Northern Beaches’ $5,000 scheme, “an insult” café owner claims

This morning, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced grants of up to $5,000 for small businesses that lost money as consequent to the pandemic, which is a nod to the Avalon cluster.

However, this faced backlash as a café owner in Sydney’s Northern beaches says that the State Government’s grants program to relieve business struggling since the Christmas lockdown is na “insult”.

As this scheme was pushed through, businesses need to show the lockdown caused a 30 per cent reduction in turnover for a $3,000 grant, or a 50 per cent reduction in turnover for a $5,000 grant.

Last December, the northern beaches became the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak in the state. This resulted in more than 150 cases linked to a cluster at Avalon. It became worse across the Christmas period as the northern beach was separated into a northern and southern zone and strict restrictions were prevalent. It was January 14 when the last case to be linked to the cluster was recorded.

With these directives, Nourished Cafe and Lounge owner Jimmy Arslan noted that while he understood people needed funds, he considered the amount an insult.
“$5,000, to be honest they can have it, I don’t even want it. It’s going to do nothing to what we went through. On turnover value, it’s a pittance, it’s nothing. I took it as a personal insult.”

On defense for the package, Mr. Perrottet said the money would cover “unavoidable” expenses. “The result today is a fair result, a generous result, and something that will go a long way to helping many businesses get through it. We are incredibly grateful to the people of the beaches for what they did over summer and this is recognition for the sacrifices that they made,” he explained.

Mr. Aslan rejoined saying he’d prefer the State Government worked to incentivize people to visit the beaches. “We’re not a charity, we work hard, and we do what we do. The people who put us into lockdown, I do think they have an obligation at least during that lockdown to compensate all the businesses and individuals that lost a lot. I’d rather them just say they’re going to help with tourism and bring people here and encourage people from outside to come and shop and enjoy this area.”

There are measure that are noted to alleviate the tourism milieu as the State Government is looking to roll out Dine & Discover vouchers, announced in last year’s budget, to the region in February. This might mitigate the effects of the lockdown.

For instance, Liz Treloar, owner of Beaches Beauty in Avalon, said she was completely booked out before the lockdown. “The biggest problem for us is the amount of gift vouchers that we missed out on selling. We’re grateful for any help that they want to throw our way; we’re never going to say no. It’s not enough and it doesn’t cover what we will have missed out on over that Christmas period. They’re throwing a crumb and we’ll grab it.”

A Father Is Going To Celebrate A Virtual Christmas After Receiving A Devastating Call From NSW Health

A Sydney man will be spending a virtual Christmas via Zoom this year with his family, but not away from home, just from another room.

After being told that he was a close contact of a COVID-19 positive case, Steve Cole was forced to isolate himself. He revealed he had no other option but to stay locked down in his daughter’s room under strict health orders.

Mr Cole, the father-of-two, who spoke with media, was still in good spirits despite the devastating situation. “I’m currently staying in my daughter’s room because it’s next door to a bathroom,” he said. He jokingly added “It’s a little bit strange. You know it’s pink and white and heart-shaped cushions.”

It was December 20 when Mr Cole received a call from NSW Health saying he was identified as a close contact after visiting the Avalon Fitness First gym on December 14.

The said gym was added to a growing list of coronavirus hotspots as part of Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

“That was probably the hardest thing when it sunk in, when we got the call on the 20th, that our Christmas Day would be very different,” Mr Cole said, given that their family had plans to spend Christmas with relatives in Mittagong.

Yet, Mr Cole admitted the hardest part is knowing that his kids are just out of arms reach. “I won’t be able to hug the kids when they open their presents. But yeah, you’ve just got to get on with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, his wife Emma has been putting all her efforts into maintaining the Christmas spirit for the kids, spending quality time downstairs. She told the media “Making Christmas as exciting as we can like they are pretty excited about it all anyway.”

Fortunately, Mr Cole is set to reunite with his family just in time for New Year’s Eve.

Australian state borders slam shut on Sydney as COVID-19 cluster grows


SYDNEY, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) — Australia’s domestic borders have been slammed shut on residents in Sydney, as a COVID-19 outbreak in the city’s north increased by 15 cases to 83 on Monday.

Concerns over how far the cluster has spread prompted differing responses by state leaders across the country.

The state of Western Australia re-implemented a hard border closure for the entire State of New South Wales (NSW) of which Sydney is the capital, turning back anyone from NSW without a legitimate exemption.

Victoria, Queensland closed their borders just to the Greater Sydney region, allowing residents of those states until the end of Monday to get back across the border before restrictions apply.

Meanwhile South Australia and Tasmania introduced softer restrictions requiring arrivals from the Greater Sydney region to quarantine for 14 days.

The area where the outbreak originated, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, remained in lockdown until Wednesday while residents from the Greater Sydney area were asked to limit their movements.

Conditions on residents in the Northern Beaches were similar to those during NSW’s initial outbreak of COVID-19 back in March, allowing them to leave their homes only to work, shop for necessary items, provide care or take brief isolated exercise.

On Sunday, NSW recorded its highest number of tests conducted in a single day, with 38,578 people tested.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters that a tightening of restrictions over Christmas would take place if warranted by the numbers of new cases over the coming week.



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Oz state borders close on Sydney amid COVID-19 spike


Sydney [Australia], December 21 (ANI/Xinhua): Australia’s domestic borders have been slammed shut on residents in Sydney, as a COVID-19 outbreak in the city’s north increased by 15 cases to 83 on Monday.

Concerns over how far the cluster has spread prompted differing responses by state leaders across the country.

The state of Western Australia re-implemented a hard border closure for the entire State of New South Wales (NSW) of which Sydney is the capital, turning back anyone from NSW without a legitimate exemption.

Victoria, Queensland closed their borders just to the Greater Sydney region, allowing residents of those states until the end of Monday to get back across the border before restrictions apply.

Meanwhile South Australia and Tasmania introduced softer restrictions requiring arrivals from the Greater Sydney region to quarantine for 14 days.

The area where the outbreak originated, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, remained in lockdown until Wednesday while residents from the Greater Sydney area were asked to limit their movements.

Conditions on residents in the Northern Beaches were similar to those during NSW’s initial outbreak of COVID-19 back in March, allowing them to leave their homes only to work, shop for necessary items, provide care or take brief isolated exercise.

On Sunday, NSW recorded its highest number of tests conducted in a single day, with 38,578 people tested.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters that a tightening of restrictions over Christmas would take place if warranted by the numbers of new cases over the coming week. (ANI/Xinhua)



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The Recurrence Of Hard Border Between Queensland And NSW Announced

Police Threatens Harsh Penalties If Breach Occurs

Given that the COVID-19 cluster is surging on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced the recurrence of the hard border between Queensland and NSW tomorrow morning. This means that all road entry points with NSW will be manned with police from 6 am of December 22.

More so, the return of a hard border calls for every traveller’s border declaration pass to be checked before they enter the state. According to the premier, tough measures were needed because people were doing the wrong thing.

She said “People are breaching and are being turned around so there will be a hard border closure that will be going in place. People will start to see barricades going up again this afternoon and by 6 am tomorrow morning it will be back to the strong border measures we have seen in Queensland.”

In response to the announcement of hard border recurrence, Steve Gollschewski, Commissioner of Queensland Police emphasized the necessity of the border declaration pass for everyone who comes into Queensland by 6 am tomorrow. “Please everyone that wants to come into Queensland, please have the correct border declaration pass,” he said.

Travellers are also encouraged to identify whether they are coming out of the hotspot area.

Mr Gollschewski then revealed 81 people had been turned around at the Queensland border from 1 am today. “I have no doubt that people were deliberately trying to get into the state. They did not have passes some of these people, or they had the incorrect pass knowing they should have had a hotspot pass,” he said.

Should anyone be caught breaching safety protocols, harsh penalties should be expected.

This recurrence decision comes amid thousands of people trying to cross the Queensland border before tough new restrictions come into force on travellers arriving from Greater Sydney.

This means Queenslanders coming from the city have until 1 am tomorrow to get home without needing to undergo hotel quarantine.

Provided that they make it back before the deadline, they will be able to spend their 14-day isolation period – and Christmas Day – at home.

(Image Source: 9 News)

The Hunt For Patient ‘Zero’, Experts Still Unclear About The Origin Of The Outbreak

The Hunt For Patient ‘Zero’, Experts Still Unclear About The Origin Of The Outbreak

Despite the number of cases escalating over the week, NSW experts are still not clear on how the coronavirus managed to breach into Sydney’s northern beaches. However, one theory emerged among the others as the state’s health minister said that it might have been spread via touch.

Health officials and personnel are working non-stop to map the spread of the virus. That said, according to Mr Brad Hazzard, the link between a case in hotel quarantine and the northern beaches is still unclear.

Contact tracers zeroed in on a woman who came to Sydney from the US on December 1 and was deemed as the source of the virus. As genome sequencing was conducted, it revealed a trace of the virus the woman was carrying is alike to the one in the northern beaches cluster.

However, the woman was in hotel quarantine and there was no precise explanation of how she would have infected anyone else.

As Mr Hazzard speculated “Did someone pick up a bag she put down? Perhaps, at the airport, where someone might have crossed over?”

He has previously described what tracers are searching for as a “missing link” in the virus transmission — patient zero of the latest outbreak. The state’s chief health officer has said finding that link might be a “challenge beyond us”.

When asked about a Daily Telegraph report revealing that thousands of international flight crew members and hundreds of diplomats have been able to isolate at home instead of mandatory hotel quarantine, Mr Hazzard pointed out that there was nothing that indicates those records to be connected to the new outbreak.

He elaborated that same issue in an interview with the media, saying that diplomats had regular check-ups to make sure they stayed in quarantine and got tested for COVID-19.

Then he added, diplomatic issues were primarily the responsibility of the federal government. “It hasn’t been a huge problem for us at this stage. Having said that, we are always potentially looking at the possible loopholes but we also have to understand that we live in a diplomatic world where the diplomats at a federal level have slightly different requirements.” Mr Hazzard said.

Fifteen New Recorded Cases In NSW, New Cases Halved Overnight Doesn’t Guarantee A Trend According To NSW Premier

New South Wales has now recorded 83 cases linked to the Northern Beaches cluster after the state saw 15 new cases in the last 24 hours.

However, according to NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, the exact source out of the outbreak is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian emphasized that today’s figures are a “pleasing” reduction from yesterday’s case number where 30 new infections were announced. On a positive note, the number of people coming forward for COVID-testing has surged to 38,000 over the last 24 hours.

“To date, every single case we’ve had to date has been linked to the Avalon cluster, and that’s how we want to keep it. Although obviously some venues outside of the Northern Beaches have been impacted and there are issues that health officials are going through today.” Ms Berejiklian said.

It has been recorded that five of these new cases have been linked to the Turramurra Salon For Hair in Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Another case has also been linked to the Rose of Australia Hotel in Erskineville.

This means that everyone present at that venue should be taking extra care as they are considered as close contacts.

According to Dr Chant, “If you were there on the evening of December 15 between 7 pm to 9 pm you are a close contact and need to get immediately tested and self-isolate, and can I thank all those who have already adhered to that or have responded to the message.”

In line with that, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro urged people to be sensible if they are travelling to parts of regional NSW. He emphasized that everyone should be mature, and keep in mind that you could cause some anxiety. Should symptoms persist, do not hesitate to come forward for testing.

He also added that people should change their travel plans and avoid visiting regional NSW until things are mitigated.

Although the number of new cases halved overnight, a day’s result does not guarantee a trend.

“Obviously, we have halved the number of cases overnight, but in a pandemic, there is a level of volatility, so we’ll closely monitor what happens obviously to 8 pm tonight and we’ll be making a final call on Wednesday morning,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Aussie COVID-19 cluster grows, restrictions reintroduced


Sydney [Australia], December 18 (ANI/Xinhua): An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Australian city of Sydney grew to 28 on Friday, with domestic border restrictions reintroduced for hotspot areas.

The cluster of cases appeared this week on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the State of New South Wales (NSW), and local residents were told to stay home for the next three days if possible.

Genomic testing revealed the strain of the virus originated overseas, likely in the United States. However, it was not known how it spread into Australia.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on all Sydneysiders to abide by officials’ advice, saying she was confident the outbreak could be contained in time for Christmas if protocols were followed.

“We do have the potential to get on top of it, but it does require hard work on the behalf of all of us,” Berejiklian said.

The new cases prompted other Australian states to tighten their border restrictions, reintroducing mandatory quarantine periods on arrivals from areas deemed high risk.

New restrictions were applied to those travelling from the Northern Beaches to other parts of the country, requiring them to get tested and self-isolate if they had been in the area since December 11.

The State of Western Australia went as far as to expand the requirements to anyone arriving from NSW.

The southern island State of Tasmania withdrew travel exemptions entirely for anyone who had been in the Northern Beaches or in one of several Sydney venues considered potential hotspots.

State leaders said the situation would be monitored closely and more severe restrictions would be considered if the number of cases increased to an unmanageable level.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that low virus numbers over the past months had led to an “avalanche” of complacency throughout the community.

“We need to have all of the community aware again that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic,” Hazzard said.

“There is no room for complacency. Until we have a vaccine there is no solution.”(ANI/Xinhua)



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Aussie COVID-19 cluster grows to 28, border restrictions reintroduced


SYDNEY, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Australian city of Sydney grew to 28 on Friday, with domestic border restrictions reintroduced for hotspot areas.

The cluster of cases appeared this week on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the State of New South Wales (NSW), and local residents were told to stay home for the next three days if possible.

Genomic testing revealed the strain of virus originated overseas, likely in the United States. However, it was not known how it spread into Australia.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on all Sydneysiders to abide by officials’ advice, saying she was confident the outbreak could be contained in time for Christmas if protocols were followed.

“We do have the potential to get on top of it, but it does require hard work on the behalf of all of us,” Berejiklian said.

The new cases prompted other Australian states to tighten their border restrictions, reintroducing mandatory quarantine periods on arrivals from areas deemed high risk.

New restrictions were applied to those traveling from the Northern Beaches to other parts of the country, requiring them to get tested and self-isolate if they had been in the area since Dec. 11.

The State of Western Australia went as far as to expand the requirements to anyone arriving from NSW.

The southern island State of Tasmania withdrew travel exemptions entirely for anyone who had been in the Northern Beaches or in one of several Sydney venues considered potential hotspots.

State leaders said the situation would be monitored closely and more severe restrictions would be considered if the number of cases increased to an unmanageable level.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that low virus numbers over the past months had led to an “avalanche” of complacency throughout the community.

“We need to have all of the community aware again that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic,” Hazzard said.

“There is no room for complacency. Until we have a vaccine there is no solution.”



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