NSW Health is advising commuters to wear face masks while on public transport as the COVID-19 cluster continues to grow in Sydney’s CBD with roughly 28 cases.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, two positive coronavirus cases recently travelled on a peak hour bus from the CBD to the eastern suburbs. All passengers who were on the bus are now also considered close contacts and have been instructed to self-isolate for 14 days and undergo testing.
The two infected people got on the bus on Pitt Street, opposite Australia Square on August 20 at 6.08pm and alighted at Clovelly Road and Carrington Road at Randwick at 6.40pm.
One of the infected persons was wearing a mask on the bus, but it’s unclear whether the other was, SMH has reported.
“NSW Health strongly advises everyone travelling by public transport to wear a mask at all times,” the department said in a statement.
Health officials are urging the State Government to make mask-wearing compulsory on public transport to slow the spread of COVID-19. According to SMH, levels of mask-wearing currently sit around 30% at Sydney stations.
On Sunday night, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance urged Sydneysiders to wear masks, sit on the green dots on trains and buses and to stay home if you’re feeling unwell.
“People should ensure that they stay at least 1.5m from others and that they wear a mask in situations – especially on public transport – where physical distancing is difficult,” NSW Health said.
If you haven’t yet purchased a reusable face mask yet, check out our list here.
Update: August 18, 2020
Sydney residents are more likely to have COVID-19 than influenza, according to new data out of New South Wales.
The flu rate in the state is at 10% of what it was this time last year, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported, which means the chances of a flu-like illness being COVID-19 have skyrocketed. So, if you’re a Sydneysider with flu-like symptoms, go get tested and isolate ASAP.
The data also revealed that the total number of people killed by COVID-19 and influenza this year is actually half the death rate of the flu over the same time period last year.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has urged anyone with flu-like symptoms to come forward for testing, especially those in south-western and western Sydney — where clusters seem to be forming.
“At the moment we have very low rates of influenza circulating, so if you have respiratory symptoms of cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache, aches and pains it is most likely that you have COVID-19, not flu,” Dr Chant said.
According to SMH, roughly 21,000 people across Australia have been diagnosed with the flu this year — a massive reduction from the 202,500 cases recorded by the end of July in 2019. In NSW alone, there were 78,436 flu infections by August 2019 compared to just 7,600 cases diagnosed by August 2 this year.
For a list of COVID-19 testing clinics in NSW, head to the NSW Government website.
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: August 14, 2020
The New South Wales State Government is using CCTV to monitor the number of people wearing face masks on trains. And, according to Transport Minister Andrew Constance, if the rate doesn’t increase soon, mask-wearing could become mandatory on public transport, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
Five of Sydney’s busiest train stations are currently being monitored for mask-wearing. The Herald has identified these as Central, Campbelltown, Hornsby, Hurstville and Penrith train stations.
Transport for NSW confirmed that it “monitoring the use of face masks” on trains and has collected data from these railway stations every two days over the last few weeks. According to SMH, between 30 to 35% of people are wearing masks.
“We need everyone to put them on so we don’t have a Melbourne-style lockdown,” Constance said. “My preference is not to fine people, but if we’ve got to move to that mandatory requirement, that’s what we’ll potentially need to go to.”
This warning comes as NSW recorded its first COVID-19 death in 12 days with the passing of Jamilie Joseph, an 80-year-old from Parramatta. As images of residents in NSW ignoring social distancing rules continue to surface, Federal Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd
“People only have to look across the border into Victoria to see what happens when people don’t adhere to the physical distancing restrictions and just don’t follow what they’re supposed to be doing,” Kidd told ABC News Breakfast.
“At the moment we are still seeing this [stable] level of community transmission occurring in NSW, [but] at any time that could dramatically increase and we could have, in NSW, the same sort of consequences that we’re seeing in Victoria.
“We have to all be doing everything we can to prevent that from taking place.”
If you’re travelling on public transport, please wear a mask for your health and the health of those around you.
Update: August 7, 2020
On Wednesday, August 5, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that anyone coming into the state from Victoria will be placed in mandatory hotel quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.
This new rule came into effect this morning at 12:01am and with it came restrictions that stop any non-border town residents from entering NSW by road, as reported by the ABC.
“Sydney Airport will now be the one [entry] point because that would allow us to control the risk assessment process for all returning travellers,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
While all Victorians who enter NSW from now will be placed in quarantine, there are a few exceptions. According to the ABC, critical workers — which the State Government describes as “anyone doing a job that is unable to be performed by a local worker” — can enter without isolating for 14 days.
There are only seven “critical services” that these workers fall under, including:
- COVID-19 environmental commercial cleaning that isn’t available locally
- Commonwealth defence and security services
- Maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure
- Medical, hospital, dental or veterinary care
- Agriculture, construction, energy, mining or manufacturing
- Movement of freight on a commercial basis
- Movement of persons on a commercial basis
In order to enter the state on these conditions, the employer is expected to demonstrate that their worker is essential enough for a permit. Should an essential worker arrive without a permit, they will be tested for COVID-19 immediately.
“[If] they have not come through on the correct permit, they will then be swabbed at the airport by one of our nurses,” said NSW Health nurse Sarah Jane Nilsson. “That’s what will be sent off for testing and they will be sent to one of our special health homes.”
Victorians are also able to enter NSW on compassionate grounds but NSW Health has warned that these permits will be given “in very limited circumstances and according to strict criteria”.
According to the ABC, NSW Health will consider granting a permit if a family member is terminally ill and close to the end of their life or for who need to care for a family member “in significant need” and no one else is able to assist.
You can also request to travel to the state in order to attend a funeral but there are caveats here too. Firstly, you must be an immediate family member of the deceased person “or of significant importance, such as a sole-surviving relative.”
You’ll also have to present a document from the funeral director to NSW Health and promise to wear a mask, social distance and not attend any other gatherings, including the wake.
Those arriving from Victoria on special permits are also forbidden from visiting any other location not related to their job or event. They will be subjected to police checks to make sure they are in their hotel or address where they are staying when not at work or attending their specific function.
Update: August 3, 2020
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging residents of her state to wear face masks on public transport and in supermarkets due to fears over COVID-19 infections from Victoria continuing to pop up in New South Wales, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
“It is a strong recommendation from Health, given where we are in the pandemic, given the risk posed from Victoria and given the rate of community transmission in NSW,” Berejiklian said.
Berejiklian is recommending people wear face coverings in certain circumstances including hotspot areas where community transmission is high, indoor settings where social distancing is hard like on public transport and in supermarkets as well as places of worship.
Hospitality staff who are customer facing and work in indoor settings where the risk of transmission is higher have also been urged to pop on a face mask.
The Premier has also recommended those who are vulnerable and high-risk wear masks in public at all times from now on.
“The next few weeks will make or break us … I can’t stress enough that whilst we are holding the line, we are in a very critical phase of the pandemic,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already heeded the advice and wore a mask during a trip to the shops yesterday, August 2.
“Had to pop out to pick up a few things here in Sydney, so followed the NSW Premier’s advice announced earlier today (and put a mask on in the car before heading into the shops),” he wrote on Instagram.
“Protects others you come in contact with in enclosed areas, in particular the retail salespeople just doing their jobs. Not a lot to ask. All in this together.”
View this post on Instagram
Had to pop out to pick up a few things here in Sydney, so followed the NSW Premier’s advice announced earlier today (and put a mask on in the car before heading into the shops). Protects others you come in contact with in enclosed areas, in particular the retail salespeople just doing their jobs. Not a lot to ask. All in this together. #covid19australia #coronavirusaustralia #covidsafe
According to SMH, Berejiklian has recommended that face masks be made from three layers of breathable fabric and be washed after each use (or at least daily).
“It is critical the community understands masks should be used in conjunction with other measures, and not as a standalone measure,” Berejiklian said.
“People should continue to maintain their physical distance – it is our most effective weapon. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t maintain your physical distance you should wear a mask.”
Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a state of disaster for his state, which has included the introduction of a curfew from 8pm to 5am in metropolitan Melbourne as well as stage four restrictions.
Students in Victoria will begin learning remotely from Wednesday and exercise has been limited to one hour per day. Residents aren’t allowed to travel more than five kilometres of their home to go shopping either. These restrictions will stay in place for six weeks.
Update: July 20, 2020
A number of COVID-19 clusters have recently started to spring up around New South Wales, including one in Batemans Bay on the South Coast as well as in Sydney’s western suburbs, inner-west and south-west.
As Victoria grapples with record-breaking infection numbers, the NSW Government is warning residents against non-essential travel and gatherings, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and hopefully prevent a similar situation to the one currently occurring in Melbourne, the ABC has reported.
NSW Health deputy chief health officer, Jeremy McAnulty, has asked residents to remain vigilant.
“It wouldn’t take much for us to be in Melbourne’s situation and we need everyone’s assistance,” he said. “Everyone has got a role to play. Don’t be complacent.”
Recent transmission in hotels, restaurants and gyms are a particular concern for the State Government, as is travel. From midnight on Tuesday, July 21, NSW will further tighten travel restrictions from Victoria.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that Victorians coming into NSW should only be doing so for “limited purposes”.
“Essentially, unless you’re travelling across the border in the border zone for education, health or employment, you shouldn’t be going,” he said.
For residents travelling within Sydney, NSW Health is asking them to “make practical and sensible decisions for themselves that will limit the transmission of COVID-19”.
As for gatherings, the number of people allowed to gather at your home still stands at 20, but health officials have urged the public to take extra precaution and limit that number to 10.
As with the first time around, stay home where possible, wash your hands and practise social distancing whenever you’re out and about.
Update: July 13, 2020
From midnight on Saturday, July 18, returned international travellers arriving into New South Wales will be required to pay the $3,000 bill for their two-week hotel quarantine.
It doesn’t matter where you reside in Australia if you have to travel through NSW before returning to your home state you’ll be out of pocket for your hotel stay, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Australian residents have been given plenty of time to return home, and we feel it is only fair that they cover some of the costs of their hotel accommodation,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
According to SMH, travellers who purchased their flight home before 11:59 pm AEST on Sunday, July 12 won’t be charged for their quarantine stay — no matter when their return date is.
The payment structure for the hotel stay is as follows: returned travellers arriving in NSW will have to pay $3,000 for one adult and $1,000 for each additional adult. When it comes to children, it’ll cost $500 per child aged three and over while kids under three years old stay for free.
This money will cover accommodation and meals while the NSW Government will still cover the costs for security, transport and logistics. At the end of the 14-day hotel quarantine, travellers will be given an invoice to pay within 30 days.
According to SMH, hardship arrangements will be available for those who might struggle to pay the bill.
Update: July 10, 2020
Queensland will officially reopen its border to visitors from other states as of midday today, June 10. But, residents of Victoria won’t be allowed to enter the Sunshine State.
“From noon, July 10, visitors from Victoria will no longer gain access or be able to quarantine in Queensland,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted.
“They will be turned around.”
Previously, the Queensland Government had announced that anyone who had visited Victoria in the last two weeks could enter the state as long as they quarantined for two weeks in a hotel at their expense, as reported by news.com.au.
But, there are some exceptions to Victorians entering Queensland. One such exception is whether they can prove they’ve not been in their home state for the previous two weeks, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’ve got Victorians everywhere in Australia and we love them dearly, the key issue for us is have you been in Victoria during the past 14 days?” Queensland Police deputy commissioner Steve Gollschewski told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“So if they can prove to a reasonable standard that they have not been in Victoria [for example, holidaying in New South Wales], of course, we will look at letting them through.”
Queensland residents returning home from Victoria will still be allowed to re-enter their state but will have to fork out the cash to pay for a two-week stint in hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile, visitors from other states will have to fill out a border pass in order to enter Queensland. According to SMH, more than 300,000 have already been issued in the last week alone.
Update: July 8, 2020
As residents of Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria face their second lockdown in a few short months, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kidd, has urged them to take care of their mental health over the next six weeks, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
“This is going to be really tough for the people of Melbourne who find themselves moving back into lockdown,” Kidd told ABC’s Radio National.
“It’s really important to remember the things that we did last time… remaining socially connected to each other even while we’re physically distant.”
While reimposing stage three restrictions isn’t ideal for Victoria, Kidd says it’s the appropriate measure considering the number of cases reported over the last few days.
“It was very important that these measures be taken and this will be protecting, of course, everybody — not only in Melbourne, this is a national issue,” he said.
“This will be protecting everybody in Australia.”
Meanwhile, the NSW-Victoria border closed at 12:01am this morning and there has since been a line of cars banked up waiting to cross, with many residents of Wodonga waiting up to an hour to have their permits checked, according to SMH.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has asked people not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“The reality is that it could be up to 100,000 cars trying to cross every day so, if it’s not essential, please don’t travel,” he said.
There have been 44,000 permit applications lodged since the system went live during the night.
It also looks like Melbourne students will soon return to home learning, with Premier Daniel Andrews telling ABC News Breakfast that it was “more likely rather than less likely”.
“That week – that extra school holidays for metro Melbourne gives us a little bit more time to work our way through that,” he said.
Update: July 7, 2020
In previous weeks, much of the news related to COVID-19 in Australia has been around the easing of restrictions.
Unfortunately for residents in Victoria, this is no longer the case with a recent spike in infections prompting the Government to place Melbourne and the shire of Mitchell back into lockdown, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced that stage three restrictions would be reinforced in these areas as of midnight tomorrow, July 8.
In the last 24 hours, Victoria recorded 191 new cases of COVID-19, a staggering number after days of rising infection numbers.
“We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront,” Andrews said at a press conference this afternoon. “We have to be clear with each other that this is not over. And pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer. It is indeed part of the problem. A very big part of the problem.
“That is why the public health team have advised me to reimpose stage 3 stay at home restrictions, staying at home except for the four reasons to leave, effective from midnight tomorrow night for a period of six weeks. There is simply no alternative other than thousands and thousands of cases and potentially more.”
The Premier has also clearly set out what stay at home means and it must be your principal place of residence — not a holiday home, or second home. And, you must stay put and can only leave to attend work or study (should you be unable to do it from home), for medical care or caregiving, to buy food and other essentials and for daily exercise.
But, Melbournians aren’t allowed to leave the city for said exercise, as there are fears they could spread the virus into regional areas that aren’t currently affected.
“Daily exercise will be treated differently. You can’t leave metropolitan Melbourne to get your daily exercise,” Andrews said. “There’s a number, on the advice of the chief health officer, of very low public health risk activities that will be permitted that were not permitted last time but in the most important point to make around exercise is that you can’t be going on a four-hour bushwalk hundreds of kilometres away from Melbourne.
“You can’t be going fishing outside the metropolitan area, down into regional Victoria. Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way.”
When it comes to schooling, Andrews revealed that plans are still being drawn up and will be finalised by the end of the week so parents have time to prepare for remote learning.
“For those who are the children of essential workers or people who simply can’t work from home, there will be supervised school holiday programs for them and there is a week’s extension of the school holidays to give us some more time to plan, some more time to get more data and to see exactly the most contemporary picture of the challenge that we face,” he said.
The ABC has compiled a list of all of the suburbs included in this lockdown, should you want to find out if you’re affected.
The NSW-Victoria border will also close at tonight, July 7, with NSW police and military personnel to block roads from 12:01am, as reported by the ABC. This is the first time in 100 years that the border between the two states has closed.
Update: July 1, 2020
While July is the start of a new financial year, it also marks the easing of many restrictions around Australia, which the states and territories have been working towards for some time.
While cases of COVID-19 have recently soared in Victoria, which has led to a renewed lockdown in a number of Melbourne suburbs, the rest of the country is able to enjoy a little more freedom. Here’s what July will bring in terms of easing restrictions and an update on the reopening of borders.
— New South Wales
As of today, there will be no limits on the number of people allowed within indoor venues like cafes, restaurants and pubs as long as there’s enough room for four square metres per person and everyone is seated. The number limit on functions like weddings and funerals has also been scrapped.
When it comes to outdoor gatherings and having people over to your house, there is still only 20 people allowed, according to the ABC.
The limit on public transport is being doubled, with 68 passengers now allowed on a train and 23 on a bus.
A maximum of 10,000 people are also allowed to attend sporting events in stadiums as long as everyone is still down and practising social distancing.
With the school holidays coming up, other businesses have started to reopen. Hoyts Cinemas will reopen across the country on July 2, while the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and Luna Park will also open this week.
From July 10, Queensland will reopen its borders to every state except Victoria. According to the ABC, Victorians going to Queensland will either need to self-isolate in a hotel for two weeks at their own cost or they’ll be turned away from the border.
From this Friday, July 3, Queenslanders will be able to host private gatherings of up to 100 people, including weddings and funerals. Small venues (200 square metres or less) will only have to cater two square metres per person.
Massage parlours, casinos and nightclubs are also allowed to reopen in the state this week, while concert venues and theatres are also permitted to open with 50% capacity adhering to the four square metre rule.
With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, certain parts of Melbourne will be placed under stage three restrictions as of 11:59pm on Wednesday, according to the ABC. The postcodes under lockdown are: 3012, 3021, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3055, 3060, 3064.
The stay-at-home order means residents of these postcodes will only have four reasons to leave their homes: to attend work or school, for care or caregiving, to get food and other essentials and for daily exercise.
All cafes and restaurants that fall within these postcodes have also been forced to revert to takeaway only and residents are only allowed to have two people visit their homes at one time.
For the rest of Victoria, the limit on customers at restaurants, cafes and pubs will be increased to 50 people as of July 12.
— South Australia
South Australia has scrapped its plans to reopen the border with Victoria, which was originally slated for July 20. The SA border is currently open to residents from the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Queensland.
According to the ABC, the SA Government is also considering reopening the borders to NSW and the ACT and are due to provide an update about this later this week.
— Western Australia
Residents in Western Australia experienced the further easing of restrictions on June 26, which included gyms operating unstaffed with regular cleaning, the removal of seated service requirements at food businesses and licensed premises and alcohol can now be served as part of unseated service arrangements, according to the WA Government website.
From July 18, the limit of the number of people allowed at gatherings will be lifted completely. The borders are still closed in WA and there’s no real information on when these will reopen.
Tasmania has announced July 24 as the day border restrictions will change, after the state borders being closed for a few months. But, this could change should things continue to escalate in Victoria.
“However if the public health advice at that time, or in the immediate lead up to that date, is that it is not safe to open, border restrictions will remain in place,” reads the Tasmanian Government website.
— Northern Territory
The Northern Territory will reopen its borders on July 17, but according to the NT’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner, those travelling from COVID-19 hotspots will have to self-isolate for 14 days at their own cost.
“The outbreaks in Victoria are not spread throughout the state, they are in certain suburbs among some family groups and workplaces,” Gunner said.
“The Territory has stayed safe by closing our borders to all states. In our next step, we will stay safe by keeping our borders closed to suburbs that are not safe.”
— Australian Capital Territory
July 1 also marks the easing of more restrictions in the ACT, with contact sports allowed to resume. Food courts, saunas, bathhouse and strip clubs are also allowed to reopen.
The ACT Government is still considering whether or not to allow crowds at professional sporting events and to reinstate face-to-face learning universities, according to 7News.
Update: June 12, 2020
Since March 28, the NSW Government has spent over $16 million alone on hotel quarantine accommodation. State governments across Australia are considering changing the scheme so that travellers returning home would have to foot the hotel bill.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Queensland is pushing for the mandatory 14-day hotel stay to be paid for by the travellers themselves. NSW and Victoria, on the other hand, are happy to continue to pay for the scheme with taxpayer money.
Since the Government-funded mandatory hotel quarantine came into action a few months ago, 60% of travellers have arrived in NSW (more than 20,000 people) which has acted as a first stop for many people before they continue back to their home state. The NSW State Government is intending to pass on invoices for this to other states, as reported by SMH.
Meanwhile, Victoria has estimated the state will receive roughly 15,000 people returning home. With a budget of $2000 per person, this will eventually cost the state $30 million.
While most states and territories across the country agreed to pay the hotel bill in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northern Territory instead opted to have travellers arriving home to pay for their own hotel stay and food, which according to SMH, amounted to roughly $2,500 per room.
Despite the hefty cost of this program, there’s no doubt that it helped flatten the curve of COVID-19 in Australia, with more than 62% of all infections linked to overseas.
Update: June 11, 2020
Gyms and studios across New South Wales can reopen this Saturday, June 13, much to the excitement of gym-goers in the state.
While hitting the Pilates reformer bed or heading to the weights room might be first on your list, physiotherapists are warning people to take it easy and ease back into exercising after three months spent in isolation.
“We would have lost condition and strength as well as mobility, and if you go back and hit the weights as we did, then wham, bam, we’re potentially looking at an injury,” physiotherapist, Julie Campbell, said on ABC Radio Brisbane.
“There’s also an issue with younger people going back to sport and they may have grown over the past three months and could have coordination issues as well.
“It’s just a small word of warning that we need to ease our way back.”
Campbell advised taking 30% off your weights for a few sessions and slowly add 10% each week to slowly build up your tolerance again.
“Do a few more reps and stretches but don’t push it too hard in the first few sessions, as you may injure yourself and be off another few weeks and that’s no fun,” Campbell said.
Update: June 10, 2020
Another restriction is to be eased in New South Wales, with community sports teams allowed to resume competition as of July 1.
The news that children’s sports could recommence as of this date was announced last week, but Sports Minister Geoff Lee has revealed that people of all ages can take part from July 1, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Everybody can play, it’s game on for the whole community,” Lee told Ben Fordham on 2GB this morning.
According to SMH, this change of heart is because numerous organisations told the Government they wouldn’t be financially viable if they didn’t also run their adult sporting competition.
While teams can soon recommence playing, there will be safety measures in place for the foreseeable. Spectators won’t be allowed to gather in stands and anyone entering the premises will need to provide their contact details for tracing, SMH has reported.
Canteens and other food venues located on playing grounds will be allowed to open but will be capped at 50 people per venue — the same regulation placed on restaurants and pubs.
“Today’s announcement is about a staged re-opening of the sports economy in a way that minimises the risk to the public. This makes a level playing field for sports stadiums, in line with the clubs and pubs re-opening to patrons,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
‘‘With no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19 there is an obligation on all of us to continue to maintain physical distancing and good hand hygiene. The virus has not gone away.”
For Queenslanders, outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed for competitions and certain events from July 10, as reported by the ABC. Contact sport will also be allowed from that date.
In Victoria, community sport is still limited to groups of 20 people or less and contact sports remain banned for now.
Update: June 2, 2020
The news that so many people have been waiting for is finally here: gyms in New South Wales will officially reopen from Saturday, June 13!
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, gyms, yoga, barre and dance studios, as well as indoor pools, will soon be allowed to open. Children’s sport will also be able to recommence from July 1.
There are conditions with the reopening of exercise facilities, with class sizes capped at 10 people and only 100 people allowed in an indoor venue at one time. According to the ABC, guests will also need to leave their details for contact tracing and follow the four-square-metre rule.
The same 10 person limit will also apply to massage and tattoo parlours, which can also open from June 13.
According to Health Minister Brad Hazzard, this easing of restrictions is due to the low number of new cases of COVID-19 in NSW which allows the Government to “open up more opportunities for the community to enjoy”.
Only six new infections were reported in the state since last night, but these were all found in returned travellers who are currently staying in hotel quarantine, as reported by SMH.
“There’s a lot of people desperate to get back in there and the [Deputy Premier] and I are just desperate to get back into the gymnasiums,” Hazzard said.
The NSW State Government was facing pressure from gyms to announce a reopening date, with the peak fitness body in NSW calling it “totally illogical” for gyms and studios to still be closed while bars, beauty salons and restaurants had all reopened.
According to SMH, gyms in Victoria are due to reopen from June 22.
Update: May 27, 2020
While COVID-19 cases in NSW have been trending down for some time, two new infections were discovered at two separate schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs yesterday.
One day after the State Government asked for all students to return to school full-time, both Waverly College and Moriah College were closed following the diagnosis of two students, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
“It’s a very big coincidence that two students in close proximity happened to get it when we’ve had very low numbers of students actually getting it,” Berejiklian said on Today.
Despite the new cases, Berejiklian doesn’t think that it was too early to send students back to school.
“It was absolutely the right time to go back to school and unfortunately this will be the new normal during the pandemic… [but] just because this happens in two schools with one student doesn’t mean we shut down the entire system,” she said.
According to 7 News, parents of children from Moriah College in Queens Park were asked to pick up their kids at lunchtime on Tuesday after a primary school student was diagnosed with COVID-19.
A year seven student at Waverly College also tested positive yesterday, causing the senior school campus to be evacuated. Both schools will be closed until next week as officials carry out contact tracing and cleaning is undertaken.
Record number of flu vaccines administered in Australia
Meanwhile, there has been a record number of flu jabs administered with 7.3 million already recorded, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
This time last year there had been 4.5 million vaccines administered and 3.5 million at this time in 2018. According to SMH, two million new doses of the flu vaccine have been created this week alone bringing the total amount to 18 million.
In comparison, there were 13.2 million vaccines created in 2019, 11 million in 2018 and 8.3 million in 2017.
Health officials are encouraging Aussies to book in for the flu jab in order to reduce the number of influenza cases that could end up in hospital. If you haven’t yet had your shot, ring your local GP and make an appointment today.
Update: May 26, 2020
The first human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine in Australia have kicked off in Melbourne today. While human testing is being carried out in other parts of the world already, this is a first for the southern hemisphere, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The vaccine is being tested on 131 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59 at the Alfred Hosptial. According to SMH, the vaccine is called NVX‑CoV2373 and aims to create high levels of antibodies to fight off the virus.
Trial participants aren’t currently infected with COVID-19, but they will be injected with a virus substitute and then the vaccine. Of the 131 people taking part, six people will begin the first phase of the trial in Melbourne today, with others starting the trial in Brisbane later this week.
The vaccine itself was developed by biotech company Novovax, out of the United States and it has already seen success in animal testing. Results of the human trials are expected in July, the ABC has reported.
“As the first human trial in the southern hemisphere, and one of only a handful of COVID-19 human trials worldwide, I am delighted Victoria is again at the forefront in leadership and excellence in medical research,” Victoria’s Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research, Frank McGuire, said in a statement.
Update: May 25, 2020
Beauty salons in New South Wales are back in business, baby! So, you can finally book in for that mani and pedi to fix your haggard iso nails. From June 1, nail bars, tanning salons and facialists (and many other beauty services) will be allowed to reopen in the state, as reported by the ABC.
According to Health Minister Brad Hazzard, the reopening of beauty salons was the most requested service when it came to easing restrictions.
“Of all of the requests I’ve had as Health Minister in the last three months, this has been the one that I think has topped the barrel,” he said. “It has certainly been a very earnest effort from a lot of people to make sure we could open [the salons].”
In order to safely reopen, all of these beauty businesses will have to adhere to social distancing measures and have a “COVID-safe plan,” Hazzard said.
“Your task is to not only deliver the services that people need and want, but also make sure they are kept safe.”
According to 7 News, this COVID-safe plan will include removing reading materials from the waiting room, keeping a detailed record of client attendance and stepping up all hygiene practices.
Only 10 people will be allowed inside a salon at one time, and each person must have four square metres of space within the venue.
While it’s good news for the beauty industry in NSW, there’s no movement on the reopening of gyms. According to Hazzard, there are a lot of elements to consider before opening gyms back up, including sharing equipment, being in close proximity in classes, change rooms and swimming pools.
“Certainly gyms, I think if beauty therapy and waxing salons and tanning salons were first on the list in terms of what people would like open, I’d say gyms are probably second,” Hazzard said.
“It is fair to say there are some particular inherent issues with the use of equipment in gyms.”