Police Shut Down Illegal Rave Under Motorway Bridge


West Midlands Police said they issued 22 people with fines after they discovered an illegal rave under a motorway bridge, “dangerously close” to a river in Birmingham on March 27. Helicopter footage and thermal imaging released by the police force show a large group of people gathering underneath the M6 motorway at Junction 4 near Coleshill. The motorway was shut to minimize the risk to the people at the gathering and one woman was helped after falling into the River Cole. Police said the event would have been illegal even without COVID-19 restrictions. “I understand people’s frustrations at having endured a long lockdown but amassing in large numbers like this for an unlicensed event in such a dangerous environment is not acceptable and we have to take action,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said. Credit: West Midlands Police via Storyful

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Travellers on edge ahead of Easter after new COVID cases reported in QueenslandSupermarkets impose product limits amid Brisbane panic buyingGreater Brisbane enters snap lockdown amid growing clusterSA tightens border restrictions amid Brisbane outbreakStates slam borders shut as Queensland’s COVID-19 outbreak worsensWA introduces 'soft border' restrictions with QueenslandNew case of community transmission in Queensland Travellers on edge ahead of Easter after new COVID cases reported in QueenslandConcerns for footy fixture amid new COVID caseQueenslanders to isolate upon arrival in WAOne new coronavirus case in QueenslandConcern Australia vaccination rollout is falling behind other countriesAlerts after Queensland COVID-19 case linked to UK variantWorld-first trial of anti-cancer treatment



Travellers on edge ahead of Easter after new COVID cases reported in QueenslandSupermarkets impose product limits amid Brisbane panic buyingGreater Brisbane enters snap lockdown amid growing clusterSA tightens border restrictions amid Brisbane outbreakStates slam borders shut as Queensland’s COVID-19 outbreak worsensWA introduces 'soft border' restrictions with QueenslandNew case of community transmission in Queensland Travellers on edge ahead of Easter after new COVID cases reported in QueenslandConcerns for footy fixture amid new COVID caseQueenslanders to isolate upon arrival in WAOne new coronavirus case in QueenslandConcern Australia vaccination rollout is falling behind other countriesAlerts after Queensland COVID-19 case linked to UK variantWorld-first trial of anti-cancer treatment

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Penrith Panthers shut out Canterbury Bulldogs in rain to claim 102-year record


“I’m not a doctor but all signs at the moment are actually pretty good, obviously he’s got to go through what he’s got to go through,” Ivan Cleary said. “We’ll see what comes of it. But I’ve got Matt Burton sitting in the background. Maybe it’s his week.”

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett defended Watene-Zelezniak after the game.

Stephen Crichton passes as he is is tackled.Credit:Getty

“He’s hung his arm out there, he got him high, but it definitely wasn’t intentional,” he said.

While the Bulldogs’ attacking line was put to the test, so was the Bankwest Stadium drainage system. Torrential rain fell throughout the game, creating an enormous puddle in the south-west portion of the ground.

“It’s a bit of fun,” Cleary said at half-time. “It’s obviously pretty wet, it’s hard to play some silky footy. But it’s like when you’re a kid again sliding around.”

Bankwest staff were also forced to deal with the football markings left by the A-League game played on Friday night. Not wanting to add water to the surface, ground staff were unable to completely wash out the lines. It created confusion for fans watching at home as well as the Panthers’ second try.

Nick Cotric and Corey Allan dive for the ball.

Nick Cotric and Corey Allan dive for the ball.Credit:Getty

Tyrone May grounded the ball about three metres over the try line, but with the football marking five metres further, it looked as if he had come up short. The league lines were also washed away so quickly they had to be reapplied at half-time.

Despite the terrible conditions, the Panthers managed a completion rate of 87 per cent and were dominant in possession throughout the match.

Luai was the Panthers’ best, and he found Viliame Kikau for the first try of the day. Thanks to the assist, Kikau found a hole on the left edge to stroll over after five minutes.

Luai also put in a perfect grubber for May to claim the second try of the day and give the Panthers a handy margin.

Bulldogs fans would have been happy to see the back of Kikau when he was taken off for an HIA after his first try, but he returned after half-time.

And after some early errors, Mitch Kenny redeemed himself, finding Kikau for the third try of the day.

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Paul Momirovski crashed over twice in the final 10 minutes to put the cherry on a very soggy cake for the Panthers’ second win of the season.

Canterbury’s performance was not the result Trent Barrett would have wanted against his former club. But the Bulldogs did manage one victory: the best no try of the season.

The Bulldogs were denied after it was given by the on-field referee after a chip from Nick Cotric found Corey Allan on the right edge.

The Panthers were without Api Koroisau who underwent surgery for a broken wrist on Friday. He is expected to be out for four to six weeks.

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English language colleges shut their doors as coronavirus cripples sector


With the school term underway and students back on campus for the university semester, one set of classrooms around the country are falling increasingly silent.

Private colleges that offer short-term English courses to overseas students are facing financial ruin by border closures wrought by COVID-19 and the looming end of the JobKeeper scheme.

Five colleges, in Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay and Cairns, have already shut their doors and the industry is bracing for more closures in the weeks ahead.

In many cases, the “ELICOS” sector is a launching pad for Australia’s $40 billion international student industry.

It plays a critical role in allowing thousands of international students to get a foot in the door, boosting their English skills so they can start university or other study, and gives them a better chance of securing casual work.

For Colombian student Laura Ramos, completing these courses is the first step in her goal to stay in the country long-term and to work as a cinematic make-up artist.

“I’m trying to improve more … when you learn English you can find a job really fast because you have the language,” she said.

According to industry figures, new ELICOS enrolments plummeted by 33 per cent in 2020, and the slide is expected to worsen dramatically this year with no indication of when borders will reopen.

Most of the seats in Ms Ramos’s upper-intermediate English class are empty, and there are several floors at the Melbourne college where she studies that have been unused for months.

The chief executive of the Discover English college, Joanna Kelly, said student numbers were now down by 75 per cent.

Having already let go of half the teaching staff, Ms Kelly said she was bracing for more “heartbreaking” conversations at the end of the month, when JobKeeper support payments finish.

Brett Blacker, from industry peak body English Australia, said there would be widespread pain if Jobkeeper and state-based rent moratoriums ceased.

“We have a lot of colleges which are just dormant and facing closure in the coming weeks and months at best,” he said.

“The number of students that studied here in 2020 was equivalent to 14 years ago, effectively wiping off 14 years of positive growth in one year.”

Federal education department figures show the ELICOS sector was made up of 156,570 students in 2019, before the pandemic.

Chinese students made up about a quarter of the cohort, followed by visa-holders from Colombia, Brazil, Thailand and Japan.

While he supported border closures for health reasons, Mr Blacker said the sector needed government assistance similar to what was recently provided to the aviation and tourism industries.

Mr Blacker said the industry would continue to lobby the federal government before the JobKeeper deadline.

“The battleground — it’s a difficult one when you don’t have the hearts and minds of the broader community to support what is such a great contributor, nationally, here in Australia,” he said.

“With competition — particularly from the UK, USA and Canada — really fierce at the moment, the risk is Australia will lose out.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment said the federal government had supported international education providers by waiving, delaying or refunding a majority of regulatory fees and charges.

Regulations were also relaxed to allow ELICOS providers to run courses online, the spokesman said.

“International students are an important part of the Australian community, and will be welcomed back to Australia when conditions allow,” the spokeswoman said.

“State and territory governments are leading planning for the return of international students to their jurisdictions.

“Any future moves to bring international students into Australia must be done safely and without impacting Australians who want to return home.”

In January, the ABC reported that 30 per cent of Australia’s 542,106 student visa holders were out of the country, leaving many uncertain about if they would be able to complete their courses in-person.

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Police detain hundreds as they shut down Russian opposition forum


Moscow: Police in Moscow detained about 200 people participating in a forum of independent members of municipal councils on Saturday, an action that came amid a multi-pronged crackdown on dissent by Russian authorities.

Police showed up at the gathering shortly after it opened at a Moscow hotel, saying all those present would be detained for taking part in an event organised by an “undesirable” organisation. A police officer leading the raid said the detained individuals would be taken to police precincts and charged with administrative violations.

One of the opposition supporters detained by police in Moscow on Saturday, March 13/Credit:AP

Moscow police said in a statement that they moved to stop the meeting because it violated coronavirus restrictions since many participants failed to wear masks. They said about 200 participants were detained, some of them allegedly members of an unspecified “undesirable” organisation.

OVD-Info, an independent group monitoring arrests and political repression, posted a list of more than 180 people who were detained. They included Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician who leads one of Moscow’s municipal districts; former Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeny Roizman; and Moscow municipal council member Yulia Galyamina.

Police started releasing the detainees after handing them court summons for participating in the activities of an “undesirable” organisation, which is an offence punishable by a fine. It was unclear how many remained in police custody on Saturday night.

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“Their goal was to scare people away from engaging in politics,” Andrei Pivovarov, a politician who helped organise the forum, said in a video recorded while he was in a police van.

Pivovarov has played a leading role in Open Russia, a group funded by self-exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

A 2015 law introduced criminal punishment for membership in “undesirable” organisations. The government has used the law to ban about 30 groups, including Open Russia.

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Four Sydney beaches shut for 24 hours after shark scare


It was a frightening experience for a surfer involved who says the brute took a chunk out of his board.

“We were about to start Nippers and a few of the boys who were surfing came in, including one with a sizeable dent to his board,” beachgoer Murray Cole told 9News.

Four Sydney beaches have been closed for 24 hours after a shark sighting at Cronulla.
Four Sydney beaches have been closed for 24 hours after a shark sighting at Cronulla. (Nine)

After alerting lifesavers at South Cronulla Beach, the water was cleared as jet skis, inflatables and drones began to search for suspects.

“He felt a pull on his leg rope and believed what he thought was a shark,” Surf Life Saving Sydney director Matt Spooner told 9News.

Chantelle Pusell, another beachgoer, said when she heard the shark alarm and then saw the police helicopter fly over the beach, she thought it was not an average sighting.

A surf lifesaver heads out into the water in Sydney's south after a shark sighting.
A surf lifesaver heads out into the water in Sydney’s south after a shark sighting. (Nine)

“I thought this was a bit more serious than a normal shark alarm,” she told 9News.

Lifesavers have issued a shark alert for right along the strip of the Shire’s foreshore, with Wanda, Eloura, North and South Cronulla closing their beaches for the next 24 hours.

The incident is now being investigated by the Department of Primary Industries.

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NSE hit by massive tech glitch, markets shut till further notice


The National Stock Exchange (NSE) was hit by another technical snag during the first half of the trading session on Wednesday.

According to stock brokers and dealers, the problem started with rates of Bank Nifty index were not updating and later spread to the Nifty index as well. They pointed out that the issue with Bank Nifty feeds started between 10 AM and 10.20 AM. Around 11.40 AM, the NSE said it was suspending trading across futures and options segment.

In the next few minutes, the NSE said it was suspending trading for the day until further notice.

NSE shut trading for entire markets till further notice.

Both Nifty and Bank Nifty are the largest traded derivative contracts of the NSE and the glitch caused market disruption just a day ahead of the February month futures and options expiry leading to much heartburn among traders.

Option writers benefit the most if markets are shut for trading as those who have bought or sold options loose out on time value, brokers said.

Bank Nifty index had gained 22 percent between February 1 and February 16 and fell by around 8 percent in the next few days. However, just two days ahead of the monthly derivative expiry, the index had started to move up again. On Wednesday, the index was up nearly 2 percent before it was hit by a tech glitch.

Before Wednesday, the NSE was hit by a massive tech glitch in December 2020.

Read more: NSE Clearing suffered a tech glitch before Nifty fell by 3%

NSE Clearing, the trade clearing and settlement arm of the NSE, was hit by a ‘technical glitch’ on December 21 that affected several stock brokers. Before the Nifty index witnessed its worst single day fall in nearly seven months by over 3 percent or 432 points, many brokers saw their trade orders being automatically deleted and some even had their terminals disabled.

In September 2020, the NSE Clearing arm suffered a tech glitch after SEBI introduced new margin norms. Also, pay-in and pay-out was disrupted for three days back then.

Read more: Tech glitches mar SEBI new margin regime

“NSE has multiple telecom links with two service providers to ensure redundancy and we have received communication from both the telecom service providers that there are issues with their links due to which there is an impact on NSE system. We are working on restoring the systems as soon as possible. In view of the above all the segments have been closed at 11.40 and will be restored as soon as the issue is resolved,” NSE Spokesperson said.

Although tech glitch has been a recurring phenomena for NSE for the past few years, SEBI has not made public any of its analysis of it. Last year, brokers association ANMI had even shot-off a letter to NSE alleging severe loss to its members due to tech glitch. In 2017,NSE had to suspend trading for three hours after a tech glitch.

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Amid Texas freeze, oil producers still shut; governor bans natural gas exports



Alvin Williams, 66, checks on his smartphone while taking a shelter at Gallery Furniture store which opened its door and transformed into a warming station after winter weather caused electricity blackouts in Houston, Texas, U.S. February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

February 18, 2021

By Devika Krishna Kumar, Gary McWilliams and Jennifer Hiller

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Texas oil producers and refiners remained shut for a fifth day on Wednesday after several days of blistering cold, and the governor ordered a ban on natural gas exports from the state to try to speed the restoration of power.

The cold snap, which has killed at least 21 people and knocked out power to more than 4 million people in Texas, is not expected to let up until this weekend.

Governor Greg Abbott directed Texas natural gas providers not to ship outside the state until Sunday and asked the state energy regulator to enforce his export ban.

“That will also increase the power that’s going to be produced and sent to homes here in Texas,” Abbott said at a news conference Wednesday.

The ban prompted a response from officials in Mexico, which relies on imports via pipeline from Texas. More than 40% of U.S. natural gas exports come from Texas.

Texas produces more natural gas and oil than any other U.S. state, and its operators, unlike those in North Dakota or Alaska, are not used to dealing with frigid temperatures.

The state accounts for roughly one-quarter of U.S. natural gas production, about 27.8 billion cubic feet per day, but it consumes only part of that, shipping the rest to other states or via pipeline to Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Texas’ energy sector has been hit hard by the cold, with about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of daily refining capacity shuttered and at least 1 million bpd of oil production out as well.

Natural gas output also slumped. At this time a week ago, Texas was producing about 7.9 billion cubic feet per day, but that fell to 1.9 billion on Wednesday, according to preliminary data from Refinitiv Eikon. Natural gas accounts for half of Texas’ power generation.

Christi Craddick, chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator, said late Wednesday the agency had received the governor’s request and was reviewing it.

The request set up a game of political football, according to a person familiar with the matter, between groups that do not have the authority to interfere with interstate commerce.

U.S. gas pipeline exports to Mexico dropped to 3.8 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day on Wednesday, down from an average over the past 30 days of 5.7 bcf, according to data from Refinitiv, about three-quarters of which comes from Texas.

Mexico’s economy minister, Tatiana Clouthier, said Wednesday she had contacted the U.S. government’s representative in Mexico, seeking to guarantee supplies of natural gas for Mexico during the cold snap.

“By not acting together, the results could be more complicated,” she said on Twitter.

One cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) loaded at Freeport LNG in Texas on Wednesday had been slated to sail to Mexico, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. The tanker remained off the coast of Texas. A Freeport LNG spokeswoman declined to comment.

Operations at Cheniere Energy’s Corpus Christi plant, the state’s largest LNG producer, were halted by weather disruptions this week. A spokesman declined to comment on the governor’s order.

Overall, daily U.S. natural gas production is down by roughly 19% from the end of last week to 71.9 bcf per day on Wednesday, according to preliminary Eikon data.

With more snow expected in key oil-and-gas production areas like the Permian and northern Louisiana, production is expected to stay offline through Friday, said Anna Lenzmeier, energy analyst at BTU Analytics.

“The second half of this week is shaping up to be just as tumultuous as the long weekend, and natural gas prices could continue to top triple digits before the weekend,” she said.

Several Texas ports, including Houston, Galveston and key LNG exporting sites at Freeport and Sabine Pass were closed due to weather, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jonathan Lally.

One bcf of gas can supply about 5 million U.S. homes per day.

Producers in the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield, said electrical outages were the main issue, and that until power was restored, restarting any frozen equipment would be challenging.

Roughly 1 million bpd of crude production has been halted, according to Wood Mackenzie analysts, and it could be weeks before it is fully restored.

The supply disruptions drove further increases in oil prices, which ended the session up more than 1.5%. U.S. natural gas climbed to a more than three-month high after rising more than 10% on Tuesday.

The freeze has also sent Canadian natural gas exports to the United States soaring to levels last seen in 2010, said IHS Markit analyst Ian Archer.

Net Canadian exports have jumped above 7.5 bcf a day for the last couple of days and Archer estimated they were close to 8 bcf per day on Wednesday.

“We are seeing just absolutely huge withdrawals and exports to the U.S.,” Archer said.

(Graphic: U.S. natural gas production slumps, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/gjnvwzalmpw/Pasted%20image%201613575433245.png)

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly, Laila Kearney and Scott DiSavino in New York, Nia Williams in Calgary and Arpan Varghese and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Leslie Adler and Kim Coghill)



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‘He nailed the door shut’: mum killed as children watched


 

Mum-of-three Rachel Thulborn had been in a controlling and violent relationship for more than five years when she finally mustered the courage to leave on a Sunday afternoon in October of 2008.

She packed bags for herself and the children aged four, two and 17 months and emerged from the bedroom to find her tormentor had screwed every window in the home shut and was in the process of nailing the front door closed.

The pair fought, Rachel begged to leave. But her partner strangled her into unconsciousness and shut their children in a bedroom of their Elimbah home, near Caboolture.

“Are you okay for this next part of the story,” asks Rachel’s beloved brother-in-law Tim Class-Auliff.

“Because I’m not. It’s nearly 13 years and I’m still not okay.

“Rachel was lying on the floor in an unconscious state and he went into the kitchen and got one of her kitchen knives.

“And the kids broke out of the room to watch him pushing that knife through her body several times into the floor.”

Rachel Thulborn was a mum, a chef, a sister, a friend, the daughter of an Anglican Minister and on that ill-fated Sunday she also became one of the tragic statistics of Queensland’s domestic violence death toll.

 

 

Rachel Mary Thulborn

Mr Class-Auliff and his wife spent five years in an emotionally and financially draining court battle to get custody of their niece and nephews who they adopted as their own after the tragic death of their mum.

Their father Mark Stephen Pringle was charged with murder but was sentenced for manslaughter after a Mental Health Court judge found he had a defence of diminished responsibility because he was suffering from a delusional disorder.

Pringle was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment but was released after serving just five and a half years behind bars.

Shockingly, the red tape, slow court system and Pringle’s insistence to fight the children’s aunt and uncle for custody every step of the way meant Mr Class-Auliff and his wife were only granted custody of the children three months before their killer dad walked free from jail.

Since Rachel’s death Mr Class-Auliff has dedicated his life to supporting victims of abuse and violence through organisations such as the Brisbane Homicide Victims Support Group and the White Ribbon foundation, determined to ensure no other family endure the same fate.

Mr Class-Auliff said it was imperative that the community band together to demand action on initiatives that can help to stamp out domestic violence. He welcomed the government’s commitment to pursuing coercive control legislation, saying it could have made a difference to women like Rachel.

 

Tim Class-Auliff has dedicated his life to stamping out domestic violence. Photo Steve Pohlner

Tim Class-Auliff has dedicated his life to stamping out domestic violence. Photo Steve Pohlner

“There were alarm bells when she got involved with this guy but we didn’t say much and then one day I visited and she had a black eye,” he said.

“We knew that coercive control was going on so we got her out but he did all the lovely things the roses and chocolates and the promise to get counselling and she went back.”

Rachel spent years as a victim of coercive control.

“A person who engages in this behaviour will do anything to maintain control” Mr Class-Auliff said.

“While he should have been working he was following her to work, he was checking her phone, checking her emails, telling her who she could see.

“There wasn’t violence in a big way but I found out later he whispered in her ear as they were walking out (when she went back to him): ‘if you try to leave me again I’ll f***ing kill you’.”

“He said, ‘then I’ll kill your mum and dad because I know where they live too’.”

Mr Class-Auliff said the ripple effect of Rachel’s death went far and wide.

“We went through hell after that,” he said.

“Her oldest (child) still has vivid nightmares of the whole situation, he is 16 going on 17 now but at the time he was only four,” he said.

“My wife was completely heartbroken.

“And my father-in-law was an Anglican Minister and it just completely broke him. He never recovered.”

Mr Class-Auliff begged the community to take action against domestic violence.

“Take some action, make some noise and speak to your local member and tell them you support moves to change the laws,” he said.

“We need as many voices as we can get to make a difference.”

 

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Originally published as ‘He nailed the door shut’: mum killed as children watched



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SA prepares to shut border to Greater Melbourne at midnight


South Australian authorities intend to shut the state’s border to Greater Melbourne at midnight tonight, following the emergence of a new Victorian cluster.

State emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said this afternoon that pending further information from Victorian health authorities, South Australia would shut its border at midnight to anyone travelling from the Greater Melbourne region, with exceptions for returning South Australian residents, those permanently relocating to SA or essential workers.

Under the planned directions, South Australian residents who return from Greater Melbourne after midnight tonight will need to quarantine at home for 14 days.

Those who return before midnight tonight will need to get tested for coronavirus on days one, five and 12 in line with the current requirements.

The restriction would not apply to travellers from regional Victoria, nor would the new arrangements affect border communities.

Stevens said he was unable to say when the border restriction would be lifted, with authorities intending to monitor the situation closely to open the border as soon as safely possible.

It comes after Victoria today reported the cluster linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport had grown to eight cases.

That includes two cases reported today – a hotel worker and a previous resident who left the hotel on February 7. 

The infections are believed to be linked to the highly-infectious UK variant of the disease.

“It’s a very dynamic and moving situation,” Stevens said.

“Our steps in South Australia are taken with an abundance of caution to make sure that we are minimising the risk, but at the same time not taking steps aren’t deemed to be necessary.”

Stevens said the direction might change between now and midnight, but authorities wanted to warn people of their intentions “as soon as possible so they can make those arrangements and cross that border if it’s necessary for them to do so before we make these changes”.

He said authorities were aware many South Australians were currently in Melbourne to attend the Australian Open, but they wanted to keep SA COVID-free ahead of the upcoming festival season.

“We know that this is a delicate position for people who may be in Victoria wishing to travel to South Australia or South Australians who may be looking to return,” he said.

“If you feel so strongly that you need to get back without quarantining then my advice would be that you consider what your options are immediately.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she was unable to say when authorities would confirm the midnight border closure, with SA Health still trying to gather information about the new cases from their Victorian counterparts.

“I do apologise because it is always so inconvenient to have any borders in place in Australia,” she said.

“However, from our perspective we have to keep in mind the health and safety and wellbeing of South Australians and we also have the Fringe and Festival coming up and we want to most positively have that go ahead.”

Spurrier said SA Health was yet to receive the genomic information about the Holiday Inn cases and the Victorian testing rates.

She said she was being “extra cautious” giving advice about the latest cluster, given the UK variant of COVID-19 is 70 per cent more transmissible.

“I am very concerned,” she said.

“We have had a number of cases associated with the hotel (and) we know what happened when we had the Parafield cluster here in South Australia, but on the other hand… we are in a better position.”

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