Tasmania eases quarantine requirements for some Brisbane travellers



January 11, 2021 19:09:14

Health Minister Sarah Courtney says people who arrived in Tasmania prior to 9:00am on Friday, January 8, will no longer need to quarantine as they pose no risk.

Source: ABC News
Duration: 2min 2sec








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Threat from several bushfires in WA eases as firefighters brace for hot, windy days ahead

Western Australia’s bushfire emergency has eased after homes and lives were threatened by a string of fires, one forcing the evacuation of a nursing home.

High temperatures and strong winds fanned the flames with blazes reported to the north and south of Perth, on the state’s southwest coast and in the Goldfields.

At one stage, emergency warnings were in place for at least two blazes, one at Kwinana on Perth’s southern outskirts and another further south at Rockingham.

A fire at Gosnells, in the city’s southeast, forced authorities to move 150 nursing home residents to a nearby evacuation centre on Sunday night.

That blaze was quickly brought under control with most of the residents allowed to return.

About 50 remained at the evacuation centre overnight but were expected to return to their homes on Monday.

Emergency warnings are in place in Rockingham, Karloo and Gosnells in Perth.


One residential unit at the facility was totally destroyed, but was not occupied at the time, while another six had superficial damage.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters said by Monday afternoon all except the Kwinana fire, which had been downgraded to a watch and act message, were under control.

“We’ve got a little bit of work to do around the Kwinana incident, but all the others around the state a looking fairly good at this time,” he said.

The Kwinana fire has destroyed about 240 hectares of scrub since it was sparked on Sunday afternoon but its cause is yet to be determined.

At one stage it spread to a rubbish tip at Medina, raising concerns over toxic fumes.

About 120 firefighters remained on the fireground with the dump expected to burn for at least another day or two.

There were no reports of any major property losses.

Parts of the Western Australian capital are being engulfed in smoke as bushfires rage near homes.


Mr Waters said with temperatures expected to hit the high 30s later this week, there were concerns for more incidents.

“Whenever you come into a period of really hot weather coupled with extremely high easterly winds, we’re always going to be in for a world of hurt,” he said.

The weekend fires also prompted the first deployment this summer of a large air tanker brought over from the eastern states.

It made three significant drops, including one on the Kwinana blaze.

Thank you for dropping in and checking out this news update regarding State and Federal News and updates titled “Threat from several bushfires in WA eases as firefighters brace for hot, windy days ahead”. This news article was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our national news services.

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‘Jedi Fallen Order’ Eases the Wait for New ‘Star Wars’ – Review Geek


After watching a couple of seasons of The Mandalorian, I was in a Star Wars mood. But although Disney seems to be flinging out new premium series like a stormtrooper ineffectually blasting at protagonists, it’ll be many months before I would get anything new. so with a deep discount and a $10 coupon, I picked up Jedi: Fallen Order on Stadia.

The game came out last year to mild praise, along the lines of “it’s the best Star Wars game in a long time.” But next to games like the legendary exercise in greed that was EA’s Battlefront II, that wasn’t exactly a high bar to clear. Still, I was itching for a few lightsaber battles, so I sat down and got to WHOOSHing.

A Slightly Longer Time Ago…

Fallen Order does a lot of work to fit organically in the loose canon of the Star Wars universe. It opens up a few years before A New Hope, where we see Jedi padawan and Order 66 survivor Cal Kestis laying low, working in an Imperial junkyard. When he’s forced to use the Force to save his buddy, the Empire sends a squad of Jedi hunters to investigate, and a small band of rebels rescues him from a discount (and female) Darth Vader.

Aboard the very cool-looking rebel ship, we meet Cere (pronounced “Seer,” because Star Wars doesn’t do subtlety), yet another Jedi survivor who’s broken off her connection with the Force. She’s paying the ship’s owner, a wise-cracking, four-armed fuzzy guy named Greez, to ferry her around the galaxy in search of a USB drive full of info on Force-sensitive children. Once Cal gets his very own Star Wars-brand Droid, a beepy little robot parrot that hangs out on his shoulder, our setup is complete: race around a handful of planets, following a trail of breadcrumbs to beat the Empire to the list of kids.

While it’s not anything groundbreaking, Fallen Order‘s story is surprisingly good. Cal’s journey from self-conscious, haunted young man to full-on Jedi makes sense organically thanks to liberal sprinkles of backstory, which also open up new traversal abilities. And I found myself invested in Cere’s history, too: why would she cut herself off from the Force? The personal drama is a lot more compelling than the lore, which is all about the tombs of a lost civilization—more or less an excuse for sprawling level design.

Jedi: Fallen Order---Cal and Cere

They characters given gravitas by some very talented voice acting (Cameron Monaghan of Gotham and Shameless fame provides Cal’s voice and likeness) and some really great facial animation. I wouldn’t have expected it from developer Respawn, previously known for Call of Duty and Titanfall, but the faces are expressive and subtle, even when they’re not human. I was happy to see the not-Vader villain take off her helmet, if only so the actor’s performance wasn’t wasted without a face to express.

That said, the story can’t help but end on a bit of a downer, if only because it has to fit in with the rest of the Star Wars universe. When you start out on a pre-New Hope story talking about “reviving the Jedi Order,” it’s no spoiler to say that by the end of things, the status quo hasn’t changed very much.

Strike Me Down

The highlight of the game for me is the lightsaber combat. Fallen Order has frequently been compared to Dark Souls, which is fair, since saving your progress refills your health bar and resurrects all the enemies. But the combat itself is much faster and more fluid, with you magic laser sword providing both offense and defense to deflect melee attacks and blaster bolts.

Jedi: Fallen Order---black stormtrooper

Like Dark Souls and its modern contemporaries, you have to approach combat with caution and thought: just swinging away at the various stormtrooper flavors and creatures will quickly leave you as a Force ghost. Guarding, parrying, and picking your moment to strike are all essential elements, to say nothing of positioning and crowd control in the tougher fights.

Though the number of enemies that can block or tank lightsaber hits strains belief from a fan perspective, this careful and deliberate approach to combat is engaging. It’s more or less the opposite of the unhinged power fantasy seen in The Force Unleashed, or Kyle Katarn’s “DOOM with a Lightsaber” outings in the Jedi Knight games. It’s as close as I’ve ever seen a game come to making you feel like a Jedi, exercising skill rather than just unleashing magic. Even Cal’s more powerful unlocked attacks are balanced with a limited pool of Force (basically stamina).

Jedi: Fallen Order---blocking blaster bolts

Oh, and since Dark Souls has been brought up: no, the game’s nowhere near as difficult as that association implies. I had a bit of trouble on the final boss, and its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it timing forced me onto a wired connection to make up for Stadia’s usually-invisible lag. But even newcommers to this kind of combat won’t be too intimidated on lower difficulty settings.

Star Tours

The meandering story lets you explore a few new planets alongside some familiar Star Wars locales, like Dathomir and Kashyyyk. And naturally, a few recognizable faces from the movies pop up. But “planets” are basically just “levels.” They’re big, though they don’t appear that way at first, with a few branching and intersecting paths given structure by traversal methods.

As the game progresses you’ll open up new areas of the levels with new Force abilities and digital upgrades to your droid. Suddenly gaining access to the places that were previously cut off is exciting … but trudging through the half of a level you’ve already seen isn’t, especially since you’ll rarely find anything useful in previously inaccessible nooks and crannies. A new paint job for the ship or a new poncho for Cal are hardly worth exploring these levels.

Jedi Fallen Order---Call in a temple

And the exploration was my least-favorite part of the game, if only because its physics can be very cantankerous. I often knew exactly what I needed to do, but the game was loathe to let me do it, because its Uncharted-style climbing and jumping set pieces demand that you do things juuuuuust right. I lost an hour to one tiny piece of a puzzle, and was pretty annoyed when I gave up and searched YouTube for the answer, only to realize I had figured it out right away and the game’s engine was merely being stingy.

The inconsistent jumping and climbing is a minor quibble overall, and you can get through these sections with a bit of patience. At the very least, they rarely play a part in the combat, allowing the game’s best feature to shine through the dim parts.

Give it a Try

At the time of writing, Jedi: Fallen Order is just $24 on Steam,  Epic, and Stadia, and you can frequently find the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game discounted, too. It’s also on the EA Play and Xbox Game Pass subscription services, making it effectively free if you’re already paying for one.

Jedi Fallen Order inquisitor

While it’s not an Alderaan-shattering innovation in either Star Wars storytelling or in action-adventure gameplay, Fallen Order is a solid romp through a familiar universe. And surprisingly, it’s free of the microtransaction nightmare you might expect from an EA Star Wars game. Aside from a few extra cosmetics and a making of featurette in the “Deluxe Edition,” the game won’t pester you for any additional purchases.

Veteran Soulslike gamers might find it tame at lower difficulties, and the Metroid-style exploration is hampered by fiddly physics. But Fallen Order has easily the best lightsaber combat of any Star Wars game, bar none. That alone is worth a look-see if you’re a fan of the franchise. And if you’re into gaming, you probably have something that plays it. You can buy Fallen Order for Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia, or PC through the Epic and Steam stores.

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Call to prioritise lorries with perishable goods as travel ban eases

The Scottish government has called for drivers moving perishable goods such as seafood and salmon to be prioritised as France eases it travel ban.

France and the UK have reached agreement over their shared border which was closed amid concerns over a new coronavirus variant.

EU nationals and hauliers are among those now able to travel – if they have had a recent negative test.

But there have been warnings that it could take days to clear the backlog.

Soldiers have joined NHS Test and Trace staff in Kent to carry out rapid tests on thousands of stranded lorry drivers.

There have also been reports of clashes between some stranded lorry drivers and police.

The travel ban was imposed on Sunday after the UK government warned of a new, fast-spreading variant of coronavirus and introduced strict tier four – “stay at home” – restrictions across large parts of southern and eastern England in response to a new variant of coronavirus.

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there were more than 3,000 HGVs at Kent’s Manston Airport as of 19:00 GMT on Tuesday, and several hundred more have joined the queue since then.

He said it was likely to take “a few days” to clear the backlog of lorries, some of which are carrying millions of pounds worth of Scottish seafood.

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said UK minister should now “urgently prioritise those drivers with perishable goods, such as Scottish seafood and salmon”.

He added: “What has always been of concern is the impact on exporters, this is their most critical time of year and the dismay caused by the uncertainty and length of delay has been avoidable and regrettable.”

Scottish government export figures released last week indicate France remains the single largest importer of Scottish food and drink products.

Exports to France for the first nine months of 2020 are already down 11.3% on the same period the previous year.

James Withers, chief executive at Scotland Food and Drink, warned that losing the Christmas trade could be a “fatal blow” for some businesses.

Mr Withers said: “Contrary to an upbeat assessment from the prime minister yesterday, the situation has been deteriorating with a growing backlog of lorries.

“For some of our shellfish exporters, the pre-Christmas sales have now been ruined. It looks like mission impossible to get products to the big markets in Spain which are held tomorrow.

“That is an irrecoverable loss of income and I fear about this being a fatal blow to some of the smaller businesses after the horrendous year they have already had.”

Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, agreed: “The window wherein companies would be able to salvage anything from the last couple of days is now, to all intents and purposes, closed for premium seafood, which has been perishing by the roadside since Sunday night.

“Millions has been lost, much of it by small companies that were depending on this trade for survival.

She said the situation turned thoughts to the end of the Brexit transition period.

She said: “The last 48 hours has given us a terrifying insight into what the situation could be come 1 January. While passage may not be formally blocked by then, there remains a “red tape blockade” which will likely have exactly the same impact as the last 48 hours.”

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Thailand eases travel restrictions for 56 countries

The Thai government is easing travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries to help the country’s pandemic-hit tourism industry recover, but foreign visitors are still required to undergo a mandatory 14 days hotel quarantine.

Tourists from countries including Australia, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States can now travel to Thailand without visas.

However, they will need a certificate to show they are free of Covid-19 72 hours before travel and a booking at a quarantine hotel.

Thai authorities have issued a new list of 56 countries and territories whose citizens do not require a visa and can stay in the Kingdom for up to 30 days, with a 15 days extension.

The countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Principality of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Peru, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, non-immigrant visa holders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea can stay for a maximum of 90 days based on inter-governmental agreements.

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Fraser Island to reopen to tourists after rain eases bushfire threat

Manger of Cathedrals campground Jack Worcester said the decision to allow tourists to return to Fraser Island was “fantastic news” for business owners.

“It’s just in time for Christmas, it’s a good Christmas present,” he said.

“No infrastructure across the whole island was damaged, and no attractions, so it’s a big relief.”

Local rangers battled the blaze alone for the first month before QFES crews were sent to help.

Up to 17 aircraft, including specialist air tankers, were also used at various points to fight the fire.

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ECB adds €500B to coronavirus stimulus, eases bank funding conditions – POLITICO

The European Central Bank expanded its coronavirus-related bond purchasing by €500 billion and extended its term by nine months to March 2022.

The move on Thursday brings the total of the ECB’s Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) to €1.85 trillion.

The Frankfurt authority left its other bond-buying and interest rates unchanged, with the lowest at negative 0.5 percent.

The central bank also extended the availablity of ultra-cheap loans to bank by a year, until June 2022.

ECB President Christine Lagarde will give further details in a press conference.

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Coronavirus live news: US passes 280,000 deaths, Australian state of Victoria eases restrictions | World news

Indonesia minister named suspect in million-dollar bribery case linked to Covid relief


In Australia, the opposition Labor party says Australians who are stranded overseas due to Covid and want to come home are being quietly reclassified in an attempt to avoid “bad headlines” over Scott Morrison’s failure to return them by Christmas.

Australia has struggled with the number of returning citizens and permanent residents since its national cabinet capped arrivals in July in response to the second coronavirus wave in Victoria and suspension of hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has warned Australia’s travel cap may breach international law obligations regarding reunifying children with their families and allowing citizens to travel home.


Victoria relaxes virus restrictions

Rita Ora apologises for second breach of Covid restrictions


Britain prepares to roll out vaccine


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Iran’s virus deaths pass 50,000 as lockdown on capital eases

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s death toll from the global pandemic has risen above 50,000, according to state television, as the country grapples with the worst outbreak in the Middle East.

A two-week partial lockdown in the capital of Tehran and other major cities helped slow, but not stop the rising wave of deaths from the coronavirus over the past few weeks.

President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that the lockdown could be extended to more cities or reimposed on the capital, if people do not abide by health measures.

“Tehran is on the borderline of being in the red zone,” Rouhani said. “All people and public officials should try to implement measures and regulations.”

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said Saturday that the countrywide death toll the previous day was 321.

Before the most recent lockdown, the daily death toll was as high as 486.

Lari said that healthcare officials had found over 12,150 new cases that brought the total of confirmed cases to above 1,028,980. This represents a significant decrease in the daily number of confirmed cases since the lockdown.

Rouhani also vowed to raise the number of countrywide COVID-19 tests to over 100,000 per day. Iran has almost doubled its daily testing capacity to 40,000 in the past weeks.

While shopping malls and mosques reopened Saturday in Tehran, a 9 p.m. curfew on businesses and the use of private cars will remain in force in the capital and major cities.

Larger lockdown measures remained in force in 64 other towns across the country.

The use of private cars is banned in those towns from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., while travel between the lockdown cities by private car has also been stopped.

In November, authorities ordered a month-long nightly business curfew in Tehran and 30 other major cities and towns, asking nonessential shops to keep their workers home, while factories and major industries like oil and gas remained open.

Ali Reza Zali, the official who is coordinating anti-coronavirus measures in the capital, said that he expected the lockdown, though ended, will lead to a continued drop in virus deaths over the next weeks.

A spokesman for the Health Ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour, said Iran is working on three vaccines for the disease, including one that is based on inactivated virus samples, while the other two are based on the same method used for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He said the vaccines will reach the human test phase soon, without elaborating further.

Iran’s government also said last week that it planned to buy more than 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from abroad.

The government has resisted using a total shutdown to fight the outbreak, as the country’s economy has been already shattered by unprecedented U.S. sanctions that effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions in 2018 after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

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