Where things stand
Thanks for following our live coverage of the coronavirus coverage in Australia. You can continue to follow our rolling global coverage here.
A quick recap on what happened today:
- More than 40% of all Covid-19 deaths in aged care in Victoria occurred in just 10 facilities.
- Victoria recorded 41 new cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths, of which eight were in aged care. It’s the first time cases have dropped below 50 since 28 June.
- NSW recorded four new cases, including three healthcare workers.
- Queensland recorded two new cases, including another case among healthcare workers at Ipswich hospital. Western Australia recorded one new case, in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.
- Victorian premier Daniel Andrews defended the tough restrictions in the lockdown roadmap, saying “these numbers are coming down, this strategy is working”. The chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, defended Victoria’s contact tracing system saying it was “not substantively” different to that in NSW.
- Andrews told 7.30 he was not concerned about the potential impact of Covid-19 measures, and the hotel quarantine inquiry, on his political future.
- Prime minister Scott Morrison said the Victorian roadmap was “crushing news” and criticised Victoria’s contact tracing capacity, saying that “under the thresholds that have been set in that plan Sydney would be under curfew now. Sydney doesn’t need to be under curfew now”.
- Morrison said he would wait to see what further economic support Victoria offered before making any announcement on income support, and said the extended lockdown would have a “negative impact” on the budget.
- Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has criticised the federal government’s management of aged care during the pandemic, saying “I didn’t get the impression that anybody was stepping up and taking responsibility”.
- And the Business Council of Australia has called for the Victorian modelling to be released in full.
Andrews: 'Politics has never mattered less to me'
Asked if he would step down as premier if the hotel quarantine inquiry laid the blame for the outbreak on his office, Andrews said his responsibility was to keep going.
My position and the responsibility I have is to see our state through this. What is what I’m focused on.
Let me be as frank as I can be: Politics has never mattered less to me. Leadership is not able doing what’s popular, it is about doing what’s right.
He is only interested in one fight. That’s right, the fight with the virus. I’m assuming we all finish the second half of that phrase by this point.
The politics of this, that is of no value. The only thing that matters is we all stay the course. We all keep following the data, the science and the doctors and get this done. Then move to the biggest economic repair job that our state has ever seen.
Rowland suggested Victoria’s contact tracing system clearly wasn’t fit for purpose at the start of the second wave, and still isn’t.
Andrews said there was “a lot of commentary being run”.
As the person who’s here on the ground with a very detailed understanding of the amount of work that a team of 2,600 committed people are doing, let me say that we are getting to almost 100% of every positive case within 24 hours. There will always be a handful of people who are not home, can’t be found, where they perhaps would be thought to be. We are getting to literally 100% of all close contacts within 48 hours.
They are national benchmarks. We haven’t made our own rule book here. We are absolutely delivering against the nationally agreed thresholds. We report those in a proper way, open, transparent way. We’re always looking for improvement, though.
Andrews was asked if he would release the full modelling and said he was “always happy to release as much information as we can”.
I am sure a number of reporters will follow that up with him at tomorrow’s press conference. He continued:
With the greatest of respect to all the people that you have just quoted and potentially many more – there are many different opinions in the medical and research community.
He said that the line had to be drawn somewhere.
Ultimately this is not an academic exercise. It is about getting to the other side of this, opening up, safe, steady, staying open.
Rowland asks if Andrews has modelled how many businesses will go under in these restrictions.
Andrews said there was “no question that there is significant pain and there is a real challenge there”.
We will have more to say about business support. This is about saving lives and it is also about saving livelihoods, because the point here, Michael, is the notion of spending the rest of this year and pretty much all of 2021 bouncing in and out of lockdowns every four weeks or so – there can be no economic recovery until we deal with the health issue. We have to do this in a sequential, logical way. That is the plan we’ve outlined.
So, did you model how many might go out of business?
There is a whole lot of modelling. In terms of trying to be definitive that is challenging. We have to meet all the targets that we have laid out. We need to have more to say and we will soon about the business support that we will offer.
Andrews said his government would spend “the next week or so consulting in a very detailed way with different sectors to craft a package of support that, in their [the business community’s] judgement, meets their needs”.
It's not 'valid' to compare the outbreak in Melbourne to cases in Sydney, says Daniel Andrews
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews tells Michael Rowland on ABC 7.30 that Victoria could not be compared to other states, because there was “a set of unique circumstances” applying to this state.
Those unique circumstances are high rates of community transmission.
Asked about prime minister Scott Morrison’s comment that if NSW had the same thresholds in place as set out in the Melbourne roadmap, Sydney would be under a curfew now, Andrews said:
I don’t think it would be. Sydney has not had the amount of community transmission we’ve had. I don’t think that’s a particularly valid comparison, and not a worthwhile one.
We’re not in New South Wales. We have got a set of unique circumstances that apply to Victoria and a roadmap to safely and steady ease out of these current rules, these current restrictions, to find a Covid-normal, to open up and stay open.
Daniel Andrews will be interviewed on ABC 7.30 at, well, 7.30pm. We’ll bring it to you live.
More than 40% of aged care deaths in Victoria occurred in just 10 homes
For weeks, the federal government has refused to disclose the aged care homes in Victoria where the most deaths occurred. However, Guardian Australia obtained the list on Monday, and it reveals more than 40% of deaths occurred across just 10 homes.
As of Monday, 532 of the state’s deaths were linked to aged care, with St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner recording 44 of those deaths. The home, which caters for the Greek Orthodox community, is where the most deaths have occurred.
Epping Gardens Aged Care had the second-highest number of aged-care deaths in the state, at 35. Kalyna Care, a residential home in Delahey, was third, recording 22 deaths. Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir and Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth both recorded 20 deaths, and Baptcare Werribee and Mecwacare Hoppers Crossing both recorded 18 deaths. Meanwhile, four facilities each recorded 17 deaths: Glendale Aged Care in Werribee, Estia Health Ardeer, Japara Sunbury and Bupa Edithvale.
In total, 228 deaths occurred across the 10 homes, with the figures current as of 10am Monday.
On Monday, the state department of health confirmed Guardian Australia’s figures were correct. The federal department of health is yet to comment.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, was on ABC drive in Melbourne earlier today defending the roadmap. You can listen to the full thing here, but the following is a bit of a summary.
Sutton told host Rafael Epstein that it is possible that Melbourne could move through the stages earlier than outlined, if we hit the case targets earlier than predicted. Conversely, “it could go longer. I don’t think it will go longer”. He says we are “absolutely on track,” presuming everyone keeps following the rules.
Asked whether the target numbers will change, Sutton says they will always look at the daily epidemiology to see “whether there’s an approach that allows for easing in another area or allows us to move to the next step even though we technically haven’t got below a certain threshold”.
If it’s zero mystery cases and zero sporadic cases... but one or two cases that are entirely known in a controlled and contained setting then I think we would judge it on its merits at the time.
Sutton said the rules are designed on the assumption that compliance with the rules will be “pretty high”.
In response to criticism from Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott, who said there had been no transmission at Bunnings, Sutton said you “simply can’t know that”. “Some of them probably have been,” he said.
When a case is being interviewed by our contact tracers and they say ‘I have been here and there and to Bunnings,’ we don’t go back to Bunnings and say ‘did you know that someone who has come through your store and a dozen other places has coronavirus?’ We wouldn’t report that back because it’s not a definitive source of transmission, it’s one of many possibilities.
This seems very different to the approach taken in places like Queensland, where an itinerary of everywhere a positive case has visited is released to the public when a community case is identified.
Despite that, Sutton said there is “not substantively” a difference between contact tracing standards in NSW and Victoria. But he says NSW has not had a week where it’s had to trace 3,000 cases, and that Victoria was “probably overwhelmed that week”.
He says that NSW has probably been able to identify 100% of its cases, which Victoria has not, because of the numbers involved. Asked about prime minister Scott Morrison’s criticism that if Victoria had better contact tracing it would not need to lock down, Sutton said that’s a “convenient misinterpretation”.
We are doing contact tracing at a level akin to NSW, Queensland and most places in the world right now. If we could do some kind of fantasy contact tracing where someone got a test and you could contact them within 12 hours because of the turnaround time fo the test, the notification to the department, and our contact tracing all happened within a matter of hours, we would step up a level, but o one is doing that anywhere in the world.
Sutton said Victoria’s benchmark is to contact people within 24-hours. He says the difference between Victoria and NSW is that Victoria has untraced community transmission, which is, by its very name, harder for contract tracers to work with.
On the figure of fewer than five cases a day before 26 October, Sutton said that is based on the modelling. He said that figure also includes the assumption that there’s no more than five mystery cases in the proceeding fortnight.
Epstein asked Sutton what he would say to people who don’t support the restrictions. He said:
I think the really core deniers, if you like, people who will never be convinced by peer-reviewed evidence or by an expert, and I don’t necessarily put myself in an expert in the sense of a virologist or infectious disease physician... if people aren’t convinced by evidence-based informing policy I am not sure I’d shift them.
I think the question was broader than just the hard-core denialists – there are people who question the roadmap who aren’t denialists, but anyway.
Finally, Sutton was asked how he could know that the roadmap would not cause more harm than it would prevent.
I don’t think we can know in absolute terms because it is based around probabilities.
But he says that avoiding the worst outbreak Victoria has avoided “thousands and thousands of deaths”.
The parliamentary committee into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelter has abandoned plans to hold in-person hearings on country in Western Australia.
The committee had intended to meet on the land of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people this month, but according to AAP, those meetings will no longer go ahead in person.
The decision could be revisited in the unlikely scenario WA’s restrictions, which limit arrivals and require those entering to quarantine for 14 days, are eased later this year.
No dates have been locked in for future hearings, which are likely to be held via teleconference.
The committee chair, coalition MP Warren Entsch, had previously thanked WA treasurer and Aboriginal affairs minister, Ben Wyatt, for approving their travel plans.
Prof Peter Collignon, a former advisor to the World Health Organisation, said that questions remained over whether Victoria had worked quickly enough to identify and stop the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces, and what specific measures had helped reduce that spread.
He told Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey that it was possible that harsher lockdown measures like the curfew may have been avoided had the targeting of workplaces been more effective.
A lot of transmission was in essential workplaces and in low-paid jobs where workers were moving from working place to workplace, and targeting those issues in future will be more effective than broad-brush, blunt approaches.
The curfew doesn’t do much to stop transmission; it just makes it easier to police other measures. If you take away people’s normal lives, like the ability to go outside, you need the reasons for it.
Now, we know people are in fact safer outside exercising than inside in a crowded home. Some of the suite of things introduced in Victoria have a harsher effect than others and we must try to justify those harsher measures especially. That means asking: ‘How much difference did this measure make?’
Read the full report here.
It remains deeply weird to see the Melbourne CBD so empty.
No buskers, no crowd of people waiting six-deep for the route 86 and 96 trams in the Bourke Street mall.
Business council 'extremely concerned' that Victorian modelling has not been released
Speaking of the Victorian modelling, the Business Council of Australia has called for it to be released in full.
As I just said, what has been released is a government report on the modelling, not the full report. And as we should all know by now, six months into the pandemic, modelling is not prescriptive.
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott says:
Business is extremely concerned that Victoria’s very restricted recovery roadmap is based on modelling that has not been released.
Eminent epidemiologists have raised important questions about the assumptions that are underpinning Victoria’s plan.
The authors of the modelling themselves have described the modelling as a guide, and we understand it’s a challenge to model, but that’s why we need transparency of data and sharing of information.
We want to understand how the Victorian modelling is going to drive decisions, what it is based on and how it is going to work. We are calling for the modelling to be released so business can work with the state government to make sure we can create Covid-safe workplaces and get the economy open faster.
The following graphic has been posted on the official Facebook page of Daniel Andrews.
The accompanying post said:
If we removed the ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions when daily case numbers were averaging 25, there’s more than a 60 per cent chance we’d be back in lockdown by Christmas.
When the stakes are so high, it’s a risk we just can’t take.
The modelling also shows that if we drive daily numbers down to five before taking the next step – that likelihood drops to just 3 per cent.
The modelling as released to the media was not particularly detailed, and epidemiologists told us that it was based on very conservative assumptions. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a thing that should be taken into account when you look at what the modelling shows.
Please take a break to look at this baby numbat’s tiny feet.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, Peter Strong, said that there had been “no consultation” by the Victorian government with the business community on its restrictions roadmap, describing the consultation which did take place as “just a box ticking”.
Strong said the NSW government, in contrast, had been holding weekly – now fortnightly – meetings with the small business and retail sector since March. He told ABC24:
We have been trying to consult with the Victorian government months ago and we have just met silence.
The state is being run by one person, that is the impression I’m getting. I hope I am wrong, but I get the impression he is not talking to his cabinet ministers because if he had spoken to people he would have a proper plan that was communicated in a way that we understood, that fitted in with the way business works and with Christmas.
There will be an awful lot of people that have a very bad Christmas as a result of this.
Strong said the consultation in Victoria was “pretend consultation”.
It is just a box ticking and we are not being listened to, otherwise they would not have come up with the dates they came up with.
Would be wrong of me not to add here that, without undermining the economic and emotional toll on small businesses, there will be many people facing a very bad Christmas, and having a very bad time right now, because they have lost a loved one due to Covid-19.
The final comment Turnbull made was about Rio Tinto’s destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site, a rock shelter in Juukan Gorge.
Turnbull said he “found the whole thing completely staggering”.
Which, for a former prime minister and former environment minister, who held the former role during the unpicking of the mining tax and the carbon tax and therefore would be intimately familiar with the mining lobby in WA, is interesting.
I don’t know anyone else with any familiarity with the iron ore industry in WA who was shocked by the destruction of that special place. And Rio Tinto’s own internal meetings show they were not anticipating any real backlash beyond a possible injunction.
Because this is, as Guardian Australia has reported extensively, pretty commonplace.
I just honestly, I don’t understand how it could possibly have happened. I mean... When I was environmentMinister, I listed the Burrup Peninsula which has some of the most ancient rock art in the world on it, some really extraordinary images there... And you know, this heritage is so important, it is so unique, it is so Australian, and it has to be, it should be treated with the greatest respect.
I just don’t... To be honest, I have no idea how this could possibly have happened. I have no idea what went wrong in Rio Tinto, what went wrong with the WA government or whoever the consent authority was, to allow it to happen, it just staggers me.
Turnbull said the story about his old rival former prime minister Tony Abbott working with the UK government on trade was “a bit of a beat-up really” saying Abbott only had an “unpaid advisory role to their board of trade, which is essentially the trade minister and a couple of other senior ministers”.
I haven’t seen that he is not going to be negotiating trade deals or representing Britain. Obviously a former Australian prime minister, if he was representing another country, that would be awkward to say the least.
He then suggested Abbott could have another crack at public office.
I wonder whether Tony might regain his UK citizenship, which he could do in an instant because he was born in the UK, and run for the House of Commons, because there might be a conservative constituency that would endorse him. But you know, there have been quite a few examples of this over the years, of Australian politicians then going back to the United Kingdom and serving in the parliament.”
Turnbull said this was not a prediction, but then said Abbott “has got a sort of a view of the Anglo-sphere which sort of ... perhaps ... you know, would make that more suitable for him.
Karvelas pointed out that the British media, and even conservative British politicians, have been prepared to call Abbott a homophobe and a misogynist.
The Australian press are not so forthright, and Abbott’s former political colleagues are also reticent, as Turnbull showed when Karvelas asked if he would describe Abbott by those terms. He said:
Well look, I wouldn’t want to put labels on him other than – well, he has put a few nasty labels on me over the years I might say, so I won’t return the compliment – but I would just say, Tony has got very ... reactionary views, I think, on women’s role in the world.
We don’t need to go through them, we all know what his publicly stated views are.”
Turnbull said the federal government should have ploughed ahead with the planned legislated increase for superannuation, and that the tone of the debate, with people (mainly from his former party) saying that people should retain control of their own money, is “all a bit patronising”.
I think the compulsory occupational super has been a great achievement in Australia, and I think we should support it.
He reminded host Patricia Karvelas that when he was prime minister he opposed efforts to allow superannuation to be used to pay house deposits. Readers may recall that Turnbull’s advice to first home buyers was to get a loan from their parents.
He said that people should not be encouraged to chip away at their retirement funds.
I don’t agree with the measure to allow $40,000 to be taken out of people’s super. These are desperate times, and governments have two make decisions very quickly but I think frankly, with the benefit of hindsight, that will be seen to have been a poor quality decision.
He said that young people who withdraw superannuation funds now are robbing themselves of compound interest, and will end up with “a lot less” when they retire. Coalition politicians who say you can build your super up later overlook that point, he said.
So you have$40,000 in your super, right, that will compound over time as your investments grow to become a much larger amount. If you spend it all now, and then you have to start from scratch, it will take you along time to catch up. I mean, this is not rocket science...
I wonder whether it wouldn’t have been better to provide more, you know, more targeted support from government because basically, I mean, Paul Keating made this point and it is a fair point, that what was happening was that people mostly on lower incomes were raiding their savings, their legislated superannuation savings to fund current expenditure. And look, there is a libertarian argument that says no-one should be obliged to put money into super, there are plenty of people in the Liberal Party that agree with that. I think it [super] has been a great Australian achievement, and I think chipping away at it is unfortunate.
Turnbull said he was “very surprised there wasn’t a very thorough plan to deal with aged care facilities,” adding that the coronavirus risk in those facilities was “not something that has come out of left field”.
It deserved a lot more thorough, rigorous thinking in advance. It may well have had that, but it hasn’t been communicated.
It easy to criticise, and I think it is important for us to be critical, because we have got to learn from these events, but generally, Australian governments have handled this pretty well. I live in Sydney as you know, our state government, led by Gladys Berejiklian has done an outstanding job, and Sydney has got – it’s a big city, a lot of density, a big cosmopolitan city, a lot of people coming and going – it’s got all of the risk factors, is filled with risk vectors or infection vectors as anywhere in Australia, and yet she has managed so fa, to keep the virus suppressed. And it is a huge credit to her, she deserves a lot more credit and recognition for what she has done.
Turnbull then clarified that it would be “unfair to single Richard Colbeck out”, adding that the aged care minister is “a friend of mine”.
The former prime minister drives an equal-opportunity bus – many people can fit under the wheels.
This is a whole of government issue ... This is not exactly a sort of niche issue that has just been dealt with by a minister without much oversight or involvement from the cabinet or the prime minister.
This was a front and centre issue, so yes, Richard is the minister, but everybody in the government should have been very alert to this issue, the health minister, the prime minister, everybody, state governments as well, even though it is a federal government responsibility.”
Malcolm Turnbull slams federal response to outbreaks in aged care
Turnbull criticised the Morrison government, and the aged care minister in particular, for its handling of the pandemic and failure to take responsibility for things like systemic failures in aged care. There are, he said, “plenty of efforts to blame-shift”.
Well, I didn’t notice the federal government, the standing federal minister, standing up and saying, ‘We are absolutely responsible for all of the problems in aged care. We are absolutely responsible for the failure to, for example, develop a plan to deal with the nursing homes, aged care premises, following Newmarch House.’
There are two incidents or events which I think should have been big wake-up call to everyone. The first one was the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, and following that, the [cruise ship] industry should have been shut down. It was obvious that cruise ships have everything wrong about them from a Covid point of view. The wrong demographic, people in confined – gathered together in close proximity, they were, as people said, floating petri dishes, and we took too long to bring that to a halt.
And it is pretty obvious that aged care premises, facilities, were going to be a very serious problem, and they have proved to be everywhere in the world. And I don’t get, I didn’t get the impression that anybody was stepping up and taking responsibility for that, particularly after Newmarch House demonstrated the nature of the problem. But again ... Politicians rush to good news and flee from bad news generally.”
On state borders, Turnbull said no federal politician could tell Western Australia what to do.
I don’t think there is a lot of evidence to suggest that a more liberal approach to the borders in Western Australia would result in a dire health outcome, but ultimately that’s a decision that has to be taken by the government of Western Australia.
There is nothing more, and I learned this over many years in politics ... there is nothing that Western Australians have less time for [than] someone sitting on camera telling the Western Australian government how to run that huge state. Forget it.
You can make a few gentle suggestions, but ultimately, that state government has its own sovereign responsibilities and it is entitled to exercise them, and it is a Labor government, but it is a very capable government led by Mark McGowan.
Malcolm Turnbull said Andrews had no alternative to further lockdowns and that the federal government was playing political games. Which, of course.
There is a lot of politics in this obviously, and you can never exclude [that], expecting politicians not to be political is a little foolish. Given that where they started, with those very high infection rates, the question is: what should they do differently where they are now?
Turnbull said there was “a lot of blame to go around” for the outbreak in Victoria and how it occurred, but that the question which should be asked of Scott Morrison was: “What would you suggest Dan Andrews should do differently right now?”
He also said there was no point complaining about the difficulties of overriding the views of various state and territory governments in the federal system, saying “as Christian Porter often used to say, complaining about Australia’s federation is like complaining about Switzerland’s mountains”.
There are overlaps, and there are plenty of opportunity for people to duck the irresponsibilities and blame others for things that they ought to be getting on with. The Australian people, in my experience, are really impatient with that, and they find nothing more irritating than politicians who try to shirk off their responsibilities.
So in terms of managing the pandemic itself, per se, the principal responsibility is obviously with the state governments and territory governments who have the relevant health departments and they have made decisions about lockdowns and relaxing or not relaxing those lockdowns are.
Aged care is a federal government responsibility, no question about that. The borders are a federal government responsibility and have been since 1901. There are some areas that are clearly federal and others that are state, but generally, people expect the state and federal governments to work together and cooperate, but you have seen plenty of cases where state governments and state premiers have decided that they will take a more draconian approach to border closures than the feds would like, and have been rewarded with enormous endorsement from their people.”
Malcolm Turnbull won't criticise Daniel Andrews
The former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is on ABC News 24 and said he would not join in criticism of the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews.
I am very reluctant to join in everyone else criticising Dan Andrews. He has a very difficult job, and managing the pandemic is hard for everybody. Clearly, the infection rate got out of hand, and they are reeling it back in.
The truth, however, is that Gladys Berejilian’s government in New South Wales has been more effective in containing it, and suppressing – although not eradicating – the virus, but it is a very slow and long haul, and I hope that Dan Andrews will in – and I’m sure he will, in a practical way – review and revisit his schedule as time goes on, so that in the light of new developments, he may be able to accelerate the reopening, because as you know, it is a very hard, tough time for Victorians.”
The outbreaks with the highest number of active cases in Victoria are:
- Frankston hospital – 19 cases.
- Vawdrey Australia truck manufacturer – 14 cases.
- Bulla Dairy Foods in Colac –16 active cases.
- Dandenong police station – 11 active cases.
- Royal Melbourne hospital Royal Park campus – 10 active cases.
The Victorian health and human services department says the 14-day average daily case number in Melbourne is 84.8, and regional Victoria is 5.3.
The daily average number in Melbourne needs to be below 50 by 28 September for the metropolitan region to progress to the second step of the roadmap, which will mean more industries can go back to work and people can gather in groups of five (from two households) outside.
The average numbers also explain some of the frustration of regional Victorians: they can’t go to stage three, with no restrictions on reasons to leave their home but some gathering limits, until the average is below five statewide.
The Greens in Victoria have responded to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria’s call for its members to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, saying that it should be illegal for landlords to refuse good-faith rent reduction negotiations during the pandemic.
The party has written to the Andrews government urging them to amend the Covid-19 commercial and residential tenancies legislation amendment (extension) bill, which is before the Legislative Council, to make refusal illegal.
The Victorian Greens acting spokesman on local government, Sam Hibbins, said:
The [institute’s] advice is an abuse of power and would result in tenants already struggling with housing and financial stability being pushed over the edge.
The government must now step in to prevent landlords and agencies wilfully refusing or delaying good faith negotiations with tenants to reduce rent.”
The federal member for Indi, Helen Haines, is “disappointed that the roadmap to reopening regional Victoria shows little change in the short term”.
She says she will write to premier Daniel Andrews about the issue.
As a former health worker, I know how important it is to stop the spread. I appreciate how difficult it is for the premier to balance so many interests.
But his announcement has made it clear that we’re looking at months, not weeks, until we can reopen. After drought, bushfire and border closures, regional Victorians would welcome the opportunity to re-establish our economy quicker than the current plan allows.”
It’s Calla Wahlquist here. Thanks Elias for carrying us on his back, like a shepherd with a wayward sheep, through the day.
I wanted to bring us back to Melbourne, where it’s a sunny 22C and the tattooists are petitioning.
More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling on the premier, Daniel Andrews, to let tattoo parlours reopen before step four of Melbourne’s roadmap, which is slated to begin on 23 November or when Victoria has fewer than five new cases statewide, of which no more than three are from untraced community transmission.
They would like to reopen in stage three (roughly 26 October), the same time as hairdressers.
Tattoo studios are subject to some of the strictest health guidelines already and have not been the source of any outbreaks of Covid-19.
Many additional safety precautions can be implemented to insure the wellbeing of customers and staff. Including but not limited to, operating via appointment only, split shifts, perspex screens, cashless payment, temperature checks, disposable masks and face shields.”
As anyone who has got a tattoo knows, tattoo studios stunk of Dettol and latex gloves even pre-pandemic. They involve quite close contact – but then, so does hairdressing.
It’s that time of the day where I hand over the blog to the sharp, skilful Calla Wahlquist.
So that’s it from me, Elias Visontay. Have a pleasant afternoon and evening, especially if you’re in Victoria.
Here’s a wrap of all the recent Covid-19 cases in Queensland.
AMA backs Victoria's roadmap to recovery
In case you missed it, the Australian Medical Association has backed Victoria’s roadmap.
Western Australia records one new case of Covid-19
There are now four active cases of Covid-19 in Western Australia, after a new cases was recorded in hotel quarantine.
The new case is a man in his 60s who returned to Perth from overseas.
Three of the four new cases in NSW announced on Monday were Sydney healthcare workers who tested positive over the 24 hours until Sunday evening.
One person who visited one of the emergency departments has also since tested positive and will be included in the statistics for Tuesday.
One of the healthcare workers worked at the Concord hospital emergency department on 1 September between 7pm and 7am while potentially infectious. The visitor diagnosed with Covid-19 attended the department that day. The remaining two worked at the Liverpool hospital emergency department on 2, 3 and 4 September.
All three emergency department infections stem from one previously diagnosed healthcare worker, who worked at Concord on 1 September from 2pm until midnight, and at Liverpool on 3 September from 8am to 6pm.
The three workers reported having no symptoms while at work and they wore personal protective equipment while caring for patients.
The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said authorities were examining whether there could have been fomite transmission, whereby the virus is transmitted through touching the same computer or other items.
“It’s actually very hard to never touch your face,” she said. “[In these cases] there isn’t that clear-cut direct contact without a surgical mask.”
She added that people should “still feel safe in attending emergency departments”.
The Queensland government has announced a $500m renewable energy fund – to build publicly owned wind and solar projects – as a centrepiece of its post-pandemic economic recovery plan.
My colleague Ben Smee has this report:
Another industry body weighs in on the Victorian roadmap announcement. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has blasted the extension of the rental moratorium for a further six months.
“While this was not unexpected, landlords have virtually no relief while tenants get substantial support,” it said.
It is advising members “to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, forcing every request into the dispute system, a system that has already failed to cope with the caseload”.
Its chief executive, Gil King, said:
We have seen and continue to see illegal rent strikes with no consequences. Until balance and common sense is restored we will embark on a moratorium strike. Let’s see how the system copes without our cooperation.”
The institute is also calling on the government to allow one-on-one private inspections by appointment.
Later on Monday, REIV issued a call for the Andrews’ government roadmap to undergo an independent review.
Qld premier updates health minister's Covid figures
It appears Steven Miles didn’t have the most up to date statistics during that earlier press conference.
There are fact 27 active cases in Queensland right now (earlier he said 25).
Two new cases were announced in Queensland today.
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, posts this updated infographic:
The Australian small business and family enterprise ombudsman believes small businesses should not have to pay costs associated with permanently closing down as a result of the continuing lockdowns in the state.
Kate Carnell is calling on the Victorian government to cover the costs.
Under the Victorian government’s roadmap, many small businesses will not be able to open for another eight weeks at least, and that’s only on the condition that there is [fewer] than five cases per day as a statewide average.
On that basis, small businesses that were thinking this lockdown would only last for another couple of weeks now don’t know if they will ever be able to reopen.
For those struggling small businesses that know they cannot remain viable under these imposed conditions, the Victorian government needs to step up and help them make the sensible business decision to exit.
This means the Victorian government needs to pay for all break-lease termination fees – not just on the premises but also equipment so small business owners can walk away without further penalties.”
Queensland records two new Covid-19 cases
Queensland’s deputy premier, Steven Miles, has announced two new Covid-19 cases.
He said the first is a woman in her 20s, a household contact of a known case. The second is a woman in her 30s and is a further healthcare worker at the Ipswich hospital.
There are 25 active Covid-19 cases in Queensland.
Miles said health authorities had tested 662 people at a pop-up clinic on Russell Island after a woman on the island was diagnosed with coronavirus at the weekend.
Formals and graduations in NSW to go ahead, Covid-safely
Some more information on that earlier announcement that year 12 formals and graduation ceremonies will go ahead in New South Wales.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the events can be done in a Covid-19 safe manner.
We will always rely on the health advice, which recommends Covid-safe formals and graduation ceremonies take place from 12 November after the final HSC exam.
Students are currently preparing for the HSC and deserve to have events to look forward to after their exams.”
The press conference has now finished.
Health minister Greg Hunt was asked about vaccine concerns, especially from within the multicultural community.
This question follows a recent letter from religious leaders opposing the use of cell lines from an aborted fetus in the Oxford vaccine, one of two the government announced support for today.
Hunt said he is meeting with church leaders this week, but also stresses the University of Queensland vaccine, the second one the government is backing, does not have the same cell base.
“It doesn’t have that origin, and so any concerns at all which have been raised are completely dealt with from the very basis of the University of Queensland molecular clamp,” he said.
Scott Morrison reiterated a call to see the assumptions the Victorian roadmap was based on, particularly to gauge how efficient the modellers thought the state’s contact tracing system is.
Earlier he said the government could provide further support to the Victorian contact tracing effort, as he said he hoped the restrictions could be eased more quickly.
Victorian roadmap will have 'negative impact' on budget, says PM
Scott Morrison acknowledged the Victorian roadmap would have a “negative” impact on the federal budget announcement next month.
Treasury will obviously have to take that into account as they finalise their projections once again, as they had to do for the recent economic statement. So I think that is fairly obvious.
It’s certainly not going to have a positive impact. It’s going to have a negative impact. It’s actually going to impact on employment and on incomes, on revenues, and all of these things.
We will be now in a position to sit down with industry and businesses, particularly obviously in Victoria, but let’s not forget that there are domino impacts because of the role that Victoria plays in our national economy through supply chains about how that can flow on into other states and territories.
So, sure, the impact zone of what has been announced yesterday in Victoria is very much obviously, and terribly sadly, in Melbourne and Victoria more broadly. But there will be ripple effects of this announcement yesterday that will impact other parts of the country.”
Contact tracing capacity vital, say epidemiologists
On contact tracing, Scott Morrison said the commonwealth can provide more resources to Victoria, including ADF personnel, to help match NSW’s levels.
If they need extra Services Australia support, we’ve already had ADF support in there, but I think if there is extra support that is needed to lift whether it’s in Victoria or, indeed, in Queensland or Western Australia or Tasmania, if this is what is preventing the easing of restrictions, then I think it is about matching the level of capacity against what is happening in NSW
And I should stress, it’s just not about how many people you’ve got on the phone. Information systems are critical to this. The way work is structured and organised is critical to this. And it’s an integrated tracing capability.”
The health minister, Greg Hunt, also has some quotes on hand from epidemiologists who’ve spoken up about the importance of contact tracing for Victoria over the past 24 hours.
Prof Tony Blakely, from the University of Melbourne, an author of the modelling, subsequently said: ‘If we do our contact tracing better than we did three months ago, the contact tracers may be able to hold the case count without it going up again as badly as our model suggests.’
Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University in Canberra: ‘A lot hinges on contact tracing. So far, Victoria has not been able to do that as well as other states. I think actually a more nuanced approach like NSW is doing where very good contact tracing is likely to be sustainable over the long-term.”
Scott Morrison will wait to see what economic support the Victorian government introduces before announcing further relief specific to Victoria.
Morrison was asked how he could justify slashing jobseeker and jobkeeper at the end of the month to Victorians who have been banned by their state government from going to work. But he did not acknowledge the cuts, instead pointing to how the government had extended their timeframe.
Jobkeeper is a national program. Jobkeeper is a program that is as important in Cairns as it is in Cronulla or, indeed, in anywhere else in Melbourne or Western Australia. Different states will draw on that in heavier amounts as Victoria is now. And they will be drawing heavily on this over the balance of this year and, I would think, into next year.
The situation we have in Victoria is very specific to Victoria, and I’m seeking to see what the Victorian government will be doing in taking actions to mitigate the economic impact of the decisions the Victorian government has made regarding the restrictions and the plan that they have set out.
When it comes to specific economic support income support or other forms of support that they consider is appropriate to deal with the consequences of the decisions the Victorian government is taking, I’ll be looking to see what they’ll be doing first before the commonwealth considers any responses that we’ll be making.”
Morrison: Victorian roadmap 'crushing news'
Scott Morrison hopes restrictions in Victoria can be eased more quickly than outlined in the state’s roadmap on Sunday.
He appeared to criticise the level of caution in the plan, and said he would work towards boosting contact tracing capacity for Victoria to enable it “to move in a more confident way than I think the plan that was announced yesterday set out”.
He also pointed out how Sydney would be under curfew if it followed the Victorian government’s thresholds for case numbers, declaring “Sydney doesn’t need to be under curfew now”. He heralded New South Wales’ “gold standard” for tracing capability, and said Victoria should aim for this level.
Earlier today, Victoria’s chief health officer Prof Brett Sutton rejected this comparison with Sydney, arguing Victoria required harsher rules because of its higher community transmission rates.
The announcement that Victorians would continue to live under curfew and be under these restrictions for many months, if not just weeks in the most harsh of those restrictions, of course is crushing news.
The plan that was outlined yesterday, I hope, is a worst-case scenario. I see it as a starting point in terms of how this issue will be managed in the weeks and months ahead in Victoria. We will continue to carefully review this plan. We’re yet still to receive the detailed modelling. We’ve seen the high-level modelling and the other assumptions that have gone into the plan.
But what I can’t help but be struck by is that, under the thresholds that have been set in that plan, Sydney would be under curfew now. Sydney doesn’t need to be under curfew now. They have a tracing capability that can deal with outbreaks. That’s why I say it’s important that we work on building that tracing capability in Victoria.”
Morrison also said the government does not have the authority “to step in and tell the Victorian government they have to follow another plan”, adding “it is incumbent upon us to work constructively with the Victorian government”.
"Sovereign capacity to get Australians what they need"
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, health minister, Greg Hunt, and health department secretary (and former chief medical officer) Brendan Murphy are speaking about the $1.7bn vaccine deal for two promising projects: one from Oxford University and one from the University of Queensland.
Australia needs some hope today. Particularly in Victoria, they need some hope today. And so that is what we’re here to deliver today.
That is giving us a sovereign capacity to get Australians what they need ... home-grown sovereign plan for vaccines is the hope I bring to Australians today.”
Morrison notes the Oxford vaccine is at a more advance stage, but said the promise of the UQ vaccine “is giving us a sovereign capacity to get Australians what they will need should both of those vaccines prove successful as they go through their trials”.
On contact tracing, Daniel Andrews says the ambitious infection thresholds set for easing restrictions are not set so low because contact tracers can’t handle higher loads.
It is absolutely an acknowledgment that this is wildly infectious and – just imagine this for a moment. So you bump that threshold up to 10 or 15 cases, ‘cause that’ll get us there quicker. Then literally, moments later, the case numbers start to tick up.”
Brett Sutton said: “It’s true that neither restrictions are a substitute for contact tracing, and contact tracing is not a substitute for restrictions where they’re required.”
Sutton also said that despite the threshold set for zero community transmission to move to a “Covid normal” stage of minimal restrictions, he said the step could be taken even if there were days of one or two cases among other days of zero cases.
Whenever you see jurisdictions that are in the ones and twos that have days of zeros and they’ve got international travel closed off, then they almost invariably get to the point of zero transmission. So if we’re there, it’ll be pretty clear that we can take the next step.”
I’m hearing that Scott Morrison press conference we mentioned earlier has been slightly pushed back, probably closer to 12:15pm now.
PM 'addicted to spin', Labor's Chris Bowen says of vaccine deal
The federal opposition has welcomed the vaccine agreement with AstraZeneca but says it vindicates Labor’s criticism of Scott Morrison for announcing it prematurely.
Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, said the prime minister was addicted to spin.
This is what the prime minister told Australians he had done three weeks ago when he hadn’t yet done it.”
Bowen said the government would have Labor’s support to enter into more of these types of agreements. He noted that there were no guarantees about which vaccine candidates would be successful.
Bowen said the effectiveness of vaccines was assessed by clinicians, not politicians. Vaccines were rolled out in Australia once signed off by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and “that’s as it should be”.
Some big news for 17-year-olds:
Asked about business groups expressing frustration at the details of the announcement, Daniel Andrews said “we have done as much as we possibly can”.
He also said discussions began on Sunday about further business rescue packages which will be introduced “as quickly as we can” and “may vary one sector to the other, may vary in terms of time liveness, [and] might need different support at different times”.
There’s 100,000-plus people going back to work quite soon that, and the mix of that and how that will work in very practical terms has absolutely been informed by very detailed discussions.
I know there are a lot of businesses, a lot of sectors, a lot of peak bodies who did not get the news they wanted yesterday. I understand that.
Again, I’ll be really clear about this. It’s not just about profits. There are people as well. They’re concerned about all those things. If we could have provided a different series of steps, more things opened faster and done that safely, then, of course, that’s what we would have done.
We will continue this week, for instance, to consult with a very wide range of stakeholders, a very wide range of businesses, particularly those who are worst affected by these necessary steps and the safe and steady nature of them.
Andrews also rejected accusations his government failed to consult with business leaders ahead of releasing the roadmap, saying the government had made “literally thousands of phone calls” to gain feedback.
Premier Daniel Andrews was asked about the use of artificial intelligence to assist contact tracing and help health authorities understanding of the virus’ spread.
He said AI has already been in use, mostly “looking back at interviews [contact tracers speaking to cases] that were conducted some time ago, trying to find patterns from even a week or a month ago”.
“[It] might be instructive in terms of what we could face next week,” he said.
There’s a culture of continuous improvement. I don’t think even artificial intelligence will necessarily find us six hours, but even if it finds us 30 minutes, or if it finds us a connection that wasn’t necessarily obvious to us, then that’s a good thing.
I certainly wouldn’t rule out in the weeks and months to come if there’s some other product or if there’s some other change, whether it be high-tech or low-tech, that we can do to make contact-tracing even better again, we would absolutely do.”
AHPPC not consulted on Victoria's roadmap
Brett Sutton has defended remaining in the harshest level of restrictions to contain Covid-19 in the state, saying “from a public health point of view, stage 4 has driven down transmission much more substantially than stage 3 even with masks was doing”.
He said moving to stage 3 earlier would have meant “a very slow road” back to normalcy.
He also said Victoria’s roadmap was not discussed with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee before its release “because no one’s got a view of the Victorian industry and population and epidemiology to the extent that we do ourselves”.
Obviously the principles of getting that effective reproduction down as low as possible and driving transmission down to levels where we know that we can sustain in the long term is something that has been spoken of at AHPPC.
I’ll be updating them in a couple of hours on the roadmap to talk through it and to have reflections from them in terms of how they see it and any other advice they’d give. We’re always open to those conversations.”
PM due to hold press conference at noon
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is due to address the media in Canberra at midday.
He will be joined by the health minister, Greg Hunt, and the health secretary, Prof Brendan Murphy, to discuss the vaccine agreement and the response to Victoria’s roadmap
Responding to a question about where in the world has zero community transmission been achieved (a threshold which has been set out in Victoria’s roadmap to reach “Covid Normal”), Brett Sutton said:
It’s been achieved across the other states and territories of Australia.
There are only so many island states in the world and you have to have closed off international travel to even make it an aim.
So you know that’s not something being pursued across North or South America or Europe or much of Asia. It’s a possibility in those entirely closed-off countries, if you like. So New Zealand has pursued it. Taiwan has pursued it and they have been successful in that regard. Iceland is another example.
But it’s not even feasible for countries, you know, like European countries, where free movement of people is ongoing. They wouldn’t want to try to pursue it.”
Brett Sutton has said the date for easing restrictions on 28 September will need to be “locked in”.
However, he left the door open for further restrictions to be eased earlier than expected, including the 26 October stage when the curfew and stay at home restrictions are planned to be eased.
I think we would always go through a process of review that we wouldn’t say different circumstances shouldn’t lead to a relook at how we’re tracking and the risk of moving to a different stage. I think the clarity is important but I think everyone would welcome an earlier opening rather than a later one. I just don’t want to, you know, be giving that promise in advance of knowing how we’re tracking.
We’ll have opportunities for people to meet others. We’ll have small outdoor gatherings that allow people to see others, not just for exercise purposes, but for other recreational purposes. I hope people focus on making the most of that, but recognising that going beyond that does increase the risk and it does put everything at risk in terms of what the next step might be and getting on top of these numbers.”
Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, has given some details on 14-day daily averages.
For regional Victoria it’s only just above five. So I would expect in the two weeks from now, it will absolutely drop below five, all things being equal, and without significant outbreaks occurring.
For metro Melbourne, that average in the last 14 days has been close to 100, but we have to consider that it was close to 400 only a month ago. So that continues to trend down and, again, in the two weeks from now, we could expect it to be below 50 as a reflection of today’s number. So absolutely heading in the right direction.”
Daniel Andrews defends his continuing lockdowns, warning the state doesn’t have “the luxury of letting our frustration get the better of us” otherwise it risks a third wave.
He also thanked Victorians for seeing a reduction of 725 cases in one day last month, on 5 August, to 41 cases today.
I want to say how proud I am, despite the difficulties of the restrictions, the great challenge we face, the sense of frustration, the weariness with these rules, we are sticking together, we are looking out for each other and we are having considerable success.
These numbers are coming down, this strategy is working. We are bringing a sense of control to this and we’ll drive these numbers down further, so that when we open up in safe and steady steps, we can stay open and we can be together again, we can have a sense of normality, but one that is lasting, one that can be defended, one that can be sustainable, one that can last throughout 2021 until we get a vaccine.
These are difficult times, but to go from 725 cases to 41 cases in a month, that demonstrates to you that this strategy is working, the sacrifices that we are making, all of us, are worth something.
I want that to count and that’s why we simply can’t open up as quickly as everyone would like us to, I would like to open up much more quickly than we can, but none of us have the luxury, none of us, not me, not any Victorian, has the luxury of letting our frustration get the better of us and simply saying, ‘I so desperately want this to be over that I’m going to pretend that it is.’
That’s not a recipe for anything other than a third wave and being open, yeah, for a very short period of time and then being closed down again. That’s not a strategy, that’s not the advice, that’s not what the data or the doctors recommend and, therefore, that is not an option that is available to us now. A steady safe opening is what we will do and it will be lasting.”
More on aged care:
Of the 1,781 active cases in the state, 873 are in aged care.
There are 93 outbreaks in aged care facilities, which Daniel Andrews said “is a number that’s falling”.
There has been some stability come to residential aged care and we’re very pleased that everyone is working together to drive those numbers down to as low as they can be, given the underlying vulnerability of so many residents in those settings.”
Eight of nine Victorian deaths linked to aged care
Daniel Andrews says that of the nine deaths announced today, eight are linked to aged care outbreaks. Of the deaths:
One female and three males in their 80s have died; one female and three males in their 90s have died; one female in her 70s has died.
There are 1,781 active cases in Victoria. Of those, 266 are being treated in hospital; 25 are receiving intensive care. Of those 17 are on a ventilator.
Daniel Andrews is giving his update
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is now giving an update at a press conference in Melbourne.
New South Wales records four new Covid-19 cases
According to NSW Health, three of the state’s four new cases are healthcare workers who work at Concord Repatriation General and Liverpool hospitals.
The three new cases reported today are:
- A healthcare worker who worked at Concord ED on 1 September from 7pm until 7am and while potentially infectious.
- Two healthcare workers who worked at Liverpool ED on 2, 3 and 4 September.
NSW Health said the three newly reported health workers reported having no symptoms while at work and wore personal protective equipment while caring for patients.
Four healthcare workers across Concord and Liverpool have now tested positive for Covid-19.
The other new case in NSW on Monday is a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine.
Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, says it is “very unfortunate” that some federal Liberal MPs appear determined to “line up to put the boot” into Daniel Andrews over the Victorian lockdown measures.
In an interview with Sky News, Bowen said premiers all around the country should listen to health advice rather than “the ravings of federal Liberal backbenchers trying to make a name for themselves”.
“It’s not team Australia any more; it’s not all in it together,” Bowen said, arguing some in the federal government were eager to “hammer the states” – particularly the Labor-run states.
Bowen said he believed history would vindicate premiers who took “tough but carefully and deliberate decisions based on the best health advice available to them”.
On the specifics, Bowen said he could understand the desire of Victorians to return to a more normal lifestyle. But he said the Victorian government was right to say that it would be irresponsible to ease restrictions too quickly.
Victorians understood the need to proceed cautiously rather than allowing “some sort of explosion [in case numbers] and have to slam the brakes” on a third time.
“I’m not here to second-guess the decisions made by premiers one way or the other.”
We’re hearing Victorian premier Daniel Andrews’ press conference will be at 11am today.
For more out of that Queensland fiscal update, this report from AAP:
The Queensland government has trimmed its deficit but will borrow another $4bn to stimulate the economy, raising net debt 20% to almost $102bn.
Treasurer Cameron Dick forecast net debt to hit $101.96bn by June 2021, up from the $83.8bn forecast in December, in his financial and economic review on Tuesday.
He said the government will run a slightly smaller deficit of $8.13bn in 2020/21, down from $8.5bn forecast in July.
The state government has no plan to cut borrowing, saying it’s prudent to take advantage of low interest rates to support Queensland companies.
At a time when we can increase our borrowings without increasing tax burden, it’s appropriate we do so to support the economy and Queensland jobs.
He said the government will borrow another $4bn, with $500m to be allocated to a new fund to help grow small and medium-sized businesses and another $500m to be used for a fund to help public sector companies invest in renewable energy.
Dick said the remaining $3bn will be used to revitalise the state’s economy, taking the government’s total spend on health and economic measures to cope with Covid-19 to $11bn.
Dick promised to deliver a full budget on 30 November if Labor is re-elected on 31 October.
Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick delivers fiscal update
Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick has delivered the state’s Covid-19 Fiscal and Economic Review.
Queensland is facing mounting pressure to ease its border restrictions, and was not a party to a
Here some details from that announcement.
Patients hospitalised with Covid-19 still have lung damage, breathlessness and coughs weeks after being discharged, researchers have found.
The long and lingering effects of coronavirus on physical health is a growing topic of concern; even those who have experienced “mild” Covid, have reported symptoms that continue for many weeks or even months after the initial infection has passed.
My colleague Nicole Davis has this report:
The Australian wool industry is facing continuing issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its September insights update released today, the Rural Bank has outlined that wool prices are at lows not seen for several years.
Shutdowns in China (which takes 78% of Australian wool exports) at the beginning of the pandemic, and disruptions to global shopping and clothing demand, have all been factors in a 21% decline in how much Australian wool has been sold this year compared with last year.
The Rural Bank says there is “friction” between buyers who are holding out for cheaper prices that producers aren’t prepared to sell at.
On the government’s announcement it will buy 84.8m vaccine doses at a cost of $1.7bn if two promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates prove successful, under deals for free access for Australians.
Karen Andrews, the industry and science minister, was on Sunrise earlier this morning explaining the announcement.
The reason that the government has backed these two vaccines is that both are in reasonably advanced stages of testing.
The Oxford vaccine is more advanced. Both of them are showing promise. So we’re getting ready so that Australia will be in the best possible position should either or both of those vaccines prove to be safe and effective.”
Ahead of an expected announcement today, you can read more on the vaccine news from my colleague Paul Karp.
Relief for businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic will be extended until the end of the year.
In a joint statement on Monday morning, treasurer Josh Frydenberg and industrial relations minister Christian Porter announced the temporary insolvency and bankruptcy protections, aimed at stopping businesses from folding, will now last until 31 December.
The grace period had been due to expire in less than 30 days.
The statement said:
Regulations will be made to extend the temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.
The changes will also extend the temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.
The extension of these measures will lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push businesses into insolvency and external administration at a time when they continue to be impacted by health restrictions.
These changes will help to prevent a further wave of failures before businesses have had the opportunity to recover.”
Victoria’s roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions is “a highway to hell” for the accommodation sector, according to an industry body.
The Accommodation Association, responding yesterday after the roadmap was unveiled, has predicted “business closures and economic ruin”, and said it wanted to work closer with the Victorian government “to strike a better balance” on restrictions.
Dean Long, chief executive of the Accommodation Association, said:
This so-called road to recovery is actually a road to business closures and economic ruin. With apologies to AC/DC, the Victorian government is in fact providing Victoria’s accommodation providers with a highway to hell.
The Victorian government has a moral responsibility to support accommodation businesses with a $1,000 per room monthly payment to help offset fixed costs such as electricity, water, insurance while they continue to enforce a close down on our sector.
We also desperately need the federal government to extend the cashflow boost three to at least $100,000 per Victorian business. We look forward to being part of a more consultative process with the Victorian government to refine the roadmap moving forward.”
Victoria has not recorded less than 50 cases since 28 June.
You can see more stats about Australia’s Covid-19 cases here:
Victoria records 41 new cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths
The Victorian DHHS has released today’s numbers, and they’re trending downwards.
A woman whose parents both died after being infected with Covid-19 has called for a coronial inquest into their deaths.
My colleague Melissa Davey has this report, where she spoke to the woman who wants more transparency around how the virus got into their aged care home and what was done to prepare for the virus, to prevent the tragedy from happening again.
This report from AAP, confirming what I think we’ve pretty much all suspected.
The global Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has cemented the dominance of streaming services in Australians’ lives as people indulged an insatiable appetite for digital entertainment.
Deloitte Australia’s annual Media Consumer Survey focused on consumer behaviours specific to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions between March and May.
As Australians hunkered down, digital services took a starring role in keeping them informed and entertained in the absence of live music, sport, cinema and performing arts.
Of the 2,000 Australians surveyed by Deloitte, 53% expect to attend live events more frequently post restrictions, compared with pre-pandemic levels, but there is likely to be a period of adjustment.
Live-streaming experienced heightened popularity as typically out-of-home events had no choice but to shift to a screen within our homes. Twenty-three per cent of respondents said they had live-streamed during lockdown, and 50% of these did so for the first time.
Australia is a nation of sporting fans, with 47% of those surveyed indicating they actively followed sports on a weekly basis. On average, sports fans spent nearly six hours watching sport per week prior to Covid-19.
The Deloitte digital media sector leader, Leora Nevezie, said without live sport, time spent watching sports halved to two-and-a-half hours per week, with the number of respondents actively following sport on a weekly basis dropping from 46% to 25%.
Without live sport, fans turned elsewhere to fill their time. Fifty per cent instead spent time keeping up with breaking news, 33% spent extra time with family and friends, 32% exercised, while 31% watched previously released shows and movies.
For more on the business sector’s response to Victoria’s roadmap, my colleague Luke Henriques-Gomes has filed this report.
Innes Willox, the chief executive of Australian Industry Group, has lashed the Victorian government’s roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions.
He’s said “the fury is palpable” among the business community, and said outbreaks in aged care and healthcare settings should be handled without city- and state-wide lockdowns.
Willox told ABC Radio National:
The point that business is saying is that with this roadmap there is no way it’s going to be achieved in the timeframes that the government’s proposing. To have zero cases for 28 days before we go back to normal. There’s nowhere in the world where that’s occurring.
Victoria seems to have been settled out for some sort of weird social experiment here and quite frankly it’s going to destroy lives and livelihoods and we’re seeing that occurring now.
There are so many inconsistencies in this document it’s not funny. why can a cabinet-making business be opened but a carpet-manufacturing business can’t? it makes no sense. So we want some consistency, some clear timelines and some clear timeframes.
Willox also called for the federal government to intervene to help Victoria’s economy:
I don’t think there’s any option but for the federal government to get the Victorian economy moving again. Victoria is going to be a basket case for years, there is going to be high unemployment, we have no migration coming in which has been a big driver of the economy in the past, no foreign students, another big driver.
The city will be empty for another six months at least. Victoria is going to need all the help it can get to get back on its feet. It’s sort of a rerun of the 1990s recession it’s going to need a spark to get going again. And that’s the disappointing thing is that the government in this so-called roadmap has put forward no ideas or no creative solutions about how to get Melbourne moving again.
For those of you who still aren’t across the details of Victoria’s roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions, my colleague Calla Wahlquist has this report with everything you need to know.
Welcome to another week of Covid-19 coverage across Australia.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has acknowledged there is a risk of “lockdown fatigue”, but said the alternative to continuing strict lockdowns is “too awful to contemplate”.
Sutton was speaking the day after premier Daniel Andrews unveiled the roadmap out of restrictions for the state, which will see several more weeks of curfews for the states, and predictions life in Victoria won’t return to a sense of normal for some months.
On fatigue, Sutton said:
I know that it is a risk, and we all feel it. We’ve all been subject to this. And some obviously have suffered more in terms of working livelihood and I understand that fatigue. But if there were an easier alternative, if we could just go back to a normal life now, we’d be choosing that.
These are difficult choices. There’s no question. It is a hard road ahead and it is a slow and steady approach. But the alternative is too awful to contemplate, really, and I hope that people can hang on. But of course, there’s a risk that there’s fatigue. As long as people keep in mind that we will get there slowly and incrementally if we can drive this transmission down.”
Elsewhere, the Morrison government has finalised deals to buy 84.8 million doses of two promising Covid-19 vaccines, if they prove successful. The $1.7bn agreement will see two vaccines, being developed by the University of Oxford and the University of Queensland, manufactured in Australia and provided free to all Australians. The first doses could be available by January 2021 if trials go well.