Victorians returning from NZ urged to get tested

Victorians returning home from New Zealand are being urged to monitor for coronavirus symptoms and “get tested immediately” following an Auckland Airport worker who contracted the virus.

The Department of Health on Wednesday advised: “Anyone who has travelled to Victoria from Auckland since April 17 to monitor for symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately should symptoms develop.”

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has released a number of exposure sites since the worker was confirmed to have contracted the virus on Tuesday.

Anyone who has visited these exposure sites on the listed dates and times needs to get tested, isolate until they get a negative result and phone the Victorian Department of Health on 1300 651 160, it was advised.

All close contacts of the Auckland case have so far tested negative to COVID-19.

It comes amid revelations the coronavirus-infected airport staffer who cleaned planes from high-risk countries also worked on an aircraft bound for Australia, with fears the staffer may have passed the infection on just two days after the trans-Tasman bubble opened.

New Zealand’s director of public health Caroline McElnay said authorities believed the case was linked to a returning passenger from Ethiopia.

“The person who has become infected works at cleaning planes from international flights,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“This includes countries that are deemed red zone where COVID-19 is widespread, but also includes having cleaned green zone planes flying back to Australia on Monday.”

Dr McElnay noted it was the same protocol used in Australia.

“The person wore full PPE while cleaning and we have been in touch with Australian authorities to notify them about this case,” she said.

“Our assessment is that there is no additional risk to any passengers who travelled on those flights cleaned by the infected person.”

The worker has received both doses of the COVID-19 jab, which means the risk to the community is low.

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Comedian shocked as Qantas ticket with extra legroom costs almost a billion dollars

An Aussie comedian who tried to buy extra legroom on his flight said the ticket had come with an eye-watering, almost billion-dollar price tag.

Dave O’Neil shared a screenshot of his booking for return flights from Melbourne to Perth, which he’d been trying to purchase extra legroom for. The quoted price was for $987,999,999.00.

“Hey @Qantas all I wanted was extra leg room on my flight to Perth, very happy to pay for it but this seems a bit expensive,” he wrote.

The excessive price gathered a huge amount of attention on social media with the tweet attracting more than 2000 likes and hundreds of replies.

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“They always lower the price by a few bucks so you don’t feel like you’re spending a full billion,” Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall wrote.

“Just use Afterpay to spread the cost out,” another joked.

“On behalf of all Qantas shareholders, thank you Dave for the dividends,” another said.

Qantas also replied to Mr O’Neil telling him the cost did look unusual, and to get in touch.

Qantas told it hasn’t been able to replicate the charge, but is still investigating.

“While we know that customers really value extra leg room, the price displayed was definitely a bit of a stretch,” a spokesperson told in a statement.

“We can confirm the passenger was charged the correct amount of $70 per sector for the extra legroom and we’re investigating what caused the incorrect amount to be displayed.”

It comes as Australian airports were once again filled with emotional travellers as the trans Tasman bubble officially launched on Monday.

It means for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Kiwis and Aussies are allowed to freely travel across the ditch without quarantining.

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Scott Morrison wants overseas vaccination travel plan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urgently asking medical experts to formulate a plan on how vaccinated Aussies can travel overseas and skip hotel quarantine upon return.

The PM said the country’s “main goal” was vaccinating the most vulnerable parts of the population, but said an international travel plan was “what I’d like to see happen next”.

“This is what I’ve tasked the medical experts with, is ensuring that we can know when an Australian is vaccinated here with their two doses, is able to travel overseas and return without having to go through hotel quarantine,” he told 6PR Perth Radio.

“I think we’re still some time away from that. The states, at this stage, I’m sure wouldn’t be agreeing to relaxing those hotel quarantine arrangements for those circumstances at this point in time.

“But what we need to know from the health advisers is what does make that safe and what does make that possible.”

Mr Morrison warned reopening the international borders now could result in more than 1000 cases of coronavirus a week.

“Vaccinations are not a silver bullet. We’ve never said they are,” he said.

“Australians have become very used to the fact … of having zero case numbers and zero community transmission.

“I don’t think Australians … would welcome restrictions and closures and borders shutting and all of those things, again, out of states concerned about the rising numbers of case numbers.

“So everyone needs to get on the same page with that. And so they’re the important threshold issues we’ve got to work together through as a national cabinet.

“And that’s why I’m calling them back together again to work on that same operational tempo that we were during the pandemic, because these are the challenges we need to solve together now.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton backed the PM’s plan and said he hoped for a home quarantine setup for vaccinated Aussie travellers “soon rather than later”.

“As quickly as we can and as the Prime Minister pointed out, if people have had properly recognised the vaccine, if they are living in London or the United States or anywhere else in the world and they want to come back home and see family or see their grandparents, bring their newborn grandchild back home, then we want to facilitate that as quickly as possible,” he told the Today show on Friday morning.

“But we just need to do it in a safe way.

“And if we are having a situation where people are coming back and bringing the virus back with them, then we will see community transmission – So again it is trying to get that balance right.

“But if we can get people away from hotel quarantine into home quarantine and people do the right thing, then you can scale up the numbers obviously much more significantly than if we are just relying on hotels.”

But Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Australians should have been home already.

“There are more than 40,000 Australians still stranded overseas,” Mr Albanese said.

“Scott Morrison said that Australians would be home by Christmas; that‘s Christmas 2020.”

Australia slammed its borders shut in March last year when the global coronavirus pandemic first began to unravel.

Just two weeks ago, Australia entered into an agreement with New Zealand allowing travel between the two countries.

Mr Morrison hinted at a travel bubble agreement with more countries ahead of the trans-Tasman travel arrangement’s official start on April 19.

“I think I can see a future where we could be in a similar arrangement with Singapore and we’re working on that now,” he said.

“Other Pacific countries, that’s possible. But when you’re talking about countries, you know, for example, like Indonesia or India or Papua New Guinea or countries where we know that the virus is in a very strong form, including in Europe and even still the United Kingdom, the United States. Australians, I don’t think would welcome the incursion of the virus into the country. So we have to weigh all of that up.”

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Woman claims Walgreens photoshopped hair bun out of passport photo

A woman was left in hysterics after receiving a very baffling passport photo due to an awkward Photoshop job.

TikTok user Katie was told that her large bun was too big for the picture when visiting a US Wallgreens store, so staff edited it out – leaving her unrecognisable to friends and family.

Katie, who posts under the TikTok username @katiefiore898, shared the photo on TikTok and it has since gone viral and been viewed over 300,000 times.

She explained: “Wore a bun to get my passport pictures but they said it was too big so they just had to cut it off.”

After the blunt bun removal, Katie was left mortified at the finished result.

However, her passport mishap appears to have entertained internet users, with one person joking: “Went from Katie to Kyle.”

Another added: “Why would you wear a bun for a picture that’s going to last at least ten years.”

A third joked: “I’m dead. I’m sorry for laughing so hard at this.”

Another person said they had a similar dilemma and staff told her she couldn’t have hair on her shoulders after she tried to take her bun down.

In Australia, the required standard for passport photos means images cannot be retouched in any way and the size of the face from chin to crown can be up to a maximum of 36mm, with a minimum of 32mm.

In the US, however, passport photo regulations state that hair cannot obscure a person’s face and the head must be sized between 25 and 35mm.

It is understood that Katie went in for a new set of photos, this time without a bun.

With The Sun

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Virgin Australia offering triple Velocity points for flights booked before Anzac Day

Pandemic lockdowns, border closures and suspended international travel has made it pretty difficult to earn frequent flyer points over the past year.

But for the next couple of weeks, Virgin Australia’s Velocity members will be able to give their points tallies a massive boost.

Velocity members can earn triple the usual number of Velocity Points on eligible domestic flights they book between today, April 12, to Sunday, April 25.

This means members will earn 15 points for every $1 spent on the flights.

While there are only 13 days to take advantage of the triple points offer, the flights booked during that period can be taken any time between June 1, 2021 and March 8, 2022.

So you’ll have to jump in quick to book, but you’ll have almost an entire year to take the flight.

There is no limit on the number of flights members can book, however the promotion only applies to “eligible” flights.

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According to the terms and conditions, an eligible flight is a “domestic flight marketed and operated by Virgin Australia, except where a domestic flight is flown as part of an international journey”.

It also must be booked and ticketed in a fare class that normally accrues Velocity points.

To take advantage of the offer, Velocity members will need to activate it on the Velocity website or app, and simply book an eligible flight by April 25.

The offer is one of the ways airlines are looking to get passengers back in the air after the COVID-19 slowdown.

“Velocity Frequent Flyer is continuously looking at ways to reward our more than 10 million loyal members and our triple points offer is a really great example of that,” the airline said in a statement.

“Loyalty works both ways and just recently we had our largest number of domestic flight bookings in the one day in our 20-year history and so we’re saying thank you by offering this fantastic offer to encourage Velocity members to explore Australia.”

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Vaccinated Aussies could avoid hotel quarantine

Australians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 could be able to travel overseas without going into hotel quarantine or even being asked to quarantine at home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the health advisory committee had been tasked by the national cabinet to come up with a blueprint on options.

“What we are asking the medical expert panel to tell us is what are the thresholds that we need to be able to meet to do things such as the following – Australians who are vaccinated being able to travel overseas and return to Australia and not go into hotel quarantine, potentially not even into home quarantine at all,’’ the Prime Minister said.

“That will be a major change and to extent to which Australians returning from overseas who have had recognised vaccines also approved here in Australia with appropriate accreditation can return to Australia on that same basis and to enable potentially down the track travel from low-risk countries with similar vaccine arrangements.

“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today but what we are working and planning for and have tasked the medical professionals who advise us on is what are the marks we have to meet to enable us to start opening up Australia more than we are now?”

Australia has already established a ‘travel bubble’ with New Zealand that was finalised in the last week and the PM hinted Singapore could be next.

“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries,’’ the PM said.

“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage it is still some time away. The message from the National Cabinet is we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country.”

There has been some speculation that in the early days of the international border reopening that priority will be given to business travellers and international students ahead of holidaymakers.

“You’re right, the risk may be such you may limit it to exempt categories,’’ the PM said.

“And that would be the sort of thing we would currently allow people to travel for, which is occurring right now, but that could be done with greater confidence because of the vaccination and when they return they may not then have to take up valuable places in hotel quarantine.

“Or it could be more broad as you say. But I can tell you one thing..the more Australians who are vaccinated, the more likelihood there is of being able to have the types of arrangements that I mentioned. If the vaccination population is lower, then that of course limits to options of borders, and of the other things that we’ve spoken about. So all of those options are on the table.”

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Rottnest Island accommodation already sold out for Christmas 2021

When it comes to island escapes, Australia really is spoiled for choice.

From Fraser to Lord Howe, Norfolk and even the luxurious offerings at Lizard Island, there’s no budget that hasn’t been accounted for.

But one island off the coast of Western Australia has proven so popular amid the pandemic you won’t even be able to get a spot for the busy Christmas period eight months away.

Rottnest Island, home to the super cute quokka and surrounded by crystal clear waters, has had almost every camp site, bungalow and cabin sold out for the busy festive season.

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Quokka paradise an easy ferry ride away

The island, just 8km off the WA coast, is not only a popular place to stay overnight – day-trippers love it as well.

Typically, a visit to the island takes just 25 minutes on a ferry from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, or 90 minutes via a ferry from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

With over 63 beaches across the island, the attraction of calm and clear waters is an easy sell.

Rottnest’s most popular activities include swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing, as well as whale watching cruises and even skydiving sessions.

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Surge in bookings across Western Australia

While the island always experiences high demand during the peak season of Christmas, this coming festive period saw more bookings than normal.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the week of December 27 to 31 were all booked and paid for by travellers, with the official booking authority listing May 3, 2021 as the next available date to book accommodation for New Year’s Eve.

Since Western Australia’s borders opened to other states and territories, various regions including the Margaret River and Broome have experienced a surge in enquiries and subsequent bookings.

Speaking to PerthNow, Seashells hotel general manager Deb Williams said that their hotel in Broome was fully booked until the end of the year.

“The last couple of months have been way busier than usual and we’re very full from now all the way to the end of school holidays in October,” she said.

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‘Bali Fest’ organisers apologise, offer refunds after Easter festival slammed

The organisers of a Perth festival that was hoping to “bring Bali to Australia” have been forced to apologise and issue mass refunds after the event left many underwhelmed and disappointed.

Bali Fest, in the Perth suburb of Mandurah, kicked off on April 2 and is due to end on April 6.

The event, which sold tickets for $30, marketed itself as “bringing Bali and its culture, food, entertainment, shopping and leisure lifestyle to Australia”, while also donating money to the Balinese people.

Dozens of people took to Bali Fest’s Facebook page to call for refunds and question what they were getting for their entry fee.

John Geoghegan attended the festival on Saturday and spent less than an hour there, describing the experience as “grossly disappointing”.

“Wandered around the stalls which were a disappointment because these were what we would expect to find anywhere in a weekend market with FREE entry,” he said.

“Bought some tickets to support the Bali Relief Fund. Wandered around the food trucks and bought something to eat and drink. Again, these were what we would expect anywhere the food trucks operate for FREE.”

“Ready to leave by 11.15am as nothing happening in the bar area. So what do you get for your entry fee? Still trying to work that out.

“Grossly disappointing and would not recommend anyone paying a fee to enter considering you still had to pay for everything inside as well.”

Gail Barrett told Perth Nowshe was lodging a complaint with the ACCC and said the festival was nothing like what she experienced on her holidays to Bali.

“It was nothing like Bali, there were hardly any stalls open or food trucks promoting Bali cuisine, or any cultural dancers…it was absolute false advertising,” she told the publication.

“I will be lodging a complaint and I want to see a report of where the money they’ve raised actually goes to the charities.”

Bali Fest organisers apologise to those ‘underwhelmed’ by event

The organisers of Bali Fest took to Facebook late last night to apologise and offer refunds.

“We’re taking this opportunity after several days of the festival to publicly apologise to those who have expressed that they feel lied to and underwhelmed by the whole event,” the organisers said.

“We would also like to wholeheartedly apologise to the Balinese community who were offended by our lack of cultural representation.

“This event was always meant to be a celebration of entertainment and culture while bringing awareness to the struggle in Bali due to COVID, clearly we got this very wrong.”

The organisers said they were “trying to bring the relaxed Bali lifestyle where you can sit back and enjoy some cold Bintangs with live music” but also to support local West Australian artists.

The organisers said everyone involved in Bali Fest had “genuinely put in a lot of effort to put on a great experience for people and follow through with everything that was promised”.

The team said it was “without question” that the right thing to do was “to offer full refunds to those who have expressed their disappointment”.

Organisers started processing refunds last night and are continuing today.

“Please contact us immediately if you felt the same and we will process as soon as possible, just provide us with your order number,” the team said.

“As we have committed to vendors, local artists and local workers we will still be running tomorrow and Tuesday, however due to the public dissatisfaction we have allowed some vendors to bump out and therefore we will not be running at full capacity, the live music, bar and remaining supporting vendors will continue to operate.

“As such we will refund tickets for the next 2 days and welcome anyone to attend free of charge.

“For those that came and enjoyed the day at the festival we thank you very much and our donation from the Bintang sales will surely help the Bali Dog Association and the Lord Mayors Relief Fund.”

The organisers also clarified that it would be going ahead with donating to its nominated Balinese charities.

“We would also like to publicly clarify that we will be honouring the donations to the Balinese charities from ticket sales next week, and can only ask that those who receive refunds will donate to the cause themselves,” the organisers said.

“We are proud of our effort to fundraise but take every bit of feedback seriously and will use it as a lesson to improve and learn on our mistakes this time around.”

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South Australia reopens border to Brisbane

South Australia will remove its hard border closure with Brisbane effective immediately following just one new locally acquired case in Queensland on Saturday.

Following an unscheduled transition committee meeting on Saturday morning acting chief medical officer Michael Cusack said health officials were confident in Queensland’s contact tracing efforts after Brisbane was plunged into a three-day snap lockdown earlier in the week.

“We feel confident in the position of Brisbane and associated counties … so we’re going to lift the border restriction as of today,” he told reporters on Saturday afternoon.

“What that means in practice then is that where we currently have Brisbane as a level six, in terms of the direction which effectively bars entry into the state, we shift into a level three.

“So what that means is that those people who previously couldn’t enter South Australia now can, but they will need to get tested in day one, day five and day 13.

Dr Cusack said there would be a “small number of people who have been to exposure sites in Queensland” who were not allowed out of quarantine.

“We have those names and we are, we are going to be making contact with them to advise, specifically as to what their risk is but in broad, if you’ve been to an exposure site which is which is listed on the Queensland website and is obviously changing the whole while, then you won’t be able to come out of quarantine until you’ve completed your 14 days.”

Queensland recorded one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 on Saturday.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the case was a close contact related to the Brisbane cluster, and the person had been in quarantine since March 27.

“Their first test was negative and now they have become infectious and they are now positive,” she told reporters on Saturday morning.

The state also recorded two cases acquired overseas.

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Footage of octopus attacking man in WA, Australia goes viral

Lance Karlson was on holiday and walking along the beach in Georgraphe Bay, Western Australia when he came across a seemingly very irritated octopus.

Now footage of his aggressive encounter with the animal has gone viral, with his 30 second Instagram video receiving over 264,300 views. The video shows a large octopus swimming in shallow water before it jumps out and thrashes its tentacles at Mr Karlson.

“The angriest octopus in Geographe Bay!” he wrote in the caption.

“After going after a seagull it then decided my daughter and I deserved a lashing! I later discovered its home among a crab graveyard, where it came after me again!

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In the comments of the post, Instagram users from all over the world expressed their disbelief and shock at the video.

“I was already hesitant with sharks and saltwater crocs … I’m never going in the water again,” wrote one user.

“Dude this is unbelievable. It really shows the cunning nature of how octopuses are. Predators of the sea. But odd how it thrashed at humans. Great science footage,” shared another.

“Everything in Australia is dangerous,” one commenter joked.

“Wow that’s amazing how lucky to see one in such shallow waters never see anything like that in the UK.”

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Speaking to 7 NEWS, Mr Karlson said he was later attacked by the octopus when we went swimming. The novelist and geologist said he saw the creature swimming away from a bed of shells, however it then reappeared behind him and lashed him on the arm.

“I was only there for a few seconds looking at the shells when I was struck on the arm from behind,” he said.

“My goggles fogged up and then I was struck again, this time of the neck.

“I quickly swam back to shore, around 25 metres away.”

Although he said the string “wasn’t particularly painful,” they did leave red welts on his neck and upper back. A former

While vinegar would have reduced the sting, Mr Karlson, a former lifesaver, didn’t have any available and was forced to improvise with Coke.

“I didn’t actually know if Coke would work, but given how acidic it is I decided it was worth trying,” he said.

“Turns out it works.”

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