Senior Victorians to be offered free public transport on trains and trams in March


Senior Victorians will be able to enjoy free public transport this month in a bid to encourage residents to get out to support regional tourism.

From March 21 to 28, seniors and carer card holders will have free transport on trains, buses, trams and regional V/Line services.

Due to the COVID pandemic and lockdown, the 2020 seniors week celebrations in Victoria were cancelled.

“Last year we weren’t encouraging people to get out and about,” Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan said.

Those who are eligible for the free transport must carry their Myki with them, but they will not be charged for touching on and off.

The eight-day free transport will go ahead as long as there are no COVID restrictions in place.

There will be another free travel week for seniors in October.

In Victoria, everyone who takes public transport must wear a fitted face mask.

“We are encouraging older Victorians and carers to enjoy all the fantastic sites our beautiful state has to offer,” Donnellan said.

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Victorian workers offered almost $2500 to pick fruit amid coronavirus staff shortage on farms


It said applications for “three planeloads” of foreign workers were under way.

The government estimates the cash incentive scheme for Victorian workers will cost $10 million, in addition to the $7.8 million it committed to the quarantine agreement for Pacific Islander workers struck with the Tasmanian government.

Victorian fruit growers will have to pay $2000 towards quarantine costs for each Pacific Islander worker under the latest scheme to attract seasonal staff. Credit:Justin McManus

Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said the cash offer would help give more people a better understanding of how their food was produced.

“We know we need more Australians on farms. We know that often when people end up on farms and they’re paid right they find it’s quite an enjoyable place to be,” she said.

“Compared to working on a production line inside a factory or in an office, you’re out in the beautiful fresh air and the elements.”

Ms Germano said it was dangerous for Australia to be entirely dependent on foreign workers to carry out work so crucial to its food production industry.

“There are lots of reasons why being solely reliant on the migration workforce is risky,” she said. “It comes down to the whim of immigration policies at any given time.”

Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano.

Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano. Credit:Jason South

The cash offer comes after the state government last year launched an advertising campaign to attract grey nomads, students and migrants to the industry.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the Pacific Islander program was important to the success of this year’s harvest, but it was no “silver bullet”.

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“We’re doing all that we can to help our farmers get their produce to market – but we need a national approach,” she said.

However, unions have long raised concerns that poor pay by some growers, physically taxing working conditions and dangers on farms are among factors that have dissuaded local workers from taking up jobs in the industry.

RMIT urban and regional planning expert Andrew Butt said a lack of good-quality housing in some regional and rural areas made it difficult to attract domestic workers.

“They’re pretty tight markets,” he said. “Often much tighter than parts of inner Melbourne would be.”

Associate Professor Butt said previous cash schemes designed to attract people to regional Australia had brought “muted” success.

Ms Germano agreed housing shortages presented a challenge, but said hostels that were largely empty could be used until longer-term “commercial solutions” were found.

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Seoul offered free COVID-19 tests for pets and soon found its first case in a lethargic, vomiting cat


Since the beginning of the outbreak, scattered reports of animals contracting the disease have raised fears that pets or farmed animals such as mink could become a reservoir for the disease, prompting widespread culling in infected mink farms.

The CDC, however, says that “based on the limited available information, the risk of animals spreading the COVID-19 virus to people is considered low,” while most animals that had contracted the virus had experienced mild illness and fully recovered.

“There is no evidence that viruses can spread to people or other animals from a pet’s skin, fur or hair,” it says.

Seoul’s city government said it would provide tests only to animals that showed symptoms such as fever or breathing difficulties after coming into contact with infected humans.

The kitten found positive last month was placed into quarantine at a nearby animal shelter but did not show any symptoms, and so after 14 days was released, local health authorities said.

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In an online briefing last week, disease control official Park Yoo-mi reminded people to keep their pets “at least two metres away from people and other animals when walking them.”

Research has shown that cats can spread the disease to other cats, at least in a laboratory setting.

Over the weekend, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said a troop of western lowland gorillas had made a full recovery after several had contracted the coronavirus, but in Pakistan officials said two 11-week-old white tiger cubs appear to have died of COVID-19 last month.

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Magpies’ Newman offered one-week AFLW ban


Collingwood AFLW recruit Aliesha Newman has been suspended for one week for a sling tackle on Carlton’s Vaomua Laloifi.

Newman was reported for the tackle in the fourth quarter of the Magpies’ win in Thursday night’s season opener.

The match review officer charged Newman with rough conduct and considered the incident careless conduct with medium impact and high contact which drew a one-match ban as a first offence.

Newman, a pacy forward who joined the Magpies from Melbourne in the trade period, is set to miss Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast.

Several reprimands were also handed out.

Collingwood skipper Brianna Davey and Carlton star and reigning AFLW best and fairest Madison Prespakis each received a reprimand for wrestling each other.

Gold Coast’s Jade Pregelj was offered the same penalty for tripping Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham.

Geelong’s Aasta O’Connor was charged with rough conduct (dangerous tackle) on North Melbourne’s Ashleigh Riddell and can also accept a reprimand.

GWS’ Elle Bennetts was reprimanded for striking Fremantle’s Hayley Miller, while Adelaide’s Eloise Jones received a reprimand – for rough conduct on West Coast’s Dana Hooker.



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Covid UK: Britons who have received their jab ‘will be offered a vaccine passport’ in trial


How the Government’s vaccine plan breaks down 

PHASE 1 (FEB 15 TARGET)

CARE HOME RESIDENTS – 300,000

CARE HOME WORKERS – 500,000

AGE 80+ – 3,300,000

HEALTHCARE WORKERS – 2,400,000

SOCIAL CARE WORKERS – 1,400,000

AGE 75-79 – 2,300,000

AGE 70-74 – 3,200,000

CLINICALLY EXTREMELY VULNERABLE (UNDER 70) – 1,200,000

PHASE 2 (SPRING)

65-69 2,900,000

AT-RISK UNDER 65 7,300,000

60-64 1,800,000

55-59 2,400,000

50-54 2,800,000

PHASE 3 (AUTUMN)

REST OF ADULT POPULATION 21,000,000 

Thousands of Britons who have already received their coronavirus jab will be offered a vaccine passport in a trial taking place this month after ministers flip-flopped over the controversial policy.

The passport, created by biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine, will be issued as a free app and will allow users to prove digitally if they have had their first or second jab – or no jab at all. 

Though the Department of Health said there were ‘no plans’ to introduce vaccine passports, the Government’s own science and research funding agency Innovate UK has already pumped £75,000 into the project.  

Mvine director Frank Joshi said the company, which had started working on the passports to demonstrate test results, later acquired more funding to switch into vaccination passporting. 

The Government-backed trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and is expected to last until March – right through the third national lockdown. 

However, the locations have yet to be agreed, according to the Telegraph.

The trial is expected to show how the passports can be used to help the NHS keep track of the number of people that have received their first or second jab. 

iProov boss Andrew Bud told the paper: ‘We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS.’

Both companies added that if the vaccine passports prove successful, the project could be rolled out to millions of people across the country.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.’

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were ‘not the plan’ while Boris Johnson’s vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi said they were ‘looking at the technology’. 

Mr Zahawi later told a Westminster Hall debate on Covid-19 inoculation there were ‘absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting’ and said ‘mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong’. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week also denied plans to implement passporting, telling the Spectator: ‘It’s not an area that we’re looking at.’ 

The policy has sparked concern that the passports could discriminate against people who must not be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Others fear it could keep non-vaccinated Britons under house arrest until they have a jab. 

It comes as No10 considers tightening the third national lockdown by imposing Chinese-style curfews, outdoor mask mandates and 10ft social distancing – as well as the closure of nurseries and limits on exercise. 

In other coronavirus developments:

  • Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey warned furlough is masking unemployment and the true rate could be 6.5 per cent not 4.9 per cent;
  • The government is facing more pressure to make the vaccination programme 24-hours and start giving more frontline workers jabs;
  • Matt Hancock has denied there is a national oxygen shortage as the strain on the NHS increases but admitted patients might have to be moved to where there are supplies; 
  • One in every three deaths in England and Wales was linked to coronavirus in the final days of 2020, official figures revealed today as a separate analysis claimed the virus was behind the sharpest rise in fatalities since 1940;
  • Downing Street has admitted pictures of the random contents in some free school meal food parcels are ‘completely unacceptable’ after the issue was highlighted by Marcus Rashford;  
  • Seven vaccination hubs have come into use, including London’s ExCeL and Birmingham’s Millennium Point;
  • Derbyshire Police has cancelled £200 fines for two women penalised for driving five miles to go for a walk;
  • Nearly a quarter of care home residents have received their first shot of Covid vaccine, with nearly 2.7million doses now administered across the UK;
  • Hospitals started rationing oxygen as it emerged that one in four coronavirus patients is under 55.

Moira Edwards receives an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine mass vaccination centre that has been set up in Epsom Race Course in Surrey

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were 'not the plan' while Boris Johnson's vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi (pictured in Parliament) said they were 'looking at the technology'

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were ‘not the plan’ while Boris Johnson’s vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi (pictured in Parliament) said they were ‘looking at the technology’

 

Mvine director and founder Frank Joshi

iProov boss Andrew Bud

Mvine director and founder Frank Joshi (left) said the company started working on the passports to demonstrate test results but acquired more funding to switch into vaccination passports. iProov boss Andrew Bud (right) said: ‘We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS.’

How could Boris Johnson tighten the lockdown rules in England?

Boris Johnson is said to be considering tightening the coronavirus lockdown rules in England amid a surge in cases. 

Here are some of the options Mr Johnson could consider: 

Curbs on click and collect

At the moment non-essential shops are allowed to offer click and collect services but there are concerns that this still results in too much interaction between different households. The Government could opt to ban non-essential shops from offering click and collect services, restricting it to just supermarkets and other essential shops. Nicola Sturgeon said today she is considering such a move in Scotland. 

Takeaways

Restaurants are not allowed to physically open during lockdown but they are allowed to offer takeaway food. However, there are rising worries that picking up takeaway food is also leading to too many households mixing while they wait for food to be prepared. Rules could therefore be tightened to stop people waiting inside restaurants. Ms Sturgeon also said this is under consideration in Scotland.  

Closing more work places

All workers who can work from home have already been instructed to do so. But rising case rates could prompt ministers to close workplaces which cannot shift to home working. It is thought estate agents and construction sites could be targeted with orders to shut down in a move which could have devastating consequences for jobs and the economy.

Bigger fines

The Government is stepping up its efforts to enforce the current rules, with the police now more likely than ever before to hand out fines to rule breakers. The value of the fine could be increased to act as a bigger deterrent.

Meanwhile, another 165,000 vaccines were rolled out yesterday, according to official figures that come amid mounting pressure on No10 to adopt a 24/7 roll-out. 

With the successful roll-out of a jab the Government’s only hope of ever easing the endless cycle of lockdowns, pressure is mounting on Mr Johnson to pull out all the stops to make sure the NHS operation works.

And the inoculation drive – the biggest in British history – has already started to pick up pace, following the approval of Oxford’s game-changing jab. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel today revealed 2.43million people have now had their first dose, up from 2.29m yesterday. Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total, with 2.8million shots administered in total. 

But the daily vaccination figure needs to double if the Prime Minister has any chance of delivering on his pledge to vaccinate all 13.9million Britons in the top four priority groups by February 15.

With just 34 days left to deliver on his lockdown-ending promise, around 11.5million over-70s, NHS workers, care home residents and workers, and adults with underlying conditions still need to be vaccinated — the equivalent of around 340,000 a day.

Pressure is mounting on the Government to dish out coronavirus vaccines 24/7, with Labour saying No10 ‘must deliver for the British people’ because the public ‘have sacrificed so much’. 

Ministers have claimed there was ‘no clamour’ for appointments beyond 8pm. But Nicola Sturgeon today hinted Scotland could adopt a round-the-clock programme, if it would ‘help us get through them faster’.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Commons today that military personnel can ‘do more to assist’, as he suggested that the hold-up was due to a lack of stock and problems in the supply chain.

He added: ‘I could deploy all 100,000 soldiers tomorrow ready to vaccinate but if the stock isn’t there then we’ll have people not… we could employ them better off.

‘We are very, very clear that we can do more to assist, the Prime Minister knows that and the Prime Minister has indicated that we will be called on as the NHS requires it.’

Announcing the new vaccine figures in tonight’s Downing Street press conference, Ms Patel said vaccination centres are following Covid-secure guidelines to ensure they are safe for staff and visitors receiving jabs.

She said: ‘Cubicles are spaced out and we’re working with PHE and following all the guidance in terms of the safety and protective measures that are required for the staff in those centres but also for the individuals coming in for immunisation.’

Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London, added: ‘We have absolutely rigid standards of infection prevention control in all of these vaccine centres.’

Ms Patel also said the Government is looking at prioritising frontline workers for the coronavirus vaccine once the most vulnerable groups have received the jab.

She added: ‘We are looking at those who are on the front line such as police officers, teachers and others who are naturally at occupational risk of coming in contact with the virus. 

‘We are absolutely working to make sure that we can get the vaccine to them but that means working with the JCVI.’

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner today piled more pressure on Downing Street to make the vaccination scheme operate round-the-clock.

Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed 2.43million people have now had their first dose, up from 2.29m yesterday. Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total

Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed 2.43million people have now had their first dose, up from 2.29m yesterday. Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total 

Nicola Sturgeon once again beat Mr Johnson to the punch by announcing Scotland was drawing up plans to dispense vaccines day and night, but she conceded that supplies were still 'relatively limited'.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Army can 'do more to assist'

Nicola Sturgeon once again beat Mr Johnson to the punch by announcing Scotland was drawing up plans to dispense vaccines day and night, but she conceded that supplies were still ‘relatively limited’.  Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Army can ‘do more to assist’

Members of the public arrive to receive their injection of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Centre for Life in Times Square, Newcastle

Members of the public arrive to receive their injection of a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at the Centre for Life in Times Square, Newcastle

Pensioners ‘are being asked to travel from Greater Manchester to Birmingham, Telford and Newcastle for their vaccinations’

Pensioners are being told to travel from Greater Manchester to vaccine sites in Telford, Macclesfield, Halifax and Newcastle to get their Covid jabs, according to local reports.  

Some of the most vulnerable people who are eligible to receive the vaccine have been referred to hubs outside of Greater Manchester as Britain’s mass inoculation drive continues.   

Numerous people have told the Manchester Evening News that they have been invited to travel across the country in order to receive it. 

In some cases patients have received two invitations – one from their local healthcare provider and one from teams rolling out the jab at one of seven national vaccination centres.

NHS bosses said people do not need to accept invitations to be vaccinated at the larger centres and ‘can instead be jabbed at one of their local vaccination centres in the coming weeks’. 

She said: ‘The British people have sacrificed so much, now the Government must deliver for the British people. The Prime Minister needs to use this lockdown to develop a round-the-clock vaccine programme, 24-hours a day, 7 days-a-week.’ 

The aim is for every Brit over the age of 50 to be offered a Covid jab by the end of April. 

But doubts have been raised about the target with numbers standing at around 2.8million as of yesterday, and there are also calls for frontline workers such as teachers and police officers to be pushed up the priority list.  

Ms Sturgeon was asked about implementing a 24-hour vaccination programme today as she confirmed that by Monday a total of 175,942 had received their first dose of vaccine.

She said: ‘We will look at anything and everything that allows us to get this vaccination programme done as quickly as possible’. 

Ms Sturgeon said supplies of the vaccine were still ‘relatively limited’, and that with the focus currently on getting jabs to care home residents and those aged over 80, these groups did ‘not lend themselves to out-of-hours vaccination’. 

Responding to John Healey, the Defence Secretary told the Commons: ‘We are of course, as he knows, incredibly keen and eager to offer whatever assistance we can.’

Mr Wallace added: ‘And of course, all members of the armed forces personnel are able to help the Government in its resilience and its defence – that is obviously the purpose of their job.’

On vaccinations, he continued: ‘Of course, I could deploy all 100,000 soldiers tomorrow ready to vaccinate but if the stock isn’t there then we’ll have people not… we could employ them better off.

‘So we are very, very keen in the Government, the Prime Minister is determined, to make sure that we match both the pace of stock delivery but also the pace of delivery into people’s arms – the jabbing.  

‘And we are very, very clear that we can do more to assist, the Prime Minister knows that and the Prime Minister has indicated that we will be called on as the NHS requires it.’

It came after desperate shift workers and teachers came forward today to say they would happily come day or night to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

Upset workers took to social media to blast the Prime Minister’s claim there was ‘no clamour’ for nighttime jabs.

One wrote: ‘I work shifts. I’m awake when most of the country is asleep. So, happy to have my vaccine anytime.’  

Desperate shift workers and teachers have come forward to say they would happily come day or night to get the coronavirus vaccine after Boris Johnson insisted there is no 'clamour' for appointments after 8pm

Desperate shift workers and teachers have come forward to say they would happily come day or night to get the coronavirus vaccine after Boris Johnson insisted there is no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm

An aerial drone shows Tennis and Football Centre at the Etihad campus in Manchester, which is being used as a mass Covid vaccination centre

An aerial drone shows Tennis and Football Centre at the Etihad campus in Manchester, which is being used as a mass Covid vaccination centre

Dozens of elderly people queue outside Hornchurch library in the London Borough of Havering for their Covid-19 vaccine

Dozens of elderly people queue outside Hornchurch library in the London Borough of Havering for their Covid-19 vaccine

Minister have promised o dish out 2million jabs a week by the end of January through 2,700 centres dotted across the country. The map shows the sites that are currently up and running, including seven mass centres (green), more than 100 hospitals (blue), as well as GP practices and pharmacies (purple)

Minister have promised o dish out 2million jabs a week by the end of January through 2,700 centres dotted across the country. The map shows the sites that are currently up and running, including seven mass centres (green), more than 100 hospitals (blue), as well as GP practices and pharmacies (purple)

Desperate teachers and shift workers say they would ‘come day or night’ to get vaccine

Desperate shift workers and teachers have come forward to say they would happily come day or night to get the coronavirus vaccine after Boris Johnson insisted there is no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm.  

Mr Johnson is facing growing pressure to launch round-the-clock vaccinations as ministers ‘race against time’ to get jabs in arms.

Labour has demanded the Government ‘sorts out’ a 24/7 operation despite No10’s claims there is no demand for evening appointments.  

Upset workers took to social media to blast the Prime Minister’s claim.

One wrote: ‘I work shifts. I’m awake when most of the country is asleep. So, happy to have my vaccine anytime.’ 

Another user, a teacher, said: ‘If this would speed things up and I’d not be taking a vaccine from someone more vulnerable I’d happily go anytime of day or night.

‘I’m a 60-year-old teacher working in school and scared for myself and my older vulnerable husband. Of course I’d go!’ 

Another Twitter user said: ‘I’d clamour at anytime of night! As a teacher I’m still in school during the day looking after key worker children so would love a vaccine and after 8pm would be perfect!

‘I’m pretty sure the rest of staff would agree. Sign us up!’

And another wrote: ‘They are doing this in New York and my teacher friends who are the same age as me (35) got their vaccine today. I’m a teacher also and absolutely no sign of a vaccine for me yet. 

‘I would take any vaccine at anytime to get back into the classroom!’ 

Tory MPs are urging ministers to ‘look carefully’ at whether the hours can be extended while some have said there is ‘no excuse why it shouldn’t be 24/7’.

The PM has promised that around 13million of the most vulnerable Britons will be vaccinated by mid-February.  

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘I work shifts so 9-5 time isn’t good for me, I would have the vaccine anytime.’ 

Another user, a teacher, said: ‘If this would speed things up and I’d not be taking a vaccine from someone more vulnerable I’d happily go anytime of day or night.

‘I’m a 60-year-old teacher working in school and scared for myself and my older vulnerable husband. Of course I’d go!’ 

Another Twitter user said: ‘I’d clamour at anytime of night! As a teacher I’m still in school during the day looking after key worker children so would love a vaccine and after 8pm would be perfect!

‘I’m pretty sure the rest of staff would agree. Sign us up!’

And another wrote: ‘They are doing this in New York and my teacher friends who are the same age as me (35) got their vaccine today. I’m a teacher also and absolutely no sign of a vaccine for me yet. 

‘I would take any vaccine at anytime to get back into the classroom!’ 

Tory MPs are urging ministers to ‘look carefully’ at whether the hours can be extended while some have said there is ‘no excuse why it shouldn’t be 24/7’. 

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘I work shifts so 9-5 time isn’t good for me, I would have the vaccine anytime.’

But while Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night that the NHS will would do ‘whatever it takes’, he played down the prospect of a round-the clock operation, saying people will prefer to get jabs in the day.

And in the Commons, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it will not happen in the first phase, where the four most vulnerable groups are being targeted, because staff would end up ‘standing around waiting’. 

‘If we were to go to a 24-hour regime, it would be much harder to target the vaccine at those four cohorts,’ he said. 

‘Obviously, when we have limited vaccine volume, we do not want staff standing around waiting for people in centres that are open 24 hours. 

‘Also, many of those people are over 80, and we are going into care homes to vaccinate the residents of those homes. 

‘The decision to go from 8am to 8pm was made because we want to ensure that there is an even spread and very close targeting.’  

Former minister Steve Baker, a leader of the lockdown-sceptic CRG group of Tory MPs, told MailOnline the Government must ‘look carefully’ at extending the hours.

‘The sooner the vulnerable are vaccinated, the sooner we can end these destructive cycles of lockdowns and restrictions,’ he said. 

‘So the Government should look closely at all the practical problems of 24/7 operation and press forward with it if it would help meet necessary goals.’ 

Tory MP Henry Smith said the vaccine rollout seemed to be going well so far, adding: ‘There is no excuse why it shouldn’t be 24/7. This is a national emergency and every hour lost is damaging to our economy and our future and our finances and our health. 

‘We cannot lose a moment. I steer away from making international comparisons… but the fact that Israel has been able to vaccinate most of the population – it could be done faster.’ 

Another Tory MP suggested to MailOnline that the Government should soon look at extending opening hours to 6am and 10pm to increase the daily number of jabs.  

But they said ‘supply isn’t coming from the manufacturers in the quantities needed yet’ to move to extended opening hours. 

At a Downing Street briefing last night, Mr Hancock was asked about comments from the Prime Minister’s spokesman that there was not a ‘clamour’ for a 24/7 vaccination model.

He said: ‘We’ll do this if it’s needed, absolutely we will do whatever it takes to get this vaccine rolled out as fast as possible.

‘The thing is that if both the person doing the vaccination and the person being vaccinated would both prefer for that to happen in the middle of the day, rather than the middle of the night, then that’s probably when we should do it.’

He said there would be some groups where a 24/7 model may be the best approach but added: ‘Our attitude on the vaccine rollout is whatever it takes to do this as fast and safely possible.’

NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis said that working through the day was the ‘most efficient’ use of staff and volunteers. 

Professor Powis added: ‘I’m sure for the vast majority of people they would prefer to have their vaccine during the day.

‘And the best use of our staff and volunteers… working through the day is the most efficient way of delivering the most vaccine.’

Mask flouters on tubes, buses and trains WILL be fined: Police chief’s warning – as Priti Patel warns of get-tough regime with lock-down rule breakers

Police tonight warned that people caught not wearing a face mask on public transport will be fined as Priti Patel backed an even tougher  crackdown on lockdown rule-breakers. 

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said officers would no longer ‘waste time’ trying to reason with lockdown sceptics as deaths from the latest deadly wave of coronavirus continue to soar. 

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, he gave examples of shocking ‘irresponsible behaviour’ from people not heeding warnings – even with more than 1,200 people dying every day.

They included a £30-per-head boat party in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people, a Surrey house party whose host tried to claim it was a business event and a minibus full of people from different households caught travelling from Cheltenham into Wales for a walk.

Standing beside Mr Hewitt, the Home Secretary said a minority of the public are ‘putting the health of the nation at risk’ as she backed the tougher police approach to lockdown rules.

She warned that officers are moving more quickly to issuing fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations, with nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices issued across the UK since March. 

It comes as No10 considers imposing Chinese-style outdoor mask mandates, curfews and 10ft social distancing to tighten up the shutdown amid pressure from scientists and Sir Keir Starmer to clamp down harder.  

Mr Hewitt said: ‘Organising parties or other large gatherings is dangerous, selfish and totally irresponsible in light of the current threat that we face. Organisers will be fined. But so too will the people who choose to attend.

‘Not wearing a face covering on a bus or a train is dangerous. It risks the lives of other travellers including those critical workers who must continue to use public transport to do their important work. So on those systems, unless you are exempt, you can expect a fine.’

He urged people to take personal responsibility for their actions, adding: ‘We will talk to people and we will explain. But I think the rules are clear enough for people to understand, we are 10 months into this process.’ 

Ms Patel said ‘far too often’ police officers were risking their health and lives by ‘coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe’. She added: ‘We are now at a critical stage in our battle against this virus.

‘To protect those that you care about, and the capacity of our hospitals to protect us all, please stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.’ 

Ms Patel insisted the coronavirus rules that people need to follow are clear.

Asked why the regulations were not as tough as the first lockdown despite the parlous situation faced by the NHS, the Home Secretary told a Downing Street press conference: ‘The rules are actually very simple and clear.

‘We are meant to stay at home and only leave home for a very, very limited number of reasons.’

Outdoor recreation was permitted ‘in a very, very restricted and limited way, staying local’. She added that police had set out ‘the type of egregious breaches that we will clamp down on’. 

Priti Patel backed a tough crackdown on rule-breakers during the third national lockdown

National Police Chiefs' Council chairman Martin Hewitt blasted rule-breakers who have 'no regard' for the safety of others as he outlined some of the situations cops have had to face

Priti Patel backed a tough crackdown on rule-breakers during the third national lockdown. Police chief Martin Hewitt blasted rule-breakers who have ‘no regard’ for the safety of others as he outlined some of the situations cops have had to face

Boris Johnson (pictured taking Cabinet today) is under pressure from members of the Sage scientific advisory panel to increase the social distancing gap

Boris Johnson (pictured taking Cabinet today) is under pressure from members of the Sage scientific advisory panel to increase the social distancing gap

Armed police were on duty at Waterloo Station today as the government considers tightening the lockdown rules again

Armed police were on duty at Waterloo Station today as the government considers tightening the lockdown rules again

What supermarket regulations are now in place and when did they change?

Sainsbury’s

Facemasks are mandatory in store, unless the shopper is medically exempt from wearing them. Guards at the entrance enforce the rules. 

There are also plastic safety screens, hand sanitiser and signs urging customers to socially distance.

The store also has specially-timed slots for elderly or vulnerable people to buy their goods.

Today the store told MailOnline insisted that guards had been present throughout the pandemic but more had been sent to stores that ‘needed extra help’. 

Morrisons 

Morrisons have told guards to refuse entry to shoppers who have no medical reason for not wearing a facemask. 

Some stores have had guards throughout the pandemic but these were rolled out to all locations as of today.  

They also have a specialist next-day delivery service for those who cannot get to a shop in person.

The shop also has an NHS priority time the key workers can go in to buy food. 

Tesco 

Tesco today joined Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in banning customers without masks and bringing in security guards to enforce the rules. 

Today the store told MailOnline security guards had attended stores throughout the pandemic but more had now been recruited. 

It also has priority hours for key workers as well as limits on some items for delivery.

Marks & Spencer

M&S has hand sanitising as well as one-way systems in place and a facemask rule.

Larger shops have restricted the purchase of non-essential goods.

There is also a booking process to let people reserve a slot instore to go shopping. MailOnline has contacted M&S, and all the stores listed below, for their current arrangements as well as if and when they changed. 

Asda

Asda, like others, has a rule for facemasks unless there is a medical exemption announced by the customer.

They also have an app that lets shoppers wait in a digital queue in their cars for a slot to go instore. 

Asda also say they have put a protective film on basket and trolley grips that kills bacteria.

Waitrose

Waitrose says facemasks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.

Marshals are at the entrances to its stores to check people are wearing mask and are shopping alone.

Floor-markers help customers to follow social distancing while people are asked to keep two metres in queues. 

Earlier Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick today insisted officers would come to the aid of supermarket staff if shoppers became ‘aggressive’ after being told to wear a mask after police warned they did not have enough manpower to enforce the rules. 

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and M&S have now reintroduced bouncers at the door in all stores to ensure customers are wearing face coverings and socially distancing. 

Meanwhile, John Lewis today announced it would scrap click and collect for new orders from tomorrow, although it will still run at Waitrose for food orders.  

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth this morning warned that there were not enough officers to ‘stand in every store’ and it was up to the supermarkets themselves to enforce the rules. 

But speaking later, Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when they were told they must wear a face covering. She also said it was ‘preposterous’ people couldn’t know rules as vowed to continue wider crackdown. 

Bouncers were in place at the start of the first lockdown in March to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, but began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly ‘lax’ attitude from shoppers who were increasingly seen maskless. 

But as alarm bells were sounded by Downing Street and scientists warned that shops were contributing to the rise in cases, the Big Four supermarkets today returned to the previous, stricter arrangement.     

Mr Booth said officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

It came as Boris Johnson gathered his Cabinet after warning he could further strengthen the restrictions if people continued flouting the law – as ministers defended his controversial decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park, seven miles from Downing Street. 

Meanwhile, today’s mask crackdown ran into problems as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules, despite the vast majority complying with them. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted today: ‘Don’t get caught out when you’re at the supermarket — remember always to take a face mask with you when you’re leaving your home. Wear it on the way to the shop and in the queue as well. We need to be doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.’

Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.

One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.

The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I’ve come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it’s a good thing that they are enforcing this.’

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.’

As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask.  

Shoppers were pictured without face masks today at a series of supermarkets, including Asda, Morrisons and Tesco in London, Leeds and Swindon. 

Supermarkets may be the most common place where people in England are exposed to the coronavirus, official data suggests. 

When asked about the crackdown, a shopper at a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London said: ‘It’s about time. 

A maskless shopper seen today in a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys, said: 'I had a mask with me but simply forgot'

A maskless shopper seen today in a Morrisons in Peckham, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys, said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask (left) and another at an Asda in Swindon (right). It is not clear if the customers pictured have valid medical exemptions

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. It is not clear if the customer on the pictured had a medical exemption

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. There are various exemptions from having to wear a face mask – it is unclear if any of these apply to the customer seen on the left 

A Morrisons customer posted on social media to complain about being allowed into a store in Colwyn Bay for failing to wear a mask

A customer leaving a store in London

A Morrisons customer posted on social media to complain about being allowed into a store in Colwyn Bay for failing to wear a mask (left). Pictured on the right is a customer leaving a store in London 

‘A lot of people are going to supermarkets and simply ignoring the rules. I don’t know why it’s taken Morrisons this long to start enforcing this rule.

‘We’re living in very difficult times and we’ve all got to pull together to beat this virus.’

A second, who refused to give her name, did not have a mask covering her nose. She said: ‘What’s the problem I’ve got a mask on haven’t I?

‘I find it difficult to breathe when I’ve got a mask on and sometimes get a rash.

‘I think it’s good to enforce the rule but they’ve got to understand that for some people, masks are very uncomfortable.’ 

The store’s security guard, who did not want to give his name, said: ‘We’ve been given strict instructions about masks. If you’ve not got one on, you’re not getting in. It’s as simple as that.’

The security guard added that until today, they had not been challenging customers who were without masks.

He added: ‘It wasn’t our responsibility to enforce it and we were told to call the police, which we never did. 

‘This is going to create more problems for us because my concern is that some people will not want to wear a mask and will fight with us over it. So far, we’ve not had many problems.’

Despite several instances of rule-breaking, most shoppers at supermarkets visited by MailOnline today were wearing masks. 

During the first shutdown, supermarkets installed bouncers at store entrances to challenge rule-breakers and created in-store one-way systems to help people socially distance. 

MailOnline has asked all major supermarkets if they plan to follow Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in reintroducing bouncers.   

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth 

A security guard on duty today at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance

A security guard on duty today at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance 

A security guard speaks to customers entering a Sainsbury's store in Swindon today on day one of the new mask crackdown

A security guard speaks to customers entering a Sainsbury’s store in Swindon today on day one of the new mask crackdown 

Sainsbury's CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures 

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

What are the government’s rules on taking exercise? 

You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. 

This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. 

Personal training can continue one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse this morning said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops, but measures imposed and enforced by owners would be effective in most cases.

Brian Booth, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

Mr Booth also criticised the current regulations as ‘woolly’, saying they left too many ‘loose ends’ which ‘cheesed-off’ officers had to interpret for themselves. 

He suggested that the much-publicised fining of two walkers in Derbyshire was correct according to the guidance. 

‘An officer issued a ticket in the spirit it was written,’ told the Today programme. Normally in law, when you have a new law it is disputed and goes to the court where it is argued and becomes case law. 

‘But we don’t have time for that, so what we need is a sound basis in law and we need it now, rather than leaving loose ends.’ 

It came as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ that people would not know the Covid rules, and vowed to continue fining lawbreakers.

Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. 

‘We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’ 

Ms Dick said today that police will move ‘swiftly’ to fine people who blatantly ignore coronavirus lockdown rules and said officers in London had issued more than 300 fixed penalty notices in the space of 24 hours for ‘flagrant’ violations of the regulations.

Dame Cressida said her officers would be prepared to assist supermarket staff if customers became ‘obstructive and aggressive’ when they were told they must wear a face covering. 

And in a veiled criticism of the PM’s Olympic Park bike ride Dame Cressida Dick said: ‘For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door’, adding: ‘The public are looking to all of us as role models’. 

Ministers have warned that tougher lockdown rules could be introduced to stem a rise in cases.  

Britons can go on 70 mile bike rides but only sit on park benches ‘for a short pause’, should think carefully about meeting a friend for a coffee while walking and must never go to the supermarket without a mask, they said today.

Mr Malthouse also accused the public of ‘searching for the loopholes in the law’ by flouting the third national lockdown – comparing it to pubs serving scotch eggs to stay open last year – and insisted that it is the police’s job to scrutinise where people are going and who they are meeting outdoors.

Amid widespread confusion about whether people are allowed to sit on park benches during their daily exercise, No10 sources also told MailOnline a ‘short pause’ during the course of exercise would be ‘reasonable’. However, they stressed it would be unlawful to go out ‘just to sit in public’. 

Carrie Symonds ‘is definitely behind’ Boris’s outburst against the ‘demented’ Chinese’: Tories rage against PM’s fiancée – who has campaigned against selling Pangolin ‘sex aid’ meat – after Johnson said it was to blame for Covid 

Former Tory aides told MailOnline that Carrie was 'definitely' behind Mr Johnson's conservation push, pointing out he rarely talked about such issues before they were linked

Former Tory aides told MailOnline that Carrie was ‘definitely’ behind Mr Johnson’s conservation push, pointing out he rarely talked about such issues before they were linked

Boris Johnson has come under fire from his own party for publicly shaming China’s use of traditional medicine and blaming the ‘demented’ practice of harvesting pangolin scales for causing coronavirus.

Conservative insiders detected the Prime Minister’s fiancée Carrie Symonds’ influence in his incendiary remarks, which has sparked a furious row with Beijing.

In an environmental speech to world leaders yesterday Mr Johnson tore into people who ‘grind up the scales of a pangolin’ in a bid to become more ‘potent’ – a thinly veiled attack on Chinese remedies. 

Ms Symonds has been vocal in her opposition to wet markets, where the animals are sold, gaining praise from Peta as it announced her as one of its most influential activists of 2020

Former Tory aides told MailOnline she was ‘definitely’ behind Mr Johnson’s conservation push and are growing concerned that her enthusiasm for such issues are eating up too much of the Government’s bandwidth at the expense of other policy areas.

One Tory insider said: ‘When the f*** was he talking about the environment before he got with her? I’ve never seen Boris talk about the environment. 

‘It’s also a tangential issue. It is completely lacking any political antennae. it is not mission critical. This government should be about the public’s agenda, not Carrie’s agenda.’ 

The Tory said there was a ‘time and a place’ to talk about conservation issues, and this was ‘not it’.   

Mr Johnson made the remarks in a virtual speech to the One Planet Summit, hosted by France’s President Macron, citing the illegal trade in the scaly anteater-like creatures.

They are widely used in Chinese medicine and their trafficking has been blamed for transmitting the virus from bats found in the wild to humans.

The first documented cases of the Covid-19 were in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with a wet market trading in exotic animals being seen as the probable source. 

Mr Johnson’s attack on China was followed today by a broadside by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over the treatment of the Uighur minority.  

Thank you for reading this post regarding the latest national news items published as “Covid UK: Britons who have received their jab ‘will be offered a vaccine passport’ in trial”. This story was presented by MyLocalPages as part of our Australian news services.

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Mum finds daughter, 9, collapsed after stranger offered her a ‘red pill’


Anja experienced every mother’s worst nightmare when she found her little girl collapsed in the hallway, after a stranger forced her to eat a “red pill”.

A girl fainted after being forced to eat a “red tablet” as an evil stranger threatened to harm her mum, according to reports.

Nine-year-old Melina, of Aschersleben, Germany, said the suspect approached her from behind as she was building a snowman in her front garden on Monday afternoon, according to reports by The Sun.

Cops said the stranger had forced Melina to eat the pill by threatening her mum if she refused.

The nine-year-old pretended to chew the tablet, which looked like a sugary sweet, but immediately fell ill, according to reports.

“I went to the bush, spat it out. Then I got a little dizzy,” she told RTL.

Melina collapsed in the hallway as she entered her parents house.

Her mum Anja found the girl lying next to a pool of vomit, according to local media reports.

Melina was very pale and her mum couldn’t pick her up so a doctor was called and the nine-year-old was rushed to hospital.

Melina started to feel better during the journey but tests were carried out at the hospital to try and identify what the substance was.

Relieved mum Anja is thankful that Melina spat out the tablet as she feared for her daughter’s life.

“She took this tablet because she was afraid for me,” Anja said.

Forensic experts are working at the scene to try and identify the suspect.

Cops are working with the nine-year-old to try and create an image of the suspect which will be shared with residents in the town.

A police spokesperson said: “The fainting could be a symptom of poisoning. The results of the investigations are still pending. The traces secured at the crime scene are currently being evaluated.”

Cops are investigating suspicions of coercion and serious bodily harm.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission

Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and reading this news release involving National and VIC news and updates named “Mum finds daughter, 9, collapsed after stranger offered her a ‘red pill’”. This post was shared by MyLocalPages as part of our local news services.

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Biden offered Atlanta mayor position in his Cabinet, she declined: report


President-elect reportedly asked Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to serve in his Cabinet, but the Democrat turned down the offer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing Rashad Taylor, Bottoms’ senior adviser, reported that the mayor is focused on the people of her city and “respectfully declined” the offer.

Bottoms and the Biden transition team did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News early Monday. It was not immediately clear what position Bottoms was offered.

Bottoms, who is a Black woman, made national news earlier this year as she clashed with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over whether she had the authority to mandate that masks be worn in Georgia’s largest city.

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Last month, Bottoms spoke about the Georgia runoff election and told CNN President Trump would “eat his own children” to advance his agenda.

The Associated Press contributed to this repport



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Alcoa’s Portland smelter offered $76m to secure power grid


The owner of Victoria’s Portland aluminium smelter says it is encouraged by a $76 million federal government offer to support the plant’s viability and ensure the stability of the state’s energy grid.

US giant Alcoa and its ASX-listed joint-venture partner Alumina Ltd have been in talks with state and federal governments to secure the aluminium smelter’s future beyond the expiry of its $240 million in taxpayer subsidies next year.

Alcoa’s Portland smelter is losing money and risks closure.Credit:John Woudstra

In a move welcomed by Alcoa and union officials, the Morrison government on Monday said it would guarantee four years of payments for the smelter – which uses 10 per cent of the state’s electricity – to power down at times of soaring demand, such as sweltering periods in summer when millions of households switch on their air-conditioners all at once, placing strain on the grid.

The funding will guarantee the smelter receives revenue of up to $76.8 million to 2024-25 under the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) scheme, which is used to reduce its energy usage when the supply-demand balance was tight.



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Skilled pub staff offered $1000 sign-on bonuses amid crippling labour shortage


“That would incentivise people to get off the couch and come do their 15 or 20 hours a week,” he said.

“It’s that top-up staff that no one can seem to find …. which would normally be from that pool of international backpackers and students, and we don’t have any.”

As stir-crazy Melburnians rush back to venues and restrictions continue to ease, Mr Canny said industry figures had estimated the demand for staff, particularly chefs and middle management, could drive up some wages by as much as 20 per cent.

“In desperate times, you do desperate things,” Mr Canny said. “Some operators will see overpaying as a way of survival, getting through, filling rosters and being able to give people time off.

“Venues wouldn’t be able to absorb that [cost]… you could see prices forced up, absolutely.”

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Australian Venue Co., which operates more than 150 bars around Australia, has for the first time begun offering sign-on bonuses on a sliding scale up to $1000 in an effort to attract skilled workers.

“There’s only a couple fish swimming around in what is a pretty big pond at the minute,” general manager of human resources Rachel Checinski said.

“It was an easy decision because we could lose a lot more by not doing it. It’s a small price to pay for actually being able to open and have the revenue.”

Ms Checinski said about a quarter of staff before the pandemic were visa holders. In the absence of JobKeeper, the company has paid more than 60 of these workers from its own pocket to keep them in the country in anticipation of reopening.

While Mr Canny highlighted the problem of finding “top-up” staff, Ms Checinski said Australian Venue Co. could “get the bodies – it’s the experienced bodies that’s the struggle”.

A nationwide survey of members from the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association this year showed chefs were the most difficult positions to fill.

Only one in 10 businesses found hiring staff easier this year compared to last year, despite the higher unemployment rate.

Chief executive Wes Lambert said tweaks to JobSeeker allowing people to work shifts in hospitality would help, but venues would still be left short.

“The international labour that restaurants rely on so heavily, probably more so than pubs and clubs, just isn’t there, especially for skilled workers,” he said.

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Figures provided to The Sunday Age and Sun-Herald by Deloitte Access Economics showed Victoria’s hospitality industry employed about 54,000 people, including those on JobKeeper, to September this year. This is down on the 76,000 employed in 2019.

University of Melbourne professor of economics Jeff Borland said the worker shortage would put upward pressure on wages. “And that may not be a bad thing because you’ve got to remember we’ve been through four or five years where we’ve seen a series of major cases of underpayment of workers in accommodation and hospitality, which I think is to do with the fact there has been this big and available supply of workers to employers,” Professor Borland said.

According to the Deloitte data, Victoria’s hospitality worker shortage is more acute than in the other states and territories.

Job ads for hospitality staff are rising sharply and accounted for more then 2.6 per cent of the total Victorian jobs advertised in October, when onerous restrictions were still in place.

The averaged-out figure for the rest of Australia, where fewer restrictions were in place, was about 2.2 per cent.

The state’s fruit and vegetable industry, which leans on foreign workers for picking and packing, is facing a similar labour crisis. The Victorian government has launched an advertising campaign targeting school leavers, international students, migrant communities and “grey nomads” to spend the summer working on farms.

Mr Canny of the AHA said his industry was talking to multiple levels of government about ways to attract people to hospitality. This included opening up faster and easier pathways to permanent residency, he said.

But with international travel off the menu for the foreseeable future, and thousands of Australians on waiting lists to get home, it could be some time before the hospitality sector gets the workers it needs.

“We’re in survival mode,” Mr Canny said. “There is still the possibility of them coming in and doing the 14-day quarantine program. We’d like to see that happen sooner rather than later.”

Ruben Rodriguez and Maddie Harvey have been working at Harlow bar, Richmond, since graduating from a three-day course about a month ago.

Ms Harvey, 19, who is studying arts at university, had been out of work since finishing high school. Mr Rodriguez, 31, with a degree in computer science, had also found getting a job during the pandemic near impossible.

“I was sitting at my local and the owners there said it was really difficult to find workers because the backpackers aren’t here. When they said that, I thought about getting my RSA [Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate]. Then it was all pretty quick,” Mr Rodriguez said.

While they only started weeks ago at the Richmond bar, there are already at least five employees newer than they are.

“Even just today I’ve met new staff,” Ms Harvey said.

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Christian Porter says new bill would see casual workers offered permanent employment



Posted

December 07, 2020 15:02:47

The Federal government announced details of its proposed overhaul of industrial relations legislation. The bill includes changes that would force businesses to offer casual workers a permeant position if they worked regular hours for a year.


Source: ABC News
|
Duration: 2min 43sec

Topics:

federal-government,

work,

laws,

canberra-2600



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