really useful. But I am not sure about the details of exactly what types of restrictions will come off and when.

Here in Victoria, I can understand the frustrations of the Victorian community, especially given that our vaccination rates are struggling behind New South Wales and are likely to get to those thresholds earlier, because of the prioritised vaccines north of the border.

Updated

Professor Mark Stoove, the head of public health at the Burnet Institute of Medical Research which did the modelling for New South Wales, is on ABC News.

He’s asked whether NSW should wait til it gets to 85% double dose before coming out of lockdown. He says his general advice is to be “extremely cautious” in lifting restrictions at 70%.

For vaccination or being vaccinated, who are eligible, and I would certainly be basing the 70% more on people aged 12 plus, given what we are seeing in the number of cases among children and adolescents. The work that we have done for the New South Wales government and the Victorian government suggests that we want to have a light touch in lifting restrictions, essentially to prevent a significant increase in cases and possible hospitalisations. In terms of wholesale lockdown, I think that is something that we need to push towards much later, around Christmas, and certainly when vaccination rates are much higher than they are, much higher than 70 or 80%.

Asked if it is risky doing what NSW is doing, Stoove says there will be an increase in cases that will then flow on to pressures on the hospital system.

We are not privy to the information around how hospital systems are operating at the moment and the numbers involved, but as you lift restrictions while live viruses still alive in the community, you will see an increase in cases. Ideally you would ... try to get cases down as low as possible before significant increases in freedoms. And I understand exactly the pressures on the community in relation to the current restrictions and it is up to the governments to balance that against the risk of an increase in cases and hospitalisations.

Updated

WA records $5.6bn surplus

WA premier Mark McGowan says Western Australia’s hard border closures have been vindicated after banking a whopping $5.6bn, iron ore-fuelled budget surplus, AAP reports.

The state budget predicts a $2.8bn surplus this financial year to accompany the record 2020-21 outcome, with the finances tipped to remain in the black across the next four years.

Iron ore royalty revenue is expected to peak at an eye-watering $11.3bn this financial year, despite the price of the steelmaking commodity having plummeted by more than $US100 (A$136) per tonne in recent months.

Remarkably, the WA economy has grown 5.7% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic – a figure which suggests WA, based on OECD statistics, would be second only to China as the strongest-growing economy in the world.

McGowan, in his capacity as treasurer, on Thursday delivered little in the way of new promises, having already unveiled major health, housing and infrastructure commitments.

He confirmed the government would fast-track its review of a public sector wage freeze which has capped annual increases for teachers and bureaucrats at $1000 for the past four years.

A decision is expected early next year.

The $5.6bn surplus last financial year dwarfs the previous WA record of $2.6bn in 2005-06.

McGowan said it reflected his decision to use border closures to shield the state from major outbreaks while allowing the mining industry to continue operating.

“Western Australia is the strongest state in the nation, with the brightest future, and this budget will deliver for the future,” he said.

“This budget proves that by putting the health of Western Australians first, by keeping the state safe from Covid-19, we have delivered the best economic and social outcomes in Australia and possibly the world.”

The budget warns that a NSW-style coronavirus outbreak looms as a major risk to financial assumptions but reveals nothing about when WA will unwind border closures.

McGowan reiterated that WA would reopen to the rest of the nation once between 80 and 90% of West Australians were fully vaccinated.

“The real impact is if we have an outbreak ... what we want people to do is get vaccinated,” he said.

The premier predicted other state leaders would be “wildly angry” at WA’s economic success, warning he would fiercely resist any bid to unwind the GST revenue deal which guarantees WA a return of 70 cents to the dollar.

Economic growth is expected to slow next year as the iron ore price declines and international borders reopen, driving some consumer activity overseas.

Having avoided any large-scale coronavirus outbreaks, WA has recorded higher business and consumer confidence, building approvals and household spending than any other state.

A building boom, driven by state and federal stimulus, has caused labour shortages which forced the state to push back some infrastructure work.

With health unions blaming a lack of investment for chronic overcrowding and staff shortages at public hospitals, the government has promised to open 332 new beds as part of an additional $1.9bn health investment.

Other big commitments include an $875m plan to build 3300 new social homes and a $750m climate action fund.

A further $1bn will be allocated to WA’s management of Covid-19, supporting police and other frontline workers.

James Packer’s Crown Resorts paid more than $9.67m to executives who left the company during a year of inquiries that have put its lucrative casino licences at risk.

The group’s annual report, released on Thursday, shows that the extra termination payments swelled total executive pay from $14m in 2020 to $23m in 2021, even as the company plunged from a profit of $82m to a loss of $261m.

Former CEO Ken Barton trousered a termination payment of $3.35m, former head of Australian resorts Barry Felstead got $3.2m, and Todd Nisbet, who was executive vice president, strategy and development, got a little over $3.1m.

In its report Crown says it has already copped a belting from NSW’s Bergin inquiry, which in February found it was not a fit and proper person to run a new casino at Barangaroo but stopped short of recommending it lose the licence.

And there is more to come, with a royal commission in Victoria set to report on 15 October and one in WA due to hand down its findings in March next year.

In the annual report Crown says its regulatory risks are high: “The range of possible consequences is broad and could include (without limitation) remediation plans, changes to Crown’s current regulatory framework, or suspension, restriction or cancellation of Crown’s licences.”

It says it has a comprehensive plan underway to address its regulatory woes.

Updated

AMA calls on NSW to release modelling

The Australian Medical Association has called on the NSW government to provide more detail on the roadmap, including modelling of future case numbers and health system impact.

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said:

The Burnet modelling released by NSW recently was predicated on current restrictions remaining in place and did not include an assessment of what the changes announced today would mean for the health system.

The Burnet analysis shows that NSW is likely to ease restrictions at a time when there will still be more than 500 infections each day and with the health system under considerable stress. We already know it is beyond the capacity of the NSW health system to effectively trace contacts of many hundreds of cases a day.

NSW needs to release the modelling it has used to inform today’s changes to either reassure the community that infection numbers will continue to come down to manageable levels or give the community an honest assessment of their impact on the health system.

Khorshid said ICU capacity in October, November and December in NSW would be under enormous strain, according to the Burnet modelling, and the public needs to know that the changes won’t make projected peaks worse or last longer.

NSW is right to ease restrictions slowly and to limit changes to people who are fully vaccinated. However, the key problem facing NSW is that it is looking to ease restrictions when case numbers are liekly to be too high.

NSW should look to achieving a higher vaccination rate in order to reduce pressure on the NSW health system and ensure that NSW could open up in a sustainable way

Unfortunately, today’s plan appears to leave NSW at considerable risk of having to return to lockdowns.

Updated

Here is the University of Melbourne epidemiologist Prof Tony Blakely’s reaction to the NSW roadmap.

He notes some opening up might have to go back if cases surge beyond the threshold:

The NSW roadmap looks reasonable – we have to open up at some point, and this plan seems a reasonable plan.

However, a good plan does not mean it will work – especially with Covid-19! What will be required is very close monitoring of daily cases after (each) incremental opening up.

If the daily increase in numbers surges, and a forecast suggests the numbers will surge beyond whatever the threshold of daily cases that NSW is prepared to tolerate is (say 2,000, with 100 hospitalisations per day as a maximum), then some opening up will need to be reversed.

Second, vaccinated people can still get infected and transmit the virus. AstraZeneca has about 60 per cent effectiveness at stopping any infection, Pfizer 80 per cent (they are both much better at stopping serious illness and death). Assume an average of 70 per cent.

Then the chance of transmission in an environment is reduced by over 90 per cent if both people contacting each other are vaccinated, compared to two unvaccinated people contacting each other. (For the mathematically orientated, 1 – (1-70 per cent).(1-70 per cent) = 91 per cent reduction, and add on a bit more (how much is unknown) for the hopefully reduced infectivity of a vaccinated but still infected person.) So – yes – greater liberties for vaccinated people are justified, but we still need to be cautious (eg masks on, get tested if symptomatic, etc).

Updated

Here’s NSW opposition leader Chris Minns’ response to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

He has called for the people in west and south-western Sydney to be given clear and upfront criteria on the easing of restrictions, and for the curfew in the 12 LGAs of concern to be reviewed.

My statement on the release of today's roadmap.

We've finally got a plan to reopen, now we need a plan to rebuild. #nswpol #auspol pic.twitter.com/V1hkDuvOBA

— Chris Minns (@MinnsChris) September 9, 2021

Updated

Missed this earlier but South Australia records zero local cases, but two in hotel quarantine.

South Australian COVID-19 update 9/9/21. For more information, go to https://t.co/mYnZsGpayo or contact the South Australian COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787. pic.twitter.com/TU26KfRKV5

— SA Health (@SAHealth) September 9, 2021

I asked the Victorian Department of Health whether QR code check-in information had been accessed by police – it’s still not explicitly banned in Victorian law like it is in Western Australia – and the department says no data has been handed over:

QR code data is only used in the event of an outbreak to help contact tracers quickly identify exposure sites to run this virus to ground.

The data is encrypted, safe and only kept for a period of 28 days by Service Victoria. There have been no instances to date where QR code data has been disclosed to law enforcement.

Updated

The NSW business lobby has largely applauded the government’s roadmap out of the Covid-19 lockdown, with the prospect that many will be opening their doors next month, AAP reports.

“This roadmap is what the business community has been crying out for and I thank the NSW government for providing the path forward,” Business NSW’s Daniel Hunter said.

“Although we have all been through a very tough time, NSW is now leading the way in vaccinations, learning to live with Covid and reopening for business,” he said. “Some certainty for businesses will be a massive boost.”

The Australian Hotels Association NSW also welcomed the news.

“This is great news for pubs, our staff and our patrons,” the AHA NSW CEO, John Whelan, said.

“We’ve all had enough of existing like this. Let’s get vaccinated and get our lives back.”

There has been disappointment though from some sectors.

A limit of 50 guests will be allowed at funerals and weddings, with guests only able to eat and drink while seated.

The Restaurant & Catering Australia CEO, Wes Lambert, said the “harsh restrictions” would hurt wedding venues.

“While R&CA warmly welcomes today’s announcement that will genuinely reopen restaurants and cafes across the state with uncapped patrons both indoors and outdoors – to leave our sector on two different speeds just continues to hurt businesses,” he said.

Under the roadmap, domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will also be allowed.

That will see caravan parks and camping grounds reopen soon after the 70% ‘double dose’ milestone is reached.

“This is good news for our industry overall, including accommodation operators, staff and the wider community,” the Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Michael Johnson, said.

Updated

AAP has a bit on the four cases in court in NSW challenging the public health orders.

One is a police officer challenging the vaccine mandate for police, with two other challenges - by Al-Munir Kassam and Natasha Henry - attack other elements of vaccine mandates.

Common between all three cases is a claim that parliament would not have intended to give the health minister “the powers to breach bodily integrity” without clear legislative indication, the court was told.

The Henry and Kassam cases will also attempt to show the laws are for an improper purpose, breach privacy, breach natural justice and that the minister considered irrelevant matters when writing the laws.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard is defending each case and plans to tender statements from a deputy chief health officer in support of his public health orders.

More than 50,000 people watched the directions hearing on the court’s YouTube channel after the link was shared heavily on Telegram channels, including one for supporters of Senator Malcolm Roberts and another run by anti-lockdown Victorian campaigner Monica Smit.

Kassam’s barrister, Peter E King, proposed having the court of appeal answer three questions of law, as occurs in some insurance matters.

One goes to the validity of Hazzard’s orders in light of an express prohibition in the Australian constitution on the use of medical services powers “to authorise any form of civil conscription”.

But Justice Beech-Jones was unsatisfied answers would resolve the cases at hand.
The court also heard of a fourth case, brought by a self-represented plaintiff, Sergey Naumenko.

“There are so many problems with this case it’s difficult to know where to start,” Jeremy Kirk SC, for NSW, said.

“There is no named defendant, there is no articulated legal claim. Rather there are just sort of aspirational orders which to a significant extent are entirely misconceived such as, for example proposed order two - that the plaintiff and his immediate family be exempted from microchipping.”

NSW’s application to dismiss Naumenko’s case will be heard on September 30.

Updated

Australians are making themselves vulnerable to hackers even as governments and companies harden defences, AAP reports.

One in three Australians have had passwords hacked or compromised and one in four has fallen for a phishing attack designed to steal banking or credit card details, according to research released by Google Australia on Thursday.

The latest scam has enticed almost 10,000 Australians to click on a text message link about a parcel that’s supposedly due to arrive.

Instead, the link unleashes malware on both Android and iPhones that can steal bank and credit card information.

Few people are taking deliberate steps to protect themselves online, Google Australia spokesperson Samantha Yorke says.

“There’s been a huge focus on businesses falling victim to cyber attacks, but this data shows how frequently individuals have been caught in scams,” she said.

The research found almost one in five of those who have an identical password across all of their accounts also admits to sharing that password in a text or email to someone else.

Two in five have written their passwords down somewhere, and one third say they have written it down somewhere safe.

“Password manager tools are one of the easiest ways to protect yourself, which the research shows one in four Australians are using,” Yorke said.

When shopping online, almost half do not look for the “secure” padlock icon next to a website address.

Nearly one third don’t know that the symbol means there is a secure, encrypted connection for the transaction.

YouGov researchers surveyed more than 1500 Australian adults last month.

Updated

While there is certainly something to pull out from the presser about the reluctance of the prime minister to discuss the past, and specifically how and why past decisions were made by senior ministers, that will have to wait for another time.

Josh Taylor is back and so I’ll be handing back the controls.

Updated

The presser ends as it began, with a question about the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and what Australia is doing to help people looking to escape. Morrison repeats that 3,500 have been airlifted out of Afghanistan, with 2,500 of them women and children, before saying he will be talking to international leaders about next steps:

“It continues to be a matter of discussion between me and the British prime minister. And with the president of the United States when we spoke last week. No doubt they are things that will be taken up when I meet with him later this month. We’re very focused the task.”

With that the press conference ends...

Updated

After defending his government’s handling of the vaccine program, Morrison signals his support to his health minister:

“No one has put more effort into that task than the Minister for Health. No one has had more sleepless nights and lengthy hours than the Minister for Health in securing the best possible health outcome for every single Australian. Of course there’ll be critics in the middle of a crisis and be lots of hindsight heroes and others who say ‘This could have been done or that could have been done.’

“Hindsight heroes” appears to be the theme of this press conference with Morrison saying his government is “focussing on the future”.

Updated

There’s an exchange between the PM and a reporter about those Pfizer negotiations.

Reporter: Did you ever ask Pfizer, “Could we get more than 10 million doses?” What effort did you make to get more than 10 million?

Morrison: Every effort we could.

Reporter: In what way?

Morrison: No, I have answered the question.

Morrison is then asked about the wisdom of the government’s approach in hindsight and whether Hunt should have taken the meeting with senior Pfizer executives last year.

Updated

Morrison is now peppered with a series of questions about the handling of the pandemic and the situation involving health minister Greg Hunt. A question is asked about how the situation in Singapore compared to Australia’s experience.

“We went down the path of establishing a sovereign vaccine manufacturing capability which has seen more than 10 million doses of AZ vaccine into the arms of Australians and we’ve significantly underwritten that vaccination program. Our vaccination rates would be half what they were today were it not for our decision to put in place the sovereign manufacturing capability here in Australia for AstraZeneca.”

Updated

Morrison:

“Australia will partner with those developing economies to ensure the technology which will transform our own energy economy can transform theirs too and they will find us to be a very trustworthy partner.”

Asked specifically about the country’s support for coal, Morrison’s tone changes again.

“We will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market. Now, we obviously anticipate that over time world demand for these things may be declining...”

Morrison defends these exports by referencing developing economies and how they need Australian coal to grow.

Updated

After some more posturing directed at state premiers, calling upon them to “hold their nerve” a question is asked about climate change and recent news the British government gave up demands Australia make emissions cuts as part of its trade deal.

Morrison:

“Well, it was about trade. It wasn’t a climate agreement...”

Asked about whether Australia will “resist” signing up to a stricter emissions targets at the upcoming COP32 negotiations on climate change, Morrison starts by repeating the familiar line about how the country will “meet and beat” its targets.


Another question asks about WA premier Mark McGowan’s hesitation about opening the state’s border to the rest of the country. Morrison says the next step will “be hard”.

“The next stage will be hard. We’re about to see that in New South Wales and we’re about to see it in Victoria. As they ease up, both states know that hospitals will come under pressure, we’ll see case numbers rise and that will be challenging.”

Morrison’s message to WA:

“My advice to Western Australia is get vaccinated and get ready, get your hospital system ready, get your health system ready and push through and we can all reconnect and be one again.”

Updated

Morrison says Pfizer's 'focus was not on Australia' in mid-2020

On the issue of dealings with Pfizer specifically:

“... yes, those engagements had started before then. And those discussions were already underway but it was very clear from those discussions that the focus was not on Australia, the focus was on where people were dying in their thousands, tens of thousands, in the northern hemisphere. And it was very clear to us that what we would have to do is ensure that we had a home-manufactured vaccine.”

Updated

After spruiking the NSW plan to reopen, Morrison opens up to questions. The first off the block is a question about how Greg Hunt handled his negotiations with Pfizer’s global executives - beginning his answer with a familiar refrain:

“Well, I don’t accept the premise of the later part of your question...”

After discussing vaccine deliveries to other countries, Morrison says:

“I think there are a lot of heroes of hindsight at the moment out there, but when you actually look at the achievements of the program and the challenges that we faced and how we’ve overcome them, and where we are now and more importantly where we’re getting to, then the way we’ve been able to proceed with the program has put us in a place right now where I think Australians can look forward to the balance of the year a lot more optimistically.”

Updated

Morrison says two out of three Australians across the country have had their first dose, before changing tone and cadence as he speaks about the New South Wales plan to reopen.

This plan keeps the deal, keeps the faith, with the people of Australia and the people of New South Wales set out in the national plan. This plan supports the initiatives that are there, being driven by the safe process of opening underwritten by the Doherty modelling and supported by the national plan. It is a careful and a safe plan and consistent with everything set out in the national plan, and I commend the New South Wales government for following through.

Updated

After thanking the ADF and the Department of Home Affairs for their effort on the evacuation, Morrison turns to the pandemic saying that the country is now “past the halfway mark” with 40% of people over 16 having received their second vaccine dose.

Updated

Morrison begins press conference by reminding people it's R U OK? Day

And we’re with prime minister Scott Morrison kicking off by reminding people it is RU OK? Day before announcing that evacuations from Afghanistan have been completed overnight. Morrison says more than 300 people have been evacuated over the entire operation.

Updated

Hello! The presser is just about to start as I get situated here...

I’m going to hand over to my colleague Royce Kurmelovs now just before the PM starts talking.

An update on another story I did this week regarding those Craig Kelly text messages everyone has been getting.

We know that under the current legislative situation, there’s nothing preventing political parties like the United Australia Party from sending out those text messages, and people cannot unsubscribe from them.

However, I’ve been asking around and it seems it’s not entirely clear whether the telcos have to actually deliver them. Telstra, for example, already blocks scam messages by identifying common URLs sent in those messages and blocking them from reaching customers.

Each of Kelly’s text messages had a link in them, so it would be easy to block. Can they do it? Telstra told me it had no power to block messages from political parties, but when I asked the Australian Communications and Media Authority about it, the answer seems a lot less clear cut.

A spokesperson said:

The carriage of messages is generally a commercial matter for telecommunications providers, except in circumstances where there may be offences against the laws of the commonwealth or states or territories.

Both the Telecommunications Act 1997 and Spam Act 2003 contain provisions about implied freedom of political communications. These provisions set out that the acts or parts of them do not apply to the extent they would infringe on any constitutional doctrine of implied freedom of political communication.

I’m not a lawyer, but my reading of both of those pieces of legislation don’t seem to cover whether someone has to actually receive the text message.

Updated

There’s a press conference with the PM at 1.40pm AEST.

Just quickly going to jump in and update on this story I did last night on the illegal gathering near a Ripponlea synagogue to mark the Jewish New Year. I received a statement from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria on the matter once they were able to respond.

JCCV president Daniel Aghion said:

Within the Jewish community, the JCCV has a campaign ‘staying apart keeps us together’. This included a video which was distributed last Friday as part of our regular weekly email to the community.

The council released an earlier statement urging people to stay home, follow the rules, and only celebrate the holidays with those they already live with.

Aghion:

The actions of a few do not represent the vast majority of our community who have celebrated Rosh Hashanah at home only with the people with whom they live, and just like the wider community, continue to follow the rules.

It is central to the Jewish religion that lives are to be protected, and that the law of the country must be complied with. The individuals who gathered together ignored those basic Jewish principles, and we condemn them for their selfish and unlawful conduct.

Our sympathies are with the cameraman who was injured, and we wish him a speedy recovery. We also thank Victoria Police for their excellent work in protecting the Victorian community in what must have been a difficult situation for the police.

Updated

Victorian press conference

Health minister Martin Foley, Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar and deputy chief health officer prof Ben Cowie have finished speaking in Melbourne.

A bit of mopping up: Foley was told by a reporter that “Victorians are hungry for dates” and I must admit my first thought went to the dates in my pantry. But what the reporter meant was that the state had not given clear details about what could change when the state hit a 70% first dose vaccination rate.

Foley didn’t really give much:

The more we get vaccinated the sooner we get there, when we set that benchmark, it looks like the 23 September, there is every prospect we will get there earlier. And that’s a great reflection on the fact that Victorians want to get vaccinated.

What is holding us back sometimes is a lack of vaccine and disproportionate underrepresentation of primary healthcare and GPs and pharmacies being the locations to get vaccinated. The more vaccines we get, the more locations we have that people can get vaccinated, the sooner we will get to 70% single dose, the sooner we will get to 70% double dose.

80% double dose, that will give us even more opportunities, to roll out what the Victorian version of the national plan looks like.

When pressed on whether providing details about what could change at 70% could be an incentive, Foley responded:

Victorians aren’t that hesitant, increasingly, they are wanting to look for vaccines ... there might be an element of incentivising people to come forward and do things, but, equally, the measures that have been announced, regarding freeing up international travel, the measures announced about ... you can re-engage in commercial life, and social life, and cultural life, all of these things form part of the real incentive, to get out there and get vaccinated.

More fundamentally, the motivation of looking after yourself and your family and protecting those you love, given the increasing levels of infection in the community, that’s the most important incentive, to go out there and get vaccinated.

Cowie was asked an interesting question about the outbreak in Melbourne’s north and how it compared to the situation in Sydney’s south-west.

He said:

There are certainly features in common. Generally, a younger population, so, people who have not been previously eligible for vaccination. Under the sort of national rollout, which understandably and necessarily prioritised older people. Also a significant proportion of people who are essential workers, so as a consequence, are moving around. And participating in the economy. That puts them at greater risk of exposure so Covid-19 compared to someone who is able to work from home.

There are also, as has been referred to previously, in some circumstances, particularly amongst cases we’re seeing, larger household sizes. So, if there’s one person who ... gets Covid, that consequently exposes a larger number. There’s crucial, social [reasons], in terms of housing size, that relates to a lot of that.

Because the initial general practice rollout of vaccine was weighted towards areas where a greater proportion of the population were aged over 60 or 70 years, that does mean there’s less general practices involved in vaccine rollout in younger areas of Melbourne, such as the north and west.

Reflecting what minister Foley was saying, we urgently need to get more general practices involved and more doses into general practices into those regions, because we do hear very strongly from community, many of them want to discuss their vaccination with their trusted GP, and they want that practice to be the place where they get vaccinated.

Updated

The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, has rejected the use of vaccine passports or facilitating a requirement to be vaccinated to enter venues via use of QR codes on the Check-In CBR app.

Barr told reporters in Canberra that at national cabinet meetings he had expressed a range of objections: technical, on policy grounds, and philosophical.

Digital services ministers are undertaking a “design sprint” to work up a solution, in two separate streams: one for states where the apps are used to confirm the users’ identity (NSW, Victoria and South Australia); and the rest.

Barr said it was “yet to be finalised” if the Check-In CBR app will be modified to allow people to download their commonwealth vaccination certificate from the MyGov or Medicare app. Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory use the same source code - so where the ACT goes they may follow.

But will we use them in the ACT as a matter of policy? Barr indicated no - because it is “a solution looking for a problem”. The ACT has “no issue” with our vaccination rates, so we don’t need to incentivise people to be vaccinated when supply is the only constraint.

He said:

We don’t need the QR code and vaccine passport to drive up vaccination rates. It’s not an issue in the ACT. I understand it might be in other jurisdictions and they might pursue it.

The other reason to do it is to give vaccinated people freedoms before others. Barr said there was no point doing this in the ACT, when it would take a matter of just five days to catch up and give partially vaccinated people their second dose.

Barr said there were “human rights issues” in refusing services to unvaccinated people, and ruled out doing that for public services. He said businesses might insist on seeing that customers have been vaccinated, but ACT Health will not be enforcing that.

Updated

Victorian press conference

From 24 September, all freight and healthcare workers entering Victoria under specified multiple entry work permits will have to have had at least one vaccination dose.

Health minister Martin Foley said this was due to the risk posed by the movement of the virus across New South Wales.

Foley said:

We understand that all industries want to have, especially critical industries like freight and logistics, want to have and need to have access across all the state jurisdiction boundaries but it needs to be done safely and in a sustainable way.

As we have seen, the area that Sydney and NSW is has high levels of transmission, and we have seen it in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and several cases in Victoria, where, unfortunately, those interstate truck movements, have all had chains of transmission traced back to largely south-west Sydney.

We need to make sure that as we support those important logistics and freight industries to continue to operate, they feed us and keep us clothed and they are critical industries, it has to be done safely ... we think that is a sensible additional tool in our public health toolkit, but one that will also keep that industry safe and operating.

Updated

Victorian press conference

Health minister Martin Foley says the federal government’s handling of an approach by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer last year was disappointing, but can’t be undone.

Pfizer asked for a meeting with the federal health minister Greg Hunt last June offering “millions of doses” of its coveted Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, documents released under freedom of information show.

But the correspondence between the company and the federal health department showed a department first assistant secretary, Lisa Schofield, offered to meet company representatives instead.

A meeting did not occur until August and an order was not placed with Pfizer until November.

Foley said he would have loved to have had Pfizer doses quicker, just as he would like to have lotto numbers before the draw:

Many Australians were surprised to see the material released yesterday. Clearly, what has happened can’t be undone. This is a race. It was always a race. The fact, it would appear, that a leading mRNA vaccine provider put forward a proposition, that wasn’t accepted by government, I guess is disappointing.

We can’t undo what has been done. What we can do is get our hands on as much vaccinations, that we are entitled to, and get them into the arms of Victorians as quickly as we can. As safely as we can and deliver on our version of the national plan. Very very soon. That is the goal.

There are particular focuses and particular risks in those areas in the north and west that are under the state average on the vaccines and that is played out with infections, those vaccines if we had have had them and been in the arms of people in the north and west by now, who knows where we might be.

You know, I wish we had them, I wish I had the lotto numbers from last week, I don’t, we just have to get on and deal with what we have got and get those vaccines into people’s arms, get people tested, support communities in the best possible way we can and deliver on our version of the national plan as soon as we can.

Updated

With that, I shall leave you in the safe hands of the wonderful Josh Taylor.

I’m not on deck tomorrow but I will see you all bright and early next Monday!

Details on ACT's path out of lockdown to be announced Tuesday

ACT’s chief minister Andrew Barr says the territory will gradually ease restrictions as vaccination rates rise. He says more details will be released next Tuesday.

In the simplest possible terms, the next eight weeks are a race to get as many people fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.

As our vaccination rates increase, it is the [ACT] government’s intention to make gradual steps forward to manage our current outbreak.

So, we will be able to ease public health restrictions as our vaccination rate increases. The clear advice is that we will need to maintain many public health measures for the weeks ahead.

We will outline the next steps on Tuesday of next week.

Updated

Victorian press conference:

Health minister Martin Foley is being asked about the increase in case numbers. It has been eight days since premier Daniel Andrews said there had been a fundamental shift in the health advice, and the state was no longer aiming for zero cases.

But the leap in cases is jarring, and reporters asked Foley whether the health system could cope.

Foley:

I’m concerned every day when the numbers go up. But we know they’re projected to go up. That’s why the concern has to be translated into programs of support. Programs of setting up the effective wards, of scaling up the ICU units, and breaking out of storage the 4,000 ventilators that we have in the system.

Most importantly of all, I’m concerned about our workforce in those areas. Intensive care specialists do not grow on trees. They have been working over the last 18, 20 months now, incredible hours, as indeed our whole healthcare professionals and healthcare workforce have. They are tired and they are still committed to getting through this process.

The best thing we can do to support them in that projected increase is to keep that projected increase as low as possible, but also to have the best support, the best systems, and the safest systems that make sure that they can do their job safely.

Australia’s one-off men’s Test match against Afghanistan, scheduled to start in Hobart on 27 November, will be cancelled if the Taliban does not support women’s cricket, Cricket Australia has said.

In a statement released on Thursday the sport’s national governing body said:

Driving the growth of women’s cricket globally is incredibly important to Cricket Australia. Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level ...

If recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test match due to be played in Hobart.

Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, told SBS on Wednesday that women will be banned from playing sport. “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this,” Wasiq said.

Updated

Victorian press conference:

Health minister Martin Foley is again asked about the latest battle in the vax wars: that NSW were given more Pfizer doses than Victoria realised when the federal government quietly brought more GP clinics online.

He says:

General Frewen and the commonwealth essentially laid this issue to rest yesterday with a recognition that particularly through the GP network that Sydney had - New South Wales - but particularly Sydney - had a larger amount of GPs come on to the services, to deliver vaccines, and as a result, had a disproportionate allocation of available vaccines. It’s happened ...

Reporter: You didn’t know that before this week? How did you ... How did you rationalise the increase?

Foley:

Our public health teams and our data people follow the distribution and engage with the commonwealth. Asked a few questions. And got a few answers. So, now that’s been rectified, it’s time to move on.

Foley is also asked about the plans announced in New South Wales shortly before his press conference to open up the state.

He said:

I haven’t had the chance to be briefed. But in terms of what our public health team are doing and advising and how all of our engagement across business, civic society, community groups, clearly we’re all signed up to the national plan. The national plan talks about some measures being able to be taken when we hit 70% double dose, 16 and above at fully vaccinated and then further measures at 80%.

Our approach, and I assume New South Wales’s approach, has always been to take the public health advice as to where we’re at when any particular set of measures can be taken.

Updated

And here is the much choppier one from the ACT:

ACT case number bar graph

Josh Nicholas is here with the NSW case graph:

NSW case number bar graph

ACT press conference update

The ACT is on the precipice of having half of its population aged 16 and older fully vaccinated, as Canberra records another 15 coronavirus infections, reports Georgie Moore, from AAP.

All but two of Thursday’s locally acquired cases are linked and at least eight had been in the community for some of the time while infectious.

Chief minister Andrew Barr says the ACT will reach 50 per cent full vaccination coverage for residents aged 16 and over in the next 24 hours.

In the simplest possible terms, the next eight weeks is a race to get as many people fully vaccinated as quickly as possible...

As our vaccination rates increase, it is the government’s intention to make gradual steps forward to manage our current outbreak so that we will be able to ease public health restrictions.

The next steps will be outlined on Tuesday.

Canberra’s lockdown is currently scheduled to run until Friday, September 24.

There are 227 cases active in the ACT and nine patients in hospital, two in intensive care including one person on a ventilator.

NSW truck drivers must soon have at least one vaccine dose to enter Vic

Victoria is once again tightening the northern border, from 23 September requiring truck drivers and healthcare workers entering the state to have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Health minister Martin Foley:

Due to the risks that continue to be posed by the movement of the virus across New South Wales, and what that poses to a number of states including Victoria, we are further tightening the border requirement restrictions as they apply to specified worker groups for multiple-entry permits.

As of 23 September, freight and healthcare workers entering Victoria under those specified multiple entry work permits must have had at least one vaccination dose before entering Victoria.

The evidence from the documentation of the first dose of the Covid-19 digital certificate will be one of the preferred methods.

Updated

ACT COVID-19 update (9 September 2021)
◼️New cases today: 15
◼️Active cases: 227
◼️Total recovered cases: 212
◼️Total cases: 439
◼️Negative test results (past 24 hours): 3,324
◼️In hospital: 9
COVID-19 vaccinations in the ACT: 73.3% received first dose, 49.4% received second dose pic.twitter.com/ZtjyZJUdvs

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 9, 2021

Jeroen Weimar, the Victorian Covid-19 response commander, says that half of the state’s active cases are in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and a third are in the city’s west.

Of the 324 new cases recorded today, 195 were in Melbourne’s north and 102 in the west.

Weimar is pleased that two positive cases in aged care facilities appear to have been contained but is concerned about growing clusters at construction sites.

He says an analysis of exposure sites makes clear that workplaces, supermarkets or food retail premises, and smaller community retail centres continue to be a risk.

Weimar said:

That person next to you at the grocery aisle may be positive and not show any symptoms, but we are seeing transmission in that environment, the people you are talking to in your local neighbourhood store could have been exposed, protect yourself and protect them from you and you from them.

With workplaces I encourage everyone to adopt those safe practices so we can stop this thing.

Updated

Over to Victoria now:

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar: “We're now in an environment where there is widespread community transmission, the person next to you at the grocery aisle may be positive and they may not know it, they may not be showing any symptoms, but we're seeing transmission”.

— Benita Kolovos (@benitakolovos) September 9, 2021

Hmmm, no one in that press conference asked about the disparity in Pfizer jabs NSW has been receiving.

Bummer!

Reporters are trying to pin Chant down on whether she was uncomfortable about the number of freedoms granted at 70% vaccination ... but she manages to talk her way around the question.

Reporter:

Dr Chant, just a couple of days ago, you did raise the issue of two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, et cetera. So, now you’re not factoring that into this 70%?... And follow-up question as well: Is it true you did advise or push to cabinet that you’d prefer 85% rather than 70% as the threshold?

Chant:

Look, let me just refrain. I’m really very excited by the way that the community is embracing immunisation. We’ll get to 80% by Monday or Tuesday, and you can hold me to that ... I do not think we are going to get vaccine hesitancy until a high level.

I think people understand how significant Covid is and the fact that the vaccines are safe and effective and will embrace them. I’m very pleased that we’ve got access now to vaccination for our 12 to 15-year-olds, which will be coming on board around the middle of September, and access points through general practice.

And we’ve also enabled our pharmacists to vaccinate down to 12-year-olds with the Moderna vaccine when that comes through. So, the community will have the ability to get those 12-to 15-year-olds vaccinated.

And so all of that gives me a degree of confidence. But the community has to also do these next hard yards. These next hard yards of the four weeks is going to be tough.

I know you’ve been in lockdown and, you know, you’re starting to see the sun shine and those rays of hope. Please do not take risks while we’re in this period.

We do not need any super-spreading events. We do not need any seeding in the regions. We just do not need anything else as we work to drive the case numbers down and leverage our response off the back of the vaccine uptake that we’ve seen.

Well, that ... certainly wasn’t an answer. It wasn’t a denial either by the way.

Updated

Victorian press conference begins

Victorian press conference:

Health minister Martin Foley is speaking with Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar and deputy chief health officer prof Ben Cowie in Melbourne.

There were 324 new cases in the state, the highest recorded this year, but a record daily number of doses of vaccine were also delivered at state clinics.

Foley says a trial of less invasive testing is being run by the Royal Children’s hospital for children aged four to 18.

There are 317 active cases in children aged under 10.

Foley said:

It’s a much less invasive but equally accurate test ... a controlled device that the child themselves use, that sits at the base of their nose, and collects any virus particles for testing.

It comes in a range of designs and applications that can also hopefully make the process a whole lot less stressful for the kids.

That trial will run over the next couple of weeks and is aimed at young people between the ages of four and 18, and will further add to the armoury of the public health team in making sure that testing and support for kids is at the heart of our public health response.

A signwriter paints a message on the side of a building in Melbourne
A signwriter paints a message on the side of a building in Melbourne Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

The ACT records 15 new local Covid-19 cases

Here are the ACT numbers for today. Fifteen local cases with of those 13 linked.

Unfortunately only five were isolating for their entire infectious period and at least eight were in the community.

ACT Covid update: 15 new cases, 13 linked, 2 under investigation. 5 in quaro the whole infectious period, at least 8 in the community.
9 hospitalised and 2 in ICU 1 on ventilation#auspol #COVID19Aus

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) September 9, 2021

Updated

Deputy premier John Barilaro has confirmed schools in the regional areas coming out of lockdown will reopen next week, despite only having one week left of term three.

Yes, schools will return, and they return at a level three Covid plan within schools, which means no extracurricular activities, no assemblies, there’s a range of mask-wearing provisions.

The education minister, Sarah Mitchell, has detailed that before and will probably have more to say about that. Schools will return, even if it’s just for one week. We know the benefit of kids returning to school.

Then he turns to travel between the lockdown free regions of NSW:

My message to regional and rural New South Wales is simple. If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel.

And remember this: if you’re in an area that’s today been lifted from restrictions and from lockdown, and you enter an area that is in lockdown, those stay-at-home orders then apply to you when you return home. So, for 14 days, those stay-at-home orders will apply. No different to if you come to Sydney now, those stay-at-home orders will apply.

So, my message to the regions is limit travel, limit mobility. We still have risk. There’s no plan that has no risk.

Updated

There has been a little bit of (unconfirmed) chatter that chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, might not be totally jazzed about all of the roadmap’s freedoms.

We really don’t know how true this is, but the reporters seems to be investigating.

Reporter:

Dr Chant, you’re comfortable with the pubs and gyms opening at a 70% mark? You’re comfortable with that?

Chant:

Look, as I said, I think the road map gives certainty to businesses about what it looks like. I think the premier has been very clear that this is all contingent on us getting case numbers down and getting control, and that we can have the opportunity to actually do things locally that may respond to outbreaks.

We would expect that we are seeing case numbers decline at a certain point. That’s what the modelling suggests, but that requires everyone to follow the stay-at-home rules and to get vaccinated. And the more vaccine we have in arms, the quicker we will see that decline, and the more people obeying the public health orders, the quicker that decline.

The Anytime Fitness gym is seen in Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches
The Anytime Fitness gym is seen in Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

She seems a little less convinced that future lockdown will only limit geographical movements, suggesting traditional lockdowns are still on the cards.

Now obviously we are very pleased to give some certainty to the community. But I think what the premier here has clearly said is if there are local outbreaks, local circumstances, there will be public health measures we may recommend based on our understanding of the circumstances of how transmission is occurring. They will be tailored to those settings.

So, they may not be geographical, there may be other strategies. So that is open to us to provide those recommendations.

Updated

The road map doesn’t specifically mention the curfews in place in the 12 LGA’s of concern, but the premier has left the door open for them to be lifted at 70% vaccination or even earlier.

OK, more on the potential for geographically specific lockdowns in the future, which seems to be much more focused on restricting where people can travel than stopping movement inside those outbreak areas.

Berejiklian:

At the moment, if you are 70% vaccinated, assuming all other things equal, there’s no outbreaks or high case numbers in a particular area, 70% vaccination allows you to move around anywhere in the state, so long as where you go, everybody else is vaccinated.

But we cannot afford to have that continue if there’s a major outbreak in a particular area. If there’s a rural town that suddenly has an outbreak of cases, we will say to people, ‘don’t go to that town’. And everybody in that town shouldn’t leave their town, but they can do what they’re allowed to do with 70% double dose in that town.

Similarly, it might be part of greater Sydney, it may be an LGA, it could be a suburb or it could be a couple of LGAs. If there’s high numbers of cases and a concern about an outbreak, and the vaccination rates aren’t as comfortable at a level we would like, Dr Chant is at liberty to say to the government, ‘People in this community, even if they’re 70% double vaccinated, they can go to the hairdresser and do this and that, but they might be limited only to a radius outside their home, or within that area.’

Updated

NSW premier says case numbers will rise after roadmap takes affect

Gladys Berejiklian says she expects that the new freedoms given to residents when the 70% vaccination rate is reached will result in an increased number of cases.

We’re not suggesting case numbers are going to go down at all during this period. When you reopen, you expect an increase in case numbers.

But if it’s in the vaccinated population, our health system won’t be troubled by that.

But if it’s in the unvaccinated population, that’s when Health will give us advice to ease back and perhaps require people to go out, eat out locally as opposed to having the freedom to move around the state.

Updated

OK so here is how this whole “only vaccinated people in the pubs” is going to go.

Berejiklian:

It is easier to police venues because all retail outlets and other places of hospitality require QR codes. That is why we have been speaking about the vaccine passport and the QR code system.

If you want to go and buy something which is regarded as a non-essential shop, you will put up the QR code and if it is not a green light saying you have been vaccinated, you won’t be welcome inside.

We are giving venues plenty of notice and businesses plenty of notice, they can prepare for what that looks like. There are still other issues we are working through.

If there are opportunities for us, for mental health and other purposes to look at other things that we can ease before then, based on the health advice, we will do that. This is really for double dose vaccinated people who can enjoy the, what we call regulated, facilities.

A QR code information form is seen placed on a closed door of a store on High Street in Penrith
A QR code information form is seen placed on a closed door of a store on High Street in Penrith Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Updated

OK so exactly what unvaccinated children can and can’t do when the roadmap comes in to effect is a little confusing, but a reporter has got clarity on at least one issue.

Reporter:

Two parents, with a child, for example, aged 15, who doesn’t have a vaccination, can [that family] have five guests over?

Berejiklian:

So long as everyone 16 and over is vaccinated that is OK.

The key measure for us, the key benchmark which the Doherty report says, is 16 and over.

Updated

Glady’s Berejiklian says she doesn’t expect other states to swing open their borders once NSW reaches the 70% vaccinated milestone.

It is important to note that we will hit, in all likelihood, 70% double dose ahead of other states*. I don’t expect other states to open their borders to us at that time because other states will be catching up to get their vaccination rates at 70% double dose.

The plan says that the nation has to reach that amount before any consideration is given to internal borders.

I have every confidence that by the time New South Wales gets to 80% double dose and I don’t think too many states will be too far behind, that we will then, at that stage, not having any internal borders in Australia** and our eye will be towards international travel as well. I want to make that point clear. I don’t want anyone to think all the states will open their borders to us at 70% double dose. We can relieve the pressure on our citizens because we have maintained the vaccination rates.

*See TikTok for why.

**I think Tasmania and WA might disagree with this statement.

Updated

But it looks like this roadmap does not guarantee the 12 LGA’s of concern in Syndey’s west will win back freedoms at the same pace as the rest of the state.

Reporter:

Are we guaranteeing that the 12 LGAs of concern will get the same freedoms that the rest of the state gets?

NSW treasuer Dominic Perrottet:

What we have said, and as the premier has pointed out in the national plan, that there may be times, as we move forward, where there are high case numbers that there would be targeted restrictions in place. This is a statewide road map. This is for everyone right across New South Wales, wherever you work or live, that this is the plan to take us forward as we move through the year.

Updated

So for the most part all of these new freedoms only apply to vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions.

But there are some exceptions for unvaccinated people under 16:

Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.

The roadmap may also change the way NSW isolates close contacts:

Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.

There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.

NSW roadmap details:

Masks:

  • Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
  • Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
  • Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.

NSW roadmap details:

Travel:

  • Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
  • Carpooling will be permitted.

NSW roadmap details:

Weddings, funerals and places of worship:

  • Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
  • Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
  • Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.

NSW roadmap details:

Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities:

  • Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
  • Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
  • Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75% fixed seated capacity.

Updated

Roadmap details:

Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms:

  • Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
  • Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
  • Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
  • Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
  • Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.

OK, more roadmap details, from the NSW Health release:

Gatherings in the home and public spaces:

  • Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
  • Up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.

Updated

OK and here are the details for lifting restrictions in much of regional NSW.

Parts of regional NSW currently deemed low risk and which have seen zero COVID cases for at least 14 days will emerge from lockdown at 12:01am Saturday, 11 September, but will continue to operate under restrictions to ensure the safety of regional communities. pic.twitter.com/NGpCzJ5geo

— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) September 9, 2021

Updated

OK! Here is the road map.

The main takeaways are, after 70% double dosed goal is reached in NSW, vaccinated people can:

  • Have five visitors at home.
  • Shops will open with density limits.
  • Gyms will open with up to 20 people only.

Roadmap to Freedom released #covid pic.twitter.com/QR9jYAedML

— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) September 9, 2021

Updated

A "vast amount of regional NSW" to open this week

Deputy premier John Barilaro is up announcing a “vast amount” of regional NSW opening.

But significant restrictions will remain in place and one case will send that community back into lockdown for 14 days.

For regional and rural New South Wales today, vast amounts of the regions will open. Mid-north coast, the north coast, north-west, Albury, to Riverina and Murrumbidgee areas and parts of regional New South Wales. The southern parts, south-east, the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Hunter, central coast, out to the central west and parts of the far west won’t open today ...

For the areas coming out of lockdown, you are not coming back to a pre-lockdown environment. There will be capacity limits for our hotels, cafes and restaurants, including the four-square-metre rule, mask-wearing, social distancing. There is rules around certain activities that won’t recommence. Community sport won’t be permitted yet. The opportunity to get back to retail shopping, back to work, back to enjoying time with family and friends. It is still a restricted environment ...

It is important that we protect the communities. One case is one case too many in the regions. It is no different to how we started this in the regions. When Orange had its first case we went into lockdown. When Armidale had its first case we went into lockdown. We will apply the same logic.

The Town Green in Port Macquarie, NSW
The Town Green in Port Macquarie, NSW Photograph: Nathan Edwards/AAP

Updated

Chant:

In terms of the risk, we are seeing the case numbers continue in those areas that we have previously talked about. That Cumberland LGA, that Canterbury Bankstown LGA, Liverpool, but what we are also seeing is the fact that we are seeing an upswing in cases in the inner west, Glebe, Waterloo. A call out to the communities in those areas, you may not have perceived yourself at risk, so please get tested if you have the most minimal of symptoms.

NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, is giving details on today’s five Covid-19 fatalities.

We have a gentleman in his 80s from north-western Sydney, died at Nepean hospital. He was a resident of the aged care facility in Penrith. This was the first death associated with this outbreak. He had received two doses of the Covid vaccine but had serious underlying health conditions.

There was a woman in her 70s from western Sydney died at Ryde hospital. She wasn’t vaccinated. Also had serious underlying health conditions.

A woman in her 70s from western Sydney died at Concord hospital. She wasn’t vaccinated and also had underlying health conditions.

A man in his 80s from Sydney local health district died at Westmead hospital. Again this gentleman was not vaccinated and had serious underlying health conditions.

A woman in her 40s from south-western Sydney died at Liverpool hospital, again she was not vaccinated and had serious underlying health conditions.

Updated

The NSW premier has confirmed some regional areas of NSW will come out of lockdown early but leaves it to the deputy premier to make the announcement.

Berejiklian:

Also today, the New South Wales Government is announcing that parts of regional New South Wales will come out of lockdown. The deputy premier will go into further detail to outline what that means.

Which parts of the community will be out of lockdown and obviously those parts of the New South Wales communities that come out of lockdown on Saturday will still have restrictions placed on them to make sure we limit the spread of disease in our regional communities.

Updated

NSW students will return to school on 25 October, Berejiklian says:

In relation to schools, we always had to choose a fixed date.

Unlike other venues and adult activity, it is really important for school communities, for students and teachers to have a fixed date they open to provide certainty.

That is why we nominated 25 October.

NSW freedoms come into effect the Monday after 70% over-16 vaccination is achieved

Berejiklian:

There isn’t a specific date. We will get to 70% double dose when people get their second dose, when people come forward to get vaccinated and these freedoms will come into place the Monday after that occurs. We don’t want to put a specific date on that.

The premier says the roadmap, at least at the 70% vaccination level, does not mean the end of lockdowns.

Berejiklian:

I also want to stress that at this stage the roadmap that any person who is 70%, double dose vaccinated, is able to participate in the freedoms that come forward from that time.

However, at any stage... if there’s a concentration of disease in any suburb or local government area or a constant outbreak, that wasn’t anticipated, health [department] can restrict movement and give advice to [enforce restrictions], if it is going to put too much pressure on our hospital system.

A member of the public passes the Anzac Bridge at sunrise in Glebe, Sydney
A member of the public passes the Anzac Bridge at sunrise in Glebe, Sydney Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Updated

Berejiklian has confirmed that the roadmap will only grant freedoms to those who are vaccinated, and stresses that the state isn’t out of the woods yet.

NSW records 1,405 local Covid-19 cases and five deaths.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now. She is about to announce the roadmap to freedom, but first, she has confirmed the state recorded local 1,405 Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Sadly five people infected with Covid have died.

NSW vaccination order challenges to be heard 30 September/1 October

The New South Wales supreme court has held a directions hearing into three challenges against NSW public health orders, including one brought by Belinda Hocroft, a police officer challenging the requirement for police in the LGAs of concern to be vaccinated.

It was the equivalent of a packed courtroom – with more than 50,000 people watching a YouTube live stream of proceedings, due to a high degree of interest among anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination groups.

The court has not yet released the summonses so we don’t have the detail of each claim. But in the directions hearing counsel for the plaintiffs agreed there was a degree of overlap in that all three cases challenge the health minister Brad Hazzard’s powers to make orders under section 7 of the Public Health Act.

Hocroft’s case is confined to that point because she wants a speedy hearing and to go back to work before the order takes effect on 30 September. The case brought by Al-Munir Kassam is much broader and will include constitutional arguments, potentially roping the commonwealth into the case; while Natasha Henry wants to argue the minister had an “improper purpose” in making the orders.

The Henry case will also involve evidence from two international experts to address the “safety and efficacy of vaccines, and ultimately the reasonableness of compulsory vaccinations”, her counsel revealed.

In the end, Justice Robert Beech-Jones decided to hear all the cases together on 30 September and 1 October.

A fourth case involves an unrepresented litigant, Sergey Naumenko, who asked for summary judgment in his favour and to be exempted from public health orders.

Jeremy Kirk, who is representing Hazzard in all four cases, argued this case should be summarily dismissed. He said the case had “no named defendant”, hadn’t identified a legal basis for the challenge and had asked for “aspirational” orders including that the plaintiff and his family be “exempt from microchipping”. Oh dear.

That case will be dealt with along with others, for a blockbuster hearing that could continue over the long weekend into Tuesday 5 October.

Updated

By the way, we are also expecting to hear from Victorian leaders at 11.30am (AEST).

The NSW press conference will likely still be kicking along but I will try to still get you the big updates coming out of Melbourne.

We are just standing by now for the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian to stand up for her daily Covid-19 press conference.

Stay tuned. Details on the freedom roadmap coming.

This now comes with ya Woolies order. Good on ya @woolworths pic.twitter.com/RpE3nTfJDd

— Marc Fennell (@MarcFennell) September 9, 2021

Albanese:

The real contrast here is between the Australian people, who’ve made sacrifices, who have looked after each other and showed magnificent resilience during this pandemic and a government that always blames someone else, always has excuses, is always full of hubris in the beginning and when it all goes wrong, says it has nothing to do with them.

They were responsible for the supply of vaccines and the truth is, we have been last in the developed world when it comes to making sure that our vaccination rates were at a point whereby we weren’t suffering from the lockdowns that Australians are currently enduring.

What these emails show is that this is Scott Morrison’s lockdown. It is a direct consequence of a failure to secure supply and that would be bad enough, except for the fact that here you have in black and white, companies offering supply and the government ignoring those offers.

Updated

Here is the opposition leader Anthony Albanese on the Pfizer email controversy:

This time last year, the prime minister was saying we’re at the front of the queue. They were his words. He wasn’t saying “We’re last because other countries have had different impact of Covid”. he was saying we were first.

The truth is, you can’t say that and at the same time say that “It’s OK that we were last because of our geography” and a range of other factors and the sacrifices made by Australians who have been magnificent during this pandemic.

Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanes.
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Updated

The Queensland premier says she will wait and see what the NSW roadmap to freedom actually consists of before she makes any comments on how it will affect the border bubble arrangments between the two states.

Annastacia Palaszczuk:

It depends when [the restrictions] lift, if they lift any restrictions.

We’ll wait and see what the big announcement is, but we’ll be working through those very quickly.

“I don’t rule out (vaccine) vans at the end of the street” @DanielAndrewsMP says for communities with low vax @abcmelbourne

— Richard Willingham (@rwillingham) September 9, 2021

I mentioned before the unfolding controversy following reports that the Morrison government failed to accept Pfizer’s offer to meet in June.

It’s likely all the state premiers will be asked for their reactions today, and first up is Victoria’s Daniel Andrews.

Premier @DanielAndrewsMP says it’s up to @GregHuntMP to explain the Pfizer ordering, says he is usually available on the phone to journalists (but not him).
Adds it would have been great if we had Pfizer earlier which would mean business could be open now. @abcmelbourne @abcnews

— Richard Willingham (@rwillingham) September 9, 2021

Premier Daniel Andrews on reports the federal govt failed to take up Pfizer's June 2020 invitation to meet: “If we got vaccinated back in March … then we would have been able to take advantage of the fact that we would literally have been the safest place in the world”. pic.twitter.com/oSQt3ksYe7

— Benita Kolovos (@benitakolovos) September 9, 2021

Updated

Today’s Queensland Covid case is connected with the small cluster at a childcare centre that emerged last week, chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has confirmed.

She says she’s confident there is no risk to the community from this case.

Excellent news again for Queensland due to the hard work of those 100 families who are still in quarantine because of the outbreak in the childcare [centre].

The case today is one of the children who’s been in contact with the child, who was positive. So they are a household contact, a sibling of that child.

Updated

Queensland records one local Covid-19 case in quarantine

Good news for Queensland, even though they have broken their short Covid-zero streak. Today’s one local case was in home quarantine for their entire infectious period; a primary school-aged boy who was the brother of a previously identified case.

Thursday 9 September – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

1 new locally acquired case, detected in home quarantine.

0 new overseas acquired cases.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/wbKdg1jXkU

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 9, 2021

Updated

Christchurch airport evacuated after 'explosive device' found in bag

Christchurch airport was evacuated this morning after a suspicious item was found during bag screening, reports AAP.

Security identified what they believed to be an improvised explosive device, or IED, after 8am on Thursday morning.

Police were called and the domestic terminal was evacuated, affecting a string of flights.

New Zealand police say they are making enquiries and speaking with two people in relation to the incident.

The terminal reopened shortly before 11am (9am AEST).

Christchurch Airport, pictured here in April 2020.
Christchurch airport, pictured here in April 2020. Photograph: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP via Getty Images

Updated

Australians must be prepared to see the Covid vaccination uptake curve start to flatten in coming months, a leading vaccine communication expert has warned, due to the rate of hesitancy.

But she is calling for health policy to reach this group in order to stop their lives becoming too difficult or to drive them away from healthcare.

The latest data from Melbourne Institute’s Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Tracker suggests 20.3% of Australians are either unsure about or unwilling when it comes to vaccination.

In the fortnight to 20 August, the proportion of people self-described as “unwilling” to be vaccinated in New South Wales, where the Delta outbreak is most pressing, rose from 9.2% to 11.8%.

You can read the full report below:

In case you are feeling like grabbing a spur of the moment vaccine:

💉 Thousands of clinics across Australia have bookings to get a COVID-19 vaccine today:

🔵 NSW: 626+
🔵 QLD: 510+
🔵 VIC: 390+
🔵 WA: 184+
🔵 SA: 120+
🔵 TAS: 36+
🔵 ACT: 48+
🔵 NT: 7+

Find a vaccination clinic near you today: https://t.co/k7xZ6zXGdu

— COVID-19 Near Me (@COVID19NearMeAU) September 8, 2021

No surprises here, but we will be hearing from the NSW premier at 11am today.

Word on the street is she will spend today’s press conference laying out the state’s long-awaited roadmap to freedom, and well as which areas of regional NSW will be allowed to exit lockdown early.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant will provide an update on COVID-19 at 11AM #Covidnsw

— Political Alert (@political_alert) September 8, 2021

Oh, btw here is some more of our Pfizer vaccines getting ready to be delivered to us from London.

Breathtaking footage of a box being put in a plane from the High Commissioner for Australia to the United Kingdom.

Vaccine flight 3!

We’ve started loading QF 10 full with the next shipment of our 4 million life saving vaccines from Britain.

Behind the scenes look at the next crate being loaded from our team at Heathrow 🔽@ScottMorrisonMP pic.twitter.com/x679dqK2F6

— George Brandis (@AusHCUK) September 8, 2021

Updated

Heads up, we will be hearing from the Queensland premier at 10am.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will give a COVID-19 vaccination update at 10am

— @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) September 8, 2021

The former Liberal MP Julia Banks will join the advisory board of an organisation formed to support the election of climate-focused independents to parliament at the next federal election.

Banks said she was motivated to join Climate 200 in an advisory capacity because significant action was needed on climate change, restoring integrity in politics and gender equality.

“By the time of the election, this government will have lost another three years to act on these three profoundly important fronts,” Banks told Guardian Australia.

“Some Coalition backbenchers say, for example, that they think the government should commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but when it comes to the crunch they vote exactly the same way as Barnaby Joyce and Craig Kelly.

You can read the full report below:

Not loving the look of this trend line for Victoria!

Thank you to the amazing Josh Nicholas for the graph!

Victorian case number graph

Morrison flags expats can come home 'soon'

Jumping back to that speech from Scott Morrison overnight. The prime minister indicated Australians stuck overseas will be able to return and quarantine at home later this year.

In a prerecorded video message, the prime minister thanked expats for carrying a “very heavy burden” for the past year-and-a-half, reports Georgie Moore from AAP.

Morrison flagged vaccinated Australians would be able to come home later this year and quarantine at home.

Home quarantine is currently being trialled in South Australia, but the government wants it to become the norm for returned travellers.

We are looking forward to welcoming many people back home soon. We can get there this year,” Morrison told an awards ceremony for high-achieving Australians working overseas.

I thank you once again for your patience and enduring what has been a very frustrating and very difficult time for you.

Australia is preparing to roll out vaccine passports from October to pave the wave for the resumption of international travel.

But this isn’t expected until vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and older reaches 80%.

The national vaccination rate is currently half that.

I know for Australians overseas it has been a very difficult and frustrating time ...

It’s tough living through a pandemic and being separated from your family and that’s brought its own heartbreak, life’s moments missed that you will never get back.

Australian PM Scott Morrison.
Australian PM Scott Morrison. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated

Call to increase Covid vaccine supplies to Melbourne's northern suburbs

Multicultural community and faith leaders, along with a collection of Victorian medical professionals, have joined forces, calling on the federal government to increase vaccine supplies to the northern suburbs of Melbourne where cases are rising.

The letter was published today by Victorian multicultural group Youth Activating Youth:

We the undersigned call on the federal and state governments to urgently increase supply of and accessibility to coronavirus vaccines, in particular the Pfizer vaccine, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

The vaccination rate in the Hume LGA is now the second-lowest in the state, at a time when it has the highest number of active coronavirus cases in the state. This will create enormous pressure on our healthcare system and will cost lives.

Similar to the surge in supply, resourcing and access in the western suburbs of Sydney, we believe a similar response in the northern suburbs of Melbourne is now essential. Our GPs need more vaccine supply and resources to administer them and there needs to be a surge in vaccination hub capacity and locations.

We call on the federal government and the Victorian state government to treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves.

Updated

A reminder that today is RU OK Day, and this year, more than most, think about checking in on your mates.

I hope everyone is doing alright, and if you aren’t there is lots of help out there.

In Australia, support is available at Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, and at MensLine on 1300 789 978. In the UK, the charity Mind is available on 0300 123 3393 and ChildLine on 0800 1111. In the US, Mental Health America is available on 800-273-8255

Good morning, today is @ruokday a reminder to reach out and have a conversation, not just today but everyday. pic.twitter.com/ShpjaK7xwN

— Steve Satour @SSatour (@IndigenousX) September 8, 2021

Updated

Green campaigners have criticised the UK government for apparently removing references to the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement from a prospective trade deal with Australia.

According to Sky News in the UK, the trade deal – which was agreed in principle in June – was set to contain references to the Paris goals of limiting global heating to 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to a lower limit of 1.5C.

Instead, the references to the temperature limits were left out, but the commitment to fulfilling the terms of the agreement was kept.

Sky News said it had obtained an email, which has not been published, from a senior UK government official that showed the more explicit reference to temperature goals was cut in order to seal the deal with the Australian government.

Victoria records 324 Covid-19 cases, the most infectious day this year

There has been a big jump in cases in Victoria today, the state recording 324 local Covid-19 cases overnight.

This is the highest number of cases the state has seen since 13 August last year.

So far just 107 have been linked to known outbreaks.

Reported yesterday: 324 new local cases and 1 case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).
- 37,604 vaccines administered
- 54,242 test results received

More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/SIb5uNZaFu

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 8, 2021

Labor slams government over Pfizer emails

The shadow health minister, Mark Butler, has spoken to ABC News Breakfast about the documents revealing the delay in Greg Hunt meeting with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after the Australian government sent a bureaucrat to begin discussions negotiating a Covid-19 vaccine deal.

Butler said the documents:

... revealed the extent of the go-slow, that Pfizer in June had approached the government seeking a high-level meeting to brief them on their research, to give them potential access to early supplies of millions of doses before the end of last year. But for weeks and weeks, were able to get nowhere, while countries like the UK and the US, obviously, but Canada, Japan, the European nations were busy signing deals to secure early access of this state-of-the-art vaccine for their people.

Hunt has rejected suggestions of a go-slow, citing ongoing informal discussions, and Pfizer has provided some highly qualified support for that denial by saying things moved as quickly as possible ... within the schedule.

Butler said the documents show a different story.

While every other developed country in the world was tearing a hamstring to get into a meeting room with Pfizer and sign a supply deal on behalf of their people, there was a go-slow in Australia. It was too little, too late from Scott Morrison.

Butler also addressed reports that NSW will reopen pubs and clubs in mid-October at the 70% vaccination mark.

Butler provided unqualified support:

We want to see those wonderful aspects of our life – particularly as the weather gets better – start to return to normal. So, we fully support this. We want to see a strong, safe implementation of the plan that national cabinet has agreed, and we hope that that can be done as soon as possible.


Federal shadow minister for health and ageing Mark Butler.
Federal shadow minister for health and ageing Mark Butler. Photograph: Morgan Sette/EPA

Updated

Last week, as case numbers in the Covid-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email.

It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of Covid and prevent them from contracting it again”.

The drug was ivermectin. The email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley, who claimed the prominent doctor was “willing to work with your local doctor in treating the whole town with the Ivermectin regime to get rid of covid and prevent them from contracting it again”.

You can read the full report below:

Wilcannia, NSW.
Wilcannia, NSW. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

Updated

Now there has been a lot of chat these last few days about the allocation of Pfizer vaccine doses and whether NSW is or is not stealing everyone elses.

If you are confused, I don’t blame you! If you are keen to get up to speed and only have 115 seconds to spare let me suggest the Guardian Australia’s TikTok account. (Also known as where I go once I leave the blog).

Check it out!

(Also if that embed doesn’t work on your computer/phone, use this link.)

Updated

The Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, is in Sydney today and will hold a press conference, 9.00AM #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) September 8, 2021

Western Australia border could stay closed until April 2022, premier says

Oh my, I have some bad news for those with family on both sides of the WA border, with premier Mark McGowan telling the West Australian newspaper that he may not permanently open the border for another seven months.

The premier said he would set a date to permanently lift WA’s hard border six to eight weeks after the state reaches a vaccination rate of between 80 and 90%.

I can’t put a date on [reopening the border] because it’ll be above 80% [vaccination]. We’ve got to get above 80%...

Tasmania is talking about 90% – that’s ambitious – but somewhere above 80% we’ll try and set the date.

I don’t know whether it’ll be February, March or April, I suspect it will be one of those months.

April 2022 is still seven months away, so if you are in WA maybe think about getting that jab sooner rather than later.

Members of the public wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccination at a mass vaccination clinic at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on 16 August.
Members of the public wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccination at a mass vaccination clinic at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on 16 August. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Updated

Good morning everyone and welcome to Thursday!

It’s Matilda Boseley here and if you are from NSW, I have some good news for you!

Looks like you will be learning your state’s path out of Covid-19 lockdowns today, with the state government preparing to release its much-anticipated roadmap of freedoms.

This comes after widespread reports that premier Gladys Berejiklian received a sign-off on the roadmap from the state government’s crisis cabinet last night.

She has previously vowed that an easing of the lockdown will start once 70% of the state’s over-16 population has received two doses of the vaccine, a goal that’s now expected to be met around mid-October.

We might have to wait for the 11am presser for all the confirmed details, but so far the Australian is reporting that bars, restaurants and retail settings will be allowed to reopen – with capacity limits – from 18 October.

Meanwhile, it looks like the mid and north coast of NSW, and the Riverina region in the south-west, will be released from lockdown on Friday, according to ABC reports.

Healthcare workers at a Covid testing clinic in Nyngan, NSW.
Healthcare workers at a Covid testing clinic in Nyngan, NSW, on Wednesday. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Now, we all know that Scott Morrison hasn’t been having a very good week, and would you look at that, he has waded into another controversy for today.

In a prerecorded message at an awards ceremony, Morrison thanked Australian expats around the world for their sacrifice of being unable to return home in order to keep the rest of the country safe from Covid-19.

He credited the locked-out Australian with saving more than 30,000 lives.

Your sacrifices have made that happen. You have saved lives by enduring and going through those difficulties, so thank you – I do appreciate it and your fellow Australians do also.

Morrison spoke at the Advance awards, which celebrates the achievements of Australians overseas. In this speech he acknowledged frustration and suffering expats have been endured, being stranded overseas, effectively lockdown out of Australia, as well are promising home quarantine would be par for the course by the end of the year.

OK, with all of that out of the way, why don’t we jump into the day!

Updated

Contributors

Josh Taylor and Matilda Boseley

The GuardianTramp

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