“While some of our larger commemorations won’t look the same as in past years, this exemption means smaller services can be held in all local communities across NSW,” Acting Veterans Minister Geoff Lee said.
NSW recorded six new locally acquired coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday – matching Victoria’s six new local cases.
The NSW tally included a man in south-east Sydney with no known links to any of Sydney’s active outbreaks, and three linked to the growing Lakemba GP cluster – its source still a mystery.
Five new cases were travellers in hotel quarantine, taking the NSW daily total to 11.
Confirmed COVID cases being less than forthcoming with details about their movements while potentially infectious was a problem for both NSW and Victoria, Mr Hazzard said.
“We are not interested in any of your personal activities, we are not interested in other legal issues that you might have been involved in,” he said.
“Whether it’s deliberate or whether it’s simply overlooked … you need to make sure you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Victoria on Thursday recorded six new cases all linked to known outbreaks , which Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said was “about as encouraging as it gets at this point in time” despite signalling his ongoing concern at the number cases with an unknown source.
Professor Cheng said modelling to be completed by Friday was considering factors such as increasing the five-kilometre movement limit, in place since August 2, to 20 kilometres before what the Premier said would be “significant changes” on Sunday.
“We’re looking at everything at the moment,” Professor Cheng said.
“There’s models being run as we speak and they should be off the computer in the next day or so. It does take a little bit of time to do. We’re considering all sorts of things in making those decisions.”
Additional drive-through testing sites were opened in Shepparton on Thursday but long queues extended into the afternoon as local authorities expected about 2000 residents to be tested.
About 1300 tests were done on Wednesday in response to the outbreak sparked by a man who failed to tell contact tracers until this week that he had visited Shepparton while infectious on September 30.
Of about 350 results received by Thursday, none were positive, although Professor Cheng said more cases would almost certainly be picked up in coming days.
On Thursday there were 340 close contacts and 70 secondary contacts in self-isolation and Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp, whose team has led the local health response, said test numbers would continue into the thousands by Friday.
“And that’s exactly what we want to get the most recent information about how prevalent COVID-19 is in the community,” he said.
The Premier admitted tight checkpoints around Melbourne would be vital to protect the regions and for NSW and South Australia to reopen their borders to regional Victoria, with national cabinet to meet on Friday.
City of Greater Shepparton chief executive Peter Harriott said maintaining strong checkpoints around Melbourne was a difficult task.
“The reality is the regions need people to come from Melbourne whether it’s supplying supermarkets or transporting goods,” he said. “We’re a major supplier of the nation’s food.”
Mr Harriott said the council, alongside Regional Development Victoria, had recently taken steps to ensure cafes were checking patrons had not come from Melbourne.
Many businesses chose to shut voluntarily in Shepparton on Thursday as a precaution against spreading the virus.
The government is considering measures such as increasing hospitality capacity, reopening more retail stores and increasing gatherings at events in regional Victoria on Sunday.
Professor Cheng warned that the number of “mystery cases” with an unknown source – the most concerning criteria for health authorities – were still too high at 15 in the fortnight to October 12.
“That’s the issue, and that these mystery cases are distributed through a lot of different LGAs [local government areas],” Professor Cheng said, which prevented authorities from targeting testing to one area.
Victoria’s existing road map aimed for five or fewer mystery cases in the preceding fortnight before freedoms such as the reopening of outdoor dining would be allowed, though that could be revised on Sunday.
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Michael is a state political reporter for The Age.
Benjamin is The Age’s regional editor. He was previously state rounds reporter and has also covered education for The Age.