Parliamentarians in COVID-19 affected areas require exemption to travel to Canberra | The Canberra Times


coronavirus, coronavirus, travel restrictions, border closures, act, canberra

MPs and senators from COVID-19 affected areas in Sydney must apply for a formal exemption to travel to the ACT. The next sitting week begins on February 2, but while the situation may change before then Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the ACT government is currently processing exemption applications for several parliamentarians. “We do have a formal exemption process and there are a list of professions including care workers, parliamentarians, construction industry and a whole lot of essential services and we assess that on a case by case basis,” Dr Coleman said. She said exemption applications would be assessed on factors including if travel to the ACT was necessary for applicants to conduct their work. From 3pm today travel restrictions between the ACT and the Northern Beaches will be removed allowing quarantine-free travel. However, people from 10 local government areas in western and southwestern Sydney are still required to quarantine for 14 days if they travel to Canberra. Those areas are:

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Joe Biden to block Trump’s plan to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions


Until Biden acts, Trump’s order ends restrictions the same day that new COVID-19 test requirements take effect for all international visitors. Trump is due to leave office on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).

Last week, the head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention signed an order requiring nearly all air travellers to present a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the United States from January 26.

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The restrictions Trump rescinded have barred nearly all non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the 26 countries of the Schengen zone in Europe that allow travel across open borders.

The US restrictions barring most visitors from Europe have been in place since mid-March when Trump signed proclamations imposing them, while the Brazilian entry ban was imposed in May. Psaki added that “in fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” The Biden transition did not immediately respond to a request to comment on plans to expand the countries covered.

Biden, once in office, has the legal authority to reimpose the restrictions.

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Last week, Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s global migration and quarantine division, told Reuters those entry bans were an “opening act strategy” to address the virus spread and should now be “actively reconsidered”.

Airlines had hoped the new testing requirements would clear the way for the administration to lift the restrictions that reduced travel from some European countries by 95 per cent or more.

They had pressed senior White House officials about the issue in recent days.

Many administration officials for months argued the restrictions no longer made sense given most countries were not subject to the entry bans. Others have argued the United States should not drop entry bans since many European countries still block most US citizens.

Europe is in the middle of a highly contagious wave of coronavirus and Brazil has lost more than 210,000 people to COVID-19.

Reuters previously reported the White House was not considering lifting entry bans on most non-US citizens who have recently been in China or Iran. On Monday Trump confirmed he would not lift those.

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Update on QLD and NSW travel restrictions


Peter Gutwein,Premier

The health and safety of Tasmanians remains our number one priority as we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

With the situation in Queensland improving, the Greater Brisbane area will be classified as medium risk effective immediately, in line with public health advice.

This means that travellers from the Greater Brisbane area are allowed to come to Tasmania, but will still be required to quarantine either at a suitable residence, or in Government accommodation, at their own expense.

We will continue to monitor the situation in Queensland closely and subject to the situation in Brisbane continuing to improve, I am hopeful that by the end of the week, Greater Brisbane could return to being classified as low risk, meaning a return to unrestricted travel.

This is a cautious and prudent approach that reflects how transmissible the UK strain of the virus is and to ensure all contact tracing efforts have been exhausted.

The Greater Sydney area and Wollongong LGA will remain classified as medium risk for the time being, given the number of locally acquired cases seen yesterday in particular and the need to be confident that there aren’t any further undetected cases circulating in the community.

The situation in both states will be reviewed again this coming Friday.

All restrictions have also now been lifted from Victorian hotspots, meaning that all travellers from that State are now classified as low-risk and can enter Tasmania without quarantine.

Additionally, from this Friday, a Public Health Direction that face masks be worn on commercial flights in Tasmanian airspace, both from interstate and within the State, and at airports will come into force.

This includes indoors at check-in, bag drop and in retail outlets, as well as outdoor areas where other people are present such as when waiting for transport.

We will also be putting in place a Direction to support TT Line’s current policy requiring mask wearing on the Spirit of Tasmania and for it to apply to the seaport.

We continue to thank Tasmanians for doing the right thing and helping our State keep on top of COVID this summer.

Remember to keep washing your hands regularly, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you’re unwell and keep those testing rates up – even if you have the mildest symptoms, please get a test.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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Flu jabs likely be delayed for priority COVID-19 vaccinations in South Australia



The seasonal flu shot for aged care residents and workers will likely be postponed while the first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations are administered, South Australian stakeholders have heard.

At a COVID-19 vaccine forum for the sector held in Adelaide on Monday, SA Health representatives reportedly said the flu shot could be delayed to prioritise the vaccine rollout’s first phase and that legislative changes could be required.

It prompted questions by Eldercare chief executive officer Jane Pickering, whose organisation was given the go ahead in mid-December to begin its 2021 seasonal influenza vaccination program, which starts in March.

“The concern I raised was around ensuring different areas of the department line up so they are consistent with each other and we’re not proceeding with one particular vaccine program that may place the other vaccination program at risk,” she said.

COVID vaccines are slated to begin incrementally in mid-February for first priority populations, which includes aged and disability care residents and workers, frontline health workers, and quarantine and border staff.

“We have an external provider who does that and we have to book them well in advance and I can tell you that all of the large aged care providers would have booked their influenza programs.

“I understand everybody’s trying to do the best they can, but nobody knows the detail yet and we’ll all respond when we get it.”

Logistics to be negotiated

A SA Health spokesperson said the department would work with the Commonwealth Government, which had determined priority groups and timelines, to distribute the vaccine.

“We are still working through the logistics to determine if any legislative changes are required,” she said.

“In line with national advice, the influenza vaccination should not be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Pfizer vaccine questions

Ms Pickering said Australia’s response to reports that up to 30 frail people with co-morbidities had died after being administered the Pfizer vaccine in Norway would also have to be “cleared up”.

“If they [Therapeutic Goods Administration] are going to say the Pfizer’s not suitable for them, they’ll move on to AstraZeneca, which we’re getting in March anyway.

“They’re not going to take any risks.”

The Pfizer vaccine is yet to be approved for use in Australia by the TGA, which is reviewing information supplied by its manufacturer.

Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said safety was “Australia’s number one priority” and the Government had also requested information from the Norwegian Government.

“We’ll continue to follow the processes of the medical regulator because that’s going to keep Australians safe and ultimately provide confidence.”

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BBC India Sportswoman of the Year contest returns


This year’s BBC ISWOTY will also feature a “Sports Hackathon” in which multilingual journalism students from across India will collectively create new Wikipedia entries on Indian sportswomen across seven languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu, aimed at enhancing the presence and representation of Indian sportswomen online.

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John Alexander says Australian Open a ‘compromised event’ despite ‘Herculean effort’ to get players here


In the haste to keep the Australian Open as close to its January timeslot as possible better alternatives may have been overlooked, according to John Alexander, the former Australian Open doubles champion, now the federal Member for Bennelong.

One suggestion put forward was to host back-to-back events in December 2021 and January 2022, making Australia the epicentre of world tennis for two months.

“Had that option been taken — and it still might be forced on us if we can’t get it up, starting on the 8th of February — that would’ve given much, much more time for us to come to terms with the COVID virus, much more time to make arrangements with players, [and] it would have reduced the cost for setting up the various events because you’d be setting up for two events not just one,” he told The Ticket.

“We might also have seen who was going to be the greatest of all time because you might have a [Novak] Djokovic or a [Roger] Federer with two grand slams within a period of two months.

“There were quite a few arguments why that might not be the worst idea but we are stuck with what we are doing now … there is still a possibility that things will get too difficult and it might have to be postponed, but I would advocate rather than not do it, to look at doing one in December and another one in January.”

Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia have gone to great lengths to hold the Australian Open.(AAP: Tennis Australia, file)

While praising the extraordinary lengths Tennis Australia had gone to, with support from the Victorian Government, Alexander said the decision to stick with the event early in the calendar year may have been too hasty.

“When you make hasty decisions, maybe the other options weren’t tabled or fully worked through,” he said.

“But with the difficulties we are encountering now, and there are many, we seem to be coping quite well — but I think at best it’s going to be a compromised championship because so many of the players won’t have a fair opportunity to prepare.

“A big part of preparing for the Australian Open, especially for a great majority of the players coming from the northern hemisphere winter and then having to acclimatise to our weather conditions of temperatures in the mid-30s and 40s, it sometimes takes more than one week [of] intense practice and training under those conditions, it’s more like a two-week exercise and the players in lockdown aren’t having that opportunity.”

Fourteen-day lockdown ‘not that big a price to pay’

A masked Novak Djokovic at Adelaide Airport.
Novak Djokovic has come under fire for making “suggestions” on how quarantine could be made easier for players.(ABC News)

World number one Djokovic, who is quarantining in Adelaide, has been widely criticised for making a list of suggestions to help those players who are under the strictest lockdown rules.

He has come under fire from the 45th-ranked player in the world, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who has had the benefit of preparing for the Open without any quarantining constraints.

Alexander says many of the younger players will have their minds broadened by playing at this year’s Open and having to deal with Australia’s strict approach to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the great things of travel is that it’s said to broaden your mind, and you’ve got players coming from all around the world and they’re hypercritical,” Alexander said.

“But if they understood what we have gone through here in this country, and in particular Victoria, and how well we have combatted the COVID virus and all that it brings, they might then have some appreciation as to why the rules are so strict,” he said.

“And then they might understand that it’s probably not a bad deal — they’re having their airfares paid, their hotel paid, their food paid and they get a minimum $100,000 in prizemoney if they’re in the main draw.

“That’s not a bad deal and, as somebody else said from the Victorian Government, ‘They’re asked to spend 14 days in quarantine, our entire state had 111 days in lockdown.’

“But you know, you get young people, who are very, very, successful, they make a lot of money and if they can’t get the booking at the right table in the right restaurant at the right time it’s a major problem for some of them.

“They’re a tad spoilt possibly, a bit privileged, but I think it will broaden their takeaway that they’ll understand that Australia has actually done outstandingly well and the effort that Tennis Australia is going to — and the costs to try to stage this event as close to the traditional date as possible — is Herculean and it would be nice if people co-operated and realised they are one of the major beneficiaries in getting the tournament on.”

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Mary Berry says pandemic has taught us to use what’s in fridge


The Celebrity Best Home Cook judge, 80, said she hoped fewer shopping trips results in smaller quantities of food going to waste.

Asked how the last 12 months have changed home cooking, Dame Mary said: “It has taught us all to use what’s in the fridge and store cupboard and to adapt if something wasn’t available.

“Shopping once a week is a great lesson in not wasting food.”

The former Great British Bake Off judge added: “I hope it’s made us more appreciative of what’s around us locally and that continues.”

Celebrities taking part in the BBC One show include former cabinet minister Ed Balls and the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel Johnson, who said she “literally can’t boil an egg”.

Balls said lasagne is his signature, home-cooked dish.

“It’s a recipe my mum brought back from America when she was there with my dad in 1960 and it’s something I’ve cooked many times over the last 30 years,” he said.

“It made headlines when I was shadow chancellor,” said Balls, who was accused of holding lasagne dinner parties to undermine then Labour leader Ed Miliband at the time.

And Balls added: “I cooked lasagne for Gordon Brown when he was prime minister.

“For a man who only ever ate steak and chips, lamb bhuna or spaghetti bolognaise, this was a bit of a departure but he really liked it.”

Celebrity Best Home Cook airs on BBC One on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from January 26 at 9pm and iPlayer on demand.

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Roberto Bautista-Agut says Victoria hotel quarantine like prison


Spanish tennis star Roberto Bautista Agut has slammed the Victorian government’s handling of the Australian Open quarantine saga, comparing the lockdown to prison.

The world No. 13 is currently in quarantine ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year and in an interview with an Israeli news channel, the normally mild-mannered Spaniard slammed the Victorian government.

When the journalist conducting the interview pointed out that Bautista Agut looks like he has been in prison, the Spanish star replied: “It’s the same, it’s the same. These people have no idea about tennis, about practice courts, no idea about anything.

“It’s a complete disaster because of that, because of the control of everything.”

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USA back Facebook and Google in pressuring Australian Government to “suspend” new code

United States had asked Australia to scrap the law proposition to be the first country in the world to force social media platform Facebook and tech giant Google to pay for news sourced from local media outlets.

On a submitted statement to the Government, asking to “suspend” the plans, assistant US trade representatives Daniel Bahar and Karl Ehlers suggested that the country should  “further study the markets, and if appropriate, develop a voluntary code” instead of monetizing local news and media.

It was recently announced that under the law, Google and Facebook could be forced into arbitration to pay for local news should a viable agreement on payments to Australian media cannot be reached. This measure had gained wide political support and is currently a focal subject to Senate committee meetings.

Introduced to Parliament last December, the proposed mandatory bargaining code surfaced after years of complaints from traditional media outlets that social media platforms take advantage from the hard work of journalists without recompensing for it.

With these directives, Google and Facebook continue to argue that media organizations, on the contrary, benefit from the referrals and clicks through to their websites.

As the issue further escalated, should the Federal Government push through this mandate, Facebook has threatened to remove the permission of Australians to post news content to its platforms. Just recently, the US Government has now also stepped in to pressure Australia to step back from its plans.

In line with the matter the Executive Office of the President said on a document with a letterhead, “The US Government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players … to the clear detriment of two US firms may result in harmful outcomes.”

If this dispute is not mitigated, such a move could “raise concerns with respect to Australia’s international trade obligations”, as per the statement.

On the other hand, the Australian Government declared during the legislation last month that after an extensive investigation, it was cited tech giants held too much market power in the media industry. Likely, according to the Australian Government, this situation posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

Thus, in response to the document, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg emphasized in a statement that the Government was not backing down and was “committed to proceeding with a mandatory code” that would address “the bargaining power imbalances with digital platforms and media companies”.

According to Mr. Frydenberg, the code followed an 18-month review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims and “extensive consultation” that included the views of both Google and Facebook.

This ACCC inquiry concluded that for every $100 spent on online advertising, $53 will be on the hands of Google, $28 to Facebook and $19 to other media companies.

In addition, Google recently decided to hide some Australian news sites from its search engines in a measure that was interpreted as a nod to the proposition. Hence, changes to Google’s search algorithm affected a small percentage of users and buried links to some commercial news sites.

Yet, as a disclaimer a Google spokesperson explained it was an “experiment” that happened “every year”. To date, the ACCC was approached for comment regarding this escalating issue between the two.

Nathan Lyon tactics, Shane Warne staggered


Aussie test legend Shane Warne has gone on a stunning rant about Australia’s tactics on the final day as they chase 10 wickets to wrestle back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

With Australia struggling to break the second wicket partnership of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill, Warne was getting angrier by the second as Australia stuck with defensive tactics during Nathan Lyon’s second spell of the day.

Warne continued to get hot under the collar as the session progressed, also taking issue with Australia’s failure to change up its tactics and throw down a short ball barrage.

He was most upset with the field Australia set for Lyon bowling to Pujara — a player who has previously been Lyon’s bunny in recent series.

A tactical decision not to put a bat pad in place on the off-side was the final straw for Warne.

“Once again this pretty average field that Nathan Lyon has is just leaking easy singles,” Warne told Fox Cricket.

“I’m just staggered that with Pujara especially there is no bat pad on the off side. I can’t believe it. I just cannot believe it. Especially after everything in the last series and in this series and how he’s bowled to Pujara. I don’t know what conversations they’ve had, but with no bat pad to start with. I’m in shock. I’ve been disappointed with some of the tactics this series from the Australians, but this one, it just doesn’t make any sense.

“I don’t have an answer, I just cannot explain it. Why on earth would you not have one?”

Warne said the blame for the fielding blunder fell on the shoulders of Lyon, rather than captain Tim Paine.

Warne also complained about the Aussie quicks and their inability to change their tactics as the Indian batsmen settled in. He wish was finally granted when Pat Cummins returned to the attack and bowled a series of short balls.

He said: “Why haven’t they done this earlier? There are so many coaches around this Australian team Why haven’t they said something? It’s ridiculous.”

Mark Waugh was also baffled, saying: “It’s really annoying me watching this.

“There’s so many men on the leg-side (instead), surely you can do away with one of those.”

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