What we learned today, Wednesday 15 September

That just about wraps things up for today. But before we go, let’s recap the biggest developments:

  • NSW reported 1,259 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 today, and 12 Covid-19 related deaths.
  • NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian also announced that it will be against the law for unvaccinated people to attend venues once 70% vaccination is reached.
  • ACT recorded 13 new local Covid-19 cases, with only five in isolation for their entire quarantine period. Eight had spent time in the community.
  • Victoria recorded 423 cases, all locally acquired. Of these, 149 of them were linked.
  • Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced that restrictions would ease for the regional town of Shepparton from midnight tonight.
  • But Andrews confirmed that authorities have reported Covid cases and wastewater detections in the Ballarat area. As a result, from 11:59pm tonight, the city of Ballarat will have to go back into a lockdown for seven days.
  • Victoria Police announced that they will shut down public transport from 8am - 2pm this Saturday to try and thwart a planned anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne’s CBD.
  • NT chief minister Michael Gunner announced authorities expect the Territory to hit 80% fully vaccinated by mid-November. About 50% of the Northern Territory population is fully vaccinated.
  • Gunner also announced what border closures will look like once the NT hits the 80% fully vaccinated target, and said that the authorities will require high-risk workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

That’s all from me today. Thank you so much for joining us. This is Justine Landis-Hanley signing off.

Updated

Of course.

Nine News reporting that Sydney's "first major event" post-reopening will be The Everest mega-bucks horse race.

Of course.

— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 15, 2021

The Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, has tweeted an update on today’s Covid-19 situation. He just wanted to let you know the state is still at zero new cases.

(I am very happy for WA, I write from the apartment I haven’t left in weeks, as daily cases in my state continue to rise through the hundreds.)

This is our WA COVID-19 update for Wednesday, 15 September 2021.

For official information on COVID-19 in WA, visit https://t.co/qA5jY6mVkvhttps://t.co/DCXovfs3v3 pic.twitter.com/rdfAKllCYU

— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) September 15, 2021

Updated

Our friends at AAP have reported that just 2% of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care since Australia’s vaccine rollout started were fully vaccinated.

AAP:

New figures underscoring the power of immunisation have revealed a whopping 86 per cent of people needing intensive care treatment had not received a single dose.

Monash University’s SPRINT-SARI project examined 574 ICU admissions since February 22, when the first coronavirus vaccines started to be rolled out across the nation.

Only two per cent (13 people) had received two vaccine doses, while the equivalent of 12 per cent (69 people) had a single shot.

The remaining 492 patients were unvaccinated.

Updated

Victorian parliament’s upper house has passed a motion allowing MPs to sit online.

If I don’t see a screenshot of at least one politician who has got stuck on the potato filter, what is even the point https://t.co/0a8WTVsieY

— Calla Wahlquist (@callapilla) September 15, 2021

Updated

A new vaccination clinic is opening up next Monday in Ultimo, Sydney. If you live in the area and haven’t gotten your jab yet, this is your sign to book in.

On Monday, @NSWHealth are opening a new vaccination clinic in Ultimo!
The City’s Community Centre at 40 William Henry St, Ultimo will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the next three months.
Vaccinations are free, and you don’t need a Medicare card. pic.twitter.com/gQ0RScFLQi

— Clover Moore (@CloverMoore) September 15, 2021

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, regarding Christian Porter:

The Prime Minister once said "the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept."

The Prime Minister cannot walk past this.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 15, 2021

After inquiries about Christian Porter’s legal fees, a spokesman for Scott Morrison told Guardian Australia:

“The Prime Minister is taking this matter seriously and has discussed the matter with the Minister today.

The Prime Minister is seeking advice from his department on any implications for the Ministerial Standards and any actions the Minister must take to ensure that he meets the Standards.”

The director of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson, has weighed in on the announcement that Victoria police will be shutting down public transport from 8am to 2pm on Saturday.

Shutting down a city's entire public transport system to prevent a protest seems neither necessary nor proportionate. And it sends a terrible message to more authoritarian regimes who don't need encouragement in cracking down on protests they don't like. https://t.co/FDbdPfsQAo

— Elaine Pearson (@PearsonElaine) September 15, 2021

Updated

The principal of a Melbourne primary school that is at the centre of a Covid-19 cluster has told our reporter Calla Wahlquist he did not break recent lockdown rules.

Her full story is here:

Here is our full wrap up of the Covid news in New South Wales from earlier today:

Victoria Police to shut down Melbourne public transport on Saturday in bid to stop anti-lockdown protest

Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton has announced police will shut down the Melbourne metro public transport network between 8am-2pm on Saturday in an effort to prevent an anti-lockdown protest in the city.

Anyone caught at the protest will receive a $5,000 fine.

We are seeking further information.

Victoria Police will shut down the public transport network on Saturday, in a bid to stop a massive anti-lockdown protest. Transport suspended between 8am-2pm. @9NewsMelb

— Mimi Becker (@MimiRoseBecker) September 15, 2021

Updated

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) has released a statement saying that they are frustrated by the inaccuracies in vaccination numbers for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Victoria.

They say that errors in vaccine data collection managed by the commonwealth government has led to an overrepresentation of the vaccine numbers of the ATSI community in Victoria. The inaccuracies have now been corrected.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO said accurate data plays a crucial role in helping refocus efforts to get the community vaccinated.

This is a call to action to all forms of government to not leave the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Victoria behind.

There are still many members of our community who are eligible to be vaccinated. We have to keep looking out for each other. We must continue to look after our families and our elders.

Updated

More great vaccine news for this beautiful state I live in (you’re also doing great, states I don’t live in!)

GREAT NEWS team! Victoria is now home to TEN of the FIFTEEN regions with the STRONGEST vaccine uptake in Australia. Many of these are in regional Vic. Great work all! Keep it up! #covid19vic

— Dr Sandro Demaio (@SandroDemaio) September 14, 2021

Greens to move motion of no confidence in Christian Porter

The Greens will seek to move a motion of no confidence in Christian Porter when parliament resumes.

— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) September 15, 2021

Updated

Queensland recorded no new locally acquired cases today, but has announced new exposure sites in Oxley and Goondiwindi.

These include:

  • The Oxley Hotel on 8 September, between 7.11pm - 9.11pm
  • Goondiwindi BP Truckstop (inside and outside the BP service station) on 8 September, between 1.51pm - 2.21pm

Click here for the full list of QLD exposure sites.

⚠️Public Health Alert⚠️

Queensland Health is issuing new contact tracing locations for:

📍 Oxley
📍 Goondiwindi

Full details can be found at: https://t.co/rujm8F3qL4 pic.twitter.com/4rTdXIWL1W

— Queensland Health (@qldhealthnews) September 15, 2021

Updated

Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy called on the state government to end curfews. Only, the media release handed out to journalists before he spoke clearly called on the government to end the lockdowns, forcing Guy to admit it was a typo.

Look, typos happen to the best of us. But this one is particularly awkward.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has been forced to do a U-turn on a call to end Melbourne's lockdown after admitting it was a typo.

In a document handed out to journalists this morning, the opposition demanded the state government 'end the lockdown' immediately. #springst pic.twitter.com/RS19SLjMZ0

— 10 News First Melbourne (@10NewsFirstMelb) September 15, 2021

We have seen an astounding number of people around Australia rolling up their sleeves in the last few weeks and getting their Covid-19 vaccine. Here’s a nice roundup of tweets that sum up just some of that success.

A little under five weeks ago we set a target to deliver one million vaccines by 17 September.

It was an ambitious goal, and to hit it we had to vaccinate roughly 28,000 people every day in our state-run vaccine centres.

Yesterday those centres did 41,856.

— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) September 15, 2021

This is an immense achievement, and worthy of huge state / civic pride

New York City currently has only 79% first dose (and 72% full vaccination), despite having access to a glut of vaccines much, much earlier in the pandemic https://t.co/ckt17RnecP

— Naaman Zhou (@naamanzhou) September 15, 2021

Aged care staff have absolutely smashed it with their vaccination rates - compare the numbers from August to now https://t.co/zDaj4S0QJe pic.twitter.com/KIEgER9pGq

— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) September 14, 2021

I wish I could go and get vaccinated at the same clinic as this adorable chimp.

You know who ARE getting jabbed? Lions, leopards, cheetahs, otters, chimps and a bunch of other animals at the Maryland Zoo.https://t.co/evLX9JFcfR

— Jason Whittaker (@thetowncrier) September 15, 2021

Malcolm Turnbull says Christian Porter’s decision to accept money without knowing the source was an “extraordinary abrogation of responsibility”, after the former attorney general declared part of his legal fees were paid by unknown donors.

Porter updated his register of interests on Monday, revealing that part of his defamation legal fees were paid by a blind trust with funds from an unknown source.

In the declaration, Porter claimed that as he is a potential beneficiary he had “no access to information about the conduct and funding of the trust”.

Speaking to ABC radio on Wednesday, Turnbull said he was “staggered that Porter thought he could get away with” accepting donations without knowing the source.

Updated

You see backed-up traffic, I see people doing their civic duty and keeping us all safe.

Concern over the Ballarat outbreak and Surf Coast situation has flowed onto Geelong with dozens lining up for testing this afternoon. #springst pic.twitter.com/4K535ZjDKD

— Alex Sinnott (@AlexSinnott1) September 15, 2021

Updated

Qantas has scheduled flights from Australia to London, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Singapore commencing on 18 December, a spokesperson for the airline revealed to Yahoo Finance.

The spokesperson added that flights from Australia to Tokyo and Fiji are also scheduled from 18 December.

National cabinet’s four-phase pandemic exit strategy said Australians will be able to travel when 80% of the population is fully vaccinated.

#BREAKING: @Qantas has revealed the travel dates and destinations for London, Los Angeles, Singapore, and more. Exclusive for @YahooFinanceAU https://t.co/YVL7qe6IAB

— jessica yun (@hijessicayun) September 15, 2021

Updated

The Sikh Gurudwara at Craigieburn has been listed as a tier 1 site. It was used as a pop-up site for vaccinations on the weekend, with a few hundred people passing through. pic.twitter.com/k0v0v0TbFc

— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) September 15, 2021

Labor has accused the Morrison government of “losing control of the second biggest defence acquisition ever”, after officials confirmed three warships will be delivered late under a $44bn program.

At a parliamentary hearing today, defence officials were questioned about timeframes for the Hunter-class frigates to replace the eight Anzac-class frigates, which have been in service since 1996. Defence has argued the new frigates will be “one of the most advanced anti-submarine warships in the world” - but they are no longer due to begin entering service in the late 2020s.

A defence department deputy secretary, Tony Dalton, said the window for the delivery of the first frigate would close in December 2031. That is up to two years later than the “original nominal delivery date” of late 2029 - and it can’t enter service right away.

Asked whether that meant it would get clearance to begin operating by about December 2033, Dalton replied that was “probably a reasonable estimate”. But he said the department planned to be back on schedule from the fourth ship onwards: “We’re still expecting the final [ninth] ship to be delivered in the period around 2044.”

Speaking after the hearing of the public accounts and audit committee, Labor MP Pat Conroy said he was “very sceptical that the schedule in this project can be recovered”, because “once problems start, they tend to snowball”.

Conroy - who is the shadow minister assisting for defence - told Guardian Australia:

“It’s further proof that the government has completely lost control of the second biggest defence acquisition ever.”

“This is a project that has blown out by 50% or $14bn and now we learn that the first three ships will be delayed by two years. This means that our navy will be forced to run the older and less capable Anzac-class frigates longer in a region of the world which has more submarines than any other.”

The defence minister, Peter Dutton, has previously told the Australian it was “frustrating” to see delays to the frigates, but the schedule would be recovered over the life of the project. He has said did not intend “to just sit back and let these projects drift”.

Updated

The NT has announced its roadmap out of lockdown, but the reality is they are not in lockdown at the moment. One of the biggest takeaways from chief minister Michael Gunner’s announcement today is what the Territory is going to do about interstate borders once over 80% of the population is vaccinated.

Gunner says the Territory is going to introduce different quarantine requirements for interstate travellers, depending on what part of Australia you are coming from (and what the Covid situation is there at that time).

Places of origin will be categorised as green, orange and red zones.

Green zones are places that aren’t deemed Covid-19 hotspots. If you are travelling from a green zone, you will be able to freely access and move around the Territory, regardless of whether you are vaccinated.

Orange zones are places where there is a medium-level of Covid-19 risk. This could be places with exposure sites or wastewater detection. Travellers from orange zones will have to self-quarantine at home or somewhere else if they are fully vaccinated, until they return a negative test. Unvaccinated people without a pre-approved reason for visiting the NT won’t be allowed in.

Red zones are Covid-19 hotspots. If you travel to the Territory from a red zone, you will have to self-quarantine for 14 days at home or elsewhere if you are fully vaccinated. But you won’t have to go into hotel quarantine. Similarly to those from orange zones, unvaccinated travellers without a pre-approved reason for visiting the NT won’t be allowed in. If they have a pre-approved reason, they will have to quarantine at Howard Springs or another supervised quarantine facility.

Updated

NT will make vaccines mandatory for high-risk workers

NT chief minister Michael Gunner also announced that the Territory will require high-risk workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine. This will include people who work in healthcare facilities, hospitality staff, public servants, and people who work with children under the age of 12, who aren’t eligible for a vaccine.

Updated

NT expected to hit 80% fully vaccinated by mid-November

About 50% of the Northern Territory population is fully vaccinated, and chief minister Gunner said he hopes the Territory will reach 80% by mid-November.

It’s not the entire population that needs to hit 80% for these new measures to come into effect.

80% of people in all five main regions across the Territory need to be fully vaccinated, and 80% of people in each age group.

Gunner announced that once that happens, instead of going into lockdown when there is a local Covid-19 outbreak, there will be a lockout.

This means that only people who aren’t vaccinated will be required to stay at home if there is an outbreak.

Updated

OK let’s leave it there with the Victorian Covid update and take a look at what happened at the Northern Territory’s (simultaneous) press conference.

NT chief minister Michael Gunner outlined the Territory’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Updated

The Victorian premier has warned that life is not just going to go back to how things were pre-pandemic once we hit 80% of the population fully vaccinated.

Andrews:

As we push through the 70%, to the 70% double-dosed, 80% double-dosed, where we have many more options where we will deliver the national plan and we will be open - it’s not a Freedom Day thing, and it’s not back like it was in 2019. But we will have many more options if we can keep these numbers as low as possible. That means we keep the number of people in hospital as low as possible, and then we’ve got options and we can move faster than what otherwise would be the case.

Updated

Andrews says that he might roll out the announcement of modest restrictions easing, with a bigger roadmap out of lockdown this Sunday.

We can do more because we have settled on the full context, that’s the only way we might wait a little while longer, but only a day or so. I’ll have more to say on the weekend.

Updated

There have also been multiple questions around when Victoria is going to release its roadmap out of lockdown, given that we are going to hit 70% of the state vaccinated with at least one dose sooner than expected.

Andrews:

We’re very close, at 68.3%. We should hit 70% tomorrow. We should confirm for people as soon as we can and make effective as soon as we can those - we have been very up-front about this, I’m not overselling this. It’s modest, the notion of extra time and extra distance to be able to travel from home for exercise. If we can go any further than this with social interaction as well, we’ll - we will get those announcements made as soon as possible.

Updated

Andrews has responded to questions about whether it will become mandatory for healthcare workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

He said that this will be discussed at national cabinet on Friday.

Updated

Reporter:

Just back on the man in his 20s. Why would we classify it as a Covid death if we’re not entirely sure that was the cause of death and evident he might have underlying comorbidities.

Sutton:

We have not classified anything. The coroner will make their determination in relation to the exact cause of death but it’s a positive Covid case and we need to manage it as such.

Reporter:

‘Man in his 20s died of Covid’ is a scary headline.

Sutton:

None of us should be surprised of young people dying of Covid especially the Delta variant which is extremely dangerous. It’s got over two times the rate of hospitalisation, so the severity of illness with the Delta variant comparing vaccinated individuals with the individuals in previous variants, two times - 2.5 times greater. So it’s a very, very serious illness. Two times more lethal...

(But also, I’d like to jump in and point out here that journalists are the ones writing the headlines)

Updated

Sutton has been asked about a man in his twenties who died, who was diagnosed with Covid.

Reporter:

The family of the Craigieburn man in his 20s who died, they say of a cardiac arrest has been later diagnosed as having Covid. Are people being misdiagnosed? And do they need to go in isolation as a result of that?

Sutton said that there is no final coroner’s finding in this case, but that even if someone dies of cardiac arrest as the immediate cause of death, Covid can be the underlying diagnosis and that is why close contacts will have to quarantine.

Sutton:

Anyone who’s died from Covid, even if diagnosed post-mortem, we will look if there’s significant underlying conditions.

Updated

Victorian chief health officer, Brett Sutton, has been asked if Victoria’s case numbers have peaked yet.

Sutton says they haven’t:

We haven’t peaked unfortunately. The modelling and everything we know in relation to our current vaccination coverage would suggest that cases will continue to increase. The fact that they have been held in the 400s, again, are testament to everyone in those suburbs and who’s isolating and quarantining and to the contact-tracing work that’s been done. But it’s a very hard number to keep under wraps and vaccination alone won’t mean that there’s a peak at the 400s.

Sutton has also been asked about whether authorities are expecting cases to get over 1,000.

Sutton says the possibility is real.

For Melbourne? Look, it’s very hard to know. We had a higher growth trajectory in the previous week. It seems to have stabilised a little bit in the last few days but we don’t know where that true number is. The risk of it getting to 1,000 is real. So we have to press on with vaccinations at the fastest possible rate for that reason alone.

Updated

Andrews, on the lockdown in Ballarat:

This is what the national plan calls for - targeted lockdowns in order to preserve the low virus status of a larger group. No one wants to make this decision. We’ll support the people of Ballarat. There’ll be further business support which has still not expired from announcements that were made previously, despite the fact that Ballarat has been open for a short period of time, we didn’t revise down those business supports, they’re still being paid, but there’ll be further announcements made quite soon.

Updated

Reporters have asked the premier whether it was necessary to send Ballarat into lockdown.

Andrews:

Yes, it was. That was the advice provided by the chief health officer and if we had it get away from us in one part of regional Victoria, then all of regional Victoria will be closed. Just think about that - people just don’t stay in one part of the region, they move, they travel, they work. This has come from authorised movements. If there are other authorised movements and a freedom of movement across regional Victoria, that would see it spread.

Updated

Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar says that there are currently 173 Victorians in hospital with Covid-19, of whom 44 are in intensive care and 23 of those are on a ventilator.

Of today’s cases, Weimar says that:

In the northern region we have 270 for positive cases in our northern suburbs, that includes locations such as Craigieburn, Roxburgh... and Glenroy.

In the Western Suburbs, we have 112 cases, just over one-quarter, in suburbs such as Truganina and Tarneit and Point Cook.

There are 10 cases in our Eastern Suburbs across Croydon and Donvale.

And there are 25 cases in the south-east of our city in Keysborough, Dandenong, and Clyde North.

There are five regional cases.

There are a number of exposure sites in Ballarat on the Victoria Health website.

Sites that Sutton mentioned at today’s press conference include:

  • The Q hotel in Lake Wendouree on the 9th and 10th between 7.50am and 7:55am.
  • The Forge Pizzeria on the 10th between 10:55am and 11:55am and on the 11th from 2:50pm until 3:30pm.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, is talking further about the news that Ballarat is going into a one-week lockdown tonight.

Of today’s four new local cases, two are authorised workers who work in Ballarat, and two people who reside in Ballarat who are household contacts of a case announced yesterday.

Sutton says that authorities have recorded positive wastewater detections from 8 September, and that there will likely be more cases recorded in the coming days.

This could be someone passing through the town, or someone who as recovered, but, he said “when subsequently you have confirmed cases identified, it does make you think that those wastewater detections related to someone who was positive and infectious and not detected in the community at least back until the eighth [of September] and probably for some days before that...”

“So it has been over a week of likely transmission within the Ballarat community. So there are likely to be more cases and it is for that reason that going to an immediate lockdown is really the right response. Again, in line with the national plan, the national strategy for the shortest, sharpest lockdowns possible. It does give Ballarat the very best chance of opening up again in the shortest possible time.

Updated

Andrews also added that he is waiting on news from the federal government regarding how many new vaccine doses Victoria is set to receive in October, before he can set the state’s next vaccination target.

Until I get that I can’t settle on whether it is a target of 500,000 or another 1m or over what interval period.

Updated

Ballarat to enter a seven-day lockdown

Andrews has confirmed, though, that authorities have reported Covid cases and wastewater detections in the Ballarat area.

As a result, from 11:59pm tonight, the city of Ballarat will have to go back into a lockdown for seven days.

“I know the people of that proud city will stick together. They will look out for each other. They will support each other,” Andrews said.

Health authorities will direct additional vaccines to the Ballarat area, but Andrews said that they are “right on the 70% single-dose already”.

The Premier said that while lockdown “is not the news Ballarat want to hear all the decision we to make, if we allow it to get away in one part of regional Victoria becomes a threat and a risk to all of regional Victoria.

“We can’t have that happen.”

Updated

Andrews has announced the town of Shepparton has recorded no new Covid-19 cases for three days, and will be able to join the rest of regional Victoria and open up (with some restrictions) from 11.59pm tonight.

“Shepparton shows you that a community can be locked down, can stick together, can be supported and deliver fundamental control of an outbreak,” Andrews said.

Updated

In good news: roughly 68% of people in Victoria have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose, meaning some limited restrictions will ease soon.

Just a reminder, Victoria recorded 423 cases. All locally acquired. Of these, 149 of them are are linked.

Sadly, Andrews has confirmed two Covid-related deaths: a man in his 40s from the Whittlesea area, and a second man in his 70s from Wyndham.

Updated

We are expecting Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to speak any minute now. Stay tuned.

Updated

NT chief minister Michael Gunner said that even when they hit 80% of the local population vaccinated (which should happen in the next 50 days), the Territory is going to have to keep border closures to parts of Australia that have high Covid-19 case numbers.

He said that “even in this next phase of the national plan our number one objective will be to keep Covid out as much as we possibly can so we can manage it safely.”

Gunner:

Full-scale community transmission is not something we can contemplate up here even with high vaccination rates. We don’t have the hospitals that Sydney and Melbourne have, we don’t have the same ICU capacity, and we have a lot of other health collages to manage up here on top of Covid. We need to do everything possible to prevent a situation like New South Wales happening here where they are now predicting thousands of people will be hospitalised with Covid with hundreds requiring ICU beds.

We don’t have hundreds of ICU beds. We have 20 ICU beds... We can probably assign eight of them for Covid patients, up to five in Darwin and three in Alice. That’s it. We have done the planning, mapping out the worst case scenarios the choices we would have to make, who gets and bed and who doesn’t ... We have thought about those choices. We don’t want to make them. We know Covid is coming eventually. We know we cannot keep it out forever. But that does not mean we just let Covid rip and hope for the best.

Updated

Ballarat will reportedly go into lockdown later today. Premier Daniel Andrews is set to speak in the next five minutes.

Ballarat to enter lockdown later today, Premier @DanielAndrewsMP to make announcement shortly @abcmelbourne

— Richard Willingham (@rwillingham) September 15, 2021

Good afternoon everyone, Justine Landis-Hanley here to bring you the news this afternoon.

Thank you to Matilda Boseley for live blogging multiple press conferences this morning.

Speaking of which, we are currently hearing from the Northern Territory’s chief minister, Michael Gunner, who has been announcing the Territory’s plan once it reaches 80% full vaccination. Let’s dive in!

Updated

With that, I shall pass you over to Justine Landis-Hanley who will take you through the afternoon’s news!

See you all tomorrow morning everyone!

Updated

OK! We will be hearing from the Victoria leadership very soon, with the press conference set to start at 12.30pm (AEST).

12:30pm

— WhatTimeIsTheVicPresser (@WhatTimeDan) September 15, 2021

Updated

Oooh, good news for ACT residents. Barr says restrictions could well ease early if vaccination rates keep going up.

Reporter:

If things are going well perhaps by late October we could start seeing some of those eased restrictions coming into effect?

Barr:

Yes. Possibly earlier.

Barr is being asked, why, given NSW has outlined their 70% roadmap in some details, can’t he give ACT residents more clarity on what will change when that milestone is reached.

But he won’t be tempted:

Just heard the New South Wales premier’s press conference as I was driving here and she indicated they would provide further details on elements of their plan once they cross certain thresholds.

It is very difficult to so this far out and that the virus was unpredictable. NSW have put in place a range of measures that are a month away.

We have heavily caveated, based on local circumstances and variances within their own state. It’s not a detailed roadmap for the future. It’s a guess about what might happen in four weeks’ time.

So, there’s not clarity in NSW. On every element of what happens between here and Christmas, they’ve outlined a series of things they hope to be able to do at 70%. So it is our intention, as I have indicated in my opening remarks, to provide further detail as we get close or to those thresholds.

Updated

Ooft, you don’t see this very often, the perenially calm ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has had a little spat with a Sky News reporter at the press conference.

Here is how it played out.

Reporter:

Current projections have the ACT getting to 70% double dose October 7 and the rest of the nation October 28.

Does that mean you’ll continue to have Canberra locked down for an extra three weeks or even longer if that’s required?

Barr:

No.

Reporter:

Sorry. Let me follow up on what and that what does it mean because you said you wanted to wait until the nation gets to 70% before a gradual easing of restrictions.

Barr:

We have a lockdown that continues until 15 October and we’ll advise the situation beyond there.

Reporter:

OK, but in terms of ...

Barr:

Excuse me.

Reporter:

Sorry, if I can follow up.

Barr:

There are other journalists here.

Reporter:

I have only had 30 seconds.

Barr:

Is this the Sky News approach? There are other journalists. You can come back shortly.

Updated

The ACT chief health officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, says there would be deaths if the territory were to ease restrictions now.

We are still seeing people infectious in the community. Some of whom are attending essential work while infectious. This is why our social restrictions are so important, to stop to spread of the virus while we’re working toward our vaccination goals.

We continue to have over 50 cases with unknown sources of transmission. This means there are cases of Covid-19 in the community that we are not aware of.

If we were to relax our restrictions now, we risk this outbreak rapidly escalating at a time when not enough of us are vaccinated. And, therefore, we would see a proportion of cases with severe disease outcomes including hospitalisation, ICU admissions and even death.

Updated

Here is a sure-fire way to get on the blog. Appeal to my ego and commiserate with my 11am woes!

Reactivating Twitter just to post this meme. Me when 11am rolls around @MatildaBoseley pic.twitter.com/mt35YqddMP

— Suspicious Beth (@BethyMcBethface) September 15, 2021

Updated

Here is the long and short of the ACT situation.

Barr:

13 new cases, eight are linked, five in quarantine for their entire infectious period, eight who spent part of their infectious period in the community.

A reduction in the number hospitalised down to seven, and one person still in intensive care.

Barr says the federal government has agreed to expand the current Covid-19 business support payments. Businesses who have already registered will automatically receive the topped up payments.

Barr:

Restrictions within high-risk settings including residential aged facilities, disability accommodation, hospitals, correction facilities, including temporarily limiting of visits and movements, will also need to be applied during this phase.

There will be a gradual return to office buildings and workplaces, so work from home, where you can, will be a feature, like it was last year, of our transition.

There will be a return to face-to-face learning when it is safe to do so.

Further details of the transition will be advised in advance of each phase through October and November. Right now, though, we need to give more than 100,000 Canberrans the opportunity to get vaccinated in the next four weeks as we suppress our current outbreak.

ACT outlines future roadmap out of lockdown

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr is outlining the general shape of the territory’s roadmap out of lockdown once double vaccination rates of 70% and then 80% are achieved.

Like our transition out of lockdown last year, the following types of restrictions will gradually change.

Home visitation numbers, the number of people allowed to visit, will increase as the situation eases.

Gathering sizes will increase when it is safe to do so, noting that outdoors is safer than indoors. Larger events and gatherings may remain restricted for longer.

Density restrictions will apply within businesses, venues and facilities. Like last year, businesses will be asked to apply density limits of one per 4 square metres and phasing down to one per 2 square metres for periods of time during the transition.

There will be caps on the number of patrons and clients allowed to enter a business. Higher risk businesses and venues will likely need to remain closed or more tightly restricted for longer periods of time.

It seems clear that, just like NSW and Victoria, the ACT now views vaccination, not elimination, as the way out of lockdown.

Barr:

Vaccination is the main pathway to move safely beyond our current situation.

When the nation moves forward with a national plan, and crosses the 70% vaccination threshold, in mid to late October and the 80% vaccination threshold in early to mid-November, the ACT’s vaccine program will put our city in a very strong position to gradually reopen

Updated

Speaking of the ACT, chief minister Andrew Barr says, as of today, 75% of the over-12 population in the territory have had at least one vaccine dose.

Yesterday was another strong day of vaccination. Over 4000 doses were administered in ACT government clinics. 61% of those were first doses and 39% second doses.

Today we will reach 75% of the population aged 12 and over with at least one dose of a vaccine.

Updated

ACT records 13 new local Covid-19 cases

While that NSW press conference was going we got the ACT numbers.

The territory recorded 13 new local Covid-19 case, with only five in isolation for their entire quarantine period and eight have spent time in the commuity.

In the ACT 13 new cases: 8 household contacts and 5 under investigation. 5/13 in isolation whole time, 8 partly in community#auspol #COVID19Aus

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) September 15, 2021

Now, as we know, from this weekend Queensland has opened up Pfizer vaccines for the over 60 cohorts (despite AstraZeneca not being recommended to younger people).

The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, says that NSW is not considering this at the present time.

The vaccination coverage and a lot of those cohorts for the first dose is actually quite good. There is a bit of room to move. In terms of first dose. There is a second dose to push up to get a 95% universally in those age cohorts.

At the moment, we still don’t have totally unconstrained Pfizer access and we are prioritising groups that haven’t had vaccination at the moment while encouraging all old age groups to take the available vaccines.

I’ll say the AstraZeneca vaccine is actually holding up very well ... we are not at the appropriate phase to pick and choose. We should take the opportunity to get vaccinated with whatever effect of vaccine we have available.

Updated

Speaking of the possibility of regional towns locking down:

Reporter:

There have been reports of two cases in Albury. Can you confirm the community will go into lockdown tonight?

Berejiklian:

I can’t confirm that. As Doctor Chant said, [NSW] Health collates advice and gives us their advice. It’s up to Health to tell government what to do in relation to those matters.

Reporter:

What’s the tipping point for lockdown?

Berejiklian.

I’ve just heard that from you. I have to hear it from Health, with all due respect.

Updated

Chant has been asked if the region town of Young will be locked down now that the health department has identified an infected person who spent time there.

From her answer, it seems that option is still very much on the table.

We will provide advice, we are seeking additional advice as I’d announced that we saw sewage detections in Young and found a case of another local district when the case was interviewed, that person had actually been a number of other places.

We are putting that together, and provide our advice to government and there is a process if there are cases in towns and we advise on action.

We are pulling those pieces together with exposure sites, it is important that everyone in Young follows that public advice which will be issued locally.

There are a number of venues and other urgent testing is being undertaken.

Just ducking back for a second to revisit this point. I believe this is the first time that the NSW premier has confirmed her intentions to explicitly make it against the law for unvaccinated people to attend venues during the 70% vaccination period of the roadmap.

Questions about the legality of this are no doubt going to dominate conversations in the weeks to come.

Berejiklian:

There is no doubt as to what we said when we announced the roadmap. At 70%, if you’re not vaccinated, it will be a health order and the law that if you’re not vaccinated, you can’t attend venues on the roadmap. You can’t go into a hospitality venue. You can’t go to ticketed events unless you are vaccinated. We made that very clear for 70% double dose.

Updated

Reporter:

The vaccine mandate deadline looms for health workers and teachers. Will health workers and teachers who refuse the jab lose their jobs?

Berejiklian:

There are issues which both the health minister and department and the education minister are going to but we’ve made clear that if you are providing service in a health facility, and health setting, you need to be by a certain time vaccinated.

They aren’t the easiest issues and we’re working through them.

Everybody appreciates that, if you are teaching, with direct contact with children and with adults dropping off children, that it is in your best interest and of the children you take care of to be vaccinated.

Updated

The premier has been asked if it will be an offence for a business to accept a customer who is not vaccinated when the state reaches the 70% vaccination period of the roadmap.

Berejiklian:

We are going through compliance issues now so there is an onus on you as an individual to be vaccinated and it will depend on the size of the business.

We know many small businesses are doing it tough so we are going through that compliance regime right now to give enough notice to businesses before they open.

But there is individual responsibility involved and for larger institutions, workplaces, major events, you’d expect some level of business involvement but for smaller sized businesses, that’s odorous so we are looking at the whole regime and will make that public to give people time.

Reporter:

Sorry, premier, have you had legal advice on the 70% map?

Berejiklian:

The legal advice was dealt with through the national cabinet system because we’re following the Doherty plan. We’re following what national cabinet signed off on.

Reporter:

Why can’t we follow the 80% legal advice given to Doherty?

Berejiklian:

Because the 80% road map for New South Wales – we will be the first state to hit the 80% double digit and the Doherty plan is very clear in saying that what you can do at 80% and beyond depends on what the cases are doing and what is happening in the community at that time.

Updated

The NSW premier is now fielding a lot of questions about the legality of telling businesses they are not allowed to accept unvaccinated patrons.

Berejiklian didn’t directly answer questions on if the government sought legal advice on the roadmap before publishing.

Reporter:

What about the number of business owners and hospitality who say they’re going to be navigating a legal minefield based on who has had the vaccination and who hasn’t. Will there be guidance?

Berejiklian:

I’ve given pretty good guidance today. We’ll have the vaccination passport in NSW when we hit 70% double dose.

You’ll be able to check in with your QR code and see whether or not you’re vaccinated and that’s really important.

The government will need to seek legal advice ourselves. This is uncharted territory but we’re providing as much certainty as possible, as much as we know exists at 70% double dose and in good time, with plenty of notice, we’ll be giving everybody a road map as to what 80% double dose looks like.

Reporter:

So did you release the 70% roadmap without legal advice?

Berejiklian:

When you’re in a pandemic, governments are able to make plans, able to make decisions, introduce health orders.

Reporter:

But have you had legal advice on the 70% map?

Berejiklian:

We receive advice from a myriad of sources every step of the way and what people choose to do individually is on them in terms of legal issues, but I will say this – our job is to provide certainty and safety to the community but also to see both patrons enjoying their freedom.

Updated

NSW premier says it will be against the law for unvaccinated people to attend venues once 70% vaccination is reached

Now you might remember that the federal treasuer, Josh Frydenberg, said it would be up to businesses to decide if they let unvaccinated patrons into their premises.

Well, it looks like in NSW, at least at the 70% vaccination level, this will not be the case.

At 70% we’ve been extremely clear and extremely black and white. There is no doubt as to what we said when we announced the roadmap.

At 70%, if you’re not vaccinated, it will be a health order and the law that if you’re not vaccinated, you can’t attend venues on the roadmap. You can’t go into a hospitality venue. You can’t go to ticketed events unless you are vaccinated. We made that very clear for 70% double dose.

What I also said that day is that we’re considering what 80% double dose looks like because, then, what we need to consider is not only what the unvaccinated population could do to our hospital system but the rate at which disease can still spread if too many people are unvaccinated.

Updated

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has hinted that communities with low vaccination rates, like Byron Bay, may not be given freedoms at the same time at the rest of the state if case numbers are high.

Reporter:

Byron Bay is only at 55%. How can the floodgates open in just a few short weeks to that community? Some doctors are saying we need to ring fence some zones until they catch up to the state average?

Berejiklian:

Obviously, some communities like Bayern have a, like Byron, have a larger percentage of people who choose not to be vaccinated. That’s their choice but they won’t be able to participate in the activities vaccinated people will. As we get closer to that time, Dr Chant and the health department will give government advice on how we deal with those communities but also more broadly how we deal with communities that might have high rates of the disease still in them at the time.

As I foreshadowed the day we announced and released the road map, it could be a situation where, if case numbers are too high when we open up the state, that if you live in a community or in a category of person who has high rates of virus, we might have to say to you for the next little while, do all those things that you’re allowed to do but within your local area. We have all those options and, closer to that time, Health will provide us with advice, but there’s no doubt that the two issues we look at are the vaccination rates and also the prevalence of disease.

Updated

Here are the full details of those 12 Covid-19 related deaths in NSW from the health department release.

I have to say, it was extremely heart-wrenching having scroll down, as the list no longer all fits in the email previous page at once. I hope everyone in Sydney is doing as OK as they can be today.

  • A woman in her 60s from south-eastern Sydney died at home.
  • A man in his 60s from south-western Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital.
  • A man in his 70s from western Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital.
  • A man in his 90s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.
  • A woman in her 80s from western Sydney died at Blacktown Hospital.
  • A woman in her 50s from south-western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.
  • A woman in her 80s from south-western Sydney died at Campbelltown Hospital.
  • A woman in her 70s from south-western Sydney died at Campbelltown Hospital.
  • A woman in her 30s from south-western Sydney died at Royal North Shore Hospital.
  • A woman in her 70s from south-eastern Sydney died at Prince of Wales Hospital.
  • A man in his 60s from western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.
  • A man in his 50s from south-western Sydney died at Westmead Hospital.

Updated

NSW recorded 1,259 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Two new cases were acquired overseas, and 36 previously reported cases have been excluded following further investigation. pic.twitter.com/BADIDtqn2Z

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 15, 2021

Berejiklian says the lifting of curfews in the 12 LGAs is a “token of appreciation” for high vaccination turnout in the communities, but says it’s too risky to ease restrictions further.

Every decision we take is based on health advice and if it’s related to compliance, also input and advice from the police, the police commissioner and other government agencies.

As Dr Chant and I have both said today, we still have a lot of work to do. We still had 1,259 cases overnight. The stabilisation and decline in some areas of concern are pleasing and we are at a critical stage.

But the best advice we have, that it’s too early and too risky to do anything further today.

But as a token of our appreciation for reaching the 80% milestone, given feedback from police, who suggest that compliance is improving in many areas where perhaps previously it was not, plus the health advice about mental health challenges and the risks of not providing people a little bit of relief, all of that was balanced up and has been balanced up over some time.

Updated

Chant confirmed NSW is seeing “some stabilisation in the local government areas of concern” but urged people to keep pushing vaccination levels up.

In terms of the overall pattern of the disease we’re seeing some stabilisation in the local government areas of concern and some downturn in some of the local government areas.

We need to continue to adhere to the public health orders. We need to stay with it. We have to make sure that we drive home the declines we’re seeing so that we get to the lowest hospital level of transmission of Covid.

I urge you to be one of the most highly vaccinated populations in the state. Yes, you’ve achieved 80% in some of your local government areas. Yes, you’ve achieved 90% in some. I’m challenging you to push even further.

Updated

Chant says an infectious person spent time in the regional communities of Wagga Wagga, Young and Mudgee, raising concerns of additional spread in those communities.

In terms of sewage surveillance, we’ve found it reliable in giving us early warnings and we’ve had sewage detections in Young and I can report today that we have identified a person with who spent time while infectious in Wagga Wagga, Young and Mudgee.

I call upon all of those communities to be vigilant for symptoms and our NSW Health site will be updated with exposure venues but it’s important, given we have sewage detections in Young and we’ve confirmed that through the testing increase in that site that we’ve identified a person who has been infectious in that community.

Updated

Here are the hospitalisation details.

Chant:

There are around 234 cases in ICU, and they vary across all age groups reflecting that Covid is a severe disease for all.

Of the people in ICU, we have 234 and 185 people are not vaccinated. Again, this is not to call out those that are vaccinated from those that are unvaccinated but it’s to reassure the community that vaccines are effective and it is important that everybody takes this opportunity with increasing supplies, particularly through general practice and pharmacy, to get vaccinated.

NSW marks its most deadly day so far with 12 Covid-19 deaths

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant is giving the details of the 12 deaths of Covid-19 positive people in the last reporting period.

This is the most deadly day so far in the Delta outbreak.

Sadly, we have had the death of 12 people and my condolences to their families. Seven women and five men. These people were a range of ages reflecting the severe impact this can have on all parts of the community.

One woman had underlying health conditions. We’re reporting the deaths of two people in their 50s, three people in their 60s, three people in their 70s, two people in their 80s and one person in their 90s.

Of the 12 people who sadly passed away with Covid, 10 people were not vaccinated, one person had received one dose of Covid vaccine and one person had received two doses.

This was the gentleman in his 90s, with underlying health conditions, who died at the Westmead Hospital and he acquired his infection at the hardy Guildford aged care facility.

Two people have also died from Covid-19 related illness in Victoria.

Updated

Berejiklian:

In terms of double dose, we’re up to 47.5% of our adult population completely vaccinated and it’s that number we’re looking to to allow us freedoms at 70% double dose. We’re at 47.5% and inching ever so closely to the 70% double dose figure.

To reach our first dose of 80% is a huge tribute to everybody in the community and some of our communities in western and south-western Sydney have vaccination rates closer to 90%. Just an outstanding result compared to where we’ve been and where we are today.

Curfew will lift in 12 western Sydney LGAs of concern

Berejiklian has announced that given the state has still reached an 80% single-dose vaccination rate, the curfew on the 12 LGAs of concern will lift tonight.

Pleasingly, after receiving advice from both police and Health, given we’ve hit the 80% milestone across the state, we’re able to lift the curfew in those areas of concern from tonight and I want to thank the police, the police commissioner and also the health teams for giving us that advice.

This is a whole-of-government decision based on a number of factors but I want to send this strong message. We can’t move on anything else just now. We need everybody to hold the line. Please make sure that, if you live in those local government areas of concern, that you stick to every other rule that’s in place.

We’ve seen a stabilisation in the last few days and we don’t want to see that trend go the wrong way. We still have work to do.

Updated

NSW records 1,259 local Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now. She has confirmed the state has recorded local Covid-19 cases.

Sadly 12 people infected with Covid-19 have also died.

OK, apologies for the wrong list before, here is the correct list of the new federal Greens portfolios.

New Greens portfolios: pic.twitter.com/TQq2ZbWmNX

— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) September 15, 2021

Updated

We are just standing by now for the NSW press conference where premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to speak.

That will start any minute.

An important correction to that Victorian Liberals press release.

They are only calling for the curfew to end immediately, not the whole lockdown.

Thoughts and prayers for the media manager who will no doubt be having a really bad day from here.

Matthew Guy walking back from his written plan.. he wants the curfew to end today.. not the lockdown. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) September 15, 2021

Says there was an error in his press release. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) September 15, 2021

Oh gosh, the Victorian opposition is out and about again today, headed by their new (old) leader Matthew Guy.

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to release the state’s roadmap to freedom on Sunday, but the Liberal side says this isn’t soon enough.

They say lockdown must end immediately, VCE students should return to the classroom asap and small outdoor family gatherings should be allowed.

"The curfew must go... small gatherings (outside) must be allowed thus weekend."@MatthewGuyMP says Sunday is too far away after 227 days in lockdown. @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/uR4aPxN254

— Mark Santomartino (@msanto92) September 15, 2021

Here is the full press release:

Here’s Mr Guy’s statement: pic.twitter.com/1uwmuDIJDB

— Benita Kolovos (@benitakolovos) September 15, 2021

Updated

There have been some mixed reactions to the news that Pfizer doses in Queensland will now be open to over 60’s.

Quite stunning. WA and Queensland, already badly lagging the nation in the vaccine roll out, have now both announced over 60s can get Pfizer when the roll out to kids has barely begun - and we have millions of AstraZeneca doses. Premiers enabling vaccine hesitancy = 🤯 https://t.co/Bt55Bc5E7L

— James Massola💙❤️ (@jamesmassola) September 15, 2021

A reminder that if there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at matilda.boseley@theguardian.com.

Major developed countries including the US, Japan, Britain and the European Union cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation faster than Australia over the past decade, a new report states.

The analysis, in a national energy audit produced by the Australia Institute, is a further challenge to the Morrison government’s claims that the country is doing more to combat the climate crisis than other nations.

Comparing energy combustion emissions between 2011 and 2019, it found that Australia had not managed to achieve the same reductions in electricity emissions as other comparable economies despite solar and wind providing an increasing share of power.

Emissions from other forms of fossil fuel combustion – including for transport and major industrial activity – grew significantly in Australia and the US over that time period but fell in Japan, the UK and EU.

You can read the full report below:

No confirmed time yet for the Victorian press conference, but why do I get the feeling it will be close to 11am?

pic.twitter.com/LACVgdSfw7

— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) September 14, 2021

You don’t want to have a heart attack in October in NSW: AMA president

So the big question with NSW now is “will the hospital system cope” as the state continues to records more than 1,000 cases a day.

The president of the Australian medical association, Omar Khorshid is chatting with ABC now, trying to answer that question.

So the [NSW] plan to open up is actually very reasonable, to have a plan. Our concern is the timing of that opening up which could coincide with the peak in hospitalisations in NSW and just further devastate the health sector.

So even, you know, when you have got 70% double vaxxed or heading towards 80% double vaxxed, clearly you’ll have less transmission occurring in the community, but once you withdraw the lockdowns and open the society up, we can expect cases to surge.

If the vulnerable people are vaccinated we may not see a huge additional impact on hospitals, but if hospitals are already bursting at the seams, already with hundreds and hundreds of people in ICU in mid-October, any additional demand on hospitals could actually lead to measurable health outcomes on people presenting to hospital with any condition, not just Covid.

You probably don’t want to have a heart attack or be diagnosed with cancer in October in NSW and really we need to do everything we can to avoid our hospitals suffering from opening up too early.

Updated

The number of babies born in New South Wales hospitals has reached the highest level since the state began keeping records a decade ago, despite expert predictions the Covid pandemic was unlikely to spark a baby boom.

The latest report from the state’s Bureau of Health Information, released on Wednesday, reveals that 19,113 babies were born in public hospitals across NSW in the April to June quarter of 2021.

That was a 9% year-on-year increase and the highest quarterly figure since the bureau began recording the data in 2010. The health department said it marked the continuance of a “significant upswing” in births during the pandemic compared to the declining birth rate over the past decade.

Experts have argued a Covid baby boom is unlikely in Australia but those on the maternity frontline told Guardian Australia in June that hospitals were under strain because of a spike in births.

You can read the full report below:

Here is that full video announcement from the Queensland premier, on over 60’s being eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

BREAKING: From this weekend, Pfizer will be made available for Queenslanders aged 60 and over. pic.twitter.com/xGQWAkBWLr

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 14, 2021

Speaking of Queensland politics, the Greens intend to introduce a bill today to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.

BREAKING: Today I'll introduce the Greens bill to #RaisetheAge of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 in Qld, with an alternative model for 10-13 year olds.

The national process has stalled and there are children young enough to lose baby teeth in prison. This has to stop now.

— Michael Berkman (@mcberkman) September 14, 2021

Wednesday 15 September – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

No new locally acquired cases recorded overnight.

One new overseas acquired case, detected in hotel quarantine.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/VcEftJu1M0

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 14, 2021

Over 60s eligible for Pfizer in Queensland from this weekend

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has announced that, due to an increase of supply, from this weekend over 60s in Queensland will now have the option to access the Pfizer vaccine, rather than just AstraZeneca.

This comes as the state ramps up for a “super weekend” of vaccinations.

They said to me loud and clear they want to have a choice of vaccines, well I say let’s give it to them.

Roll up, roll up, roll up to the vaccination clinic, roll up to your GP, roll up to your pharmacy, roll up your sleeves and take your best shot.

Currently, 57.12% of over 16-year-old Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose and 38.78% are fully vaccinated.

Updated

Queensland records no local Covid-19 cases

Queensland has had a doughnut day, with no local Covid-19 cases recorded overnight.

This again supports the chief health officers declaration yesterday that the Sunnybank outbreak had been successfully contained.

NEW: Queensland has recorded zero new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19.

One new overseas-acquired case has been detected in hotel quarantine.

This is after 15,812 tests.

— @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) September 14, 2021

Gladys Berejiklian has now scheduled press conferences on two of the three days since she said she’d end the daily press conferences

(NSW is likely to hit 80% single-dose adult vaccination today) pic.twitter.com/7o2vSCSBdy

— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 14, 2021

And here is what those Victorian numbers look like on the big graph.

Many thanks to Josh Nicholas for this!

Victorian case number graph

Looks like we will be hearing from the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian at the Covid-19 press conference today.

I’m not sure if that suggests good news or bad news. Only time will tell.

Victorian ombudsman launches investigation into border exemptions

The Victorian ombudsman is today launching an investigation into Covid-19 related state travel exemptions, specifically looking into who has or hasn’t been allowed to enter Victoria either as visitors or residents returning home.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said in her statement this morning that complaints about the system were continuing, “raising potentially systemic issues about departmental decision-making”.

The situation is increasingly urgent with the extended lockdown. Some people are telling my office they face effective homelessness, stuck interstate with nowhere else to go.

Cases that have come into my office have raised concerns about the exercise of discretion under the relevant public health directions.

This will be a swift investigation to help the department identify if urgent improvements are needed in processes and decision making.

Glass will present the results of her investigation to the state parliament at the end of the year.

Updated

Victoria records 423 local Covid-19 cases and two deaths

Victoria has recorded another 423 new local Covid-19 cases overnight. Only 149 of these are currently linked.

Sadly two people infected with Covid-19 have also died.

Reported yesterday: 423 new local cases and 0 cases acquired overseas.
- 41,856 vaccines administered
- 54,649 test results received
- Sadly, two people with COVID-19 have died

More later: https://t.co/OCCFTAtS1P#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/SMkSBLYqyt

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 14, 2021

Hmmmmm it’s 8.56am and no Victorian Covid-19 numbers yet. Not happy Jan.

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg says businesses should be free to deny entry to people based on vaccination status.

He spoke with Nine Network a short time ago:

They control their premises. If they want to stop someone coming in based on the fact they’re not vaccinated then that is their right to do so.

Not only are they protecting their customers but they’re also making for a safer workplace for their staff. We’ve been very consistent on that.

If there is a need for further guidance, that would be a matter for a state government under their own occupation at health and safety and public health orders. It is clear that businesses can determine who comes in and out of their own premises.

Some will only want vaccinated customers to come through the door. Others will not. That will be a matter for them. What we can do is facilitate through the technology and the various apps that the state governments have put in place, the ability to understand whether someone has been vaccinated or not.

But as for, you know, the legal ability of these businesses, I understand it’s pretty clear, that they can determine who comes in and out of their own premises

Updated

Australia’s agricultural sector can reach net zero emissions by 2040, achieving emissions reductions of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 by scaling up existing Morrison government programs, according to new work from Ernst & Young.

The core of the abatement strategy modelled for the group Farmers for Climate Action involves reducing methane, electrifying transport, overhauling some land use, including more reforestation of marginal farmland, and improving land management through practices like increasing carbon sequestered in cropland.

The Ernst & Young analysis also includes a case study of the electorate of Maranoa now held by the federal agriculture minister and Queensland National, David Littleproud. It notes climate-related risks are likely to affect the main industry sectors in Maranoa which include agriculture, mining, electricity, gas and water, and construction.

You can read the full report by Katharine Murphy and Sarah Martin below:

SA premier says Delta 'can’t be kept out forever', plans to open borders at 80% vaccination

Marshall has been asked about SA’s approach to borders compared to the hardline approach from WA premier Mark McGowan.

He’s got a different approach. He’s got a very – if you like – secure border because he’s a long way away from where the Delta variant is at the moment.

We have more porous border here in South Australia. Borders with New South Wales, borders with Victoria. Look, this disease can’t be kept out forever. What we’ve got to do to make sure when it comes in, it comes in on our terms and we’ve got the ability to isolate those cases when they come and keep some baseline public health social measures in place.

They don’t have too many social measures in place in Western Australia. In fact, they’re very free at the moment, I suppose, that does add to the complexity in terms of lifting the state borders.

Updated

Unlike the other Covid-19 free states, the SA premier, Steven Marshall, has so far seemed pretty content to open the borders when his state reaches the 80% double vaccination rate.

On one hand that might not be that surprising given SA has a Liberal government in power, but then again Tasmania is blue and get they are steadfast about keeping Covid-19 out of the Island state.

Marshall has just been asked about his opinion on when is the best time to open up.

We backed the experts here. We back the science. We had the fewest days of lockdown. That’s because we back the science and that’s what we’ve seen at the national cabinet with the excellent work done by the Doherty Institute. We’ll take this carefully.

We believe at 80% the transmissibility of the Delta variant does reduce, lower-level hospital admissions, people going onto ventilators and of course death. But we’ll take it carefully.

There’s some areas that have been advised to us by the Doherty Institute keeping the test, trace, isolate and quarantine capabilities in place and keeping baseline public health measures. We’ll be working that through over the coming weeks. I’m confident we can end state lockdowns and state lock-outs once we get to 80% double vaccination.

Updated

Speaking of South Australia’s expanded home quarantine trial, the premier, Steven Marshall, has just appeared on ABC News Breakfast to chat through all the details of the app that’s making it all possible.

We looked at this technology a couple of months ago. Quite frankly, putting people into hotel quarantine for long periods of time is just not going to work in the longer term. So we looked at the technology and we’ve created an app which allows people to do home based quarantine and the pilot is under way at the moment.

So this new app got some facial recognition capability, geolocation capability. The first pilot was people coming from interstate into South Australia. About 50 people on that trial. It’s gone really well. In fact, many of them are now through that trial and they’re out there, quarantine, on the other side. And now we’re rolling out this week with about 90 people who are coming back in from overseas.

Updated

A 60-year-old worker has died and another has been seriously injured after a coalmine shaft collapsed in central Queensland, reports Marty Silk from AAP.

The man and another man were trapped when a section of wall and ceiling the shaft they were working in collapsed at the Gregory Crinum coalmine, north of Emerald, about 11pm on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old suffered critical injuries with police confirming he died at the scene.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said the other man had initially been “encapsulated” with leg and pelvic injuries.

He was eventually was then freed before being airlifted to Rockhampton hospital in a serious condition.

A third person suffered a “medical event” and was taken to Emerald hospital for treatment.

The Gregory Crinum coalmine is operated by Sojitz Blue, the Australian subsidiary of Japan’s Sojitz Corporation.

The Queensland mines inspectorate is investigating the accident with resources minister Scott Stewart expected to make a statement to parliament later on Wednesday.

Updated

Lifting lockdown restrictions in two stages in New South Wales could overwhelm intensive care units for up to five weeks over the Christmas period, according to modelling from a new expert advisory group.

Easing restrictions when 70% of NSW adults are fully vaccinated and further relaxing rules at 80% would lead to a “worst-case scenario”, suggests OzSage, a newly formed advisory group of experts in epidemiology, health and economics.

The modelling also suggests that waiting for an 80% vaccination rate – estimated to occur in November – to ease any restrictions would result in greater infections, deaths and peak daily ICU beds needed than if restrictions were eased at 70%. It predicts 689 deaths in NSW by 1 February if restrictions are eased at 70%, compared with 1,004 deaths at 80%.

The finding is at odds with separate modelling from researchers at three universities, which last month suggested that reopening at an 80% vaccination rate for adults would result in 4,000 fewer deaths across Australia than reopening at 70%.

You can read the full report below:

Updated

Karl Schubert is asked what it would take for some of those Singapore Airlines flights to come back online before December:

I wouldn’t rule it out. I think that the way that that would happen would be for the government to provide absolute clarity to airlines as to exactly what the working parameters of Australia’s open border looks like. Because that is the clarity that we need.

What we don’t know at the moment is how they are going to treat people who have been vaccinated overseas, as opposed to in Australia. What vaccines they’re going to accept, and also how are they going to verify those and what the responsibility or the expectation is upon the airlines, in terms of being able to verify those customers who are fit to travel.

Updated

Singapore Airlines spokesperson Karl Schubert is outlining the challenges of working with Australia’s strict international arrival caps.

He is asked how many passengers on average are allowed on each flight:

It varies between destinations in Australia, but I think if you were to take the number of 12 up to 25 that is the variance that we have on particular flights and that will vary per day.

Some days have been zeroed out by the government so on some days we’ve been told we just don’t have a cap allocation for you. You can’t carry passengers in and on those days, those days and unfortunately, we do have to obviously cancel our flights and we’ll do everything we can to really accommodate those passengers but as you can imagine, there is limited availability due to the already substantial backlog of people trying to get back into Australia.

Updated

Singapore Airlines to cancel two Australian flights a week until at least 2022

OK, we are getting a bit more information on Singapore airlines cancelling dozens of flights into Australia through to the end of the year.

Company representative Karl Schubert tells ABC radio that despite the Australian government promising to open up international travel soon, there still isn’t enough “clarity” and the returned traveller caps are still too restrictive:

We just don’t have the clarity, for that we need to have, I guess the confidence to operate.

We understand that the government has excellent intentions, and we are here to fully support reopening to Australia safely so that we can get more Australians home but unfortunately, as it stand,s the operating environment is one that is incredibly challenging.

We have no clarity on the removal of international arrival caps, throughout that October to December period, so we’ve had to make the very difficult decision that we simply can’t operate the two additional flights that we were hoping to do into Sydney.

Updated

South Australia is expanding its home quarantine trial to include returning overseas travellers for the first time.

The first round will involve 90 ADF personnel returning from “low-risk countries”.

SA Home Quarantine Trial for international arrivals commences this week @marshall_steven #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/mBAeJu8fm4

— Political Alert (@political_alert) September 14, 2021

Updated

Foreign airlines won’t be able to ramp up operations to meet the mass reopening of international travel into Sydney when 80% vaccination is reached because they will need several months to recall laid-off staff and retrieve planes that have been parked in deserts.

Barry Abrams, the executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, told Guardian Australia that airlines continued to be left in the dark about what the new rules and passenger limits would be, leaving them stuck “in a holding pattern”, unable to commence planning for resuming routes.

Passenger allowances are a key factor for airlines in determining the financial viability of their routes, and Abrams warned that carriers that had not flown to the country in more than a year had not yet begun allocating aircraft or staff to Australian routes, nor had they begun renegotiating contracts with ground handling crews and local supply businesses.

You can read the full report below:

Updated

Good morning everyone, it’s hump day so go make yourself a double shot long black and settle in, because we have a big morning of news ahead of us.

It’s Matilda Boseley here, and let’s jump right in.

NSW and Victoria are both on the edge of hitting vaccination milestones. (Not the all-important double dose vaccine targets, but the less significant, but still exciting, single-dose goals.)

Four out of five NSW residents aged over 16 are likely to have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the day – which for the non-mathematically minded means 80%.

This is important because it all but guarantees NSW will meet the reopening target of 80% double-dose coverage in the coming months.

Some 79.5% of the over-16 population in NSW had come forward to get at least one jab by Tuesday, and 47.5% were fully vaccinated.

Melburnians are also on the edge of a (slight) increase in freedoms with Victoria expected to hit its 70% single-dose vaccination target on Friday.

When this occurs they will get an extra hour of outdoor activity and the 5km travel radius will be expanded to 10km. Look it isn’t much, but I’ll take what I can get.

In other news, Singapore Airlines seem to have cancelled dozens of flights in recent days, potentially trapping thousands of Australians overseas. We don’t have that many details get but someone from the airline is expected to speak to the media soon and I’ll bring you all the updates when I can.

With that, why don’t we jump into the day?

Updated

Contributors

Justine Landis-Hanley and Matilda Boseley

The GuardianTramp

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