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Covid-19 News Updates


Victoria opening to vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November

Victoria opening to vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November

With lockdown lifting today in Victoria the state’s government has more good news, announcing international borders will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers without quarantine requirements from 1 November.

In addition, there will no longer be a cap on fully vaccinated returning Australians wishing to enter Victoria, as long as they demonstrate their vaccination status to the Commonwealth with a vaccine approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Arrivals will also be required to test negative to COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure and must undertake testing within 24 hours of arrival in Victoria.

At the same time, Victoria will cap the number of unvaccinated or unverified international travellers at 250 per week - they will also still be required to undergo two weeks of quarantine.

“The Commonwealth's new quarantine facility at Mickleham is under construction and is on track for becoming operational in January to house unvaccinated arrivals, as emergency accommodation following natural disasters such as bushfires or for use in future pandemics,” the Victorian government said.

“With our first-dose vaccination rate at 90 per cent and growing every day, these changes will help our returning Australians come home safely while preserving our health system and ensuring Victorians can still get the healthcare they need when they need it most.”

1 November also coincides with the date Victorians will be permitted to travel internationally without having to seek an exemption from the Commonwealth Government.

Victoria came out of lockdown at 11.59pm last night after hitting 70 per cent double-dose vaccination. The next milestone in the Roadmap will be when Victoria hits the 80 per cent double dose vaccination target, which is predicted to be the first week of November.

“Victorians have achieved something incredible, and I couldn’t be prouder. Thank you, Victoria,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Today’s welcome news was made possible because of the hard work Victorians did to get vaccinated. With our first-dose vaccination rate at 90 per cent, we’ll open Victoria’s vaccinated economy – and we can’t wait to welcome the rest of the world.”

Updated at 1.10pm AEDT on 22 October 2021.

As Melbourne cautiously opens up today, what lies ahead?

As Melbourne cautiously opens up today, what lies ahead?

This morning, Melburnians are waking up to the end of the city’s sixth lockdown.

Since March 2020, Melbourne has spent more time in lockdown than any other city in the world. It’s been a long and arduous journey for its five million people, as well as other parts of Victoria at certain times.

Today’s relaxations reflect the fact that Victoria has reached its milestone of 70% of eligible adults fully vaccinated against COVID earlier than expected.

So what can Melburnians do from today, how did this happen earlier than expected, and will hospitals cope?

What will change today?

People are no longer confined to five reasons to leave home. Ten people are able to visit households and the nightly curfew will end. There will be no distance limit for travel within metropolitan Melbourne.

Hospitality venues can open to 20 fully vaccinated people indoors and 50 outdoors. Most outdoor settings – cafes, cinemas, and physical recreation facilities including pools – will open with up to 50 fully vaccinated people per venue. At last, fully vaccinated Melburnians can get a haircut and have their dogs groomed.

To the relief of many parents exhausted by home learning, the start of the staggered school return of Grade 3 to Year 11 in metro Melbourne commences today.

Has the roadmap changed?

Yes, the previously announced roadmap has been modified and some restrictions have been eased ahead of time, such as the ceiling on household gatherings and travel limits.

The school opening schedule has also been brought forward.

The reasons given by Premier Daniel Andrews for these changes have been the accelerated pace of COVID vaccinations, facilitated in part by increasing vaccine supply, and the shortening of intervals between first and second doses.

Modelling by the Burnet Institute conducted in mid-October provided more optimistic and reassuring estimates of the impact of reopening on health services than earlier modelling.

In addition to the faster than anticipated uptake of vaccines, this is in part because assumptions made in the revised model are based on real world Victorian data, rather than projections based on international evidence. The anticipated length of hospital stay has been on average much shorter than previously anticipated. The chances of overwhelming the hospital system after reopening have dropped from 63% to just 23%.

As of yesterday, 3.4% of active cases in Victoria were hospitalised and 0.6% were in ICU. These are much lower rates than those experienced in NSW at the peak of its outbreak.

What can we expect next?

Modelling by a number of institutes, including Doherty and Burnet, predicts an increase in cases after lockdowns end. Victoria will be able to observe the outcomes of easing restrictions in NSW.

However, there are important differences between the two states. Cases began to steadily decline in NSW once 50% of eligible adults were fully vaccinated, and average daily case numbers were down to 530 on the day the lockdown ended. On the other hand, Victoria’s seven-day average of new daily cases is almost 2,000.

Meanwhile, we can learn from the experiences of other countries that eased restrictions at comparable levels of vaccination. A lot has been said about Denmark’s relative success at controlling COVID after lifting restrictions.

However, Denmark didn’t remove restrictions until more than 70% of its entire population was fully vaccinated (83% of eligible adults). Melbourne has just over 55% fully vaccinated when considering the total population.

When Denmark began to ease restrictions, it was reporting around 500 cases a day (similar to NSW) and the number continued to decline to around 300 ten days later. Since then, the number of cases has steadily increased to a current average of 700 per day. However, the health system is coping with around 126 people hospitalised and 11 in ICU.

Portugal currently has the highest vaccination rate in the world – 85% of the entire population is fully vaccinated. The COVID infection rate and hospital admissions have dropped to their lowest levels in nearly 18 months.

However, it was cautious about easing restrictions and only allowed bars and nightclubs to reopen last month when the entire population vaccination coverage was greater than 80%. Even now, customers at entertainment venues have to show a digital vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test and masks are still compulsory in specific settings.

The safe road ahead

Today should not be seen as “freedom day”. But it is the first step towards a time when the pandemic won’t dominate our daily lives.

Victorians have made significant sacrifices over 2020 and 2021, and will now be able to enjoy a wide range of social choices as our vaccine coverage increases.

But it’s important the community understands the breadth and sustainability of these freedoms will depend on remaining vigilant around a few key prevention behaviours, especially recognising COVID symptoms, testing, and short periods of isolation for people who contract COVID.

Modelling has shown better outcomes when vaccinated people continue to test when they have symptoms. We need to continue to get vaccinated and aim to reach and perhaps exceed global leaders in vaccination levels, as we prepare for booster shots later this year.

Experience overseas indicates the Delta wave is also disproportionately affecting the young, including school children. Safe schools are an absolute necessity – improved ventilation, vaccinated teachers and children 12 and above, and indoor masks can mitigate the risk of infection.

Navigating the next few months will require a whole-of-community effort. Victorians have done it before and can do it again.

We acknowledge the valuable assistance by Burnet Institute researcher Scott Umali.The Conversation

Michael Toole, Associate Principal Research Fellow, Burnet Institute and Mark Stoové, Head of Public Health, Co-Head HIV Elimination Program, Head of Justice Health Research, Burnet Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

"Wake-up call" for the Gold Coast as rideshare driver tests positive to COVID-19

"Wake-up call" for the Gold Coast as rideshare driver tests positive to COVID-19

An unvaccinated Gold Coast-based rideshare driver in his 30s is reportedly too sick and breathless from COVID-19 to fully assist Queensland Health officials with contact tracing, but it is believed the Broadbeach resident may have contracted the virus while interstate in Melbourne on 10 October and was infectious in the community for 10 days.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young told a press conference in Mackay this morning that it was difficult to get answers from the individual due to their condition, and the fact he has not used the QR check-in app since 18 September.

The news comes as the Sunshine State prepares for a vaccination blitz on Saturday in a bid to improve jab rates that are lagging behind the rest of the country, thus putting the state at a much higher risk of outbreaks and hospitalisations upon reopening.

Dr Young said the new case lives in an apartment complex in Broadbeach and started developing COVID-19 symptoms on 11 October, which means his infectious period dates back to 9 October.

She said he presented to the emergency department of Robina Hospital yesterday, where two separate COVID-19 tests returned positive results.

"So he then was transferred later that evening to the Gold Coast University Hospital where he is now. He lives by himself, he works as an Uber driver, so we're working very closely with Uber who have been excellent this morning to get information about whether he has had any drives during the time that he was infectious," Dr Young said.

"He is so sick that he is having difficulty communicating with us and difficulty remembering as you can imagine. So this was very difficult for him, but it is also very difficult for the Gold Coast community because I can't give you those areas that he's been."

A spokesperson for Uber claims the driver has not driven with the platform since 19 September.

"We work with public health authorities in each state, and have processes in place to temporarily remove an individual’s access to the Uber app if authorities report an infection," the spokesperson said.

"We may also limit other individuals’ access to the app if health authorities advise there is a risk.

"The well-being of those who use the Uber platform is a key priority for us, and we have a dedicated team working around the clock to support them the very best we can."

Dr Young urged anyone from the Gold Coast with any symptoms at all to come forward for testing.

"Please don't wait like this poor gentleman has," she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described the latest case as a "wake-up call" for the city, where 156,000 eligible people are still unvaccinated out of a population of more than 710,000 including ineligible children.

Dr Young clarified there are also a further 20,000 kids aged 12-15 who haven't yet been vaccinated.

"People who are not vaccinated, you can go this Saturday to Pimpama State Secondary College, Upper Coomera State College, Southport State High School, Palm Beach Currumbin State High School, Coombabah State High School, Nerang State High School, Varsity College, Miami State High School, Elanora State High School, or Helensvale State High School," the Premier said.

"We need people to be vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated you are more than likely ending up very sick from COVID or in hospital or in ICU (intensive care unit). I don't want to see that happen to residents across Queensland.

"Come on and get vaccinated, and support our super Saturday vaccination blitz."

While the push is on for people around the state to get vaccinated, Dr Young urged Gold Coast residents to do so immediately.

"We've got a 10-day window to get every everyone vaccinated because then you'll be fully protected when we open up our borders in December, so this is so important," the CHO said.

The Premier said 73.12 per cent of Queenslanders have had their first dose of the vaccine, and 58.07 per cent have had their second dose.

"I'm absolutely concerned about regional Queensland. So in Mackay these showgrounds here can do up to 500 doses a day on average but it can actually ramp up to 900," she said.

"Mackay's vaccination rate is 66.4 per cent first dose and 49.5 per cent second dose...but I am concerned about some of the regions' vaccination rates, for example Bowen - 48.4 per cent have had their first dose."

She noted some areas that are major tourism hubs had low vaccination rates as well, including Proserpine (67.2 per cent) and the Whitsundays (63 per cent).

"We know Mackay and Proserpine and the Whitsundays are absolutely gateways to tourism, and we know that on the 17th of December  there will be tourists coming here from all around Australia, so please, please go and get vaccinated."

Updated at 10:54am AEST on 21 October 2021.

NSW tourism and events sector gets $530m shot in the arm

NSW tourism and events sector gets $530m shot in the arm

As New South Wales blasts through vaccine milestones, the state government is stepping up to invest $530 million in the tourism and events industry which has been hard hit by pandemic restrictions.

The package, unveiled today, sees the Stay & Rediscover scheme expanded, support extended to major events across the state, and the introduction of a Festival Relaunch package among several other programs.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said this package would bring back tourists and supercharge the businesses and attractions that contribute $38 billion to the local economy.

“Millions of people around the world dream of visiting Sydney and our regional areas. This package not only ensures they can, but that they’ll experience the very best of what we have to offer,” Perrottet said.

“It’s also great news for people right across our state, reviving events and businesses and bringing our major drawcards back to life.  

“Importantly, more than 300,000 people rely on our tourism industry and our aim is to reclaim our position as one of the world’s favourite destinations.”

The tourism and events recovery package includes:

  • $250 million for the expanded Stay & Rediscover scheme providing a $50 voucher to all NSW adults to redeem at accommodation premises across NSW.
  • $150 million to support the recovery of major event activity across the state including $50 million for a Regional Events Package to support major events, festivals, agricultural shows and community events across the regions.
  • $60 million for an Aviation Attraction Fund to incentivise international airlines to re-commence flights to Sydney.
  • $6 million to bring business events back to the city.
  • $50 million for the CBDs Revitalisation Program to support events and activations in CBDs across Greater Sydney and surrounds.  
  • An Event Saver Fund to provide immediate support to organisers if events are cancelled or disrupted by any public health orders during the 2021-22 summer.
  • $25 million for the Festival Relaunch package – to stabilise established commercial and not-for-profit festivals, big and small, so they can program with confidence into 2022/23.
  • $10 million for a Recovery Marketing Campaign including an extension of the successful roadtrips campaign launched in 2020.

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the much-needed investment will help revive shuttered businesses and bring tourism providers back to their vibrant best.

“This was a one in one hundred year event which severely damaged our tourism industry,  operators barely hung in there as they lost bookings, customers and staff, now as we rebuild we can do so with confidence,” Ayres said.

“For our visitor economy to reach its full potential we need event owners to dream big, airlines to fly in and for locals and visitors to embrace our world class venues and hospitality with enthusiasm once again.”

The package has been welcomed by peak industry bodies today which have applauded the government for supporting the state’s tourism and events operators.

“The uncertainty of snap lockdowns has crippled the events industry; this new fund will allow organisers to start planning today for a cracking 2022,” NSW Tourism Industry Council executive manager Greg Binskin said.

“This in turn will encourage more visitor spending, providing social and economic benefits to all those towns and villages who have tourism and events as a key source of income.”

Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter was pleased the package supports businesses state-wide, not just those operating in Greater Sydney.

“Business NSW has been telling government since the start of the pandemic that different industries were being impacted in different ways, but the tourism, hospitality and events sector has been the hardest hit,” Hunter said.

“What is particularly pleasing is this is not a Sydney centric package but recognises that all of NSW has a part to play in the economic recovery through regional events and tourism, with support for satellite CBD’s a cornerstone of this funding.

“The exciting part about this support package is that it will actually encourage more business investment and drive a collaborative partnership between business and Government in securing events and once again making NSW the number one destination in the Asia Pacific region for both business and travel.”

It comes as the peak body representing the Australian tourism export sector, Australian Tourism Export Council, has called on the Federal Government to provide a date and a framework for reopening international borders so tourism businesses can plan for 2022.

“Since the announcement by the NSW Government last Friday, our members have been fielding inquiries from intending travellers looking to book an Australian holiday or visit their family but they still can't make these bookings with any certainty,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“We simply can't afford to continue to keep our borders closed to high spending international travellers and miss critical ‘booking windows’ as these people simply will choose to holiday in other competing destinations, putting Australia at the bottom of their bucket list. 

“Right now we are heading into the northern hemisphere's annual booking season when the US, Europe and the UK are facing a long winter and typically plan their travel to warmer climates like Australia. If we miss this booking window it will not surface again for another 12 months."

Updated at 12.10pm AEDT on 20 October 2021.

WA to open quarantine-free travel bubble with QLD from Friday

WA to open quarantine-free travel bubble with QLD from Friday

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced his state will establish a quarantine-free travel bubble with Queensland from 12.01am Friday 22 October, as the Sunshine State goes 19 days without community transmission today.

After transitioning from the ‘low risk’ status to ’very low risk’, Queenslanders will no longer have to self-quarantine for two-weeks when entering WA.

Under the ‘low risk’ settings, safe travel is permitted into the state subject to the following conditions:

  • completion of a G2G Pass declaration before travel, stipulating the traveller does not have any COVID-19 symptoms and which jurisdictions they have visited in the previous 14 days;
  • all Perth Airport arrivals to undergo a health screening;
  • travellers to be prepared to take a COVID-19 test, if deemed necessary by a health clinician (voluntary asymptomatic testing also available); and
  • land arrivals to be met at the border checkpoint for a health screening and to have their G2G Pass declaration checked.

"The Chief Health Officer will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation in Queensland and should border controls need to be strengthened quickly, we will not hesitate,” Premier McGowan said.

"WA's border controls with ACT, NSW and Victoria remain in place.”

"My Government's priority continues to be to get as many people vaccinated as possible to reach high levels of vaccinations that will help keep the WA community safe."

Over the last two months, Queensland travellers have been allowed to enter WA without approval, but self-quarantine had been mandatory.  

"We have not had to endure long lockdowns, hundreds of deaths, tens of thousands of positive cases, business shutdowns and closed schools like NSW and Victoria in their most recent devastating outbreak,” WA Health Minister Roger Cook said.

"It is pleasing we can now ease border controls again with Queensland.

"Now we need Western Australians to continue to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Don't hesitate before it's too late."

Updated at 4.00pm AEDT on 19 October 2021.

Palaszczuk outlines plan for quarantine-free travel into Queensland by Christmas

Palaszczuk outlines plan for quarantine-free travel into Queensland by Christmas

The Queensland Government has unveiled its roadmap for the easing of border restrictions for travellers from Australian hotspots like Sydney and Melbourne today, with plans to allow fully vaccinated visitors to enter the state quarantine-free from 17 December.

The state’s plan, which also envisages permitting fully vaccinated travellers from hotspots to come into Queensland and complete two weeks of quarantine at home from 19 November, hinges on the eligible population going out to get a COVID-19 jab.

At this point in time, the government anticipates 70 per cent of the eligible population will be fully vaccinated on 19 November. As such, in a little over a month, people arriving by air into Queensland from a declared hotspot can enter as long as they are fully vaccinated and receive a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior. Once in Queensland, travellers must then quarantine at home for two weeks.

One month later, on 17 December, fully vaccinated travellers that test negative 72 hours prior to departure can arrive in Queensland by air. From this date, no period of quarantine will be required to be completed.

In addition, at this time, described by Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant as a “deadline”, international arrivals can undertake two weeks of home quarantine provided they are fully vaccinated and received a negative COVID test in the previous 72 hours before arrival.

At 90 per cent of Queenslanders fully vaccinated, which the government did not provide a timeframe for, there will be no entry restrictions for vaccinated arrivals from interstate or overseas. Unvaccinated travellers (domestic or international) however will need to apply for a border pass and undertake up to 14 days of quarantine.

 

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk noted that if Queensland hits the 70 per cent fully vaccinated milestone prior to 19 November then the first stage of the border relaxation plan will be brought forward.

Currently 72.26 per cent of Queenslanders have received one dose, and 65.58 per cent have received two doses after more than 14,000 vaccines were administered yesterday, including nearly 8,000 at Bunnings stores state-wide.

“I cannot stress the imperative to getting vaccinated because there is going to be a risk of Delta outbreaks happening in Queensland and we need to be prepared,” Palaszczuk said.

“I can say that in Brisbane the vaccination rates are much higher than in regional Queensland, and we are one state, so we need the vaccination rates to increase right across the state.

“We’re going to weather the storm. We can be so prepared for this storm if we get vaccinated now. So I’m urging Queenslanders: this is your last opportunity.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles’ message could not be more clear: “get vaccinated”.

“If you want to move around more, travel around more after the 17th of December - get vaccinated,” he said.

“If you want your family to visit for Christmas - get vaccinated.

“If you want to avoid regionalised lockdowns and restrictions - get vaccinated.”

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young echoed the Deputy Premier’s message, noting that younger people in the state could be doing more to protect the community.

“We have a deadline: that’s the 17th of December,” she said.

“I make a plea to younger people; if younger people were to get vaccinated we would reach that target even earlier.

“It’s younger people in that 20 to 39 year age group who probably feel they’re invincible, but you’re not. You need to get vaccinated so we can return to a normal way of life.”

Queensland recorded no new cases of COVID-19 today.

Updated at 2.15pm AEDT on 18 October 2021.

“We’re on top of this”: Southern Tasmania to exit lockdown tonight

“We’re on top of this”: Southern Tasmania to exit lockdown tonight

Southern Tasmania will leave lockdown at 6pm tonight following three days of stay-at-home restrictions which were initially established to stop a potential outbreak of COVID-19 last Friday afternoon.

The restrictions were put in place after a COVID-positive man breached hotel quarantine last week and was allegedly “uncooperative” with health officials, refusing to detail his 18 hours of movements in the community.

Since the lockdown was established no new COVID-19 cases were detected in Tasmania, with the state’s Premier Peter Gutwein declaring today he was “on top of this”.

As such, lockdown will end for 12 local government areas (LGAs) in Southern Tasmania as scheduled at 6pm tonight.

For the most part, the LGAs are snapping back to pre-lockdown rules, but masks must still be worn indoors and visitation restrictions for aged care and hospitals will remain in place until 6pm on Friday.

In terms of business support for those impacted by the three-day lockdown, Gutwein says Business Tasmania is working on a one-off package which will be unveiled later this week.

Updated at 11.45am AEDT on 18 October 2021.

Melbourne to leave lockdown on Friday with state set to hit vaccine milestone early

Melbourne to leave lockdown on Friday with state set to hit vaccine milestone early

High rates of vaccine take-up have put Victoria in a position to leave lockdown nearly a week earlier than expected, meaning significant restrictions are set to be eased from Friday.

More than 3.5 million Victorians are now fully vaccinated, and the state will hit its 70 per cent double dose vaccination target in the roadmap this week.

As such, from 11.59pm on Thursday 21 October, a number of restrictions will be eased.

Up to 10 people (including dependents) per day will be able to visit homes in both regional and metropolitan Melbourne. To ensure this is done safely, it’s highly recommended that Victorians only permit people aged 12 years and over who are fully vaccinated to visit them at home.

In metropolitan Melbourne, the curfew and the 15km travel radius will be lifted, however movement between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will only be allowed for permitted reasons. This is to ensure Melburnians don’t spread the virus further into regional Victoria while the state pushes to the 80 per cent double vaccinated target.

People in metropolitan Melbourne must continue to work from home if they can. Anyone on the authorised workers list is required to have had at least one dose of the vaccine in order to work on-site.

Childcare will be open to children who are already attending, as well as children whose parents or guardians are fully vaccinated. The return to school plan will also be brought forward in line with the rest of these settings, with the start of the staggered return of Grade 3 to Year 11 in metro Melbourne commencing on Friday 22 October.

Religious gatherings, weddings and funerals will be able to take place with up to 50 people outdoors and 20 people indoors subject to density limits and only if all attendees are fully vaccinated. Or, if vaccination status is unknown, 10 people are permitted indoors for funerals, weddings and religious gatherings.

Most outdoor settings – outdoor cafes, cinemas, and physical recreation facilities like pools – will open with up to 50 people per venue but are subject to density limits and only for those fully vaccinated.

Indoor settings like restaurants and cafes will be able to reopen with up to 20 people indoors with density limits, and only if all attendees – including workers – are fully vaccinated.

Large scale construction sites will increase to 100 per cent capacity but only if all workers are fully vaccinated.

Masks will still be required both indoors and outdoors for all Victorians.

In regional Victoria, indoor settings – like restaurants, cafes and gyms – will increase from 10 to 30 people per venue, if everyone is fully vaccinated.

Outdoor venues will increase from 20 to up to 100 people per venue, but only if everyone is fully vaccinated. If vaccination status is unknown, the venue can only have a total of 20 people.

“Victorians have sacrificed so much to protect their families, friends and the whole community from coronavirus – and have saved countless lives because of it,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“The milestone we’re about to hit marks a new and hopeful path for the whole state – allowing businesses to reopen and Victorians to get back to things they love.”

The state is expected to hit the 80 per cent double dose vaccination mark in the first week of November. Once that milestone is reached more restrictions will ease.

“The rate at which Victorians have been getting vaccinated is nothing short of incredible, but if we want to ensure our health system isn’t overwhelmed and our hospitalisation rates aren’t too high as we open up, we need to keep that momentum going. Today is the day to book that vaccine appointment,” Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley said.

Victoria today recorded 1,903 new locally acquired cases today, while seven people with COVID-19 have died.

Updated at 9.18am AEDT on 18 October 2021.

PM throws cold water on new NSW Premier's 'opening to the world' plan

PM throws cold water on new NSW Premier's 'opening to the world' plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shrugged off NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet's plans to open the state to any traveller worldwide who has been vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine.

Perrottet's bold announcement this morning is in conflict with the Federal Government's previously announced roadmap, agreed to by National Cabinet, which in the first instance was only announced for Australian citizens or permanent residents and also included home quarantine provisions.

In a press conference the Prime Minister reiterated the Federal Government was "not opening it up to anything other than Australian citizens and residents and their immediate families".

"That is what will happen from the 1st of November in New South Wales, and indeed all around the country for Australians departing," he said.

"To return to Australia, obviously they'd have to do that through Sydney or under the capped arrangements in other states and territories."

He said this meant international travellers and international students would not yet be returning, although he claimed the NSW Premier had not been hasty in suggesting international travellers could enter the country from the start of next month.

"What the Premier did today was advise me and announce today that when international students, when international travellers, when skilled migrants are permitted to return to Australia by the Commonwealth Government, then they will not be required to quarantine when they come," the PM said.

"The Premier understands that that's a decision for the Commonwealth Government, not for the state governments. And when we believe that's the right decision to make, we'll make it at that time.

"I'm going to progress steadily, but at the same time, carefully, and I welcome this first step. I think it's a positive step."

Morrison also said the Federal Government would continue to support home quarantine trials in different states and territories.

"Remember, no state or territory is coming from the same place. They're all starting in different positions, with different rates of COVID in their states and territories," he said.

"And, indeed, I understand today in Tasmania they're going into a very short lockdown. They're still in phase A. And it's a reminder, wherever you are in Australia, please get vaccinated."

Updated at 6:06pm AEDT on 15 October 2021.

 

Southern Tasmania to enter three-day lockdown from 6pm tonight

Southern Tasmania to enter three-day lockdown from 6pm tonight

Those living in Southern Tasmania will go into lockdown for three days from 6pm tonight to avoid an outbreak of the Delta variant after a COVID-positive man who escaped hotel quarantine was not cooperative with contact tracing authorities.

The man who escaped hotel quarantine “has not been cooperative, leading to inconsistency and non-disclosure of information”, according to Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein, and was in the community for 18 hours.

So far, 36 people have been labelled close contacts of the man and another 19 casual contacts. As such, 12 local government areas (LGAs) in the state’s south, including Hobart, will go into lockdown until at least 6pm on Monday.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-positive man who absconded from hotel quarantine has not been cooperative, leading to inconsistency and a non-disclosure of information,” Premier Gutwein said.

“Unfortunately, it took two days to verify that he was at the Woolies and we’re growing concerned now that he has in fact several touchpoints within the community.

“We can’t continue to wait another two days to find out more about what’s been going on.”

In addition, a primary close contact of the man breached home quarantine last night. He has since been apprehended, fined and will spend time in a government hotel quarantine facility.

“Prior to reaching our vaccination goals and the readiness to open our borders before Christmas, we simply cannot afford for an outbreak to occur,” Gutwein said.

From 6pm tonight, the following LGAs will enter lockdown for three days:

  • Brighton Council
  • Central Highlands Council
  • Clarence City Council
  • Derwent Valley Council
  • Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council
  • Glenorchy City Council
  • Hobart City Council
  • Huon Valley Council
  • Kingborough Council
  • Sorell Council
  • Southern Midlands Council
  • Tasman Council

There will be only five reasons to leave the house including shopping for essentials, personal exercise, medical appointments (including testing for COVID and getting vaccinated), going to permitted workplaces and going to school if education cannot be undertaken from home.

Those under lockdown will also only be permitted to travel up to 5km from their house for exercise and shopping, and face masks must be worn.

No indoor or outdoor gatherings are permitted, and no more than 10 people can attend a funeral. Weddings can only occur for compassionate reasons and with just five people in attendance.

Cafes, restaurants and hotels can open for takeaway and delivery services only, and personal care businesses like hairdressers and gyms must close.

Construction will also pause for three days except for emergency repairs.

Those affected by the lockdown can apply for the Federal Government COVID disaster payment.

“We might get to Monday evening at 6pm and see no more cases. We may get to Monday evening at 6pm and see many more cases,” Gutwein said.

“One of the things that we do not want to be in this state is either Sydney or Melbourne who acted too late in both instances when dealing with Delta.

“It is important at this point in time, as we cannot be certain about the information that we have, that we ensure that we take every step that we possibly can to ensure that the state doesn't have a Delta outbreak of scale that would impact this community.”

So far there are four exposure sites in Tasmania relating to the man who breached hotel quarantine:

  • Jetstar flight JQ715 from Melbourne to Hobart arriving 8:27pm, October 11
  • Hobart Airport arrival area male bathroom between 9:10pm and 9:15pm and 9:25pm and 9:30pm, October 11
  • Hobart Airport arrival hall including baggage pickup between 8:54pm and 10:07pm, October 11
  • Woolworths Bridgewater between 3:30pm and 4:00pm, October 12

Updated at 3.17pm AEDT on 15 October 2021.

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