ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr asks tourists to stay away from Canberra to prevent coronavirus spread


ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says he does not want to see visitors in Canberra — including from hotspots like Sydney — for at least a week.

ACT authorities are keeping a close eye on New South Wales for any untraceable COVID-19 infections, after the state confirmed 12 new coronavirus infections overnight.

This, and the declining situation in Victoria, prompted Mr Barr to announce that interstate visitors were not welcome.

“Not this week,” he said on ABC Radio Canberra on Tuesday morning.

Sittings at Federal Parliament have also been cancelled for the next two weeks due to concerns over COVID-19.

‘There’s no point opening ourselves up to unnecessary risk’

Despite acknowledging that “about 90 per cent” of Canberra’s hotel industry revenue comes from interstate travellers — including federal politicians — the ACT Australian Hotels Association said the Government’s travel advice was “appropriate at this time”.

“Our industry doesn’t want anything to send us backwards at this point in time,” general manager Anthony Brierley said.

“This does have to be a delicately balanced situation.”

An empty Kingston Foreshore during coronavirus restrictions.
Hotels all around Canberra, including along the Kingston Foreshore, have seen a huge drop in revenue since coronavirus struck.(ABC News: David Sciasci)

Mr Brierley said the past few months had been “really tough” for hoteliers in Canberra, and would continue to be difficult moving forward.

“We’re still down about 20 per cent of the people who used to work in our industry and are now unemployed, and the occupancy rates and the revenue rates have fallen through the floor,” he said.

“But the numbers in hotels at the moment bear that out; they really are the only people coming.”

Mr Brierly said that hotels were undergoing their own contact tracing methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including calling people who had made bookings from Sydney, and asking whether they have been in hotspots or feeling unwell.

“Shackling up an entire industry again is not necessarily a balanced solution, but neither is opening up the floodgates to people from greater Sydney,” Mr Brierley said.

“There’s no point opening ourselves up to unnecessary risk that could cripple the industry further.”

Is a staycation the solution?

Screenshot from lastminute.com.au showing Canberra hotels.
The ACT Australian Hotels Association encouraged Canberrans to take advantage of the hotels in the city, and take a staycation.(Supplied: lastminute.com.au)

“There are very little staycations that go on in the ACT … we’re a small city and a small population, there is simply not the demand,” Mr Brierly said.

“But they might be something that we might have to try to pivot towards for a couple of months.

Mr Barr, who is also the ACT’s Tourism Minister, said that the tourism industry would have to “completely reimagine” how it operated in the future.

“We have to completely reimagine how we would undertake any form of movement of people — it clearly needs to be smaller groups, physical distancing being absolutely paramount, hygiene is paramount as well,” he said.

“These things will become part of the tourism industry for the foreseeable future.”

What does this mean for the State of Origin?

This morning Mr Barr also poured cold water on idea that the ACT would play host to the first State of Origin game.

“At the moment, you’d have a maximum crowd of 1,500 people at Canberra Stadium,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s likely at this point that Canberra would be hosting State of Origin if the game was rescheduled from Adelaide Oval.”

An empty arena sportsground in the ACT.
Canberra Stadium is unlikely to host any State of Origin games.(ABC News: Brett McKay)

Also off the cards is the prospect of a trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia, in which direct flights between Canberra Wellington were a possibility.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Australia’s community transmission levels were too high to contemplate opening her nation to its citizens.

“One of the things we said as part of our criteria was that anywhere we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time, 28 days,” she said.

“That is going to take a long time for Australia to get back to that place.”

The ACT remains at stage 2.2 of the coronavirus recovery plan.

While alcohol at hospitality venues can be served without food, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are restricted to the one-person-per-four-square-metre rule.

Mask wearing is not mandated in the ACT, but the Government said yesterday that Canberrans should “prepare for a time where wearing face masks becomes another part of how we respond to the threat of COVID-19”.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in the ACT, and over 53,000 negative tests have been returned.



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Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park closure extended after traditional owners express coronavirus concerns


Parks Australia says a temporary closure of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will be extended after traditional owners expressed concerns that visitors were transiting through coronavirus hotspot zones on their flight from Brisbane into Yulara on Monday.

Parks Australia on Monday decided to temporarily close the park until midday today after members of the Mutitjulu Aboriginal Community Corporation (MCAC) blockaded an entry point to the park, sparked by the group’s worry that visitors had transited through coronavirus hotspots.

In a statement, Parks Australia said extending that closure was taking into account the organisation’s “utmost respect” for Uluru-Kata Tjuta’s traditional owners.

“At the request of Mutitjulu Aboriginal Community Corporation (MCAC) and following further discussions with MCAC, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, the Central Land Council, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and the Northern Territory Government, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will remain closed while re-opening protocols proposed by MCAC are considered,” Parks Australia said in a statement on social media.

“We have the utmost respect for Uluru-Kata Tjuta’s traditional owners and are continuing to work in good faith with them and all other parties to keep Mutitjulu residents safe,” the statement said.

Mutijulu is an Aboriginal community about 30 kilometres from Yulara Airport.

Traditional Owners from the area, the Anangu, have ownership of the land contained in the National Park, but have leased it to Parks Australia to manage under a joint agreement.

Glenn Irvine from the MCAC said the organisation wanted all future flights to Uluru from any COVID-19 hotspots to be cancelled.

This would mean travellers from NT declared hotspots would not be able to fly into Yulara Airport.

At the moment those hotspots include: Victoria, Greater Sydney, Port Stephens and Eurobodalla Shire in NSW and Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan in Queensland.

As for the tourists who arrived yesterday, they will all be tested for COVID-19.

Mr Irvine said if there were no positive results returned from that cohort, the park would be reopened.

Why was there a blockade yesterday?

Yesterday, the Mutitjulu community blockaded the entry to Uluru after a flight from the declared coronavirus hotspot of Brisbane arrived at the nearby Yulara airport.

The blockade ended in the afternoon after Parks Australia announced it would temporarily close the park.

A press release from MCAC called for all passengers be transported to Alice Springs for quarantine or return to Brisbane immediately.

As it stands, travellers transiting through COVID-19 hotspot areas do not have to quarantine upon arriving in the NT.

MCAC had remained consistent on their position for months in regards to interstate tourists.

A meeting to discuss the corporation’s concerns was held on Friday and involved MCAC, Parks Australia, Chief Minister Michael Gunner, and Voyagers, the company who operate the airport and accommodation facilities at Yulara.

MCAC chief executive Thalia Bohl-Van Dem Boogaard said the meeting left the corporation with the understanding that no flights would arrive in Yulara from declared COVID-19 hotspots.

Members of the Mutijulu Community Aboriginal Corporation attempt to blockade an entrance into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation wants all passengers on planes from COVID-19 hotspots to quarantine.(Supplied)

What about the economy?

The CEO of Voyages, Grant Hunt, said the airport had followed all NT health guidelines to the letter and was the only operator in the country using independent contractors to perform contract screening from departure airports.

Mr Hunt said they had introduced temperature checking upon arrival at Yulara Airport as an additional safety measure.

He said he did not understand the singular focus on this airport, when there were more than 400 drive-in travellers in the area from all over the country.

From an economic perspective, Mr Hunt said if the airport was forced to close again, it would stay shut until international arrivals return, meaning 700 jobs would be lost.

“Let me be clear. Without planes, we don’t have a business,” Mr Hunt said.

Behind Uluru is the entrance to the Mutitjulu community.
Behind Uluru is the entrance to the Mutitjulu community.(Emma Sleath)

Who makes the decision to close the park?

The decision of whether the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park remains open or stays closed will rest with Parks Australia.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was closed for three months during the coronavirus pandemic and reopened on June 19.

Mr Gunner said his preference was for all interstate flights into the Northern Territory to arrive in Alice Springs or Darwin.

The Chief Minister said transporting people over 440kms from Yulara Airport to Alice Springs for mandatory quarantine was an additional pressure on staff.

“I want all those planes to come into the Northern Territory to land at once of those places like an Alice Springs or a Darwin, that would be what I want, rather than Yulara, it creates a logistical difficulty for us in taking those people from the Yulara airport to Alice Springs. If we have to do it, we will,” Mr Gunner said.

Yulara Airport is privately run by Voyages and regulated by the Federal Government.



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Coronavirus in Victoria: What you need to know about self-isolation crackdown and $20,000 fines


New coronavirus rules, with harsher penalties for breaches, will now apply to Victorians who are instructed by authorities to self-isolate.

They come after 3,000 official doorknocks of people who were supposed to be self-isolating revealed that more than 800 were not at home.

So, here’s what you need to know about the tougher laws which carry fines of up to $20,000 if broken.

Self-isolating Victorians can’t go out to exercise

Until now, people who were told to self-isolate after coming in contact with COVID-19 could go outside for daily exercise.

But given the recent spike in cases in greater Melbourne, they are now required to stay at home at all times.

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Penalties increased for those who should be self-isolating

Premier Daniel Andrews said that a handful of infected Victorians had flouted the rules to use their workouts as a cover for other activities.

“From now, there will be no exercise.

“If you are supposed to be isolating at home, you will need to stay in your home or on your property.”

Residents of Melbourne, who aren’t in quarantine or self-isolating, are allowed to go outside once a day, within 5 kilometres of their homes, to exercise for up to an hour.

Door-to-door checks will be stepped up

By next week, there will be 4,000 household visits by authorities every day.

An additional 500 Australian Defence Force troops will be joined by 750 Victoria Police officers, plus 300 extra health officials, for widespread checks across the state.

They want to ensure that those issued with stay-at-home orders are remaining in their residences, rather than sneaking out.

A white police car turns in front of a well-lit brown building at night on a deserted city street.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that he has given more powers to Victoria Police to catch those “doing the wrong thing”.(AAP: Erik Anderson)

“That team is growing substantially and that means every single positive case will be door-knocked multiple times, random and repeated doorknocks,” Mr Andrews said.

Fines to be increased to up to $20,000

Any Victorian found breaching isolation rules while infected will face “the largest on-the-spot fine” in the state’s history.

Mr Andrews announced that a penalty of $4,957 will now apply to those who defy stay-at-home orders for a second time.

He said that a single fine could rise to $20,000 if someone infected knowingly goes to work with COVID-19 — and the case goes to court.

“There is the alternative pathway and that is, of course, taking you to the Magistrates’ Court, where the maximum penalty that can be applied to you is $20,000.

A middle-aged woman wearing a face mask and a while suit walks ahead of masked police officer.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville says it is “more important than ever” that Victorians follow the directives of the Chief Health Officer.(AAP: James Ross)

“We don’t want it to come to that. We want people to be where they are supposed to be.”

Mask wearing is now mandatory across Victoria, with a penalty of $200 for failing to do so.

Victoria Police has issued 161 fines over the past 24 hours, including 60 related to masks.

A growing group of anti-maskers has been “baiting” and antagonising police, with a female officer allegedly assaulted by a 38-year-old woman in the Frankston area on Monday night.

“Victoria Police don’t want to be issuing these fines but make no mistake — they will if they need to,” said Lisa Neville, Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

“It’s more important than ever that Victorians do the right thing and follow the directives of the Chief Health Officer.”

Female surgeon wears mask during operation.
Victoria’s essential workers will be issued with a permit to “avoid having to explain 17 times” to authorities.(Getty Images: Westend61)

Permits needed to attend workplaces

New restrictions on business and industry will come into force from 11:59pm on Wednesday.

Employees in permitted industries will be required to carry a ‘Worker Permit’ when travelling to and from their workplace.

With Melbourne under curfew from 8:00pm to 5:00am each night, checks and enforcement will be carried out on public transport with the support of Protective Services Officers.

“[The Worker Permit] is a piece of paper … your employer fills it out, they sign it … you sign it,” Mr Andrews said.

A map showing regional Victoria highlighted in yellow and metropolitan Melbourne in red.
Melbourne is now under stage four restrictions, while the rest of the state will return to stage three restrictions from Thursday.(ABC News)

Reduced travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria

Melbourne, with stage 4 restrictions, is facing more stringent measures than regional Victoria, where there are fewer active COVID-19 cases.

Victoria Police will continue to monitor the border of metropolitan Melbourne to ensure that travel to other parts of the state only happens for permitted reasons.

Booze buses are in place at road stops and checkpoints to monitor traffic flow, and police will continue to use Automatic Number Plate Recognition to scan registration details to identify the addresses of the car owners.

Announcing the tougher measures, Mr Andrews said he was “grateful to every single Victorian who is working with us”.

“If we all do the right thing, we will get through this,” he said.

“Those doing the wrong thing will cop a fine from Victoria Police, because the only way to beat this deadly virus is if we all follow the rules.”

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Marcus Stoinis gives up six-figure deal in Caribbean Premier League due to coronavirus concerns


Marcus Stoinis has given up a six-figure payday for the sake of his personal safety and international cricketing future.

The Twenty20 destroyer has pulled out of this year’s lucrative Caribbean Premier League due to uncertainty over the coronavirus and the fact he looks set to make a long-awaited return to Australia’s limited overs set-up.

Having not been seen since last year’s World Cup, Stoinis is firming for a likely come back to the Australian set-up for the upcoming white ball tour of the UK in September, although selectors will hold off on naming a final squad until Government exemptions are confirmed.

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The prospect of finally returning to the international fold after 12 months on the outer, is undoubtedly a major factor in Stoinis’ decision to pull the pin on the Barbados Tridents in the CPL. But there is also another reason why he can’t afford to be trapped in the COVID-19 hit Americas.

The star all-rounder has a $940,000 contract with Delhi in the IPL and could potentially jeopardise that massive deal if he was to contract the virus in the West Indies, or fall victim to border closures in the Caribbean or United States.

It’s understood Stoinis has told West Indies officials he’s determined to play in the Caribbean in the future, but trying to globetrot between tournaments at the moment was too great a risk.

That said, Aussie stars Chris Lynn and Chris Green are prepared to roll the dice. They’re both in the Caribbean for the start of the CPL on August 18, and will then make their way to the UAE for the IPL.

Lynn is on $408,000 at the Mumbai Indians and will be looking for a big IPL, while Green is making his debut for the Kolkata Knight Riders, after his suspect bowling action was given the green light by cricket officials.

Neither Lynn or Green are in Australian contention though, and if Stoinis is picked by Justin Langer in a final squad of 18 or 20 for the UK, he must fly with the squad from Perth around August 21 to be a part of the strict biosecurity bubble.

NSW star Sean Abbott is expected to make the final Australian squad after travelling to South Africa earlier this year, while there is the prospect of some fresh blood in the shape of Riley Meredith and Josh Philippe.

Victorians Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell are still able to train in Melbourne, and awaiting government permission to fly out of the state for the England tour.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has announced that a top end Twenty20 series against West Indies scheduled for October has been postponed.

The matches were designed as World Cup warm-ups, but now that tournament is off, there is no sense flying West Indies out in the COVID-19 era.

It’s likely three T20s against India, which were also World Cup warm-ups, will also fall by the wayside.

There was hope that they could be rescheduled at a different time in the summer, but Cricket Australia is running out of room on the calendar if it wants to prioritise keeping its Afghanistan Test alive.



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Two new coronavirus cases confirmed in SA including possible community transmission


Another two people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in South Australia, prompting authorities to issue a health alert for three Adelaide businesses where one of the individuals spent time in recent days.

SA Health said the two new cases are both women in their 20s, with one of them a possible result of community transmission.

“It wasn’t clear that this was a person who’s returned from Victoria, so my team at the moment are getting information,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said.

The other is linked to the cluster identified yesterday linked to two Adelaide schools — Roma Mitchell College and Thebarton Senior College.

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It is believed the woman had been to several places while infectious.

“There were nine cases in 10 days yesterday and, of course, these two further cases.”

SA Health said anyone who attended the Najafi Carpet Gallery in Kilburn last Wednesday between 5:00pm and 8:00pm should immediately self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.

That also applies to anyone who went to the Agha Juice House in Blair Athol between 5:00pm and 7:30pm on Friday, and Fernwood Fitness at Salisbury Downs between 6:00pm and 8:30pm on Saturday.

The advice extends to people who do not have symptoms.

People who attended the Walkers Arm Hotel at Walkerville on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, or either of the schools, are also being told that, if they develop symptoms, they should immediately self-isolate and get tested.

New control centre, medi-hotel and testing facility

Premier Steven Marshall today said the Government was setting up a number of facilities to bolster the state’s COVID-19 response.

Speaking at a checkpoint near the Victorian border this morning, he said a new disease control centre and a medi-hotel were being set up in nearby Mount Gambier.

A drive-through coronavirus testing clinic is being set up at Victoria Park.(ABC News: Brittany Evins)

A new drive-through COVID-19 testing facility is being established at Adelaide’s Victoria Park.

“These are really important improvements we are making to strengthen that frontline for the men and women who are working here and to keep South Australia safe and strong,” Premier Marshall said.

“We continue to be extraordinarily concerned about the unfolding situation in Victoria.”

He foreshadowed possible additional restrictions on top of the new limits on in-home gatherings and licensed venues that begin at midnight tonight.

The number of people permitted at home gatherings will reduce from 50 to 10, while pubs, bars and restaurants will only be able to serve alcohol to patrons who are seated.



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Victoria was a ‘wake-up call’. So is the aged care system ready for a coronavirus outbreak?


As COVID-19 tore through scores of aged care homes in Victoria, family members of people in facilities across the country could only look on in horror.

Today a further 11 deaths have been linked to the aged care system in that state, following on from earlier outbreaks.

“Over east, I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” said Paula McGibbon, as her 81-year-old mother remained in a Baptistcare residence in Perth.

Mrs McGibbon said when she was first told her mother would be going into lockdown earlier this year, she did not understand the dynamics of what was actually going to happen.

“When we realised how serious the pandemic was going to be, we were fully supportive of the measures they took,” she said.

Mrs McGibbon’s mother Elizabeth Quinn celebrated her 81st birthday in lockdown, with her family singing to her and sending presents from behind double glass doors.

Elizabeth Quinn (centre), pictured with husband Desmond, lives in an aged care home in Perth.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

Her husband of 60 years, Desmond, visits every day, and during the seven weeks of total lockdown he spent his time talking to Mrs Quinn through windows, via signs and phone calls.

Now he can visit again with mandatory temperature checks, health screenings and a flu vaccination.

Mrs McGibbon said she was grateful for her mother’s centre and staff, and said there had been consistent communication of what was happening next.

Ms McGibbon stands in front of a wall and a pot plant.
Paula McGibbon says COVID-19 has been a “wake-up call for everybody”.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

It has been months since WA recorded a known case of community transmission, and the state’s aged care sector has so far been spared anything like the distressing scenes in so many Victorian centres.

But the experience over east has served as a stark warning.

“I don’t think we can be complacent,” Mrs McGibbon said.

“It will only take one person and community transfer, and we’re all back into a situation we don’t want to be in.”

‘A small window of time to prepare’

Aged care providers in WA are taking the same attitude and are racing to learn everything they can from Victoria’s outbreaks in an attempt to avoid the same disaster.

Mr Bricknell stands in front of a sign, in a hallway.
Baptistcare chief executive Russell Bricknell says the community must stay vigilant to avoid COVID-19 spread.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

“If we get community transmission here, it’s likely it will impact people in vulnerable situations, of which aged care is one,” Baptistcare chief executive Russell Bricknell said.

“That’s just reality.”

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How prepared is WA’s aged care sector to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak?
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Mr Bricknell said his organisation, which looks after around 800 West Australians in residential aged care, had been working with a number of other providers and the Health Department to coordinate their responses

“What we’ve now got is a small window of time to prepare so in the event [an outbreak] happens, we can respond much quicker,” he said.

In a joint statement to the ABC, six of WA’s aged care providers — Baptistcare, Juniper, Bethanie, Brightwater, Amana Living and Hall and Prior — said they had been developing a local outbreak plan with WA Health, with regular meetings to update what is being learned from overseas and interstate.

The group said there had been “significant investment” in training staff in infection control, creating PPE stockpiles, and developing a surge workforce.

If your state has a late outbreak, it might be harder to get federal help

Workers travelling between aged care residences has been a hot-button issue for organisations, following incidences of outbreaks in Victoria from people working across multiple facilities.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) WA president Andrew Miller said he thought there were a lot of “very good aged care operators” in the state, but there was no reason to think there would be a difference in how WA’s aged care industry workforce operated compared to the rest of the country.

Head and shoulder shot of Andrew Miller standing in a garden area.
AMA WA president Andrew Miller says the state must look carefully at its aged care set-up.(ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

“The response in Victoria has not been adequate to prevent widespread infections in those operations, and I imagine that the people working in aged care here would be of a similar cohort in terms of their propensity to get infected,” he said.

“I think that we need to look very carefully at how our system is set up and how to support it.

“Particularly if we were the third or fourth state in line to get an outbreak, we might find there’s not as much national ability to come to our aid at that point.”

Mr Bricknell said it was a “caught-between” situation, and his organisation had been checking in with workers to find out where and how they were working.

Two men kit up in protective gear to do coronavirus testing
Aged care providers say they’d need help with ongoing supplies of PPE in an outbreak.(AAP: Daniel Pockett)

“We’ve got workers who need to work in multiple jobs to earn a full-time living, and we can’t change that now,” he said.

“But in the event of an outbreak we’ve obviously got to respond quickly and minimise risk.”

The Victorian and Federal Governments have announced funding in that state aimed at keeping aged care staff in single facilities.

Four days of PPE until stocks run dry

The alliance of WA aged care providers has called for more State and Federal Government support for the sector, flagging the need for ongoing paid pandemic leave to keep sick staff away from work.

Pandemic leave has been made available in Victoria, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that would only be extended to other states if they had similar outbreaks.

An aged care worker pushing a woman in a wheelchair.
Officials say decisions on whether to move infected residents out of aged care homes are made on a case-by-case basis.(Getty: Resolution Productions)

Mr Bricknell said his organisation had been giving workers paid pandemic leave if they presented with symptoms, but it was not sustainable indefinitely.

“None of us have had the resources or the budget for this,” he said.

“To have some support to enable this to happen makes sense … it minimises the risk longer term.”

In terms of PPE, Mr Bricknell said local aged care provider stockpiles were designed for about four days of high-churn use, with support then needed from government to ensure ongoing supply.

A Federal Government Health Department spokesperson said more than 60 million P2 respirators, 295 million surgical masks and 8 million gowns had been added to the growing National Medical Stockpile since March, with aged care providers able to request PPE if they could not source it from their usual suppliers.

Calls to ensure infected residents moved out

Both Leading Age Services Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia have been pushing for hospitalisation, or transfer to other sites, for aged care residents who test positive to COVID-19, in an effort to avoid further transmission.

The group of local aged care providers said there had to be the capacity to immediately transfer a resident with COVID-19 to hospital.

An elderly man walks with the assistance of a hand rail.
Health officials globally have struggled to contain virus outbreaks within aged care homes.(AP: Jean-Francois Badias)

“Aged care homes are people’s homes not hospitals, and with COVID-19 a serious threat to this vulnerable population, high-level clinical care and support must be available,” their statement read.

“There are options to transfer a resident with symptoms to hospital and we need to see these options confirmed.”

The WA Health Department said like other Australian jurisdictions, treatment-in-place was preferred over admission to hospital to ensure better patient outcomes and maintain broader community access to services, with residents transferred if appropriate.

Its federal counterpart said the decision to transfer residents was made on a case-by-case basis.

“Decisions are made in consultation with the resident and their family or representative and taking account of any advanced care directives,” a federal Health Department spokesperson said in a statement.

“Many aged care homes across Australia have successfully managed outbreaks of COVID-19 while continuing to care for residents within the facility.”

Families urged to maintain contact

Council of the Ageing [COTA] WA chief executive Christine Allen said communication with families was essential, with hopes a new visitors code for aged care homes would ensure relatives were kept in the loop.

Christine Allen wearing a blue blazer in the living room of a house with paintings on the wall in the background.
Council of the Ageing WA chief executive Christine Allen says families must keep in contact with their aged care homes.(ABC News)

Ms Allen said, despite WA’s success in containing the virus, it was crucial the whole community remained on alert.

“We’re very fortunate but we also need to be vigilant, and I know that we’re learning from what’s gone before,” she said.

“We would hope that Western Australia is ready for an outbreak – and maybe it’s a matter of when and not if.”



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Melbourne is missing part of its identity with no sport during the coronavirus lockdown


After Melbourne’s initial COVID-19 restrictions were eased in May, the brilliant volunteers at my 13-year-old’s local footy club smeared themselves with sanitiser, marked the field to separate the authorised groups of 20 and got training started.

There was uncertainty about whether any games would be played, but the coaches rightly suspected kids who had been locked away were bursting to have a kick with their friends.

Then, just five days before the season was to commence, Lockdown 2.0 was announced and the footballs and cones went back into storage.

There were a few tears when parents told their children the games were off. Some of the kids probably cried too.

Since then, lingering hopes the season would start have been diminished by daily COVID-19 case figures that resembled first-innings cricket totals compiled on lifeless decks against a perspiration-free ball.

Enter Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday with his now customary “not angry, just disappointed” expression to tell us that we were going from Lockdown 2.0 to Shutdown 1.

Essentially, Victoria had collapsed and would be forced to follow on.

So here we are now. Teased and tantalised by seasons that didn’t quite happen; deprived of our weekend rituals featuring the opportunity to attend Super Netball, AFL, NRL, A-League and Super Rugby AU games that have been packed up and sent interstate.

There has always been a trace of the competitive little brother in Melbourne’s claim to be Australia’s sporting capital, as it displays a tone of condescending superiority over supposedly less passionate Sydney in particular.

A look across the MCG as the scoreboard shows the day one crowd figure for the Boxing Day Test.
The MCG may not be in a position to host the Boxing Day Test this year.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Thus there will be some schadenfreude in other cities as Melbourne is transformed from sporting paradise to athletic leper colony and its assets are stripped. Melbourne Cup at Royal Randwick anyone? AFL grand final at the Gabba?

But the self-proclaimed sporting capital title has been hard-earned. Melbourne’s quasi-religious sporting zeal has allowed politicians to invest in first-class infrastructure and, in turn, the accumulation or retention of major events knowing grandstands would be packed to the rafters.

Sport is, and has long been, part of Melbourne’s identity, the drum that beats out the city’s rhythm. Holidays are taken “during the tennis” rather than January, or “when we’ve got the bye” rather than June or July.

Now the MCG is empty and no-one knows quite when the gates will swing open again. AFL finals are highly unlikely and the WBBL, BBL and even the Boxing Day Test are only pencilled in.

A female netball player holds the ball behind her head as she prepares to shoot for goal.
Vixens fans living in Melbourne will have to get used to watching their team on TV.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Across the footbridge, AAMI Park is for now the place where the Storm, Rebels, Victory and City used to play and the ever-expanding Melbourne Park won’t see any Super Netball or an early-round NBL game, while even the Australian Open is no certainty.

Following the rule that there is an episode of The Simpsons to describe every situation, Melbourne is the one where Bart breaks his leg and is forced to spend the summer in his bedroom watching others romp outside through a telescope.

Disconnection to sport grows

As other cities cherry pick events from our loaded sporting calendar, crowds reappear in their venues and their participants start to play games in local parks, our resentment, bitterness and even paranoia is growing.

Instead of attending games, we are stuck on our couches and subjected to the moronic shrieks and blokey-bloke prattle of those AFL commentators whose vaudeville acts make you pine for the smooth tones, intelligent foresight and dry wit of the game’s greatest voice, Dennis Cometti.

A Geelong AFL player pushes against a Collingwood opponent as they prepare to contest for the ball in Perth.
Victorians are becoming used to watching their AFL clubs play each other interstate.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Narrow defeats and alleged umpiring atrocities sting even more in our home echo chambers without the cathartic venting of spleens in the crowd and the consoling post-mortem drinks with friends at a local pub.

We still see sport, but as our disconnection continues it is becoming increasingly difficult to feel it.

Meanwhile as community sport starts elsewhere, Melbourne’s flickering hopes of a relatively swift return were snuffed out at the weekend when Andrews transformed Victoria from the Garden State to the State of Disaster.

Cricket club committee meetings previously occupied by potential clashes with late-finishing football seasons will “pivot” to contingency planning. How many Kookaburras do you order for a season you might not play?

During the initial lockdown the community spirit created by watching and playing local sport was replaced to some degree by the warmth of the response to the crisis. We were all losing something, but we were “all in it together”.

But as that sense of unity gave way to inevitable bickering and finger pointing over the causes of Victoria’s failure to contain the spread, and the isolation is intensified by harsher measures including a curfew, the longing for things lost is greater.

A few weeks ago I saw some of the players from our local footy team having a vigorous kick-to-kick at the very time on a Saturday afternoon they would normally have been playing a game.

I asked one of the group if he was missing it.

“It’s killing me,” he replied.

So too those of us who would have been watching from the sidelines, munching on one of the club canteen’s famous hamburgers while chatting to friends and neighbours about not very much.

The sports capital with no sport feels like Venice without gondolas, Paris without romance, New York without taxis.

It is not just the games that we are missing. It is a significant part of our daily life and our identity.



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Victorian expecting more than 400 new coronavirus cases


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 400 new virus cases today.

The Herald Sun reports “several more deaths” would also be revealed at 11am.

It comes after Melburnians woke up to the second day of a strict stage-four lockdown, with many distraught business owners learning their fate on Monday afternoon.

Business closures will see another 250,000 Melbourne workers forced to stay home, with supermarkets, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies and post offices to remain open.

Construction sites and meatworks will run at reduced capacity, while other retail, manufacturing and administration businesses will be closed for six weeks.

“As much as we’d like one, there is no playbook when it comes to a pandemic,” Mr Andrews said on Monday.

“But what is clear is that if we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of complete shutdowns.

“It’s hard to imagine what a stage five might look like but it would radically change the way people live. Not just rules on when and where you can go shopping — but restrictions on going shopping at all.”

Victoria recorded 429 new infections on Monday, with 13 people tragically succumbing to the virus.

A man in his 60s, two men and a woman in their 70s, two men in their 80s and five women and two men in their 90s died.

Eight of the 13 new deaths were linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. They take the state’s death toll to 136.



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Teachers across the US protest plans to reopen schools as coronavirus cases surge

Academics and aid employees at more than 35 faculty districts across the United States on Monday staged protests above options to resume in-course instruction although COVID-19 is surging in several parts of the region.

The protesters, who formed automobile caravans and connected indicators and painted messages on their autos, demand from customers universities hold off on August and September school resumptions until scientific data supports this sort of a shift.

They want districts to wait until security protocols these types of as reduce class dimensions and virus tests are founded, and universities are staffed with an adequate range of counsellors and nurses, in accordance to a web-site set up for the demonstrations.

On Twitter, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association showed protesters building bogus gravestones that reported, “Here lies a third grade university student from Environmentally friendly Bay who caught COVID at school” and “RIP Grandma caught COVID aiding grand children with homework.”

Fatalities in the United States rose for a fourth week in a row to much more than 8,500 individuals in the seven times ended Augut 2, although the variety of new situations fell for a 2nd straight 7 days, a Reuters examination uncovered.

Extra than 155,000 people today have died of COVID-19 linked illness in the United States, the most in the globe.

Instances rose 7 days-around-week in 20 states, which include in Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma.

Lecturers also are demanding financial assistance for moms and dads in want, including hire and mortgage help, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and dollars help.

Numerous of these problems are at the centre of a political tussle in Washington, where Democrats in Congress and Trump administration officials held talks on Monday and will resume on Tuesday to hammer out a coronavirus financial aid invoice soon after missing a deadline to prolong advantages to tens of millions of jobless People in america.

Education staff members in Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia honked their horns in socially distanced automobile protests.

Protesters rallied exterior the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce constructing and in the Hartford, Connecticut, location, about 400 shaped a auto march that went by Governor Ned Lamont’s house.

“I do not want to set my learners or myself in harm’s way. I do not want to be an experiment,” Andrea Parker, an elementary university teacher in Chicago, advised reporters before a motor vehicle protest.

Re-election campaign

With Democratic applicant Joe Biden forward of him in impression polls, President Donald Trump has created school reopenings for classroom instruction component of his November re-election campaign.

“Cases up simply because of Large Testing! Considerably of our Nation is undertaking quite effectively. Open up the Faculties!” Mr Trump tweeted on Monday.

Even though noted case quantities might be joined to far more screening, the increase in hospitalisations and deaths have no connection to an enhance in screening.

On Sunday, Deborah Birx, the coordinator of Mr Trump’s coronavirus process pressure, claimed the United States is in a new stage of the outbreak with bacterial infections in rural places as perfectly as towns.

States with high scenario counts ought to rethink imposing some limits to force bacterial infections to a small baseline ahead of the autumn flu year, the government’s top infectious illness specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in an job interview with the Journal of the American Health care Affiliation.

Earlier tricky-hit, densely populated areas of New York and New Jersey minimized the unfold of the virus with rigid social distancing and health care steps.

On Monday, on the other hand, faced with far more new instances linked to indoor situations, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy diminished indoor boundaries to 25 people per home from 100.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated he would ascertain later this week based mostly on the infection charge regardless of whether to reopen colleges.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, reporting that new scenarios, hospitalisations and intensive treatment device admissions have been all trending down, explained it was much too before long to make modifications on reopening colleges, which are scheduled to start out the academic calendar year with on-line discovering from property.



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ACT clubs hold out hope coronavirus restrictions ease next week amid reports of roaring trade at Queanbeyan’s pokies


The organisation representing ACT clubs has called on the Government to allow gaming to restart, amid reports Canberrans are travelling into Queanbeyan to use the pokies.

While NSW opted to ease restrictions on gaming, the ACT has held firm in not permitting the activity, despite allowing venues to cater to up to 100 people at a time.

In the months since coronavirus forced shutdowns across the country, some clubs have suffered, with the Kaleen Eastlake Club announcing last week it would permanently close.

And as businesses across the border benefit from the lighter restrictions, ACT Clubs says gaming venues need a reprieve, to keep people in jobs and ensure trade stays in the territory.

Canberrans turning to NSW for ‘relaxed’ service: publican

Since restrictions on venues eased in NSW following the state-wide lockdown, trade on the average gaming machine saw an 89 per cent increase in turnover.

But Queanbeyan saw a 453 per cent jump.

One reason could be its proximity to the ACT, where the restrictions are tighter.

Anthony McDonald runs the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan and said he had seen a lot more Canberrans at his venue in recent weeks.

He said it could be due to the access to pokies, as well as the lighter restrictions on how long a person could stay.

“We’re seeing strong food and beverage numbers, and people are definitely coming across from the ACT,” Mr McDonald said.

“I know in the ACT they have time restrictions and you have to leave after your sitting, but I don’t think any of the operations in Queanbeyan are putting time restrictions on it.

The Royal Hotel, Queanbeyan
The Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan has seen an uptick in customers from the ACT.(ABC News: Sonya Gee)

The ACT Government has said that gaming venues are restricted due to the higher risk of infection posed by some activities over others.

“One of the things that the Chief Health Officer has been really clear about is that we need to assess cumulative risk when we’re determining the easing of restrictions,” Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

“It is about managing the cumulative risk to our community of people coming together, intermingling in situations particularly where there may be alcohol involved, where they may lose some of their inhibitions or may stay in a venue for a length of time.”

But Mr McDonald said the same social distancing rules applied to every area of his venue, whether it was for gaming, drinking or dining.

“We’re working on the one in four capacity, so subject to social distancing, we can turn our machines on,” he said.

“It means some places have put only every second machine on.

“But most importantly, it means for the pubs and clubs, we have access to the gaming machines as well”

He said while the pokies were not a huge part of their business, they had seen an uptick in revenue nonetheless.

“I thought that was the commitment from the Chief Minister, and you have to consider that Queanbeyan is basically an outer suburb of Canberra.

‘We just want our chance’

Gwyn stands in front of Kaleen club looking serious.
Clubs ACT CEO Gwyn Rees had called for lifted restrictions on gaming.(ABC News)

ACT Clubs chief executive Gwyn Rees said they were suffering for lack of trade.

“The clubs over there [Queanbeyan] are telling us there’s about 40 per cent visitation from the ACT and they’re seeing machine numbers that they haven’t seen since the 90s.

“Lots of people are going over to enjoy the services that are over in Queanbeyan and again we just want our chance to reopen our clubs and offer those same services.

“Any Canberran can go over and look at a car park in Queanbeyan and see the ACT plates. That itself tells the story.”

He said it was not just about trade, but also employment, and the loss of the Kaleen club was a blow to the industry.

He said gaming was now open in every state and territory except Victoria.

“We just want our chance. We want to get our people back to work,” he said.

“We’ve been off for four months now, so that’s got to have an impact on the ACT budget of some 10 million in terms of gaming taxes, in addition to an impact on the community contributions which we think are around three or 4 million at this stage.”

Clubs wait to see if restrictions eased this week

Two blurred faced people play the pokies at a pub
ACT Clubs claims venues are struggling due to restrictions on gaming.(Supplied.)

While the ACT Government is considering whether to go ahead and ease restrictions on businesses this coming week, in line with its original plan, it’s not clear what that could mean for gaming.

Ms Stephen-Smith said it was unlikely they would allow larger gatherings at venues.

“What we are very unlikely to see from next weekend is a bigger number of people being able to gather,” she said.

“So, our stage three did previously have 250 people gathering plus the reopening of a number of activities, including gaming venues.

Mr Rees said he was perplexed by the argument that gaming was more of a safety risk with relation to coronavirus than other activities.

“We’ve asked for that advice and it hasn’t been provided,” he said.

A deserted country street.
NSW and the ACT have different restrictions around gaming due to coronavirus.(Supplied)

“It seems a closed shop. We can’t have a conversation. We’ve asked for the advice.

“We don’t understand the decision — but if this is about jobs, we need to get clubs open.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said she was aware that some Canberrans might choose to leave the territory to access certain things they could not get closer to home. 

“We know that people are potentially going to travel interstate for particular activities and that is their choice,” she said.

“It’s pretty hard to assess what the cumulative impact of that is going to be and we’re continuing to keep an eye on the wellbeing of our clubs here in the ACT and there have been a number of measures taken to support community clubs in the ACT.”



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