Victoria records one COVID-19 case, case average falls, Gladys Berejiklian under fire from Qld, WA over hotel quarantine comments, US COVID-19 cases skyrocket, Australia death toll at 905


The PM said there was similar arrangements already in place for seasonal workers to complete their quarantine on farms.

A committee of national cabinet will investigate how big companies could operate their own quarantine facilities “under strict guidelines and standards obviously overseen and accredited by state health authorities”, Mr Morrison said.

“The more of these options we can identify, the more of the other capacity it frees up,” he said.

Mr Morrison said decisions on alternative quarantine options would not be rushed through.

“There is no undue haste here. There are risks here. So what we agreed to today is, before we make any of those decisions, we want to know what the options are, we want to know whether they work and we want to know whether they’re safe,” he said.

“You don’t want to build that aeroplane in the sky, you don’t want to build it before it takes off and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”



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Victoria case average falls, NSW clusters grow, COVID-19 third wave hits US, Australia death toll at 905


“[We asked about] entertainment for a seated diner to try and improve the outdoor experience,” Mr Canny said. “[The] original advice was a definite no.”

Many publicans, including Dean Belle, owner of the The Delatite Hotel in Mansfield, had already cancelled their weekend gigs as a result of the advice.

But late on Thursday night, the regulator clarified the position stating live music was allowed for venues with seated diners, in what Mr Canny described as a “backflip”.

“Under stage three restrictions in regional Victoria, pubs are generally not permitted to operate unless they are operating for the purpose of either a bottleshop, providing food/drinks or providing accommodation,” a spokeswoman for the regulator told The Age.

“When a pub is operating for the purpose of providing food and drinks, music can be played, but the pub must be operating for the purpose of providing food and drinks to seated diners.

“For example, a pub cannot operate solely as a live music venue – it must operate for seated dining. All other requirements of the restrictions must be also complied with (for example, maintaining distances between tables, density requirements, records requirements etc).”



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Victoria records five COVID-19 cases, case average falls, Bathurst 1000 attendees urged testing, Oran Park cluster grows, Australia death toll at 905


“[We] are very keen to have more people working in the CBD in the next few months … If we see mask wearing go up we can increase the number of people on public transport, but we’re not there yet.”

It’s understood mask wearing on NSW transport has dropped by 50 per cent.

The Premier also shot a stern message to Queensland, saying it was time they “cough up more than $35 million they owe us” for hotel quarantine expenses.

She said NSW had been doing the heavy lifting when it came to quarantine.

“We’ve welcomed Australians back from all the other states. It’s about time Queensland coughed up. I want them to pay their bill, especially given they keep their border shut when they really don’t need to,” she said.

“When other states aren’t respectful of that it does get your goat up.”

The Premier said the same message applied to Western Australia, which owes NSW “$7 – 8 million as well.”



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Two Victorian schools closed as COVID cases spread to social housing block, Alerts for Bathurst 1000 visitors after virus found in raw sewage, Coronavirus cases surge across US, Australia death toll at 905


“This timeframe allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are,” Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said.

“We’re asking all these residents to come forward for asymptomatic testing at the dedicated testing station on site.”

The East Preston Islamic College has been closed for deep cleaning after it was revealed a student who was supposed to be self-isolating as they were a close contact of a positive case had attended school due to a misunderstanding.

“The college has taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning,” Mr Weimar said.

“We need everyone working together to tackle this virus, and that’s exactly what the school community is doing. Staff and students who are close contacts – and their households – have been identified and are quarantining for 14 days.

“Extensive contact tracing is underway and we expect that as part of this work, additional cases will be detected.”

The Dallas Brooks Primary School has also been closed for deep cleaning.

A text message was sent to residents in the northern suburbs, urging them to get tested if they experienced any symptoms.

Pop-up testing sites and a community outreach program will be launched today.

Banyule Community Health and Himilo Community Connect will doorknock the area on Thursday to alert residents to the outbreak and provide information about testing and supports like financial assistance for missing work.

“We’re asking everyone who lives in this area or who has loved ones linked to these suburbs to please get tested if they have symptoms and to share this information within their families and broader community,” Mr Weimar said.



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Victoria records three COVID-19 cases, case average falls, Brett Sutton avoided emails to hotel quarantine inquiry, NSW restrictions to relax for churches, Australia death toll at 905


Businesses covered by the exemptions include restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, function and reception centres, and wineries.

Mr Andrews has flagged that hospitality could reopen even sooner, based on the low numbers of new coronavirus cases the state has recorded this week – but not before Saturday’s AFL grand final in Brisbane.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne says they are encouraging hospitality venues to come up with “innovative” ways to operate outdoors.

This could include using car parks in the evening for pop-ups, he said.

“In talking with local government, it has been quite extraordinary the level of interest there is from hospitality venues to not only get up and thrive, but looking at really innovative ways that they want to operate in the future,” he said.

“We are looking, of course, at open space more generally, parks, and the innovation that local government and indeed the hospitality industry has shown really, I think, is going to be an exemplar not only for the state, but also for the nation, in terms of how we seek to move out of these restrictions to a more COVID-normal environment for the hospitality industry going forward.”

He said the government was removing “all hurdles” to support their efforts.

“We understand absolutely that for hospitality to really get back onto its feet, we need to not only provide the infrastructure support that we are providing, but today I can announce that the government has removed all hurdles to allow hospitality to in fact expand its operation outdoors,” he said.

“This planning scheme amendment is for the whole of Victoria. The opportunity is there for any hospitality venue that wishes to expand its existing legal operation to do so without having any hurdle in its way.”



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Disney’s sales plunge $12 billion in three months as pandemic takes its toll


To try to get some of that revenue back, the company said it would finally release “Mulan,” the action-adventure reboot that has been delayed several times since its March opening.

But the company said it would employ a patchwork approach to do so. The live-action film will be made available on Disney Plus in the United States beginning September 4 – at a cost of $US29.99. The same pattern will follow in Canada, Australia and some of Western Europe. Customers will be given indefinite access to the film in exchange for the fee, but only as long as they subscribe to Disney Plus.

In countries where Disney Plus is not offered or cinemas are widely open, meanwhile, the movie will go to cinemas. This will almost certainly include China, where the film is expected to generate a large percentage of its box office.

In moving the film to a digital platform in the United States, Disney is acknowledging that COVID-19 surges make unlikely the quick resumption of normal business – a belief embraced by other studios, which have either substantially postponed their movies to 2021 or pursued a more circumscribed American release plan.

Disney has settled on a patchwork approach to release “Mulan”.Credit:Disney

The “Mulan” announcement also finally resolves what had been one of the great ambiguities of corona-era Hollywood.

Where many movies – including those from Disney – had either been postponed to the end of 2020 or moved quickly to digital, “Mulan” had remained in a kind of purgatory, postponed several times as the studio sought to bring it to cinemas around the world.

With the move, Disney has decided on a solution, if a hybrid one. It will bring out the film in theatres in some countries but not others, and it is taking it to a subscription streaming platform but still charging a supersized cinema price.

Disney’s $US11.78 billion in revenue in the quarter was lower than the $US12.37 billion many analysts expected, though earnings-per-share of 8 US cents was above the 64-US cent loss many forecast.

The company saw major revenue drops in several business units compared to 2019.

Theme parks plummet

Theme parks saw a plummet from $US6.58 billion to $US983 million, a plunge of 85 per cent. No American or European park was open in the quarter, while parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong reopened only midway during the period.

Equally concerning for Disney have been the few rays of theme-park light since the quarter ended. The company reopened Disney World in Florida last month to begin rebuilding its revenue pipeline. But chief financial officer Christine McCarthy acknowledged the move has not panned out as hoped.

“The upside we’re seeing is less than we originally expected given the surge of COVID-19 in Florida,” she told analysts.

Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said that the park has experienced a “higher-than-expected level of cancellations” as people decide not to travel to Orlando, Florida, because of the virus.

With COVID cases on the rise, cancellations have also been mounting at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.

With COVID cases on the rise, cancellations have also been mounting at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. Credit:AP

The company’s studio unit, which did not release any major new movies to cinemas, saw revenue drop from $US3.8 billion during the quarter last year to $US1.74 billion this year, a slide of 55 per cent .

Its TV unit, however, was able to hold the line, as revenue stayed mostly flat at $US6.6 billion compared to $US6.7 billion last year, with many advertisers already paid up through the quarter. Harsher effects could be felt in the months ahead with the lack of new shows and a slowdown in the ad-sales market.

One of the rare bright spots in the quarter was Disney Plus, the streaming service the company launched in November. Disney executives said on a conference call it now has 60.5 million subscribers worldwide after moving a number of previously theatrical movies to the service, most notably “Hamilton” on July 4 weekend. The service is growing faster than many analysts expected, reaching 54.5 million in May and adding six million subscribers since.

The direct-to-consumer division, of which Plus is a part, saw revenue tick up slightly, by 2 per cent, from $US3.88 billion in the same quarter in 2019 to $US3.97 billion in 2020.

Still, with investment costs high, the company does not expect profitability from Disney Plus for several more years, and the direct-to-consumer division saw a loss of $US706 million in the quarter, 26 per cent more than last year.

“Mulan” is one way that challenge might be remedied: a product financed by another division that could bring revenue to the startup service.

‘Different approaches’

Disney executives acknowledged how uncommon the tack was but called it a necessary exception at this moment.

The pandemic has “forced us to consider different approaches and look for new opportunities,” Chapek said in an analyst call.

The move, though, is unusual even in the streaming world, which has typically offered an all-you-can-eat plan to subscribers in which all new content is available under the monthly fee. According to the “Mulan” plan, however, a customer must subscribe to the service just for the right to pay for the movie.

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By placing the movie exclusively on the service instead of making it available through cable or satellite providers, the company is gambling that the benefit of the new Disney Plus subscribers it attracts will outweigh the lost revenue from people who are not subscribers.

It also is making a financial calculation: by putting the movie exclusively on its own platform, Disney is avoiding handing over as much as 20 per cent of sales revenue to cable operators, as studios typically do with distributors.

Later in the call, Chapek seemed poised to rule out the possibility this could be a trial balloon but then stopped short of that position.

“We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off as opposed to trying to say there’s some new business-windowing model,” he said. But then he added, “That said, we find it very interesting to take a new offering to consumers at a $US29.99 price point and learn from it.”

The company’s stock price has not dropped during the pandemic, as bargain-hunters and long-term investors have sent the price up more than 20 per cent since lockdowns began in mid-March. On Tuesday, investors, apparently reacting to the digital “Mulan” announcement, sent the share price up 4 per cent in after-hours trading.

Keys to a comeback

Both Chapek and executive chairman Bob Iger face significant headwinds in the months ahead. Any hope of a Disney comeback in the last six months of 2020 will turn on several factors related to the pandemic: Whether sports, particularly the NBA and Major League Baseball, can continue uninterrupted and bring much-needed revenue to ESPN; whether prime-time shows can begin shooting to ensure a reasonable start to the broadcast-network season in the northern hemisphere autumn; and whether enough cinemas can reopen in the United States and around the world to begin collecting box office revenue.

While Mulan will not be in US cinemas, Disney has high hopes for November, when it has Pixar’s “Soul” and Marvel’s “Black Widow” scheduled to open.

Disneyland will also need to reopen if the company wishes to restore its theme parks to its past glory; the park remains closed under California orders. The parks are key to Disney’s financial fortunes: with $US6.76 billion in operating income last fiscal year, the division was the most profitable of any unit besides television.

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Victoria records one COVID-19 case, Daniel Andrews criticises Josh Frydenberg, NSW-Vic border could reopen within a month, Australia death toll at 905


Local golfers have splintered into two groups in response: those who believe the 24 hectares can be shared and those who think any change will undermine the nine-hole course.

Bill Jennings, who launched the We Play Golf at Northcote website, believes sharing the course is a slippery slope towards closing it to golfers.

Bill Jennings wants Northcote Golf Course to stay with golfers.Credit:Jason South

He said the public course was one of the few affordable ways for new and diverse players to discover golf.

“I think that golf’s not a very offensive sport when you’re talking about a public golf course. I understand the stereotypes about elite, entitled privileged white people characterised by people like Donald Trump and Sam Newman. That is not us. You know, people who play down there are not those people.”

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Mr Jennings wants to pause the debate to see how public space is used once hospitality reopens after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Melbourne residents are still barred from congregating in homes or hospitality venues until at least November 2.

Ruth Liston, from Northcote, has been using the park about three times a week during lockdown and was gutted that golf was resuming.

“It’s been an absolute lifesaver for us during lockdown for walks, for picnics for socially distancing with friends, for seeing people and feeling like part of a community, for connecting with nature,” Ms Liston said.

“Losing that on Wednesday is devastating. Because even though some of the restrictions have lifted … life’s not going to be normal for a long time.”

Read the full story here.



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Victoria considers scaling back hotel quarantine, NSW Premier says border with Victoria could open within month; Australian death toll climbs to 905


The former Aer Lingus boss said reliable and affordable testing would be more accurate and alleviate the need to police quarantine, which in the UK is required at people’s homes but is barely enforced.

“We need to get the economy moving again, and this just isn’t possible when you are asking people to quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

“It is our view that even if that quarantine period is reduced to, say, seven days, people won’t travel here and the UK will get left behind.”

But he said there had been little interest among governments in establishing cost-effective testing or health passports.

British Airways has slashed flights to the United States to fewer than half the 30 destinations it once serviced. Flights between London and New York have been cut from 12 to two times per day, with fewer than 200 passengers making that transatlantic crossing daily.

Read the rest of this story here.



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Victoria considers scaling back hotel quarantine, NSW Premier says border with Victoria could open within month; Australian death toll climbs to 905


The former Aer Lingus boss said reliable and affordable testing would be more accurate and alleviate the need to police quarantine, which in the UK is required at people’s homes but is barely enforced.

“We need to get the economy moving again, and this just isn’t possible when you are asking people to quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

“It is our view that even if that quarantine period is reduced to, say, seven days, people won’t travel here and the UK will get left behind.”

But he said there had been little interest among governments in establishing cost-effective testing or health passports.

British Airways has slashed flights to the United States to fewer than half the 30 destinations it once serviced. Flights between London and New York have been cut from 12 to two times per day, with fewer than 200 passengers making that transatlantic crossing daily.

Read the rest of this story here.



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Victoria records four COVID-19 cases, Victoria restrictions ease, Daniel Andrews criticised for overly cautious Melbourne lockkdown approach, Australia death toll at 905


So far all travel bubble attempts have had all the flaccid buoyancy of a prematurely released child’s party balloon, with some tacked-together versions in Europe proving disastrously ineffective and leading to damaging setbacks in the containment of COVID-19.

Back in April, the concept of a trans-Tasman travel bridge excited much optimism and excitement, all dashed by our own series of setbacks, including the pandemic plight of Victoria.

A token, partial bubble, allowing New Zealanders to visit NSW, the ACT and the Northern Territory, has the significant catch of a compulsory 14-day quarantine period for Kiwis on their return and no ability for Australians to cross the ditch.

A sudden upsurge in community-acquired cases in NSW has probably pushed the launch date of the trans-Tasman bubble even further back. Alongside that, the prospect of the tourism and airline industries’ survival, devoid of government bailouts, has become even less certain.

Now Singapore and Hong Kong, two destinations which have performed well in containing COVID-19 and which are hugely reliant on tourism, have, in the conspicuous absence of a vaccine, announced their own quarantine-free, rapid testing-dependent travel bubble which may well pre-empt the trans-Tasman equivalent.

Singapore, South Korea and Japan, with their admirable COVID-19 records, have been identified by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, noticeably short on any detail, as other likely travel bubble partners for Australia.

So, in reality, what will the witch’s brew-like ingredients need to be to not merely successfully launch a travel bubble but also to maintain one?

Read the full piece at traveller.com.au here



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