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Navigating the long road to recovery for Melbourne CBD

Navigating the long road to recovery for Melbourne CBD

Real estate investment is all about location and the city centre is not the place to be for retail and hospitality businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Melbourne's CBD office vacancy rate has climbed to 11.3 per cent according to realestate.com.au and business owners are surviving on as little as 10 per cent of regular trade.

One million workers, shoppers and tourists visited Melbourne daily at the start of 2020, but a recent Roy Morgan poll showed movement is now at just 15 per cent of pre-Covid levels.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp was re-elected on a platform to revitalise the city centre but the reality is CBD businesses are suffering from the absence of people.

Since the start of the pandemic, hundreds of shops have been vacated and it's difficult to see a recovery in any meaningful way until the second half of next year at least.

A revival is partly dependent on vaccines becoming available but also changing the attitudes of workers and employers.

Not everyone will return to the office and abandon the flexibility of working from home, and CBD shops will struggle for a significant period yet even as restrictions are lifted.

High streets and smaller retail centres with significant independent retailers as tenants have suffered as the smaller retailers have struggled to trade through the pandemic, leaving 'for lease' signs across many retail hubs.

However, in other Melbourne's suburbs and regional areas of Victoria with larger corporate tenancies, it's a different story. High streets that have retained their tenants are trading strongly and benefitting from an increase in foot traffic.

There may be opportunities for retailers to move into a high street or smaller suburban commercial areas, although the recovery at big suburban shopping centres is also gathering pace.

Big suburban shopping centres still have rental deals that underpin their operating costs and they will thrive, even if all they do is pick up foot traffic no longer concentrated in the CBD.

However, stalwart brands including Katies, Rivers and Riot Art & Craft are disappearing, an indicator of the intensifying pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Despite improving trade and high consumer confidence in Victoria, a gap is widening between small and big retailers. Larger businesses have captured a majority of the extra online sales during the last six months.

The online sector is arguably performing more strongly now than earlier in the year. August was a big month for e-commerce, with $500m more in sales than in the surge back in April before it came off the boil slightly in September.

Apart from April, big businesses recorded through-the-year growth in every month since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Since March, the average through-the-year growth for larger businesses was 10.9 per cent, up from 5.0 per cent over the previous six months.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, smaller organisations had only one month, July, where they recorded through-the-year growth. Small businesses have recorded an average fall in sales of 6.7 per cent since March 2020, down from -1.6 per cent over the previous six months.

It's clear that big businesses had the platforms and the brand awareness capitalise on the disruption caused by the virus, and they've picked up the online business.

Achieving cut-through for a small retailer is difficult because they may have an online site but the site itself is only a billboard, they've got to be able to draw people in.

Large retailers already had a captive audience, with strong communication channels and engagement from their existing customer base.

Smaller players must build up that following to compete, and that takes time and money.

Updated at 9.54am AEDT on 20 November 2020.

Mark Harrison is a partner/executive director at national accounting and business advisory firm Pitcher Partners.

Victoria sets hard border with South Australia

Victoria sets hard border with South Australia

A hard border to South Australians attempting to travel into Victoria will be implemented for 48 hours from midnight tonight, before a permit system comes into effect on Sunday.

The Victorian Government hopes the temporary measure will protect the population after the state went 20 days with zero new cases of COVID-19 today.

South Australia is currently in total lockdown for six days, with only essential businesses allowed to operate, as health authorities scramble to contain a northern suburbs outbreak of COVID-19.

"Victorians have worked too hard and given too much to allow anything to put at risk our goal of reaching COVID Normal by Christmas. We'll do whatever it takes to keep Victorians safe," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"We know border communities have had an incredibly difficult year and we don't take these decisions lightly.

"Our public health team will work closely with South Australia to monitor the outbreak and get the border back open as soon as it's safe to do so." 

The new rules come as South Australia has reported zero new cases of COVID-19 overnight.

Under the hard border rules only freight drivers and those with medical or emergency reasons, urgent animal welfare or those authorised by law will be able to pass through the border.

The border permit system is currently being devised, but the reasons to enter Victoria from South Australia from midnight Sunday will include:

  • if you are an emergency services worker or a worker providing essential services
  • for agricultural work
  • to receive medical care (including seeking coronavirus testing), obtain medical supplies or compassionate reasons
  • to shop to obtain essential supplies.

From today, interstate truck drivers travelling through Victoria from South Australia will be offered extra testing at a site at Nhill on the Western Highway.

Other testing sites are being activated at other major freight routes. Drivers can also be tested at more than 193 other sites across Victoria.

"We're working with major freight companies, independent operators and industry peak bodies to provide advice about the need for testing and all tested will have their samples fast-tracked for analysis," says the Victorian Government.

"The Victorian Government will continue to monitor the SA outbreak and take whatever action is necessary to keep Victorians safe.

"Our Victorian Public Health team is also supporting SA contact tracers as they continue to track and trace the spread of the virus."

The restrictions come as Victorian health officials have discovered fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 in untreated wastewater taken from Portland and Benalla treatment plants on Tuesday 17 November.

As such, residents of Portland and Benalla have been urged to get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until a result is processed.

"We'll work with these communities to ensure they have access to the things they need, as we provide further details on border crossings in the coming days," Victorian Minster for Health Martin Foley said.

Updated at 1.16pm AEDT on 19 November 2020.

South Australia's 6-day lockdown shows we need to take hotel quarantine more seriously

South Australia's 6-day lockdown shows we need to take hotel quarantine more seriously

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall today announced a six-day "circuit breaker" lockdown to try and snuff out the state's COVID outbreak.

From midnight Wednesday, residents will be asked to stay in their homes. Hospitality venues will shut, as will schools and universities. Construction will grind to a halt and exercise won't be allowed outside the home.

The only permitted reasons to leave home are to shop for food or medicine, or for essential health care. Elective surgery will be paused, except for urgent operations.

There are now 22 cases linked to the cluster that emerged from hotel quarantine, and a further seven suspected cases.

Why lockdown?

While this may seem like an overly cautious approach to a cluster that isn't yet as big as we've seen in other places, I think it's a wise move.

This is how lockdowns should be used. Indeed, the World Health Organisation advocates lockdowns as a way to buy precious time while other essential public health measures are mobilised, such as contact tracing and widespread testing. The focus here is on preventing a rise in cases, unlike the lockdown in Melbourne where the cases had already taken off widely in the community and it was about turning the wave around.

We've seen the virus in this particular cluster spread very rapidly. In just two weeks it has spread through five generations that is, to five "rings" beyond the initial case.

We've also seen cases passed on through quite casual contact, via a pizza shop in the suburb of Woodville.

The state's chief health officer, Nicola Spurrier, said:

This particular strain has [] a very, very short incubation period. That means when somebody gets exposed, it is taking 24 hours or even less for that person to become infectious to others, and the other characteristic of the cases we have seen so far is they have had minimal symptoms and sometimes no symptoms but have been able to pass it on to others.

This short incubation period and rapid spread is why the government has opted for a six-day lockdown, giving the space to put out the spot fire while protecting the wider community, and especially high-risk settings and vulnerable populations where cases numbers can escalate rapidly with serious consequences.

Also, as Spurrier said, the cases so far have had no, or very mild, symptoms. So this six-day window allows the testing of close and casual contacts to be completed so the cases that are out there become visible to the health department.

The decision to restrict exercise altogether is strict, but warranted in my view. The rationale is similar to putting a wide range of people into isolation, as they don't yet know where the edge is of the current cases, or the full extent of exposure. The rationale for the extension of restrictions beyond Adelaide and surrounds to the whole state is less clear at this stage.

If it protects the population from an escalation of cases, then six days without outdoor exercise will ultimately be better for physical and mental health than longer strict rules, even with some exercise allowed.

Significant restrictions will remain after the six days, but not full lockdown, according to the state's Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.


Read more: South Australia's COVID outbreak: what we know so far, and what needs to happen next


The good news

The good news is there have been no mystery cases so far. All positive cases have been linked back to hotel quarantine at the Peppers Waymouth Hotel (known as a "medi-hotel" locally).

Testing rates have been very high. Some 5,300 tests were done on Monday, and more than 6,000 on Tuesday. This number of tests is comparable to three or four times that number in a larger city like Melbourne. Local residents have been very patient in queuing up to get tested, sometimes for several hours.

South Australia's contact tracing team hasn't really been severely tested during the pandemic. But the team has received extensive training and is reportedly robust, having been given the tick of approval from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's recent review into Australia's contact tracing, published last Friday.


Read more: Exponential growth in COVID cases would overwhelm any state's contact tracing. Australia needs an automated system


More than 4,000 people have been quarantined already, including not just contacts, but contacts of contacts, and even beyond that to ensure "casual contacts" are also followed up and tested. This is a sign of a rapid and strong public health response.

What needs to change?

Before this cluster, testing was not mandatory for hotel quarantine staff although this has now changed to compulsory weekly testing.

This is a positive step, but in my view we should ideally start testing hotel quarantine staff daily.

Getting a nasal swab every day is quite intrusive, so I think we could use saliva tests instead. Yes, they don't have quite the same level of sensitivity as the "gold standard" PCR tests based on nose and throat swabs, but they're more tolerable for frequent testing.

Saliva samples can also be efficiently managed if pooled together, and if there's evidence of a positive test in the broad sample, individual samples can then be checked. Testing early and often is the best approach.

We also need to get serious about resourcing our hotel workers. Spurrier confirmed some workers had worked at multiple sites. This obviously increases the risk of the virus spreading through the community we saw this with some aged-care staff working across multiple venues in Victoria.

We need to prevent workers from needing to work across multiple sites, by paying them more. Even if they're not working full-time, they need to be paid as such to ensure they don't need to take on extra work and increase the risk of spreading the virus to other workplaces. This goes for all staff security staff as well as cleaners. Cleaners have a very important job and are particularly vulnerable.

I'd like to see national guidelines crafted for hotel quarantine. Today there is national agreement on weekly testing, but I think this should be a minimum. Infection control protocols and monitoring, and pay rates with accompanying sole employment rules also need to be considered. It's an issue that isn't going to go away, and it's an important gap that needs to be filled.


Read more: How's your life under lockdown? Tweets tell the tale of how neighbourhoods compare The Conversation


Catherine Bennett, Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University

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

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now 95 per cent effective

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now 95 per cent effective

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTZ) has demonstrated efficacy of 95 per cent following Phase 3 trials.

Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, and the vaccine is effective in adults over 65 years of age in 94 per cent of cases.

There were 10 severe cases of COVID-19 observed in the trial, with nine of the cases occurring in the placebo group and one in the vaccinated group.

The pharmaceutical company has developed a specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers using dry ice to maintain temperature conditions of minus 70°C.

Pfizer says these containers can be used for 15 days by refilling with dry ice, and each includes a GPS-enabled thermal sensor to track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment across their pre-set routes.

"The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic," Pfizer chairman and CEO Dr Albert Borula said.

"We continue to move at the speed of science to compile all the data collected thus far and share with regulators around the world.

"With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world."

Pfizer is expecting to produce 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

Earlier this month the Australian Federal Government announced it had secured 10 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine candidate.

Australia has also secured 40 million doses of the Novavax nanoparticle vaccine and 51 million doses of a vaccine candidate developed by CSL (ASX: CSL) and the University of Queensland.

Updated at 10.00am AEDT on 19 November 2020.

South Australia to shut down for six days on COVID-19 outbreak fears

South Australia to shut down for six days on COVID-19 outbreak fears

From midnight tonight all but essential businesses will close, and people must remain inside for six days in South Australia as authorities enforce wide-ranging restrictions to curb an outbreak of COVID-19.

The state will go on "pause" for six days as public health authorities engage in a contact tracing blitz to get on top of a COVID-19 outbreak

That outbreak has since grown by two more cases today, and health authorities have determined it was sparked by a medi-hotel security guard working part time at the Woodville Pizza Bar.

Masks must be worn when leaving the house, however the state's health officials have encouraged all South Australians to remain at home.

Only one person per household per day will be allowed to leave the house to go grocery shopping.

Schools and universities will close, takeaway food restaurants will not be allowed to operate, and pubs, cafes and coffee shops must shut their doors.

Weddings and funerals will be banned, outdoor sport and exercise will not be permitted, aged care facilities will go into total lockdown, and the construction sector and factories must shut down.

Fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers have been put on standstill, regional travel has been completely banned, and holiday homes will not be available for lease.

Essential services including supermarkets, medical and mental health services, petrol stations, post offices and financial institutions will be allowed to continue to operate. End of life visits will be allowed during the period.

"We need a circuit breaker," SA Premier Steven Marshall said.

"We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence, and we must act swiftly and decisively. We cannot wait to see how bad this becomes."

Marshall says the state has welcomed contact tracing help from the Commonwealth Government, Western Australia and from New South Wales to get on top of the outbreak.

Measures "extreme" but necessary

The state's chief health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier has acknowledged the lockdown measures are "extreme", but insists they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Some restrictions will remain in place for a further eight days at least once the six-day lockdown period is over.

"It really is extreme. And then after that we need 14 days in total in terms of the incubation period of the virus and the number of generations, so we've had to sit down and mathematically work it out," Professor Spurrier said.

"So for a 14-day period there will be significant restrictions, but my hope is that it should not need to be what we have done for the six days."

"I was also very surprised that we didn't have a little pockets in our community that popped up from time to time, but clearly if it is reintroduced into a community it takes off very quickly. And that's exactly what had happened in Victoria. I don't want that to happen here in South Australia and I'm going to do everything possible to make sure that it doesn't happen."

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens acknowledges the strict rules will be difficult to police, so he has called upon the community in the state to take responsibility during the lockdown period.

"Policing can only provide so much in terms of providing a safe environment for the community; it relies on the community doing the right thing and supporting each other, so our expectation is people will do the right thing, they'll abide by this extreme level of imposition for a short period of time and help us do our job," Stevens said.

"Clearly, if you're out and about during these six days, you should have the ability to justify your reason for your travel.

"We will be out there and we will be making sure people are doing the right thing."

COVID-19 strain spreading fast in SA

According to Spurrier the particular strain of COVID-19 circulating in SA has a short incubation period, meaning when somebody is exposed it takes 24 hours or less for that person to become infectious to others.

Because of the short incubation period Spurrier says the virus is currently in its fifth generation in the community.

"We don't have any time to wait," Spurrier said.

"If I just thought about this all day and then told the Police Commissioner and the Premier tonight we would already be 12 hours behind."

"If we leave this any longer and if we have people moving around the community and having a lot of contact with other people then we're going to be in this for the long haul."

Medi-hotel outbreak

Professor Spurrier also explained COVID-19 escaped from Adelaide's medi-hotels because a security guard was working at both the Peppers Hotel and part-time making pizza.

"We also had the person at the Stamford, and we couldn't connect the two," Spurrier said.

"But what we found last night was another person that worked at the pizza bar and we were able to connect those two because of time links."

Police Commissioner Stevens said there were no rules or restrictions to stop a medi-hotel security guard from working a second job part time.

"We are relying heavily on the security industry, and they are supporting us to a substantial level to ensure that we are maintaining a safe as possible environment in the medi-hotel.

"We can't quarantine these people [guards] when they're not at work. They are able to participate in normal community activities now whether that's participating in sport or taking on another part time job, the level of engagement with the community in terms of how they do that is irrelevant.

"We can't quarantine these people simply because they're assisting us by working in quarantine hotels."

Stay at home, Adelaide

Spurrier has encouraged South Australians to hunker down for the next six days until the situation comes under control.

"This is going to put a lot of strain on many people, and this is the time to be patient, to be calm and to trust in people that are there to support you," Spurrier said.

"We all need to look after each other there's no point panicking and rushing out to the shops and buying up lots of toilet paper.

"We are really at the beginning of this in South Australia and I need everybody to basically find a safe place to be for the next six days, and stay there as much as possible."

South Australians will be permitted to leave the home for testing, but health authorities will prioritise those who have been told to get tested by the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB).

"So the one thing that we definitely want people to do is during this six-day period is to get tested, but we are going to prioritise our testing," Spurrier said.

Updated at 1.16pm AEDT on 18 November 2020.

Victoria mimics NSW's voucher plan with regional twist

Victoria mimics NSW's voucher plan with regional twist

The Victorian Government will offer residents the chance to apply for $200 vouchers to spend in regional areas, but the total spend will be much less than a NSW equivalent announced yesterday with a greater emphasis on boosting tourism infrastructure. 

As part of the $465 million Victorian Tourism Recovery Package unveiled by Premier Daniel Andrews today, the government will give out 120,000 vouchers available to those who spend at least $400 on accommodation, attractions or tours in regional Victoria.

The $28 million scheme is expected to be up and running in December, ensuring the benefits are felt this summer when businesses need them the most.

The budget will also provide more than $149 million to build new visitor accommodation, improve major tourist trails and drive more people out to taste the state's produce, food and wine.

More than $47.5 million will build better visitor infrastructure along the Great Ocean Road, including a signature coastal walking trail along the coastline and hinterland from Fairhaven to Grey River, with up to five new swing suspension bridges providing spectacular views of Victoria's rugged Surf Coast. Some $2 million of the allocation will be used to build more campsites along the Surf Coast.

Meanwhile, the $18.5 million Gippsland Tourism Recovery Package will build new accommodation, upgrade the East Gippsland Rail Trail, improve tourism infrastructure across Victoria's east and support local jobs.

This includes $3.5 million to build 10 eco-pods at Cape Conran Coastal Park, $2 million for more campsites, and $2.5 million to help establish the Metung Hot Springs and the Nunduk Spa and Eco-Resort. The package also includes $3.85 million to provide better access to Point Hicks Lighthouse the tallest on mainland Australia.

Elsewhere in the state, $15 million will go towards works on the popular Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing hiking trail, $13 million will deliver trail heads on the Grampians Peak Trail and visitor upgrades at Mackenzie Falls, and $4.3 million will enable the continued growth of the Prosecco Road winery district including helping to establish accommodation at Dal Zotto Wines. 

There is also support for the Murray River Adventure Trail, facilities at Wilsons Promontory, the Mallee Silo Art Trail, the Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap and the Ballarat Centre for Photography.

A $150 million Regional Tourism Investment Fund will fund nature-based, First Nations, arts and culture, and food and wine tourism projects, while a further $1.5 million will support First Peoples tourism businesses through advisory services, mentoring and digital skills development.

The government also announced a further $106.5 million in tourism industry support, including a $58 million marketing boost for Visit Victoria to promote the state's appeal to Victorians as well as people all over the country.

"Whether it's a day-trip with the family or a tour along our stunning coast, we're helping more people get out and enjoy the best Victoria has to offer," says Premier Andrews.

"This funding will help them tourism businesses bounce back from the challenges of this year welcoming more visitors and employing more Victorians."

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, says Victoria has some of the most amazing attractions in the world, and his government is making sure they only continue to get better and more compelling for visitors.

"Our investment in infrastructure in every corner of the state lays the foundations for a sustained recovery - and that means more jobs for Victorians," says Minister Pakula.

"Regional Victoria delivers for Victorians and visitors alike, and our commitment to infrastructure in local communities ensures people will have the best possible experience in the years ahead," adds Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes.

Photo: Brambuk, Grampians National Park. Courtesy of Visit Victoria.

Updated at 11:59am AEDT on 18 November.

Major public health alerts issued in South Australia as suburban cluster grows

Major public health alerts issued in South Australia as suburban cluster grows

SA Health has issued a number of public health alerts for venues and restaurants in Adelaide after a northern suburbs COVID-19 cluster grew by four new cases yesterday.

One major alert is for the Woodville Pizza Bar, with anyone who visited or got takeaway from the restaurant on 6 to 16 November to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days.

The alert also requires those living with visitors of the pizza bar to quarantine for a fortnight.

Yesterday South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said his state was "not out of the woods yet" from this new outbreak of COVID-19.

The state's figures grew by five yesterday after more than 6,000 Adelaideans got tested for COVID-19 a record for SA.

Four of the five were linked to the Parafield cluster, with the fifth still under investigation at the time of yesterday's press conference.

More than 4,000 people have been asked to self-quarantine to date as state health authorities scramble to contain the outbreak.

A number of other public health alerts were issued overnight including for Thomas Moore College and Roma Mitchell Secondary College.

SA Health also says those who visited any of the below locations during the listed times do not need to self-quarantine but should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19:

ADELAIDE
Bensons Radiology, 3/18 North Terrace (Friday 13 November 8.30am 8.45am)
Bus 502 - Bus Stop H2 On Grenfell Street (Friday 13 November 9.00am 9.30am)
Bus (GA1/GA2/GA3) from bus stop near train station (Wednesday 11 November 3.40pm 4.38pm)

GEPPS CROSS
Stratco, 59 Port Wakefield Rd (Saturday 14 November 12.45pm 1.25pm)

ELIZABETH
Elizabeth Shopping Centre (Wednesday 11 November 10.00am 10.45am)

GLENGOWRIE
Morphett Arms Hotel, 138 Morphett Rd (Friday 13 November 5.00pm 10.00pm)

HENDON
Prime Liquidators, 6 Philips Cres (Saturday 14 November 12.00pm 12.30pm)

PARA HILLS
502x Bus - Stop 39 On Bridge Road to Stop S1 On Grenfell Street (Friday 13 November 7.45am 8.15am)

PORT ADELAIDE
Funk Coffee, T15/200-220 Commercial Rd (Saturday 14 November 5.00pm 5.15pm)
Hungry Jacks, 321 Commercial Rd Port Adelaide (Between 7.30pm Friday 13 November 2.30am Saturday 14 November) 

ROSEWATER
United Petrol Station, 128 Grand Junction Rd (Friday 13 November approximately 3pm)
Foodland, 144 Grand Junction Rd (Thursday 12 November 7.45 pm (approximately 5 minutes))

SALISBURY DOWNS
Hollywood Fresh Fruit Shop, Hollywood Plaza (Saturday 14 November 10.00am 11.00am)

SOMERTON PARK
Eblen Collision Repair, 240 Brighton Road (Thursday 12 November 8.00am 4.30pm and Friday 13 November 8.00am 4.30pm)

ST CLAIR
Coles, Cheltenham Parade (Friday 13 November 4.00pm 4.20pm)

WESTLAKES
Westlakes Shopping Centre (Kmart, San Churros, NK Fashion, Coles) (Sunday 15 November 1.45pm 3.45pm)

For a full list of SA public health alerts visit sahealth.sa.gov.au/covidcontacttracing.

Updated at 9.14am AEDT on 18 November 2020.

NSW to spend $500m on hospitality, arts and tourism vouchers

NSW to spend $500m on hospitality, arts and tourism vouchers

The NSW Government has announced a $500 million stimulus package to help businesses recover from COVID-19, incentivising people to eat out and enjoy the variety of cultural scenes around the state.

Under the Out & About program, NSW residents aged 18 and over will be given $100 worth of digital vouchers that can be used at eateries and on arts and tourism attractions in the state.

The $100 per person will be divided into four vouchers worth $25 each, two of which will be designated for restaurants, cafes, clubs and other foodservice venues.

The remaining two vouchers can be used for entertainment and recreation, such as cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas, and amusement parks.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said Service NSW would operate a pilot of the scheme throughout December in the Sydney CBD.

"Applying for a voucher will be simple and easy and made available via the Service NSW app," Minister Dominello said.

"We must be COVID smart as well as COVID safe and the success of this program will depend upon people continuing to follow the rules.

"This program is ambitious and the first of its kind in Australia. The Government will run a pilot scheme to make sure we can iron-out any issues before launching Out & About across NSW in the new year."

Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said the introduction of a four-voucher scheme was to encourage people to open their wallets and spend across a wider range of businesses over an extended time period.

"It's almost time to open the door on 2021 and I can't think of a better way to do that than by encouraging people to support their local businesses through this program," Minister Tudehope said.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the $500 million Out & About program was designed to boost businesses hit hard by the pandemic, by encouraging people to get out and enjoy the best of NSW.

"No industry has felt the economic impacts of COVID-19 more than the hospitality, arts and tourism industries," the Treasurer said.

"NSW acted swiftly to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19 and we want to help businesses by encouraging spending within local communities, especially within the hospitality, arts and tourism sectors."

Updated at 5:41pm AEDT on 17 November 2020.

South Australia records one new infection as restrictions come into force

South Australia records one new infection as restrictions come into force

Just one new COVID-19 infection has been confirmed in South Australia after a range of new restrictions came into force overnight.

The new confirmed infection is connected to the Parafield cluster, bringing the total associated with it to 18.

According to SA Premier Steven Marshall the positive case was discovered from more than 3,000 tests conducted yesterday.

The new positive infection comes after South Australian health officials acted fast to contain the spread of the outbreak, reimposing a number of restrictions on venues and immediately closing down gyms.

 

 

South Australian health officials also issued a number of new public health alerts for a variety of locations overnight.

Those that visited the locations below do not need to self-quarantine but should monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if any develop:

Adelaide
Bus (GA1/GA2/GA3) from bus stop near train station (Wednesday 11 November 3.40pm 4.38 pm)
It's Convenient, 63 Waymouth St, Adelaide (Saturday 14 November 6.00 pm 6.15 pm)

Eastwood
Adelaide Eye and Laser Centre, 215 Greenhill Rd (Friday 13 November 10.00am 12.00 pm

Edinburgh
SA Structural, 54 Kaurna Avenue (Thursday 12 November 7.00am 3.30 pm)

Elizabeth
Big W, Elizabeth Shopping Centre (Saturday 14 November 10.00 am 11.00am)

Findon
Woolworths Findon Road (Saturday 14 November 8.30 pm 8.35 pm)

Fulham Gardens
Fulham Gardens Community Centre - Festival of Lights Function (Sunday 8 November)

Gepps Cross
Spotlight, 750 Main North Road (Thursday 12 November 8.30 pm 9.00 pm)

Kurralta Park
Coles, 153-164 Anzac Hwy (Friday 13 November 8.30 pm 8.50 pm)

Mawson Lakes
Foodland, 6/12 Capital St (Saturday 14 November 1.30 pm 2.00 pm)

Parafield Gardens
Martins Road Family Medical Practice (Podiatrist) (Monday 9 November 2.00pm 3.00 pm)

Pooraka
On The Run Pooraka, OTR 126 Bridge Rd Pooraka (Thursday 12 November 11.35 am 11.40 am)
Bus 405 from Salisbury Bus Interchange (Monday 9 November 11.06 am 12.00 pm)
Bus 411 from Salisbury Bus Interchange (Wednesday 11 November 4.30pm 5.30 pm)
Namaste Supermarket, Parabanks Shopping Centre (Saturday 14 November 1.30 pm 2.00 pm)

Salisbury Downs
McDonald's Hollywood Plaza (Friday 13 November 10.00 am 11.00 am)
Star Discount Chemist, Hollywood Plaza Surgery (Tuesday 10 November 7.30 pm 7.45 pm)
Target Hollywood Plaza (Thursday 12 November 12.00 pm 1.30 pm)
Woolworths, Hollywood Plaza (Thursday 12 November 12.00 pm 1.30 pm)

South Plympton
Jai Shiv Fruit & Veg shop, 3/489 Marion Rd (Saturday 14 November 8.00 pm 8.05 pm)

Updated at 9.14am AEDT on 17 November 2020.

Adelaide COVID-19 outbreak forces gyms to close, new restrictions on venues and households

Adelaide COVID-19 outbreak forces gyms to close, new restrictions on venues and households

Several new COVID-19 restrictions will be put in place from midnight tonight in South Australia as health authorities work to get on top of an outbreak in Adelaide's northern suburbs.

Gyms and other recreation centres will be forced to close temporarily, and venues like pubs, clubs and restaurants will have capacity limits of 100 people with the one person per four square metre rule in place.

International flights into the city will also be paused for the remainder of the week to ensure there is enough space in Adelaide's medi-hotels to house those who need to be placed into local quarantine.

It comes as 17 new cases were reported in the state this morning, with no new cases being discovered by a testing blitz undertaken this afternoon, which SA Premier Steven Marshall said is a positive outcome.

"I said last week that COVID has challenged us, but it has not defeated us, and it's fair to say that we are now facing our biggest test today," Marshall said.

"Today we've acted to supercharge capabilities at some of our COVID testing sites including Victoria Park, Elizabeth, Parafield Airport and McGill which are all open until eight o'clock at night.

"Your response has given me great heart that we will rise to this challenge."

Restrictions to come into force from midnight

From midnight tonight a raft of restrictions will come into place in gyms, venues and households.

Gyms and other recreation facilities like trampoline and play cafes will be forced to close for what the Premier hopes will be a temporary period of two weeks and community sport and training will be temporarily cancelled.

Funerals will be capped at 50 people with the one person per four square metre rule in place, while church gatherings will be capped at 100 people.

No real changes will be made for weddings, but all attendees must be registered.

Private gatherings at licenced venues will be capped at 50 people with the one person per four square metre rule in place.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants will only be allowed to host up to 100 people, with a maximum booking of 10 people for groups.

Private residences will only be allowed to have 10 people gathering at a time.

Finally, all events with approved COVID management plans scheduled for the next two weeks have been cancelled immediately.

Masks will be made mandatory for service providers in settings like hairdressers, nail salons, and tattoo parlours, but not mandatory for those receiving the services.

Those visiting aged care facilities must wear a face mask, and only two visitors per day will be allowed.

All schools will remain open.

The Premier also recommends those in Adelaide work from home where possible and wear a face mask where physical distancing is not practical.

The restrictions come as most states and territories except New South Wales introduced new border rules on those visiting from SA, essentially barring those from the state from entering.

Because of the Parafield outbreak a Hungry Jack's in Port Adelaide, a primary school in Mawson Lakes, Thomas Moore College in Salisbury Downs, Parafield Plaza supermarket and an aged care facility have been closed for cleaning.

In addition, a number of public health alerts for other businesses, bus stops, and the Mantra hotel in the CBD have been issued today.

Updated at 4.25pm AEDT on 16 November 2020.

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