Aged care royal commission public split in the final days shows how controversial change will be

An extraordinary scene played out in the final hearings of the historic Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety yesterday.

It may have looked like a minor difference of opinion, but the public split between the two key people deciding the future for our elderly shows just how controversial real reform is going to be.

At 9:30am, counsel assisting, QCs Peter Gray and Peter Rozen, began detailing 124 recommendations they had made after spending two years examining more than 10,000 submissions, a comparable amount of government data and hearing some of the most heartbreaking stories of abuse, neglect and failures of regulation and governance.

It was their big day to put their far-reaching recommendations for reform before the royal commissioners, detailing how to transform a system which has been delivering substandard care for decades, but which successive governments have packaged as a privatised system of choice.

Ninety minutes in, counsel assisting Mr Gray had finished with his proposal for a new aged care act and the establishment of an independent aged care authority.

The current regulator — the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission — and the Department of Health have been roundly criticised at the royal commission for inadequacy and contributing to substandard care.

A new authority removed from the Government and Canberra would put the elderly first rather than worrying about the cost, according to the recommendation.

And that’s when things became interesting.

Independent regulator an ‘extraordinary proposal’, says commissioner

Lynelle Briggs, the first commissioner appointed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018, spoke up, reading from a prepared statement.

“The independent commission that you describe in your submissions is quite an extraordinary proposal and, indeed, some might even call it courageous,” she said.

“I am yet to hear you present arguments, counsel, as to how the commission model will improve the quality and safety of care for older Australians, or how any such benefits would outweigh the very substantial costs and disruption involved in such a radical transformation of the Government’s administrative machinery.”

Next, it was the turn of the other commissioner, Tony Pagone, who assured those watching that “obviously those remarks are not intended to be a final decision by us” and that conversely he was inclined to support an independent aged care authority, adding that he didn’t agree with Ms Brigg’s description of “courageous” as “quite the right description” for the regulator.

For the two commissioners to disagree so vehemently with each other during the final hearing and for one of them to question counsel assisting is the equivalent of a bar brawl in royal commission terms.

Give Government another chance: Briggs

One of the concerns of Ms Briggs is the cost of setting up an independent authority and its accountability when it has no link to the Minister and the Department of Health.

Royal commissioner Lynelle Briggs at the first public hearing of the Royal Commission for Aged Care Quality and Safety in 2018.(AAP: Kelly Barnes)

She says she wants to give the Department of Health and the Government another chance to fix things up.

“I’ve detected over the last year, a growing determination among officials and in the Government to fix the problems of the aged care system and to pursue a genuine reform agenda,” Ms Briggs said.

The commissioner favours what has been done before, reforming the system while keeping the same people.

She described making the regulator more robust so it was really the “tough cop on the beat” and a “one-stop shop” for complaints — the same phrases used by Health Minister Greg Hunt back in 2018 when he established the very regulator that has been found to be so woefully inadequate at this royal commission.

Mr Pagone disagreed.

He referred to evidence earlier in the day to make his point about the Government’s overwhelming concern with the bottom line — a cabinet-in-confidence document from 1997 when the Howard government effectively privatised aged care, noting how the Government lauded its reform because it “has saved billions since its introduction and continues to do so”.

Mr Pagone said that document “did show what some might regard a rather cynical approach — when you have the combination of the people spending money with those guiding the money.”

He supports counsel assisting, who say putting the elderly first has to be done by an authority that is not worried about the cost and that means being independent of the Government.

Staff ratios and register proposed among tough reforms

There’s no doubt the ambitious reforms are a lot to take in.

Almost 25 years after the Howard government handed the aged care system over to market forces, counsel assisting have presented an ambitious blueprint for change which will please neither the Government nor the industry.

The recommendations include:

  • A new aged care act
  • Three-and-a-half hours of direct care per resident per day
  • Stopping GPs prescribing antipsychotics
  • More Indigenous staff
  • A public star rating system allowing families to compare nursing homes for quality and safety
  • More nurses
  • An aged care pricing authority to tell the Government how much needs to be spent on aged care rather than the Government deciding what the Budget can afford
  • Registering all carers
  • Clearing the home care waiting list by the end of next year.

Normally, the public worries whether the Government will adopt the recommendations of a final report of a royal commission.

In this instance, we’re left wondering what happens next when the Commissioners are clearly in dispute with each other about a major reform. And we won’t find out until February next year.


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New Zealand side’s pre-season set to be split across Tasman

Warriors boss Cameron George will meet with the NRL next month to get a better understanding of the biosecurity measures proposed for pre-season training, but confirmed the two training set-ups would be adopted until Christmas.

All clubs are waiting for confirmation about whether players will need to re-enter a biosecurity bubble for pre-season training.

The Warriors pay tribute to Adam Blair for his final game by performing the ‘haka’.
Credit:NRL Photos

“It looks like we’ll be doing the two camps pre-Christmas because of the border situation,” George said. “We’ve made commitments to have an Australian-based group at Kiama and a New Zealand-based group at the same time. Justin Morgan will run the Kiama group and ‘Browny’ will be here in Auckland.

“We’re trying to eliminate as much as possible the isolation for players and allow them to be at home with their families for as long as they can.

“Then post-Christmas we don’t know where we will be at.”

Kiama has regularly hosted NRL clubs for training camps while the Kangaroos spent a week there this time last year ahead of the Wollongong Test against New Zealand.

Former Knights coach Nathan Brown will face some early logistical challenges at the Warriors.

Former Knights coach Nathan Brown will face some early logistical challenges at the Warriors.

The Warriors are awaiting on an exemption for Brown to enter New Zealand to get to work. The club were still working through which side of the Tasman prop Addin Fonua-Blake will start life as a Warrior.

The New Zealand club isolated in Tamworth before spending the season in Terrigal. The players’ preference is to return to the Central Coast if required, while George said Queensland’s Redcliffe, where their feeder club is based, is also an option.

There was a big win for the Warriors on Friday when the NSW-New Zealand one-way bubble officially started, which allows New Zealand residents avoid the otherwise mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

Such a move will make it easier for Warriors players and their families to travel to Australia, which was a major roadblock this year and saw star wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a return home in the middle of the season.

Kiama, home of the blowhole ... and now a few New Zealand Warriors players.

Kiama, home of the blowhole … and now a few New Zealand Warriors players.Credit:Istock

“It’s peace of mind for me, the club, the staff and all the players,” George said.

“What it means is those players who came home because their families could not get to Australia, that’s no longer an issue.”


The Warriors have Brown taking over as coach while Fonua-Blake, Kane Evans, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Aitken have all signed. Jack Murchie, who grew up on the south coast, will also join the club permanently.

The NRL have already commenced work on next year’s draw and are forging ahead in the thinking that games will return to New Zealand. By doing so, should the Warriors be forced back to Australia, the timeslots will not need to be altered.

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Sam Burgess news, Russell Crowe relationship, split, NRL news, Rabbitohs

Russell Crowe’s relationship with Sam Burgess is not what it once was, according to a report.

The South Sydney co-owner was tight with Burgess for years after luring the former rugby league star from the north of England to Australia in 2010 to play for his beloved Rabbitohs.

Crowe was close with the Brit and his family, and the pair’s emotional embrace after the Bunnies won the 2014 premiership is one of league’s most iconic images.

But their bond appears to have weakened as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Danny Weidler reports “communication between the pair has been limited during the past six months”, with some sources claiming it is now “non-existent”.

The revelation comes in the wake of Burgess standing down from his media commitments with Fox Sports and as a development coach at Souths after explosive allegations of violence and substance abuse were levelled against him in a report by The Australian last week.

Burgess, through his legal representation, has vigorously denied the accusations.

The 31-year-old did not appear in Moss Vale Local Court during the week as he fights an accusation he intimidated his father-in-law Mitchell Hooke last year. However, his lawyer claimed the footy player’s estranged wife Phoebe and her dad were acting out of “malice or retaliation” by orchestrating the allegations.

Crowe may be dragged into the scandal because of his role as Rabbitohs co-owner, with suggestions the Hollywood icon may have to front the NRL Integrity Unit to answer questions.

“I think we’ll see it go right to the top at South Sydney in terms of Russell Crowe — I reckon he will have to go in and answer questions from the Integrity Unit,” Fox Sports chief NRL reporter James Hooper said on NRL 360 on Monday.

Crowe has been a close ally of Burgess’ over the years. The retired footy star has previously spent time at Crowe’s Nana Glen home near Coffs Harbour, including when his relationship with Phoebe was on the rocks.

The NRL Integrity Unit and NSW Police have launched investigations after The Australian published the allegations against Burgess.

Souths coach Wayne Bennett has said repeatedly since the story broke it would not distract his players’ in their quest for a premiership — and he’s been right so far.

The Rabbitohs will face Penrith in next weekend’s preliminary final for a spot in the decider after beating the Eels 38-24 on Saturday night.

That result comes after Souths blew Newcastle off the park 46-20 in week one of the finals.

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Build Your Physique Quickly With This 3 Day Split

A 3 day split workout allows you train your entire body with just 3 sessions per week.

One advantage of a 3 day split is that you’re able to work out all of the different muscle groups in a way that allows you to finish training your entire body with just 3 sessions. It’s a time efficient and balanced way to maximize your strength and muscle gains.

The 3 day split is suitable for beginners and advanced lifters as it focuses on a lot of compound movements, meaning that 1 exercise can hit multiple muscle groups at once. You can also get plenty of time for recovery in-between your sessions so that you don’t have to worry about fatigue and overtraining as much – as long as your diet is in check and you’re getting enough protein!

Keep in mind that there are many variations of a 3 day split. Ahead you will find an effective 3 day split workout you can use to build up your physique quickly. Feel free to adjust the repetitions and weight of the exercises according to your own level of fitness. In terms of rest, it really depends on your fitness goals and the weights you are using. For example, more reps and lighter weight will require less rest time (45-90 seconds). Heavy weights with less reps will require more rest between sets (3 minutes).

Exercise Repetitions Sets
Day 1
Pull Ups 8-10 2-3
Lat Pulldown 8-12 4
Seated Cable Row 8-12 4
Preacher Curls 12-15 4
V-Bar Pulldowns 12-15 4
Standing Bicep Cable Curl 12-15 4
Back Hyperextension 12-15 4
Plank 1-2 Minutes 4
Day 2
Decline Press Ups 10-12 2-3
Bench Press 8-12 4
Pec Deck 12-15 4
Dumbbell Pullover 12-15 4
Kettlebell Swing 12-15 4
Tricep Rope Pulldown 12-15 4
T Press Up 12-16 4
Day 3
Elliptical Trainer 10 Minutes 1
Ab Roller 12-15 4
Barbell Squats 8-12 4
Hip Adduction Machine 12-15 4
Lying Leg Curl 12-15 4
Seated Leg Curl 12-15 4
Side Plank with Leg Raise 1-2 Minutes 4

Day 1: Back and Biceps

On the first day of the 3 day split you will train your back and biceps. One advantage of this combination is that back and biceps are both “pulling” muscles, so working them together allows you to indirectly get more workload on the bicep without having to target it directly.

Pull Ups

Grab the bar tightly with both hands with a fairly wide grip. Raise your feet off the floor and bend your knees, then pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down towards the floor. Make sure to get your chin at least past the bar before lowering yourself back down and repeat.

Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions as your warm up.

Lat Pulldown

Grab the bar tightly with both hands with a fairly wide grip. Pull it down towards your chest with your elbows pointed towards the floor. Keep your chest pushed out and squeeze your lats as you pull the bar down. Slowly let the bar back up and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Seated Cable Row

Place your feet firmly on the pads with your knees slightly bent and grab the handles with both hands. Keep your spine straight, head facing forward and push your chest out. With your elbows pointed towards your hips, pull the bar towards your torso and squeeze your lats, as if trying to make your shoulder blades touch. Slowly release it back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Preacher Curls

Preferably use an EZ curl bar. Grab it with both hands roughly your hip-width apart. As you exhale, begin to curl the bar towards your face. As you begin inhale, lower the bar back to the starting position slowly and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

V-Bar Pulldowns

Grab the V-Bar with both hands and take a seated position. Pull the handle towards your chest in a similar manner to the regular lat pulldown, but make sure your elbows are in, facing your torso. Slowly release the handle back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Standing Bicep Cable Curl

Grab the rope with both hands while standing with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Make sure your elbows are down by your hips. Curl the rope towards your shoulder and squeeze your biceps, then slowly return it back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Back Hyperextension

Anchor your feet on the bench and cross your arms on your chest. Start by lowering your upper body towards the floor in a bowing motion. Keep your glutes squeezed tight. When you get to a 45 degree angle, bring your body back up to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.


This full-body static exercise is a great finisher. Enter a plank position using your forearms for balance. Make sure that your elbows are planted on the floor and keep your glutes and abdomen tight throughout.

Do 4 sets of 1-2 minutes.

Day 2: Chest and Triceps

On the second day of this 3 day split you will train your chest and triceps. The same principle applies to this combination as your triceps are heavily engaged during pressing movements – which are most chest exercises. So it makes sense to train these muscle groups together to maximise your strength and muscle gains.

Decline Press Ups

Keep your body straight with your glutes and abs squeezed tight. Begin to lower your body towards the floor as you inhale, then press yourself back up to the starting position as your exhale and repeat.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as your warm up.

Bench Press

Lie on the bench with the bar located above your eyes. Grab the bar tightly with both hands using medium grip. Lift the bar up by straightening your arms and begin to lower it towards the middle of your chest. Try to briefly touch your chest with it as you inhale and then press it back up to the starting position as you exhale and repeat.

Read our article for tips on how to increase your bench press.

Do 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Pec Deck

This exercise is a great way to isolate your chest muscles. Adjust the seat to a height that sets the handles to the same level as your chest. Sit down and grab the handles. With your body in a fixed position, bring the handles together, but don’t let them touch in order to keep the tension in your muscles. Make sure to squeeze your chest as you perform the exercise and slowly release the handles back to the starting position, then repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Dumbbell Pullover

Position yourself on a flat bench and grab a dumbbell firmly with both hands. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and hold the dumbbell with both hands directly overhead. While keeping your arms straight, bend your shoulder and lower the dumbbell behind your head until it reaches the height of the bench. Then, raise the dumbbell back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Kettlebell Swing

Begin by standing in an upright position with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a half-squat position and grab the kettlebell firmly with both hands. Explode from this position, swinging the kettlebell to roughly the height of your chest. Then, return it back down to a half-squat position with the kettlebell between your legs in a single motion and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Tricep Rope Pulldown

Stand upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Grab the rope with both hands, with your elbows tucked into your sides close to your hips. Pull the rope down towards the floor and seperate it so that each is close to your legs. Slowly release it back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

T Press Up

Grab two dumbbells (preferably hexagonal) and enter a press up position. Lower your chest to the ground and press yourself back up. Once you reach the top position, raise one dumbbell off the ground and rotate your torso, then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement by alternating sides with each rep.

Do 4 sets of 12-16 repetitions.

Day 3: Legs and Abs

Training your legs and abs on the same day is a good combination because many of the leg exercises activate and engage your core, as well as your spine stabilizing muscles. Studies have actually shown that training your legs, especially with compound exercises like heavy barbell squats, can increase the levels of muscle building hormones in your body.

Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainer is a great way to raise your heart rate at the start of your workout. One of the main benefits of using the elliptical trainer over a treadmill is that it can greatly reduce the load on your joints, compared to running.

Do it for 10 minutes as your warm up.

Ab Roller

Start on your hands and knees and grab the handles of the ab wheel with both hands. Roll forward to the point where you feel like you can pull yourself back up. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your hips stable. Return back to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Barbell Squats

Start by placing the bar on your upper back with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar from the rack and take a small step back. Then, squat down to a 90 degree angle, while pushing your knees to the side and moving your hips back. Keep your chest pushed out throughout the movement and head in a neutral position looking forward. Then, squat back up returning to your starting position and repeat.

Recommended: Learn Proper Squat Form To Get Stronger

Do 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Hip Adduction Machine

Sit down with your back straight, against the pad. Breath out as you pull the legs together in an attempt to squeeze the pads. Once you have reached that point, breath in as you slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Lying Leg Curl

Lie down on the bench and adjust the pad to be slightly above your ankles. Now contract your hamstrings, bringing the pad towards your glutes. Slowly return it back down to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Seated Leg Curl

Adjust the seat so that it sits comfortably against your lower back, then adjust the pad to be slighly above your ankles. Start to extend your legs with your toes pointing up throughout. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Side Plank with Leg Raise

This is a great static finishing exercise that targets your glutes and obliques. To begin, enter a side plank position, resting on your forearm for balance with the other hand placed on your hips. If you need more balance, you can bend the leg that is touching the ground behind you. Start to raise the leg that is on top as high as you can and hold it. Then, return to the starting position and repeat.

Do 4 sets of 1-2 minutes.

This article first appeared on on 21st August, 2020.

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Liberal Party split on role on super funds in recovery

Either industry super funds are key players in the economic recovery, or they’re just a noisy lobby group that has forgotten its job. Who do we believe — Scott Morrison or one of his junior ministers?

Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Strange how industry super funds — and increasingly, the whole superannuation industry — are both an enemy to be smitten hip and thigh for the Liberal Party, and a saviour of the economy, when convenient.

Yesterday, as part of his grand 10-year manufacturing plan and its $1.3 billion business slush fund, Scott Morrison called for a Team Australia moment, saying “our government is determined to set a 10-year time horizon under this strategy where all parties — industry, workforce including unions, governments at all levels, capital including superannuation funds and our scientific and research community — are pulling together in the one direction”.

So, super funds, including the largest sub-sector, industry super, ought to get with the manufacturing program to help create 80,000 jobs in the government’s winner-picked industries, including mining companies.

Go deeper on the issues that matter.

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CDC reverses testing guidance; public split on vaccine

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The NSW Government is split on koala policy — this is why John Barilaro hates it

Whether the koala protection policy which has fractured NSW’s Coalition Government is any good depends on who you talk to.

In one corner, Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro reckons it’s a “nail in the coffin for farmers”, while on the other side of the divide, the Nature Conservation Council argues it will ensure “koalas don’t become extinct”.

Nationals MPs have been locked in meetings with Liberal colleagues since late last year about the koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

Mr Barilaro has demanded an emergency meeting to make amendments to the policy, which is yet to be officially adopted.

He’s refusing to support Government bills until his party’s demands are met, and today dropped a bomb on Macquarie Street when he declared his 19 MPs would effectively sit on the crossbench until their position was “considered”.

This is what’s plunged Australia’s most populous state into political chaos.

Why does the policy exist?

The new SEPP for Koala Habitat Protection will be a guideline used by the NSW Government to determine if the iconic animals would be threatened if land was cleared for development.

It applies to the entire state and includes an updated definition of what constitutes a “core koala habitat”, as well as a “streamlined” development application process.

The old SEPP was repealed on March 1, and the updated guidelines will force landowners to provide more evidence that proposed developments will not impact koala habitats.

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John Barilaro says Nationals were ‘betrayed’ by NSW Government on koala policy

Previously, a landowner did not have to consult their local council and could present their development application directly to the Department of Environment, Energy and Science for approval.

However, the updated SEPP includes a mandatory 28-day consultation period with local councils for developments.

If it passes that hurdle, the plans are then referred to the NSW Government for approval.

What’s changed?

The new regulations effectively mean farmers have to jump through more hoops if they want to clear land.

The types of trees included in the new SEPP are also a major point of contention.

Previously, the policy identified 10 koala feed trees based on science from 1995, and studies localised to NSW’s North Coast.

But the new regulations expand that definition, and include 123 trees identified by experts who say they are used by koalas for things like food, shelter and social needs.

Mr Barilaro says the new guidelines go too far, and singled out the inclusion of the cypress pine — a widespread species — in the new list of trees as being particularly egregious.

“If we were to support that we would become the laughing stock of regional and rural NSW,” he said.

Who is backing the bill?

While the Nationals clearly disagree with the regulations, there’s also plenty of support for the increased protections.

Nature Conservation Council chief executive Chris Gambian described the updated guidelines as “an extraordinary hill for the Nationals to want to do die on”.

“The koala policy is one small measure to ensure koalas don’t become extinct in NSW by 2050,” he said.

koala after bushfire
At least 5,000 koalas perished during the Black Summer bushfires, an Upper House inquiry found.(Supplied: M Fillinger)

Greens MP Jenny Leong said she was astounded by Mr Barilaro’s move, tweeting: “Imagine being so out of touch and arrogant you thought it was a good idea to spit the dummy because you wanted to be able to wipe out koalas.”

A June report estimated at least 5,000 koalas died in NSW during the Black Summer bushfires.

The report presented to the NSW Upper House claimed 80 per cent of some koala habitats were destroyed by blazes.

What’s the background?

Mr Barilaro has not been afraid to criticise the Liberal Party in the past, and his relationship with Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been strained plenty of times.

The Nationals leader admitted he did not give the Premier a heads-up before making his bombshell announcement today.

The Premier has previously dismissed the public barbs against the Liberal Party as “that’s just John Barilaro” but the ABC understands he was subsequently summoned to her office after his announcement today.

Gladys Berejiklian delivers her NSW Budget 2016 in Parliament on June 21, 2016.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was unaware of today’s announcement.(AAP: Paul Miller)

Last month, the Deputy Premier demanded the NSW Government loosen restrictions on the state’s border with Victoria by Christmas.

In 2017, Mr Barilaro said then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “lacked leadership” and should resign because he could not win the next election.

Earlier this year, he was also locked in a public spat with NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance over pre-selection for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro, which was the subject of a by-election.

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Coronavirus: Quarantine lists split UK as new Wales rules kick in

Image copyright
Getty Images

People arriving in Wales from Portugal, French Polynesia and six Greek islands must now self-isolate for 14 days.

Wales’ new coronavirus quarantine rules kicked in at 04:00 BST on Friday.

Arrivals to Scotland from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to self-isolate from 04:00 on Saturday.

With Portugal, Greece and French Polynesia still on England and Northern Ireland’s lists of travel corridors, the difference between UK nations has been criticised as confusing.

And some holidaymakers from England say they have spent money to avoid quarantine that, for now, will not be in place.

In Portugal, the seven-day infection rate has increased from 15.3 to 23 per 100,000 people. This is above the threshold of 20 which is when the UK government generally considers triggering quarantine conditions.

The Department for Transport said decisions around adding or removing countries from England’s quarantine list “take into account a range of factors” – including how many people are being tested.

“Portugal has drastically increased its testing capacity, as well as taking measures to control the spread of the virus,” said a spokesperson, adding the situation was being monitored closely.

The latest quarantine rules introduced in Wales also apply to travellers from Gibraltar. The six Greek islands the rules apply to are Crete, Mykonos, Zakynthos (or Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos.

Scotland reintroduced self-isolation measures for arrivals from Greece earlier in the week, and since added Portugal and French Polynesia to its list of countries requiring quarantine.

“This week’s data shows an increase in test positivity and cases per 100,000 in Portugal,” said Scottish justice minister Humza Yousaf.

Greece’s rate overall is below the “20 cases per 100,000” threshold, at 13.8 in the seven days to 2 September, down from 14.9 a week earlier.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionCoronavirus: How to fly during a global pandemic

Announcing that there were no additions or removals to England’s quarantine exemption list, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Thursday: “We continue to keep the travel corridor list under constant review and won’t hesitate to remove countries if needed.”

“Nonetheless, holidaymakers are reminded – 14-day quarantine countries can and do change at very short notice.”

Northern Ireland’s department of health also confirmed that it would not make any further changes at present.

The variety of rules across the four UK nations have drawn criticism from industry experts and holidaymakers.

“The quarantine policy is in tatters,” said Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy firm The PC Agency.

“Consumers are totally confused by the different approaches and it’s impossible to understand the government’s own criteria any more on when to add or remove a country.”

He called for a change in strategy as the weekly announcements have caused “anxiety and financial pain” for consumers and travel firms.

Expensive new flights

In a normal year, more than two million Britons visit Portugal. Most head to the Algarve in the south, drawn by sunny Atlantic beaches, picturesque fishing villages and golf courses.

Some holidaymakers have told the BBC they paid as much as £1,000 for flights to get home from Portugal in anticipation of the rules changing.

Kelly, from Birmingham, and her family changed their flights home from the Algarve from Saturday to Friday at a cost of £900 to avoid potential quarantine because she did not want her children to miss out on two weeks of school.

The 45-year-old said the situation was “absolutely disgusting”.

“It’s cost us a lot more money and it’s money we didn’t need to spend now. We’ve lost an extra night in our villa – we won’t get that back – we’ve got a hire car, so we’re taking that back a day early.”

A messy situation just got… messier

One aviation boss described travelling abroad right now as “quarantine roulette” because the list of destinations which are affected keeps changing.

But the governments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff are now clearly at odds over which countries pose a clear risk.

Portugal’s infection rate is above the UK government’s benchmark of 20 cases of the virus for every 100,000 people.

But the UK government has surprised us all and not added Portugal to the list for England. It’s not clear why.

Greece is even more complicated as the Welsh government is opting for a policy where only people arriving from certain Greek islands have to self-isolate while Scotland has introduced a quarantine for arrivals from across Greece.

For months the travel industry has been lobbying the UK government for an approach where they consider particular regions in a country, but ministers in London are not keen on the idea.

The quarantine was already hard or impossible to police.

But discrepancies between different UK nations makes it even harder as someone could, theoretically, fly into Newcastle from Greece and drive into Scotland. That person should self-isolate for 14 days, but no-one will be checking.

Damian Martin had switched his holiday destination from Spain to Lagos, Portugal, in a bid to avoid having to quarantine. But as he will not be able to travel home to Swansea early, he will have to self-isolate when he returns.

“I will be able to self-isolate, I think, but I work for a supermarket so will have to check in with them,” he said.

He added: “I’m supposed to be here eight nights. I might as well try to enjoy it.”

Image copyright
Damian Martin

Image caption

“Work had been full on so I decided to go,” said Damian Martin

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Days of speculation around this announcement meant many people rushed to pay extortionate prices for flights back to England to avoid having to quarantine on their return – only to now find out there was no need.

“The government knows this and yet it continues to offer no clarity around how these decisions are made.”

Are you currently on holiday in Portugal or Greece? Have you made plans to travel there? Share your thoughts by emailing .

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Ellyse Perry and Matt Toomua split: Stars announce end to their marriage

Australian cricket superstar Ellyse Perry and Aussie rugby union player Matt Toomua have called time on their relationship.

The sporting power couple, who tied the knot in 2015, released a joint statement confirming the news.

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Perry eyeing return

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