Update: May 21, 2020
Both beauty salon owners and customers have been calling on the New South Wales Government to reopen stores as restrictions ease in the state.
Sydney-based salon owner Kristin Fisher (founder of Kristin Fisher Eyebrows) took to her Instagram Stories two weeks ago to question the Government’s decision to allow hairdressers to operate while other beauty salons couldn’t. Fisher also mentioned reopening her shop under the guise of a hair salon.
During a press conference this morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she’s been “heavily lobbied by half the population” to reopen beauty salons and that a plan to do so is being formulated at the moment.
“We’ve already asked [Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant] to look at what a safe way of returning those services would look like,” Berejiklian said.
“So we’re onto that. We’re making sure that it’s, again, a sustainable way so that once these services start again they don’t have to shut down.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it looks like beauty salons could be open by June. But, with social distancing measures in place, only 20 people will be allowed in-store at one time and customers will be asked to provide contact details so they can be traced should a COVID-19 outbreak occur.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
Update: May 18, 2020
As Aussies begin to return to work, the issue of transport is front and centre.
In New South Wales, social distancing is being enforced on public transport with green stickers being used on buses, ferries and trains to indicate where it is safe for passengers to sit, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Only 12 people will be allowed to travel on Sydney buses, while trains carriages are capped at 32 people and ferries at 45 passengers. For the foreseeable future, trains will be running at 24% capacity and buses at 14% capacity, as reported by SMH.
Capacity information for metro and train services in NSW are available on the Trip Planner and Oval Travel App, so you’ll be able to check how full the next bus or train is. According to Transport NSW, a green icon means that there is space for physical distancing, while an amber icon means there is limited space. A red icon indicates that physical distancing from others isn’t possible.
NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance said that stations would be closed should the number of people exceed safe limits.
“If we have to close a station for 15-20 minutes, we have that option,” he said.
According to SMH, Constance also encouraged Aussies to drive to work but urged people to “re-time their days” to avoid peak hour traffic. Parents have also been encouraged to drive or walk their kids to school due to the changes to public transport in NSW.
Constance has asked Ausses to “show kindness” and use common sense when travelling over the coming months.
“I just want to save lives, I don’t want to see a mass transit system in Australia, in Sydney, a global city, drive the infection rate and people die,” Constance told the press on Monday morning.
With public transport playing a large factor in the spread of COVID-19 in other cities like New York and London, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has asked NSW residents to avoid using public transport before 10am and after 2pm.
“It is not a message you would give without COVID about — we normally encourage people to catch public transport — but given the constraints in the peak and the fact we are exercising social distancing, we want people to consider different ways to get to work,” she said.
Sydneysiders will also have the option to park at Moore Park for free and catch a shuttle bus or the light rail into the city for work, SMH has reported.
Epidemiologist and associate professor at LaTrobe University, Hassan Vally, told 10 daily that the safest option is to avoid public transport if possible
“If you have a choice not to, then don’t,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to get a bike or walk.”
Vally said that if people must catch a bus or train, it is essential to practice social distancing.
“Commuters should find seats away from other people, but this will mean the government will have to think about what it can do to make sure that can happen,” Vally told 10 daily.
“Whether that be only letting a certain number of people onto public transport at a time.
“But if you cut capacity by say, 50 percent or more, those people still need to get to work, so how are we going to do that?”
According to one senior government source, those who can work from home should do so.
“I think the messaging for the next six months will still be if you can work from home, you should,” they told SMH. “Public transport is one of the key risks in terms of the virus spreading.”
Update: May 15, 2020
The easing of coronavirus restrictions and reopening of dining in at cafes and restaurants starts in many states and territories today.
While most states and territories are following similar guidelines, there are a few differences between them. Here’s how dining in is being rolled out across the country…
★ New South Wales
Cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs are officially allowed to reopen in New South Wales, but they can only have 10 customers eating in at one time, as reported by the ABC. Social distancing must also be practised.
Bars and gaming facilities will remain closed but you can order alcohol with your meal at restaurants and pubs.
Other changes to restrictions in NSW include the permission of outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and five people are now able to visit your home at any one time.
It’s still business as usual for the eating out restrictions in Victoria, with no set date for the reopening of pubs and clubs. But, other restrictions were eased this week, with five people now allowed to visit your home.
According to the Victorian State Government, gatherings of up to 10 people at indoor facilities like places of worship and community centres are allowed. Groups of 10 are also able to gather outdoors for the “purposes of non-contact sport and recreation in public settings, such as National, State and public parks.”
From tomorrow, May 16, pubs, clubs and RSLs in Queensland will be allowed to have 10 patrons eat in and order drinks with their food.
According to 7 News, the rules are a little more relaxed in areas of regional Queensland, with 20 patrons allowed inside pubs and restaurants at one time, but it’s only for locals and a proof of residence must be presented before admittance.
★ South Australia
Similarly to other states, South Australians are now able to eat at restaurants and cafes that are open but the same 10 person rule applies and alcohol isn’t allowed to be served, the ABC has reported. Pubs and clubs are still closed in the state.
Premier Steven Marshall said that South Australia wasn’t in a “race with other states” when it came to reopening venues.
“What the restaurants and the cafes and particularly the pubs say to us [is] we don’t want to rush this, we don’t actually want to open up and then three weeks later be closed down for even longer,” he said.
★ Western Australia
Residents in Western Australia will experience a little more freedom as of Monday, May 18 when the state kicks off its second step of easing restrictions.
From Monday next week, 20 people are allowed to gather together, both indoors and outdoors. According to the ABC, there are exceptions when it comes to outdoor weddings and funerals, which 30 people can attend.
The same 20 person rule also applies to eating in at restaurants and cafes in WA but there still needs to be four squares metres per patron. When dining out, your details will also be recorded on a register so contract tracing can happen should anyone be diagnosed with COVID-19, the ABC has reported.
As for pubs, WA residents can go for a meal and a drink, but you’re not able to go solely to the pub for a beer. You have to eat whilst there.
From May 18, Tasmania will also allow 10 people to be seated at a restaurant and cafe. Social distancing must be followed, as with the rest of the country.
Public gatherings of 10 people will also be allowed from next week, while households can have five visitors, as reported by the ABC.
From Saturday, May 16, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and bars will reopen for Canberrans to frequent, with the same 10 people rule in place.
“Take away sales of alcohol are still permitted, subject to the venue’s licensing provisions,” the ACT Government website reads. “Consumption of alcohol on premises can only be served to patrons who are dining-in.”
★ Northern Territory
From midday today, Territorians will be able to head to the pub for a meal and a drink. Like much of the country, alcohol will only be served with food.
According to 7 News, there isn’t a limit on the number of patrons allowed in the reopened venues but customers must practise social distancing and can only stay at a venue for a maximum of two hours.
Update: May 14, 2020
After months of missing our humble pub food faves of steak, chips and chicken schnitty’s, patrons in NSW now have cause to celebrate.
The NSW Government announced last night that pubs and clubs will be allowed to reopen alongside cafes and restaurants from tomorrow, May 15, as reported by the ABC.
The same dining-in rules will apply to pubs and clubs, with only 10 people allowed to eat in at one time.
Bars and gaming facilities will still remain closed, but ordering alcohol via table service with your meal is allowed.
“This is an important first step, and we want it to be a success, so that as venues transition back from closure they do so safely both for their staff and their customers,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reminded the community to practise social distancing when heading out for lunch or dinner, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Make sure, where you can, to book ahead or ring ahead don’t just go and line up outside of [the] venue,” she said. “If you are lining up to potentially eat inside a venue please make sure you maintain social distancing.”
Berejiklian also revealed that the customer limit on venues was in place regardless of the size of the establishment — so, it doesn’t matter if your local pub has different areas and a courtyard, the limit is still 10 people.
Takeaway services are still able to function as before.
The Government will continue to review the step one reopening and make changes as required.
“Everyone in NSW has done a great job in controlling COVID-19, now as we can begin to open up it will be up to everyone to ensure they follow health guidelines,” Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said.
Update: May 13, 2020
The days of going into the office while sick are well and truly over.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, says that the mentality around pushing through and attending work while unwell has to stop, as reported by the ABC.
“I think we will see a permanent change in that sort of cavalier attitude of going to work when you’ve got a cold or a flu,” Murphy said at a recent press conference.
“I think we’ve all been guilty of that at various times. I know I have. We’re all going to have to change that mentality.”
Murphy went as far to say that employers should turn workers that rock up to the office sick.
“If one of your colleagues or an employee or a client turns up, you have every right to say, go away, I am not going to let you in,” he said.
In 2019, a YouGov poll of 1,000 participants found that 66% of Aussies had gone to work while unwell — a perfect example of the ‘soldier on’ mentality.
According to Libby Sander, an organisational behaviour expert from Bond University, there are reasons why this is the case.
“We have a culture where people are often expected or have been expected to keep coming to work,” Sander told the ABC. “[That may be] because organisations are under-resourced, or people have got urgent deadlines.
“We’ve got people who do contract work or who might be in precarious employment, and so they feel that they either don’t have sick leave or that they can’t really take the time off because of the potential repercussions on their employment.”
But, COVID-19 has irreparably changed the way the world will view people entering the office when sick.
“Even though influenza causes a large number of deaths every year and it’s highly contagious, I think there was a different attitude towards that in the workplace,” she said.
“Even [if you] have a scratchy throat, you won’t want to go into work, around concern about potentially having [coronavirus] or spreading it. And certainly, other people won’t want to be around somebody who is appearing unwell.”
Moving forward, Sander says that it’s up to companies to communicate to their employees that it’s OK to take sick leave.
“Basically, to shift that culture to say, ‘you’re not letting anyone down if you’re sick’ [and] ‘the health and safety and reducing spread is more important,'” she told the ABC.
While everyone’s employment circumstances are different, there’s no glory in turning up to work with a cold or flu. Not only is it unpleasant for your colleagues, but it’s now irresponsible given the current health climate.
Update: May 11, 2020
Following the announcement of Scott Morrison’s three-step plan to wind back social distancing restrictions, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has revealed that the roll-out of step one will begin in her state from this Friday, May 15, as reported by the ABC.
From Friday, cafes and restaurants in NSW will be able to have up to 10 people dining in, while outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will also be permitted and five people will be able to visit your home at any one time.
When it comes to funerals, 20 people may attend indoor funerals and 30 people outdoors. Weddings, on the other hand, can only have 10 guests.
Places of worship will also be allowed to have up to 10 people attend religious gatherings and outdoor gyms, playgrounds and outdoor pools will be reopened.
Despite these easing restrictions, Berejiklian has urged the community to remain vigilant with social distancing and hygiene measures.
“Please do not be complacent, even when you’re out in a gathering of 10 – a gym workout or whatever outdoors – make sure you keep the social distancing,” she said.
“Even if you’re out with friends sitting down in a park … the last thing any of us want is to have the virus spread amongst those we care about.”
Berejiklian also reminded her state that the loosening of these restrictions doesn’t mean the virus has been defeated.
“We’re at this point in the pandemic because everybody has pulled together and done the right thing. We have to keep our vigilance,” she said.
“Every time you leave the house, you have to assume you have the virus or somebody you’re going to contact has the virus.
“That is the only way we will keep this deadly virus at bay.
“Just because we’re easing restrictions doesn’t mean the virus is less deadly or of less threat. All it means is we have done well to date.”
While NSW has followed the Federal Government’s lead with the easing of these restrictions, there is one thing Berejiklian won’t be allowing yet and that’s regional travel.
“I also want to stress that unlike other states, NSW is not yet ready to have recreational holidays in regional communities,” she said.
“We’re not ready to ease restrictions as much as other states have.
“But what we will do is assure the community that so long as we keep working together, so long as we keep working hard, that we can continue to move forward.”
Update: May 8, 2020
Following a meeting with the National Cabinet today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a three-step plan to reopen the economy by July this year.
“In this plan, we walk before we run. We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, if we wish to reclaim the ground we lost, we cannot be too timid,” Morrison said in a press conference today, May 8.
“There will be risks. There will be challenges. There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan.
“States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances. There will undoubtedly be some human error. No-one is perfect.”
Step one will see certain small cafes and restaurants reopening, but social distancing will still need to be practised with four square metres per person needed indoors.
“Step one will enable greater connection with friends and family, allowing gatherings up to 10 people, and five guests in your own home. Working from home, if it works for you, and your employer. That’s a difference in emphasis.
“As I’m sure you picked up. It will see children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities. Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot camps back in the parks.
“Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening. Interstate recreational travel, starting again. It will see [the] easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees, outdoors, and 10 at weddings.”
Step two will see larger gatherings of up to 20 people allowed.
“Including for venues such as cinemas and galleries, more retail openings
on sector-based COVID safe plans, organised community sport, and beauty parlours, and you’ll be pleased to know, barre classes open once again,” Morrison said.
Step three will depend on the success of the first two steps, but the initial outline is that this step will allow gatherings of up to 100 people.
“There will be more work to do on step three,” Morrison said. “But most workers, by then, will be back in the workplace. Interstate travel will likely resume. Pubs and clubs with some restrictions will be open. And also possibly gaming venues.”
As for the rollout of these changes, this is all up to the states and territories.
“They’ll be responsible for setting their own timetable and communicating that to their citizens and residents in their own states and territories,” Morrison said.
“Premiers and chief ministers have asked me to stress there should be no expectation of step one starting on day one unless they are indeed already there.
“Moving on these steps will take some preparation. It is also important to note that movement from one step to the next will depend on three criteria that we have always outlined, and indeed, that is enabled us to move today, a week earlier than planned.”
There’s no firm date on when the step one changes will be made, so watch this space.
Update: April 29, 2020
With gathering restrictions in New South Wales slightly easing this Friday, May 1, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has revealed that there isn’t a travel limit when visiting your loved ones.
From this weekend, two adults will be allowed to visit someone else’s home. Young children don’t count in the allotted number and can also attend the outing.
While this is a welcome change for many (after weeks of isolation), Berejiklian has reminded individuals that this change doesn’t equal a holiday, as reported by news.com.au.
“Please know this does not give you a licence to go beyond the rules,” she said.
“Please know how important it is for everyone to respect the rules that have been put in place.
“It is to reduce socialise lags and improve mental health. We know so many people in our community have been literally locked up in their homes for weeks on end. We thank them for it.”
When it comes to the actual visit, Berejiklian advised that each individual should work out how that will play out.
“However, we expect every family, every close friendship to have a conversation about what you do with the new arrangements,” she said.
“We haven’t put a limit on how far you can travel in order to visit a loved one but we ask everybody to be responsible.
“This is not a holiday.”
Should this move result in a spike of COVID-19 cases, the Premier isn’t afraid to scrap the easing of restrictions and reinstate the rule on gatherings, the ABC has reported.
“I don’t want to be in a situation where New South Wales has to go backwards,” she said.
“If everyone sticks to the rules and moves forward together, we don’t have to go backwards.”
Update: April 28, 2020
Some social distancing restrictions will be relaxed from this Friday, May 1, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing that two adults will be allowed to visit someone else’s home.
“Two adults will be able to go and visit anybody else in their home on the basis of care, on the basis of reducing social isolation and everybody’s mental health,” Berejiklian said.
“We know that for many people, they’ve been cooped up in their homes for a number of weeks, and with the exception of exercising, medical needs or buying what they need to or going to work, many people have been isolated in their homes.”
Young children won’t count towards the “two adults” rule and can accompany you on the visit, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to Berejiklian, the number of people who live within the household you’re visiting doesn’t matter, as long as it’s only two adults paying the visit.
Social distancing should still be practised to the best of your ability, especially around those who are considered vulnerable.
“I do want to stress that if you’re visiting someone who is over 70 years of age, or someone with a co-morbidity, you have to practice really good social distancing,” Berejiklian said.
“If you have the mildest sniffle, do not go and visit anybody. If you’re feeling slightly unwell or fatigued, don’t risk it.”
Ultimately, this slight relaxation in the current restrictions comes with social responsibility.
“Don’t take risks — we don’t want to see the numbers suddenly spike up because people are being irresponsible,” she said. “Because there’s too much at stake.”
“This isn’t a license to go wild and have massive parties.”
Update: April 21, 2020
Virgin Australia has officially announced it has entered voluntary administration this morning.
In a statement to the ASX, the airline said that doing this would help “recapitalise the business and help ensure it emerges in a stronger financial position on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis”.
The board of directors has appointed experts at Deloitte as voluntary administrators of the company and its subsidiaries, according to the ABC.
Despite calls for the Federal Government to bail the airline out with a $1.4 billion loan, the Government has refused to step in.
According to Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, this offers the airline a new opportunity.
“Voluntary administration offers the opportunity to restructure and refocus business and underperforming parts of the business,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“It offers the opportunity for recapitalisation.”
On Monday night, Virgin founder Richard Branson posted an open letter to staff online about the current circumstances.
“We are hopeful that Virgin Australia can emerge stronger than ever, as a more sustainable, financially viable airline,” he wrote.
“If Virgin Australia disappears, Qantas would effectively have a monopoly of the Australian skies. We all know what that would lead to.”
Normal schooling to resume in term three
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that students will be returning to classrooms in term two.
This will begin with a staggered approach, but Berejiklian hopes to have all children back together by term three.
“We will look to increase the number of days students are at school in a staged way and hope to have all children back at school full time from term three,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“We hope by the end of term two we’ll be in a position to have students going back to school in a full-time capacity by term three.
For the foreseeable future, the Premier is hoping that kids will be able to be in their classrooms one day a week.
“Will it be the same as kids going to school under normal circumstances? No, it won’t,” she said.
“We’ve made sure we’ve used this time not just to build up our online capacity… but we’ve also made sure we have enough hand sanitisers, soap, and all those things which make a school community feel safe, not just be safe.
“Schools will also have capacity for temperature checks where they think it’s appropriate. There will also be extra cleaning of playground equipment and other things during the day.”
The ban on elective surgeries could be lifted
The National Cabinet is expected to discuss lifting the ban on elective surgery and IVF when they meet today, as reported by the ABC.
According to ABC’s medical expert, Dr. Norman Swan, this is in the interest of everyone.
“I think we’re going to see a burst of late diagnosis of cancer later in the year,” he told ABC’s News Breakfast.
“People with heart failure and so on having deteriorated. We’ve got to get back to a normalised healthcare system very, very quickly, not just elective surgery.”
More than 625,000 people have recovered from COVID-19
According to John Hopkins University, more than 625,000 people worldwide have recovered from coronavirus, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The global death toll, however, has surpassed 165,000. There have been more than 2.4 million confirmed cases worldwide.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
Update: April 20, 2020
The announcement of an app that would use data from your phone to identify whether you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 has been a cause of concern for many people.
For the app to work properly, 40% of the population would need to sign up for the service, as reported by the ABC.
To achieve these numbers, the Government was discussing making the app mandatory.
“I’d be calling on Australians to do it, frankly, as a matter of national service,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Hobart’s Triple M radio last week.
But now, the PM has assured Aussies that this isn’t the case.
“The App we are working on to help our health workers trace people who have been in contact with coronavirus will not be mandatory,” he wrote on Twitter.
“We will be seeking the cooperation and support of Australians to download the app to help our health workers, to protect our community and help get our economy going again.”
While both Morrison and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly have assured the public that the data collected from the app will be stored safely, other ministers in the Government aren’t so keen on the idea.
Nationals MP Baranby Joyce has revealed that he won’t be downloading the app as he is worried about privacy.
“I treasure the government knowing as little about me as possible,” Joyce told Nine newspapers.
“Australia is doing an extraordinary job of flattening the curve by reason that we are overwhelmingly decent and logical people. We don’t need an app to tell us that.”
Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien is also against the use of the app.
“It is way too Big-Brotherish for me,” he said.
Update: April 17, 2020
Grocery shopping has been a hard task in recent weeks, with many basic necessities like flour, bread and pasta sold out.
But, a report released by the Agriculture Department’s research body, Abares, overnight has assured Aussies that we won’t be running out of food anytime soon.
According to The Guardian, while things like pasta, flour and rice might be out of stock in supermarkets, this is all down to panic buying and not an actual shortage of those items.
There have been concerns raised about the amount of rice currently being produced in the country — with some worried there’s not enough to meet demand — but Abares has debunked those fears, revealing that Australia exports roughly 52% of local rice, but also imports other varieties to suit consumer tastes.
Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, also revealed that food security was one of the most important issues for the Government.
“We have implemented strategies that include maintaining agriculture’s service and supply lines, extending work visas and providing freight support,” he said.
And, while the drought greatly impacted the amount of rice harvested in Australia last year, this could more than triple this season if there are only average conditions, as reported by the ABC. And, half of that harvested crop would be exported.
Abares also noted that the rainfall for this season was already looking positive, which would also help wheat production increase.
In short, please stop panic buying.
Sewage systems to be monitored for COVID-19
The Federal Government has revealed that sewage systems will be monitored for the presence of COVID-19, as apart of its response plan, the ABC has reported.
According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, carrying out sewage samples is an easy way of pinpointing potential cluster outbreaks of the virus.
“If there’s a suburb that hasn’t had a case identified but it is in the wastewater stream, then we realise we need to focus on that suburb to find the people,” Hunt told Channel 7.
Changes to schooling in NSW
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says that the first two weeks of term two will mirror the last two weeks of term one, in that students will continue with remote learning, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
But, she will be announcing further changes for week three, which could involve a rostering system of days spent with their teacher at school and other days at home.
“We are not intending to have full classrooms by any stretch, quite the contrary,” Ms Berejiklian told ABC Radio National.
“The prospect of not doing this could mean that children are home for up to a year.”
Social distancing measures could be in place for up to a year
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says that it might be a year before Australia is able to relax it’s social distancing rules, as reported by SMH.
While other areas of the lockdown could be lifted in as little as four weeks, social distancing will be around until a vaccine is created.
“There was never a vaccine for SARS or MERS and the social distancing is something we should get very used to,” Morrison told Neil Mitchell on 3AW.
“Certainly while the virus is prevalent across the world [social distancing] should be a natural instinct.”
Update: April 15, 2020
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged anyone with even “the mildest symptoms” in areas where cluster outbreaks have been identified should be tested, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
This comes after the announcement that widespread testing would be implemented in some parts of Sydney and all of Victoria.
NSW recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, but this number should be looked at cautiously as “only around 1300 tests were done yesterday,” said Berejiklian.
According to NSW’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant, these new infections include six staff members and four residents of the Newmarch House aged care facility in Western Sydney.
A staff member worked six shifts at the facility while experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, the ABC has reported.
“I think I would urge people to remember that the symptoms of COVID can be incredibly mild and the key point is do not go to work,” Chant said.
She also said that those who work with elderly people should take extra precautions and track “even minor changes in your health”.
“It doesn’t matter how mild those symptoms are — runny nose, sore throat, just a scratchy throat in this case. Please don’t go to work,” Chant said.
Scott Morrison urges schools to reopen after holidays
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a plea to teachers to keep classrooms open after the school holidays end.
“We cannot allow a situation where parents are forced to choose between putting food on the table through their employment, to support their kids and their kids’ education,” Morrison said.
“We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus. One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child’s education, giving up a whole year of their learning.”
Schools in Victoria reopened today, but parents who want to send their kids to school must fill out a form each week that states their child is not ill, as reported by SMH.
Otherwise, all children who can learn remotely are being encouraged to by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.
NSW Government to establish Ruby Princess inquiry
An inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship will be established and report back findings within four months, SBS has reported.
The cruise ship docked in Sydney last month and has been linked to at least 18 deaths across the country and 369 cases of COVID-19 in NSW alone, according to SBS.
“It is important that answers are provided quickly for the people of NSW,” said Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
“We will leave no stone unturned until we find out exactly what happened.”
Update: April 14, 2020
According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, restrictions in Australia won’t be eased anytime soon and we must push back against complacency.
While we might be faring better than other countries around the world, we must continue what we’re doing to make a lasting impact.
“We can’t be complacent. We have seen what happened in Singapore most recently and Sweden and other countries,” he told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program.
“If you take your eyes off this thing, [it] gets away from you so we do need to understand what the prerequisites are and the things we need to achieve before we can start to ease some of those restrictions.”
Morrison also revealed that Australia wouldn’t be entering the next phase for a while yet.
“We will be having the discussion on Thursday and a lot of scientific work is being put into that and we have looked into the experience of other countries and we are hopeful that at some point, we can move from the phase we are currently into a new phase,” he said.
“But I do want to caution Australians that we’re not in that phase yet and we’re not in that phase yet and we’re many weeks away from being in a phase like that.”
According to Health Minister, Greg Hunt, the “curve is really flattening” and daily infections rates are currently at less than 2%, as reported by the ABC.
“And so, we need to continue doing what we’re doing, because these outbreaks could take lives, they could overwhelm the health system if they were left unchecked,” Hunt told ABC News Breakfast.
“That’s why we still have a considerable period of time of difficult restrictions. But at the same time, we’re planning that road out.”
NSW and Victoria expand COVID-19 testing
In order to slow community transmissions, NSW Health has announced an expansion on coronavirus testing.
Those who are experiencing flu symptoms and live in areas where there are high numbers of community transmissions can now be tested, as reported by the ABC.
This includes Sydney’s inner west, Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, Ryde, Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland and Westmead.
Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has also announced that anyone will flu symptoms can now be tested.
“We are announcing that from today, Victoria will have the widest testing criteria in the nation,” she said.
“Anybody who has relevant symptoms, a fever, or acute respiratory symptoms will be able to be tested for COVID-19.”
Same-day results for those who test negative
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a new service where people who test negative will be able to receive their results on the same day as testing, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“If you are positive, we need to contact you to see whether you need medical attention or also in relation to tracing your contacts,” Berejiklian said.
“But if you’re negative, there will be an SMS service available and hopefully, if you are going through the public system, you will get that result on the same day that you’re tested.”
“Using our new statewide SMS notification solution, patients who register will receive an automated SMS test result within six hours of the completion of the laboratory test.”
According to SMH, the text message service will only be available for those who are tested at a public hospital or fever clinic in NSW.
Wet markets to re-open in China
Wet markets are set to re-open in China, despite the evidence that COVID-19 originated from a similar market in Wuhan.
The World Health Organisation has supported the move “because they are a source of livelihood and food security to many people,” the ABC has reported.
Scott Morrison, on the other hand, doesn’t believe these markets can operate safely.
“It’s unfathomable frankly. We need to protect the world against potential sources of outbreaks of these types of viruses. It’s happened too many times,” he told Channel 9.
“I’m totally puzzled by this decision. We don’t have them here in Australia. I am just puzzled by that decision.”
Update: April 9, 2020
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the free service has been designed to address concerns like fear surrounding the virus, anxiety, loneliness and family or financial stress.
The service is free and available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Beyond Blue’s trained counsellors can be contacted on 1800 512 348.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here.
JobKeeper scheme passes parliament
The Government’s JobKeeper initiative has officially been given the green light, after passing through parliament last night, April 8.
According to the SBS, the wage subsidies worth $130 billion will begin to reach employees in May, with payments of $1500 happening every fortnight.
More than 730,000 business have already registered for the scheme.
Free preschool for the next six months
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced six months of free preschool for families in her state, in order to relieve some of the financial pressure from COVID-19.
The State Government will be expanding the current free childcare program offered by the Federal Government in order to include preschool and council daycares, as reported by 7News.
“We’re stepping up and paying the other half,” Berejiklian said.
“That means child care centres run by local governments don’t have to worry about the additional cost of keeping staff on and providing the vital services.”
The national death toll now at 51
SA Health has confirmed that a 76-year-old man passed away overnight, as reported by the ABC.
The man acquired the virus in the Barossa Valley, according to the statement.
This is the third coronavirus death in South Australia. The national total is 51.
Australia passes 6,000 cases but nearly half have recovered
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia has passed 6,000 now.
But, according to the ABC, more than half of those cases have recovered!
The data also shows that restrictions and social distancing are working.
The numbers are going in the right direction, but we can’t get complacent.
Update: April 8, 2020
As the Easter long weekend is almost upon us, officials have warned Aussie’s that police will be patrolling popular holiday destinations and enforcing social distancing rules.
Police in South Australia will be paying particular attention to those who haven’t heeded the advice to stay at home, as reported by the Canberra Times.
“Some of these holiday destinations have communities in an older age brackets and those older people are concerned about this,” SA police commissioner Grant Stevens said.
“We shouldn’t be doing anything that raises concern or fear in our community.”
Stevens said that police would issue on the spot fines of $1000 for those not complying with the current restrictions.
NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller echoed Stevens’ statements, as reported by the ABC.
“We will be going through caravan parks early, issuing warnings to people who may think that they can get around these laws,” Fuller said.
“It’s important over this weekend that we continue the good work and we continue to isolate, as frustrating as that may be.”
ACT report one confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours
On Monday, there were no new cases of COVID-19 in Canberra. On Tuesday, the state recorded only one new infection. Despite the decline in cases, experts warn that this run could easily be undone, the ABC has reported.
Acting chief health officer Vanessa Johnston described the outcomes as “excellent.”
“But this doesn’t mean we can be complacent — there will be new cases,” she said.
There are currently 97 cases of COVID-19 in the state and two people have died.
All year 12 students will finish school this year
According to Education Minister Dan Tehan, all year 12 students will finish high school this year, will all states and territories ain agreement, as reported by 10 Daily.
“There will be no year 13, there will be no mass repeating,” Tehan said.
“You will get your leaving certificate this year and you will be able to go on to university, vocational education and into work.”
Tehan also said that difficult circumstance surrounding COVID-19 could be taken into account when it came to ATARs.
“What we all are going to endeavour to do is to make sure that this year’s ATAR scores are the same as last year’s ATAR scores,” he said.
“But we will take into account those students who have to learn from home, those who might not be able to access the technology like others do.”
Data modelling says that Australia is in a good position
Early stage modelling was released by the Australian Government yesterday and experts from Melbourne’s Doherty Institiue say that Australia is in a “lucky” position with COVID-19.
James McCaw, from the Doherty Institute, was involved in the modelling, told the ABC despite the positive data, COVID-19 won’t be leaving us anytime soon.
“We’re in a very lucky position where we can think about the next steps and the very challenging questions ahead from a position of relative calm as opposed to crisis,” he told the ABC.
“We don’t have an overwhelmed hospital system yet, and we may well never have one if we continue to base our responses on the best available data.”
According to chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, not following the current rules is the biggest threat.
“The data we have so far suggests [what we’re doing] is working,” he said.
“We are flattening the curve. But complacency is our biggest risk.”
Update: April 7, 2020
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that healthcare workers in the state will be offered free accommodation in hotel rooms to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their own homes.
The State Government will spend $58 million on the accommodation, which is apart of a $100 million package to be announced today, as reported by the ABC.
Many healthcare workers have been forced to take drastic measures when it comes to their housing situation, in order to protect vulnerable family members within the home. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one nurse in particular was sleeping in her garage so she wouldn’t pose a risk to her elderly father.
South Australia records first COVID-19 death
SA Health has confirmed that a 75-year-old man from metropolitan Adelaide passed away last night from coronavirus, as reported by the ABC. It’s the first COVID-19 death in the state.
In the past 24 hours, there has also been three deaths in NSW. The deaths were a 90-year-old man, who was associated with the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility, an 87-year-old woman who was a passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, and a 90-year-old man.
The national death toll is 45.
Social distancing to be the norm for the foreseeable future
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned residents in NSW that the strict social distancing rules will be in place until a vaccine is found.
“For the first time in a long time, every scientist on the planet is working towards a vaccine, working towards a cure, and, of course, we want NSW to be part of that story,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We want our best and brightest in NSW and across Australia working their guts out to make sure that we find a vaccine as soon as possible.
“Because the reality is that until we find a vaccine, we all have to live with this virus.
“And no matter what restrictions there are in the future, no matter what restrictions are potentially eased in the future, until a vaccine is found, social distancing is a way of life now.”
Schools in Victoria to move to remote learning in term 2
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that all schools in the state will move to remote learning for term two, as reported by the ABC. This includes all government primary, secondary and special schools.
Some teachers will remain at schools for those students who are unable to stay at home.
The end of year exams for year 12 have also been postponed to December and universities in the state have been asked to delay the start of the academic year in 2021.
Testing clinic opens in Bondi
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Bondi, a drive-thru testing clinic has opened in the area.
According to the ABC, the clinic was created by the team at St Vincent’s Hospital. The drive-thru clinic is working alongside the drop-in testing centre that is also set up at Bondi Pavillion.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
Update: April 6, 2020
RFS boss Shane Fitzsimmons steps down
Shane Fitzsimmons has stepped down as the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner to take on a new role within the state government.
According to the ABC, Fitzsimmons will be heading up a newly-created agency called Resilience NSW. The agency will provide “world-leading disaster preparedness and recovery”, said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
“Through Resilience NSW, we will redouble our efforts to prevent, prepare and recover from crises which impact NSW,” Berejiklian told The Australian.
These crises include bushfires, drought and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Fitzsimmons joined the RFS in 1985 and was Commissioner of the volunteer organisation for 12 years. During the recent unprecedented bushfire season, Fitzsimmons was praised for handling of the situation.
The COVID-19 death toll in Australia now at 37
Two more deaths have occurred in NSW, with an 86-year-old man and an 85-year-old man both passing away yesterday, Sunday April 5.
The national death toll now sits at 37, with NSW experiencing 18 deaths related to the virus.
TAFE NSW offers free courses
TAFE NSW will be offering 21 free online courses to help people upskill during their time at home, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The courses will include Writing and Presentation Skills, Computing Skills, eMarketing for Small Business and Team Leader Skill Set.
Skills and Tertiary Education Minister, Geoff Lee, said that the free courses would allow people to diversify their skillset during a period of downtime.
“The NSW Government understands that circumstances have changed for a lot of people and business owners, which means the way they work and how they conduct their business has also changed,” Lee said.
“The TAFE NSW fee-free accredited courses will contribute to helping businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs. It’s vital we keep people employed and ensure we have the ability to rebound when things do improve.
“We also understand that many industries are in hibernation, so using this period to upskill for the future is time well spent.”
Ruby Princess cruise ship docks in Port Kembla
The Ruby Princess cruise ship docked in Port Kembla around 8am this morning, April 6. According to NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, the ship was docked in order to remove sick crew members and provide new medical supplies, SMH has reported.
“We will continue to make sure there is the highest level of security for locals south of Sydney,” Fuller said.
Two members of the crew were removed from the ship yesterday and according to Fuller, those who need to be hospitalised will be removed. There are currently 1040 crew members still on the ship and roughly a fifth of the crew is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, as reported by the ABC.