Boris Johnson is planning advertising campaign to inform teachers and parents about Covid symptoms


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The Prime Minister is planning an advertising campaign to inform teachers and parents about coronavirus symptoms, it has been revealed.

As the testing fiasco continues, the government’s ad campaign will hope to stop pupils with runny noses and colds being sent home and told to get a test.

According to the Times, Boris Johnson‘s aides are working on the public information campaign in a bid to stop the system being overwhelmed.

The newspaper also claims rationing plans for coronavirus tests in England will prioritise teachers.

Boris Johnson’s aides are preparing an advertising campaign aimed at teachers and parents and informing them of the symptoms of Covid in a bid to prevent overload on testing system

NAHT – the headteachers union – has released data which shows how the testing backlog is affecting schools.

The study shows four in five schools have children isolating because they can’t access a covid test.

The union collected data from 736 schools and found 82% of schools have children currently not attending because they cannot access a test to rule out covid-19.

Meanwhile 87% have children currently not attending because they are waiting for their test results.

The union also found that 45% of schools have staff currently not at work because they cannot access a test to rule out covid-19, and 60% have staff currently staying home because they are waiting for their test results.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, last week wrote to the Prime Minister with mounting concerns about the impact the lack of access to covid-19 tests is having on schools, warning that the situation is becoming increasingly disruptive and unsustainable. Today’s figures add weight to those concerns.

Mr Whiteman says: ‘Tests for covid-19 need to be readily available for everyone so that pupils and staff who get negative results can get back into school quickly.

‘But we are hearing the same thing repeatedly from our members across the country – chaos is being caused by the inability of staff and families to successfully get tested when they display symptoms.

Year eight pupils wear face masks as a precaution against the transmission of the novel coronavirus as they walk along a corridor of Moor End Academy in Huddersfield, Yorkshire

Year eight pupils wear face masks as a precaution against the transmission of the novel coronavirus as they walk along a corridor of Moor End Academy in Huddersfield, Yorkshire

‘This means schools are struggling with staffing, have children missing school, and ultimately that children’s education is being needlessly disrupted.

‘The government assured us that testing would be ready for schools reopening – it was one of their own key safety requirements to have in place to enable children and teachers to return.

‘It is in no way unpredictable or surprising that the demand for covid-19 tests would spike when schools reopened more widely this term.

‘And yet the system is in chaos. The government has failed schools and children.

‘It is unacceptable for this to happen when schools have put so much effort into getting their part of the plan right, and when pupils have had to endure so much uncertainty and disruption already.’

Two other unions representing headteachers and governors have also written to the Prime Minister urging him ‘take charge’ of Government efforts to ramp up testing capacity.

They say the inability of pupils an staff to get a swab have put some heads in an ‘impossible situation’ after grappling with symptomatic pupils and staff struggling to access tests.

This week it was reported that Britain’s testing fiasco has forced 740 schools to send children home.

Steve Chalke, the head of Oasis Academies Trust, made the alarming claim as Boris Johnson faced mounting pressure to get a grip over widespread lack of access to swabs.

Mr Johnson has declared the return of lessons a ‘national priority’ and the Department for Education earlier this week trumpeted that 99.9 per cent of schools have reopened.

Three unions representing headteachers and governors have written to Boris Johnson urging him 'take charge' of Government efforts to ramp up testing capacity. Pictured above people queue for a test in Southend-on-Sea as the testing system continues to see high demand

Three unions representing headteachers and governors have written to Boris Johnson urging him ‘take charge’ of Government efforts to ramp up testing capacity. Pictured above people queue for a test in Southend-on-Sea as the testing system continues to see high demand

Addressing concerns about testing when appearing before the Commons Education Committee on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said each school was given 10 home-testing kits at the start of term and schools can now order more kits from the NHS directly.

Rob Halfon, chairman of the committee, asked if he could ‘guarantee’ that pupils and teachers who need local Covid-19 tests would be able to get them within 48 hours in the event of outbreaks.

But Mr Williamson replied: ‘Schools are, I think, the only organisation that actually has a set of testing kits that have been sent to them directly in order to be able to ensure that if they are in a situation where someone isn’t in a position to be able to get a test, then they actually have testing kits on site.’

Schools have been hit with Covid-19 cases since it became compulsory for pupils to return.

Some have closed their doors days after reopening while others have told whole year groups and classes to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.

A poll from the GMB union suggests only half (51 per cent) of school staff have had training on Covid-19 health and safety measures and working practices – including infection control and correct use of PPE.

Stuart Fegan, national officer of GMB, said it is ‘shocking’ that large numbers of school staff are missing basic health and safety training around Covid-19 since schools had fully reopened.

It comes as Britain’s biggest Covid-19 testing lab is prioritising Premiership Rugby stars and travellers to Dubai, company insiders have claimed. 

Randox Laboratories in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, reportedly also regularly fails to provide test results within 24 hours to members of the public. 

The lab is responsible for a quarter of all community tests across the UK after winning a £133 million contract in March.

Randox completed fewer than one in 10 tests on time on September 9 and has also been forced to throw away more tests than any other lab due to human error, according to a report in the Sunday Times citing leaked documents. 

Staff alleged that tests from rugby players and coaching staff are given ‘priority status’ and are flown by helicopter to Antrim every week, with results usually available by 9am the next day. 

Randox Laboratories in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland is prioritising Premiership Rugby stars and travellers to Dubai, company insiders have claimed

Randox Laboratories in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland is prioritising Premiership Rugby stars and travellers to Dubai, company insiders have claimed

Randox Laboratories was founded by Dr Peter FitzGerald in 1982 and currently employs more than 1,500 people. Dr Fitzgerald pictured above

Randox Laboratories was founded by Dr Peter FitzGerald in 1982 and currently employs more than 1,500 people. Dr Fitzgerald pictured above 

It is claimed that those travelling to Dubai receive similar special treatment. On September 2, Randox said it was ‘delighted’ to sign a new deal to screen airline passengers to Dubai. 

It came on the same day 12,401 tests were voided without explanation. 

Sources told the publication that the Northern Irish laboratory is unable to process tests quick enough after taking on too much work. 

The firm is said be having major staffing problems – with 35,000 tests voided since the start of August. 

The company, based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is said to be blaming leaks, damaged tubes and people sending urine rather than saliva, as the reason for voiding the tests. 

In July, Randox was forced to recall half a million test kits after checks revealed they were not sterile. 

The laboratory continues to play a key role in Covid-19 testing ahead of an anticipated second wave of cases. 

Despite its alleged struggles, Randox is taking on commercial testing contracts and is reportedly currently in negotiations with Boots. 

Randox Laboratories was founded by Dr Peter FitzGerald in 1982 and currently employs more than 1,500 people, with offices in Brazil, America and India among others. 

The lab employs Conservative MP Owen Paterson as a consultant for £100,000 a year which easily surpasses his salary as an MP. 

It comes amid growing anger over the Government's testing 'shambles', as centres across the UK are facing huge queues and a backlog of people

It comes amid growing anger over the Government’s testing ‘shambles’, as centres across the UK are facing huge queues and a backlog of people 

Paterson has previously lobbied the government on behalf of the company. Randox has insisted its relationship with Mr Paterson had no role in it winning the multimillion contract from the government.

It has also denied priorititising commercial contracting. 

‘Randox takes great care in meeting all its contractual obligations and fully recognises the critical importance of meeting those obligations with regard to the national testing programme,’ the firm said in a statement. 

‘Randox does not prioritise commercial work ahead of other work streams. We do not comment on commercial matters. We do not have a practice of voiding high numbers of test kits on a daily basis.

‘On average the Randox void rate is comparable across the programme.’

It comes amid growing anger over the Government’s testing ‘shambles’, as centres across the UK are facing huge queues and a backlog of people. 

Parents in Bolton and Hull have complained of struggling to get tests for their children who have been sent home from school ‘with a runny nose’.

Meanwhile, others have reported driving for two hours from West Sussex only to be turned away without a test and even being told to make a 280-mile round trip from Durham to Edinburgh.



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UK denies it’s planning to rip up Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – POLITICO



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The U.K. is “committed to implementing” the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Environment Secretary George Eustice said Monday.

Responding to a Financial Times report that the U.K. planned this week to introduce legislation that would undermine parts of the Withdrawal Agreement on state aid and Northern Ireland, Eustice told the BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “We have a Withdrawal Agreement, and that includes the Northern Ireland protocol. And we are committed to implementing that.”

Eustice said the U.K. government is seeking to merely tie up “one or two loose ends where there is a requirement for legal certainty.”

Later, in a separate interview on BBC Breakfast, Eustice said that if the U.K. failed to reach a trade deal with the EU prior to the end of the Brexit transition period, “we would still leave on time and we would do that under the terms of the existing Withdrawal Agreement that we’ve got. It’s not posturing or a threat, this has been the reality of our position right from the beginning.”

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was asked about the FT report in an interview with France Inter radio on Monday. “It’s a press article,” he said, “what matters to me is what the [U.K.] prime minister does and says and what the British government itself does and says.”

“No land border, that’s the condition of peace since the end of the conflict some 20 years ago which has left 4,000 dead” — EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier

But he added: “This protocol you’re talking about is an important part, I’ve spent many days and nights [working on it], on Ireland and Northern Ireland, to maintain the conditions of peace there: no land border, that’s the condition of peace since the end of the conflict some 20 years ago which has left 4,000 dead.”

He said Brussels would stick to what had been agreed. “This protocol is a condition to preserve peace, to preserve the integrity of the internal market, it’s also a precondition for trust between us because everything that has been signed in the past must be respected, it’s the pledge of trust for the future.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Monday: “I trust the British government to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law & prerequisite for any future partnership. Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is essential to protect peace and stability on the island & integrity of the single market.”

Overnight, EU and Northern Irish officials responded with anger to the FT report.

Speaking to Brussels Playbook, an EU diplomat said: “‘Pacta sunt servanda’ meaning ‘agreements must be kept’ is a fundamental principle in international law. If the U.K. chose not to respect its international obligations, it would undermine its international standing. Who would want to agree trade deals with a country that doesn’t implement international treaties? It would be a desperate and ultimately self-defeating strategy.”

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted: “Any threats of a roll back on the Irish protocol would represent a treacherous betrayal which would inflict irreversible harm on the all-Ireland economy, and [the Good Friday Agreement].” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: “This would be a very unwise way to proceed.”

Britain’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy also criticized the government, warning any move to walk back the Withdrawal Agreement “undermines our moral authority at a key moment” and “sends a clear signal the UK no longer keeps its promises.”

Meanwhile, RTÉ News reported on Monday that London had asked Dublin to “urge the European Commission to permit a range of flexibilities on how the checks and controls [on the Irish border] might be applied,” offering in return to “make it easier for Irish truck drivers to move goods across the U.K. land bridge from 1 January next year.”

Elisa Braun contributed reporting.





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UK’s Johnson planning to override parts of Brexit withdrawal agreement – FT



FILE PHOTO: European Union and British flags flutter in front of a chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

September 6, 2020

(Reuters) – The British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the plans.

A source told the FT that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland that Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border in the region.

The move comes as Britain and the European Union resume talks on a trade deal, with Johnson saying on Sunday that if an agreement is not reached by Oct. 15, both sides should “accept that and move on”.

If the sticking point of fisheries and state aid cannot be resolved and a deal agreed, Britain would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson said.

The planned legislation, as reported by the Financial Times, would ratchet up tension between the two sides by attempting to undo some of the elements of the Withdrawal Agreement signed earlier this year, including those relating to the border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

The move was condemned by parties on both sides of the Irish border.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who played a key role in negotiating the withdrawal agreement and Northern Ireland protocol, said on Twitter that the reported move “would be a very unwise way to proceed.”

Senior members of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein and SDLP parties, the region’s two largest Irish nationalist groups, also criticised the British government’s plan, as reported by the newspaper.

(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru, Padraic Halpin in Dublin and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney)





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Why this terminally ill French man is planning to live-stream his final days online


This article contains references to voluntary dying.

A Frenchman suffering from an incurable condition who plans to livestream his death on social media said Saturday he had begun refusing all food, drink and medicine, after President Emmanuel Macron turned down his request for euthanasia.

Alain Cocq, who suffers from a rare condition which causes the walls of his arteries to stick together, said he believed he had less than a week to live and would broadcast his death from Saturday morning.

“The road to deliverance begins and believe me, I am happy,” he wrote on Facebook shortly after midnight in a post announcing he had “finished his last meal”.

“I know the days ahead are going to be difficult but I have made my decision and I am calm,” he added.

He had written to Mr Macron asking to be given a substance that would allow him to die in peace but the president wrote back to him explaining this was not allowed under French law.

Mr Cocq, 57, has used his plight to draw attention to the situation of terminally ill patients in France who are unable to be allowed to die in line with their wishes.

“Because I am not above the law, I am not able to comply with your request,” Mr Macron said in a letter to Mr Cocq, which the patient published on his Facebook page.

“I cannot ask anyone to go beyond our current legal framework… Your wish is to request active assistance in dying which is not currently permitted in our country,” said Mr Macron.

Alain Cocqrests on his medical bed on August 12, 2020 in his flat in Dijon, northeastern France

Alain Cocq rests on his medical bed on August 12, 2020 in his flat in Dijon, northeastern France

AFP

‘With profound respect’

In order to show France the “agony” caused by the law in its current state, Mr Cocq will broadcast the end of his life – which he believed would come in “four to five days” –  on his Facebook page, he told AFP.

From midnight Friday he plans to stop taking any food, hydration and treatment, except painkillers, a support group said.

Mr Cocq said he hoped his struggle would be remembered and “go down in the long term” as a step towards changing the law.

Mr Macron said in his letter that “with emotion, I respect your action.” And the president added a handwritten postscript, saying: “With all my personal support and profound respect.”

Right-to-die cases have long been an emotive issue in France.

Most polarising was the case of Vincent Lambert, who was left in a vegetative state after a traffic accident in 2008 and died in July last year after doctors removed life support following a long legal battle.

The case divided the country, as well as Mr Lambert’s own family, with his parents using every legal avenue to keep him alive but his wife and nephew insisting he must be allowed to die.

A French court in January acquitted the doctor who switched off the life support systems in a verdict that was a formality after prosecutors said he “perfectly respected his legal obligations”.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide can contact Lifeline 24 hours a day online and on 13 11 14. Other services include the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline (for people aged five to 25) on 1800 55 1800.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement can be contacted on 1800 642 066.



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Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris not planning to watch Amazon documentary: ‘I prefer to live in the present’


Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has revealed he has no intention of watching Amazon Prime‘s fly-on-the-wall documentary of the club’s 2019/20 season.

All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur begins its staggered release with the first three episodes on Monday, with Lloris a peripheral figure having dislocated his elbow shortly after filming began.

The goalkeeper is more prominent later in the nine-part series after returning to fitness, but says he has no interest in watching himself or his team-mates back.


“I’ve never watched one clip from the World Cup [which he won with France in 2018], so I‘m not sure I will watch all the work that Amazon has done I’m afraid,” Lloris said in an interview to promote the series.

“Don’t take it the wrong way, it’s just that I don’t like to watch myself or my team-mates. I prefer to live in the present and enjoy the moment. Maybe later, one day.”

Heung-min Son, whose red card in December’s costly 2-0 defeat to Chelsea is detailed in episode three, also expressed doubts about watching the series, admitting it could make “painful” viewing following a difficult and sometimes chaotic campaign.

Amazon captured round-the-clock footage throughout the season with an on-site camera crew as well as a number of fixed-placement cameras around the stadium and training ground, including in manager Jose Mourinho’s office.

“It was strange at the start,” said midfielder Dele Alli. “It took a little bit of getting used to, but I think after time you just forgot about it. Obviously the cameras were everywhere, but at the same time that all became part of the game.

“For me personally, I didn’t really think too much about it, I just tried to be myself at all times.”

Alli, who is captured in a candid meeting with Mourinho in episode two, said he hopes the series will help to change perceptions about himself and professional footballers in general by shedding light on the more mundane aspects of the game.

“Being at a club like this and especially being part of the England national team, the media and people like to try and paint a picture of you and what kind of person you are,” Alli said.

“I’ve just been myself, so people will like me or hate me. That’s just life. You can’t please everyone, but hopefully this will show people how hard everyone on the team works and how much it means to us.

“To be honest, I’m not really bothered about what people think of me. I’ll just keep working hard and try to enjoy playing football and doing what I love.”

The England international added: “The perception of footballers is a lot different to the reality.

“We are just normal people and I think last season was probably one of the most difficult in terms of changes and having to deal with different things, both personally and as a team.

“It probably isn’t as glamorous as it’s perceived, but I think it will be good for everyone to see that. They’ll see how much we go for it. Football is in our hearts. They’ll see that we have to work and how much it means to the players.”

Midfielder Eric Dier added: “I’d imagine you’re going to see a lot that hasn’t been seen: you’re going to see the preparation that goes into the games; you’re going to see behind the scenes of the training ground, travelling to and from games, manager’s team talks.

“I think you’re going to see the players in different environments. I think you’re going to see the intensity at which we live our lives: it’s a very intense, constant atmosphere. Hopefully people will get an understanding of what it’s like and what’s at stake.”



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NRL 2020: Peter V’landys planning cuts to save $80 million a year


The NRL are set to save $80 million a year in the biggest and most important cost overhaul in the game’s history.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Australian Rugby League Commission met on Thursday to create a financial strategy to ensure the game survives the impact of COVID-19.

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Shockwaves were sent through the rugby league community when it was revealed in March that the governing body had spent $181 million in the past financial year, equalling $500,000 a day in operating costs, to run the competition, finals series and State of Origin series.

When the season was suspended due to the pandemic, ARLC chair Peter V’landys revealed just how unviable the game was, saying there would be “catastrophic” financial impacts if the competition couldn’t resume.

Now, V’landys says the NRL is “not mucking around” in an overhaul of the cost structure which will change things for clubs, but will mostly affect head office.

The Herald reports the commission and interim CEO Andrew Abdo are aiming to cut spending to less than $100 million a year, which would save the game more than $200,00 a day.

“There will be considerable cost savings. It will be substantial; we’re not mucking around on the edges,” V’landys told the Herald.

“What the board and the game needs to understand is that this is a once-in-a-generation chance to get your cost structure right.

“What COVID-19 has proven to us is that the cost structure isn’t right. The clubs were making accumulated losses of $33 million per year. That’s not sustainable.

“We need to make sure that we run the game viably, so the days of spending and spending and spending are well gone.

“You won’t attack every problem by throwing money at it; you have to come up with better strategies.

“That’s what the game has done (previously), it has looked at itself and thrown money at it and hope it fixes itself. Sometimes the return didn’t eventuate, even though they threw a lot of money into it because what they wanted didn’t come to fruition.”

While spending will be pulled back across the board, V’landys is confident fans won’t notice any difference in the output. In fact, he isn’t referring to the restructured budget as cost cutting, instead it’s better efficiency, “doing the same thing for a lesser price.”

It’s expected the $9.9 million salary cap for 2021 will be decreased slightly and the $6.17 million a year football department cap will be slashed to $5 million. But the game will save the most from changes at Rugby League Central.

“(Spending) has to come down substantially, there’s not two ways about it.

“Andrew Abdo is doing an excellent job in identifying the areas we can do immediately and other areas we can do gradually.

“But no one will notice the difference. The services will be the same. We don’t regard it as cost cutting, we regard it as being efficient – doing the same thing for a lesser price.

“The fans won’t notice any difference. What our aim is with all the changes is that nobody notices any changes other than an improvement in the entertainment value of the game.

“Nobody will notice any difference because we will get the same output for a much lesser price.”



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Indonesia hopes development of new capital will restart next year, investors still keen: Planning minister


JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes the development of its new capital will restart next year, the minister in-charge of national development planning said on Thursday (Aug 27).

The 466 trillion rupiah (US$32 billion) project was supposed to start this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put the relocation of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to eastern Kalimantan on the back burner

However, National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa expressed optimism that the construction of the new capital would begin once COVID-19 is contained in Indonesia.

“I’ll describe it as the light at the end of a tunnel… When the light is brighter, the project will automatically resume. That’s what we are waiting for.

“Hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel will appear next year… then we will resume the new capital project,” Mr Monoarfo told CNA in an exclusive interview.

President Joko Widodo announced last year that the capital would move from heavily congested Jakarta to the underdeveloped districts of Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan province.

The plan to relocate the capital was considered necessary as megacity Jakarta, a city of 10 million people, has for years been battling with traffic congestion which costs US$7 billion in economic losses each year.

It is also one of fastest-sinking cities on Earth with experts predicting that it could submerge by 2050 if current rates continue.

READ: New Indonesian capital offers opportunities for development, but environmental pitfalls abound

Initially, the government planned to begin the construction of the new capital this year on a plot of 40,000 ha land and transfer the central administration by 2024. The government already owns about 180,000 ha of land in the area.

INVESTORS STILL INTERESTED IN THE NEW CAPITAL

Even though there is currently no construction work in progress, Mr Monoarfa explained that the master plan is still being worked on.

“The detailed plan will follow, then we will include basic infrastructure works in cities that will support the future capital of the country, for example, Balikpapan, Samarinda,” he said.

Oil city Balikpapan is about 80km east of Penajam Paser Utara, while Samarinda is the capital of East Kalimantan province. A highway has been constructed to connect both cities.  

Balikpapan Bay

Environmentalists are concerned that the capital’s relocation to East Kalimantan will harm the Balikpapan Bay and its coastal communities. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

The minister also revealed that investors are still interested in the new capital.

“There are still some investors, including domestic ones, who are still interested. And indeed they keep asking when it can start. 

“I think this is also important because, after COVID-19, the economic recovery will (focus on) investment destinations that promise high and fast capitalisation, one of them in Indonesia is the capital city project.” 

READ: New Indonesia capital – Land prices set to soar but not all locals thrilled

Mr Monoarfa welcomed other countries to invest, especially fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

“In my opinion, because later it (the new capital) will also be a symbol of friendship in ASEAN, why should there be no legacy from ASEAN countries contributing to this capital city?”



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Your views: on COVID-19 marshalls, Centrelink, prison and planning


Today, readers comment on new pressures for businesses and community groups, pensions, JobSeeker, youth incarceration and holistic planning policy.

Commenting on the story: What we know today, Thursday, August 20

In a very small part of ‘What we know today’, there has been a reference to the COVID marshalls: “…Meanwhile, a range of venues in South Australia including gyms, shopping centres, cafes, food courts and licensed premises, will be required to have a clearly identified “COVID marshal” on premises from tomorrow.

“The marshals aim to be a “visual reminder” to patrons to comply with social distancing and other hygiene measures…”

Are you aware that it is not just businesses being asked to fill this job? Volunteers for clubs and community service all around the State are also included. The part missing from your report is that a marshall is also expected to look out for people who are visibly unwell, and ask them to leave the area.

“…If a patron is visibly unwell, you may ask them to leave, if they refuse you can work with security, or if necessary police..”

Is this right? Volunteers already do so much for the community, they’re under strain already, trying to keep up with the regulations. Now they have to be bouncers as well?

They are not health workers, police or security. They don’t have the training or experience to carry out health checks. When a patron gets angry at their invasion of privacy who will bear the brunt? The poor volunteer. – Sally Haselgrove

Commenting on the story: Call to dump Centrelink’s JobSeeker asset changes

So the government thinks having savings of $18,000 in the bank should stop people from getting JobSeeker.

It’s not a lot of money in the scheme of things and gives people a buffer in emergencies, which we all know happens regularly. It also helps their mental health to know they have that backup, especially during Covid-19.

These are people with little hope of a sustainable job. Why are the poor in this country treated with such disregard, while the rich get richer off their backs? 

Time for a government change. But on second thoughts, what’s the point – they all have the same mindset. – Toni Whyntie

I understand the government is trying to kickstart the economy, but I would love to see ScoMo or any other extremely well paid executive public servant try and live off JobSeeker money.   

Just an FYI, every job I have applied for usually has over 150 applications for every job. – Jodi Wyatt

I am one of these individuals in the situation of being on JobSeeker and having acquired savings and will now be penalised by having my payments stopped. 

I feel the cut to the supplement is fair, but not hard-earned savings.

I have been applying for at least 15 jobs a week and can’t get anything, so how is this fair to people who are genuinely trying to get back to work through no fault of their own? 

I think government should show compassion through this pandemic and give the battling Aussie a fair go.Marissa Davies

That is wrong. Unless they have a lot of wealth, I don’t believe that they should eat away all their own money.

It’s good that they have saved it and not used it on drugs and cigarettes, so let’s not penalise them. At the moment nobody how long this pandemic  will last or when they will have a job. Angie Bottari

This is not a good thing. I’m a university student who also happens to work in the hospitality industry and has had his shifts cut to zero.

I, luckily, had some money in my savings and felt very privileged and grateful for the support the government has given me up until this point.

I will admit, I have more saved than probably most others but feel that if I lose these welfare payments that I will have to jeopardise my livelihood and safety net that these savings have become.

How am I supposed to save for a home? My girlfriend and I want to move out this week or next and I fear I won’t be able to pay rent because of these changes to assets.

How can the government feel this is a sustainable idea? It’s not prudent for the economy, not prudent for the average Joe and definitely not supporting the students and earners of tomorrow. Travis Bozic

I am 62 in October. I was made redundant due to Covid after 21 years of service and appreciated the fact JobSeeker was easy to be accepted for.

The Government have to understand that being made redundant and coping with Covid and trying to find another job places a lot of stress on individuals, especially when there are limited job vacancies. 

Now they are going to reintroduce the assets test. We are told you have to exhaust your redundancy payouts to continue payments or get banned for a good period.

We have over a month to act, and by act I mean we withdraw our cash till it’s under the limit. Stash the cash away, no problem, we lose nothing but receiving JobSeeker.

Don’t punish us. Currently we don’t feel too good about ourselves. Withdrawing JobSeeker for three or six months will affect our mental health. 

Every day the number of redundancies keep escalating. I hope they wake up and realise it’s a silly idea. – Andrew Marinakis

After paying hundreds of thousands into the tax coffers, not asking for anything from the government then getting laid off only because of the pandemic, they then expect you to beg for some assistance. Bloody disgraceful. – Tony King

Commenting on the story: PM to reverse decision to freeze Centrelink pensions

I think Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally, politically, realised that delaying any pension increase to pensioners, who have also been doing it tough through the Covid-19 pandemic, is a very wise decision.

Especially when politicians, beaurecrats and other government employees have not been as financially affected as most others.

Prices for most food and groceries have increased or are about to increase substantially, we are told, so better to have the extra money soon, to allay even more public anxiety? – Trevor Synnett

Why is it always the Centrelink pensioners that get kicked down? There was never a problem with us when we worked and paid taxes.

Why not $100 a month to us? And no ties like assets testing. If we had plenty we wouldn’t be on a pension. – Colin Callaghan

Why is the aged pension too low in comparison to JobSeeker allowance? Making both ends meet with your pension when you are just renting a unit is quite a struggle.

Hope the aged pension amount will be the same as JobSeeker. – Maria Solina Lapalma

Normal pensioners only get $13.00 increase per annum (not double amount as JobSeeker), though there  are discounts. 

I cannot understand why we have to live on the same amount  of approximately $350 (included concession  amounts) per week, while other Centrelink recipients ($550 per week) get more. – Gay Carey

I think it is totally unfair to freeze the measly increase we get each September and March.

During this pandemic, jobseekers have seen their payments increase dramatically even if they haven’t been employed for years, just because there may not be as many jobs around.

JobSeeker is great for those who suddenly lost jobs, but I don’t think it should be across the board.

Pensioners have to live too, and yet we are being left behind in what the government considers an amount to live on. – Colleen Paterson

Being on a disability pension, times are hard as they are for so many, and the government helped out with JobSeeker and JobKeeper and others including myself were given $1500, divided into two $750 payments.

Although this was much appreciated, I must admit with all the increasing costs of day to day living, increasing costs for staying home, food, electricity, gas ect and looking after my granddaughter permanantly, it has been hard and falling behind on bills has been unavoidable. – Jacqui Brown 

The pensioners deserve an increase in their payment regardless of the negative CPI/Cost of Living Indexes because if you look at the breakdown of sectors – food and non-alcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear, health and insurance – all areas that pensioners are vulnerable to, rose.

The biggest sectors that drove the Indexes down: transport, education, furnishings, household equipment and services and recreation and culture (with the exception of transport) are areas where pensioners are not as predisposed to.

 Transport should be expected to have fallen due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place (no-one was supposed to travel), which I am sure will increase with the easing of restrictions. It is not as if the price of tickets has gone down. – Garry Shearing

Commenting on the story: Youth justice watchdog reveals “uncomfortable” findings from prison review

I raised many of the issues found in the OGCYP Report in 2004 when I did a field placement at the Magill Training Centre.

I was told by management that I was not suited to working ‘on the floor’.

Nothing much appears to have changed over the past 16 years unfortunately, most especially for children with disabilities in youth detention.

 I happen to think I was very suited to work ‘on the floor’ (meaning in the units) and I had a very good rapport with the youth. It was the establishment that didn’t like me raising the issues which decided I wasn’t suitable.

I am very thrilled to see at last that someone with some authority is beginning to look in to youth detention in SA. Well done Guardian Penny Wright and team. – Janet Christopher

Commenting on the story: Govt concedes there’s “room for improvement” as planning reforms paused

Let’s consider the unique footprint SA presents to existing inhabitants and those we can entice because we are different.

SA, an amazing place because offering international level amenities, festivals, food and wine, while retaining a genuine human scale in our cities and critical suburbs.

We’ve kept past legacies, eg preservation of North Adelaide (Horst Salomon), Rundle Street East (Michael Harbison) while innovating how we develop the newer suburbs, eg Lochiel Park (award winning ‘Green Village’), or Beyond (Chiton natural wet land), West Lakes (a tidal swamp developed by Delfin).

Effective planning legislation must surely take into account the totality of what we are currently? ‘Progress’ is surely capable of maintaining, also enhancing and extending without annihilating both the existing built environment as well as the voice of individuals.

Planning was never designed to be reduced to one size fits all. Just as each of us is unique, so too is the environment around us.

I implore the new Planning Minister to really have a look at what a treasure we have which we can enhance by innovating while preserving too. That’s clever, that’s SA. – Mariann McNamara

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Govt concedes there’s “room for improvement” as planning reforms paused



There is no clear timeframe for the Marshall Government’s long-awaited planning overhaul, after the new minister responsible for the ambitious rollout pushed pause on the scheme – and pledged to go back to the drawing board on several areas of contention.

Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman last month took over the Planning portfolio after the resignation of Stephan Knoll prompted the carve-up of his ministerial empire – with Transport and Infrastructure going to Corey Wingard and Renewal SA to Treasurer Rob Lucas.

Knoll’s office had long maintained the planning reforms – already delayed by three months to September – remained on track, despite departmental insiders and interest groups flagging issues with the rollout, which includes the introduction of a new e-Planning framework.

Those concerns have been borne out by Chapman’s decision to put the rollout on ice, less than three weeks after taking on the project.

In a statement, Chapman said the September launch date “was always dependent on a number of factors including the scale and complexity of submissions received during our consultation stage”.

“The final phase of PlanSA will not be introduced prior to Christmas 2020 [and] I intend to announce a more definite date once I am fully briefed on the whole of the program,” she said.

She said the Government had been “listening closely to councils, industry and the wider community, who have all urged us to move the final phase of implementation to next year”.

“Over 90 per cent of development applications are lodged in the metropolitan area, so we need to take the necessary time and continue to collaborate with stakeholders and work with councils who are integral to the program’s success,” she said.

“At this stage of the process, it would be irresponsible for us to proceed and ignore the insight and feedback that we have received from councils and the broader community.”

Asked on ABC Radio Adelaide whether she would consider concerns raised by critics of the planning changes on issues such as heritage protections and contributory items, Chapman said simply: “Yes.”

“There’s room for improvement in all of those areas,” she added on further questioning.

“I’d call it strengthening heritage issues rather than winding back programs [but] I’ve said we’re not going to have a plan that’s operational before Christmas, so this will be properly looked at and we’ll make [those] decisions.”

Labor’s Planning spokesman Tony Piccolo welcomed the decision, for which he said “Labor, along with industry and the community, has been calling for over nine months”.

“It’s unfortunate the Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to see common sense and delay these reforms to next year,” he said in a statement.

“If they had not delayed it, the reforms would have done untold damage to the housing industry, hurt the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and cost us thousands of jobs.”

Master Builders SA boss Ian Markos said it was “pleasing to see the new minister acting to address the concerns of the building industry”.

“Due to the booming popularity of the $25,000 HomeBuilder grants, councils are going to inundated with development applications from October,” he said.

“The Code is extremely complex, even for experienced practitioners, and to try and roll out these once-in-a-generation reforms during such a busy period would have been disastrous.”

However, he cautioned Chapman against “listening too much to the usual anti-development brigade who have also welcomed the Code being delayed”.

“There is more than $1 billion worth of construction work currently sitting in council planning departments awaiting assessment – now more than ever, that’s work that needs to get out there as soon as possible to protect the jobs of builders, tradies, suppliers and the many other South Australians who rely on a strong building industry,” he said.

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How each NFL stadium is planning on handling fans


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With the coronavirus pandemic recently topping 150,000 deaths in the United States and no immediate end in sight, the future of nonessential entertainment events like sports remains uncertain. While the NBA restart appears to be off to a smooth start with zero players testing positive for COVID-19 in the league’s Disney World bubble, the MLB’s venture back into playing is going far differently.

That’s leading some to wonder what will happen with the NFL, the next sports league scheduled to resume on Sept. 10. Unlike the NBA and MLB, the NFL has not instituted a ban on fans attending the games, though the league is still finalizing COVID-19 protocols. As of now, NFL policy allows for fans to attend games if the team’s local jurisdiction allows it, but they must wear masks and may have to sign waiver forms.

Mention of local jurisdiction is key because with the pandemic affecting different parts of the country in varying levels, teams around the league will almost certainly have distinct approaches to fans by the time to season begins.

Here’s a look at what every team has planned for fans so far.

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers—The team emailed season ticket holders warning them to expect reduced capacity games at the 49ers Levi’s Stadium in 2020. According to a 2020 FAQ page on the team’s official website, “capacity will be determined by governmental regulation.”

Seattle Seahawks—Discussions are ongoing behind closed doors, but it appears likely that seating capacity will be reduced at CenturyLink Field. According to Tacoma News Tribune reporter Gregg Bell, “that plan could involve leaving entire rows or every other seat empty, and decisions on which season-ticket holders would get which games as part of amended packages.”

Los Angeles Rams—The newly constructed Sofi Stadium will operate at limited or no capacity in 2020, the Rams announced. Season tickets will also not be made available.

Arizona Cardinals—The team said there was a “very low” likelihood that State Farm Stadium will be at capacity during the 2020-21 season. “We are developing contingency plans for the different scenarios and potential stadium seating configurations,” the team said.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers—Plans for the season are still being finalized, and season ticket holders will have the option to “opt in” or “opt out” on the chance to reserve tickets. Packers CEO Mark Murphy recently said he expects no more than 10,000 to 12,000 fans at the storied Lambeau Field, which holds more than 80,000 people.

Minnesota Vikings—In a letter to season ticket holders, the Vikings said: “We can acknowledge at this time that if we are allowed to play in front of fans, games will be at a significantly reduced capacity and include a different in-stadium experience.” Season ticket holders have an option to opt out of their 2020 plan.

Chicago Bears—Season ticket packages for 2020 have been scrapped, and the Bears said that if authorities allow Solider Field to welcome fans this season, seating capacity will be reduced to allow for social distancing. 

Detroit Lions—The Lions told season ticket holders that the team is “anticipating a reduced seating capacity, with socially distanced seating,” at Ford Field. “Capacity restrictions have not yet been determined by government officials,” the letter added.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles—City officials earlier this month said that while the city of Philadelphia currently prohibits outdoor events involving more than 50 people—including at Lincoln Financial Field—”this is a fluid situation, and this policy is under constant review.”

Dallas Cowboys—The Cowboys recently canceled season tickets for the 2020 season, instead planning to offer a “limited number” of single-game tickets to season ticket holders first, should they opt in for them. AT&T Stadium has one of the largest capacities in the NFL, at over 100,000 fans, meaning there may be more space for social distancing.

New York GiantsMetLife Stadium is one of the few venues so far to get an outright ban of fans during the 2020 season. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order saying events at the arena wouldn’t welcome fans “until further notice.”

Washington Football Team—While exact capacity remains unclear for the newly renamed Washington Football Team, it told season ticket holders they can defer to the 2021 season or get a full refund, hinting at the possibility of no fans.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints—”The cancellation of the preseason will allow the Saints organization additional lead-up time to prepare and provide proper safety protocols for the restart of the NFL season,” the Saints said. The team is offering season ticket holders the opportunity to defer seats or receive a full refund.

Atlanta Falcons—The Falcons told season ticket holders that Mercedes-Benz Stadium will officially welcome somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 fans during the 2020-21 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Raymond James Stadium will have a limited capacity for the 2020 season, the Bucs told season ticket holders, meaning not all will be able to attend games during the 2020 season. An exact capacity number has yet to be determined.

Carolina Panthers—The team is still working out its capacity plans, but it will range anywhere from 20,000 fans to no fans at all. Season ticket holders have been informed and have the opportunity to defer or refund.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens—The Ravens will allow no more than 14,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium in 2020. The possibility still remains that no fans will be welcomed at all, depending on the status of the virus. Season tickets can be deferred.

Pittsburgh Steelers—The team has started canceling and refunding single-game ticket purchases for 2020. “We will be making adjustments to our seating configuration at Heinz Field this year to allow for social distancing,” Burt Lauten, Steelers director of communications, said in a statement. “We are working through scenarios for limited-capacity plans to provide options for our season ticket holders to attend games this year.”

Cleveland Browns—A Browns spokesperson said the situation is “fluid,” as the team would like to welcome fans to FirstEnergy Stadium while also knowing it needs to abide to local mandates. The Browns gave season ticket holders the option of opting out for the 2020 season.

Cincinnati Bengals—Approval pending, the team expects attendance to be “greatly reduced.” Seating will be rearranged, and tailgating is prohibited. Season ticket holders have the option to opt out for the season.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs—Arrowhead Stadium, known for its immense volume, will be a lot quieter this year as fan capacity will be reduced. The team said individual tickets will likely only be available “for the first few games of the regular season,” after which season ticket holders would take over.

Denver Broncos—In a letter to season ticket holders, the Broncos said: “The game day experience this season at Empower Field at Mile High will look and feel very different.” An official capacity for fans has yet to be determined by officials.

Las Vegas Raiders—The recently relocated Las Vegas Raiders (formerly of Oakland) will likely not welcome fans to its newly constructed Allegiant Stadium. “It’s no definite, but it’s 90% no,” Vic Tafur, Raiders beat writer for the The Athletic, said, adding that team owner Mark Davis’ plan is to “have an inaugural season 2.0 next year and do the ribbon-cutting in 2021. He said if fans can’t go, he won’t go.”

Los Angeles Chargers—The Chargers share a stadium with the Rams. It will will operate at limited or no capacity.

AFC East

New England Patriots—The Patriots recently announced Gillette Stadium is expected to operate at about 20% of its total capacity (it usually holds about 66,000 fans). “Tickets will be arranged in blocks of 10 seats or less, and the first eight rows of stadium seats will not be used,” the Patriots said.

Buffalo Bills—Though New York state said professional sports teams would not be able to host fans during the ongoing pandemic, the Bills recently told season ticket holders that it was “still in the process of planning for the possibility of a limited amount of spectators being able to attend games for the 2020 season.” For now, all season ticket memberships are deferred until next season.

New York Jets—The Jets share MetLife Stadium with the Giants. Neither will host any fans whatsoever during the 2020 season.

Miami Dolphins—South Florida has been particularly hit badly by the pandemic. As a result, the Dolphins will not let fans attend training camp practices at Hard Rock Stadium. The team is still hopeful that a limited number of fans may be able to attend regular season games.

AFC South

Houston Texans—Houston, also hard hit by the pandemic, has not yet announced any seating restrictions, but gave season ticket holders to option to defer to next season at no cost. Those who still do attend can still use this year’s tickets, though their seats may change due to social distancing measures.

Tennessee Titans—The Titans expect to play at Nissan Stadium in Nashville with reduced capacity, writing on its website that the exact percentage will be determined at a later date.

Indianapolis Colts—Owner Jim Irsay penned a letter to fans saying that the team would welcome fans at reduced capacity in compliance with CDC guidelines for social distancing. He added that food and beverage vendors will minimize person-to-person contact, and tarps will be placed over the first eight rows closest to field for increased distancing and safety.

Jacksonville Jaguars—The Jaguars expect reduced capacity at TIAA Bank Field and refunded all season tickets. Those holders can apply those credits to season ticket purchases for 2021. The team said it was working with Ticketmaster to develop a new seating chart that allows for six feet of social distancing.

More must-read entertainment coverage from Fortune:





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