David Warner says he might miss tours in 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions


David Warner will weigh up skipping some tours in 2021, with cricket’s bio-secure bubble putting a strain on how much time he can spend with his family.

Warner is nearing the end of 100 days away from his wife and three daughters.

After leaving Australia for a white-ball series in England on August 23, Warner and 12 of his teammates flew straight to the UAE for the Indian Premier League.

They have since been whisked into two weeks of quarantine in Sydney, ahead of being reunited with their families on Thursday.

And he admits it is a factor weighing on his mind ahead of an uncertain 2021, where questions remain over a COVID-19 vaccine and international travel.

David Warner has been away from home since August 23.(AP: Trevor Collens)

Players will be able to see families in several windows during the home summer, but the year will still be full of time away.

Australia are scheduled to tour South Africa in February and March for three Tests, and could feature in the World Test Championship final in England in June.

That is followed by three ODIs and three T20s in late June and July, before three T20s against Sri Lanka in October leading into that format’s World Cup in India.

“It’s going to be very difficult to be able to [go on all tours],” Warner, now aged 34, said.

“The past six months has been quite challenging in itself getting used to these bubbles and not having the family with me.

“There are going to be times when you can come home and have time with your family. But you have that 14 days in place you have to do beforehand.

“Each individual will have to put their hand up and be brave and do that.”

David Warner grimaces as he plays a cut shot.
Warner was back to his sparking best on home soil against New Zealand.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

The veteran said last summer he could retire from either red or white-ball cricket by mid-2021 to prolong his career.

That was before Australia’s hosting of the T20 World Cup was pushed back from 2020 to 2022 and after next year’s in India, owing to the pandemic.

But with the next ODI World Cup not scheduled until 2023, the opener indicated that would most likely be the format he could miss games in.

“That’s something we have identified as players and coaching staff,” Warner said.

“The preference will be the T20 stuff over the next two years. And then gearing up for the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023.”

Meanwhile Warner also revealed on Monday he would likely not feature in the Big Bash while still playing international cricket.

AAP



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Newcastle Art Gallery resumes tours and programs – 16 News


Newcastle Art Gallery is set to reintroduce face-to-face educational programs and regular opening hours of 10am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The Gallery will maintain its contact tracing systems, additional cleaning and will limit visitor numbers to adhere to physical distancing requirements and ensure a safe environment is maintained for all patrons.

Public programs, including Art Cart, will recommence from November 14 with a maximum capacity of 10 participants and their parent/guardian per session. Guided tours will also recommence with a limited capacity per group, facilitated by volunteer guides. See the website  for session times and booking information.

Art Cart engages children with the exhibitions on display through discussion and art making. Led by Gallery educators, every weekend Art Cart engages with a different work of art on display, and the event is staged in the Gallery space as close as possible to the original work. Bookings are required as Art Cart will be initially returning every Saturday for two sessions and places will be limited.

Newcastle Art Gallery will continue to offer its digital programs. For more information, visit www.nag.org.au/home



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Queer theatre in outback Queensland seeks more council, government support for tours


In outback towns full of ringers, where red dirt and cattle trucks are the norm, something queer is happening — a Mardi Gras and a drag show have been huge hits this year.

Residents in the north-west Queensland towns of Cloncurry and Mount Isa were eager to join in the fun when performers arrived in a flurry of feathers and sequins.

Brisbane-based drag performance group Briefs Factory’s Mount Isa show late last month was a sell-out.

However, when initially seeking funding, the group’s founder and main performer, Fez Faanana, said he was told there wasn’t an audience in regional areas for such shows.

“This may be controversial, but [this stereotype] comes down from policy, from funding, through venues, it comes down from local councils,” Faanana said.

Producer Kate Malone said the scarcity of theatre in the outback was not from a lack of trying.

“So often we’re told by councils that their audience won’t like the theme, or that they’ve had their one circus show allocated for the year,” Ms Malone said.

Change in attitude

Briefs Factory co-founder Fez Faanana is often the group’s lead performer.(Supplied: Briefs Factory)

The Briefs Factory’s performance follows the success of an LGBTIQ+ Mardi Gras at a hotel in Cloncurry in February.

It was a first for the town, which voted no in the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite.

A large double-story white building with a green railing around the first floor in a country town.
Cloncurry’s first Mardi Gras was celebrated by locals and tourists in February.(ABC North West Queensland)

“I think the more noise, like Cloncurry and Mount Isa this year, is a sign that this should be a touring circuit for performers.”

He said after the COVID-19 impact on metropolitan theatres, regional tours would be an ideal option for performers.

“We don’t have a solution, but we definitely have a way of getting through this with a smile,” he said.

girls at party
Cloncurry voted against same-sex marriage in 2017, but just three years later held a Mardi Gras.(Supplied: Luke Chaplain)

Brisbane performer Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill said as a performer recovering from the pandemic’s fallout, he was facing an uphill battle.

“The fact that everything stopped — and the lack of support for the arts — was devastating,” he said.

Winmill said that outback festivals, such as Broken Heel in Broken Hill, showed that regional areas had become more accepting of queer theatre.

“It’s part of Australian history,” he said.

Old black-and-white photo of people and horses lined up outside a big white circus tent
Baker’s Paragon Circus visiting Georgetown in 1905 shows that touring performances have always been popular in regional Queensland.(Supplied: Queensland State Library)

Further support for outback performance

Faanana said he believed the term “regional tour” should be more accountable in the arts industry.

“If these companies are claiming that they’re doing regional tours, then that’s the box ticked and no-one looks at where they’re actually going,” he said.

A man splashes in a bird bath on stage while lit by purple lights.
Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill on stage during a Briefs Factory show.(Supplied: Briefs Factory/Kate Pardey)

Since the onset of pandemic, the Queensland Government has implemented more than $42.5 million worth of measures to support the arts and culture sector.

This includes the $22.5 million two-year Arts and Cultural Recovery Package announced in June 2020, aimed at securing jobs for artists and art workers, new creative work, reactivating venues across the state and delivering COVID-safe cultural experiences.

An Arts Queensland spokesperson said the organisation was evaluating the touring framework, in consultation with the sector.

The spokesperson said that all applicants for funding were asked to demonstrate how a project would support specific communities.

“LGBTIQ+ is one of the categories,” the spokesperson said.

Other categories include the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children and young people (0–25 years old), as well as people with a disability.



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Scheffler joins PGA Tour’s elite 59 club for early TPC Boston lead



FILE PHOTO: Aug 9, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Scottie Scheffler watches after teeing off on the 4th hole during the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

August 21, 2020

(Reuters) – PGA Tour rookie Scottie Scheffler became the newest member of golf’s 59 club with a sizzling display of shotmaking in Friday’s second round of the Northern Trust in Norton, Massachusetts, that earned him a share of the early clubhouse lead.

Less than two weeks after playing in the final pairing of the PGA Championship, Scheffler set a new TPC Boston course record with a 12-under-par 59 — just the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

The 24-year-old became the second-youngest player to shoot a 59 on the Tour, trailing only Justin Thomas, who was 23 when he accomplished the feat in 2017.

“Today was obviously a good day on the course,” said Scheffler, who needed just 23 putts in his round. “Had some key up-and-downs at the beginning of the round that kind of got me rolling, freed me up a little bit.

“Then the momentum just kind of kept going. Never really lost momentum, which was nice.”

World number 45 Scheffler rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th and then needed to play the final two holes in two-under to join Jim Furyk as the only player to shoot a 58 on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler’s birdie try from 22 feet at the penultimate hole rolled past the hole but then, after his second at the par-five 18th was short of the green, he managed to get up and down from 87 feet to join the exclusive club.

Overnight co-leader Australian Cameron Davis (65), playing one group behind Scheffler, also birdied the 18th to join the American atop the leaderboard, one shot clear of New Zealand’s Danny Lee (64).

This week’s tournament, open to the top 125 golfers in the season-long points standings, is the first of three playoff events that culminate with the Sept. 4-7 Tour Championship in Atlanta and the $15 million prize to the FedExCup champion.

Only the top 70 in the standings after this week go on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields outside Chicago, and from there the top 30 move on to Atlanta.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Chadband)





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Scheffler cards 59, but this one puts him in PGA Tour’s elite club



Aug 21, 2020; Norton, Massachusetts, USA; Scottie Scheffler hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at TPC of Boston. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

August 21, 2020

(Reuters) – Scottie Scheffler became the newest member of the PGA Tour’s 59 club on Friday and later said he actually reached the magical number in a round with friends this year and did not realize it until after leaving the course.

Scheffler, whose 12-under-par 59 at The Northern Trust was the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, said he also reached that number during the PGA Tour’s three-month COVID-19 hiatus.

The 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie said he played a socially distant round of golf with friends in Texas where he made a 20-foot eagle putt at the 18th for a 59 but walked off the green that day oblivious to what he had just accomplished.

“I didn’t know I shot 59 at the time. We were riding home and I was like, kind of adding everything up — because we were playing well. I wasn’t thinking about the score,” said Scheffler.

“I was just kind of going out and playing, and we were thinking about it on the way home and I counted it up like 10 times probably.

“I texted the guy who kept the score, and he actually got my score wrong on 17 and I had something else wrong at the beginning of the round. So I don’t know how we both messed it up but figured it out later.”

That was far from the case on Friday with plenty at stake in the FedExCup playoffs opener where Scheffler got up and down from 87 feet for birdie to join the exclusive club and set the TPC Boston course record in the process.

Perhaps luckily for Scheffler, his round on Friday was played in somewhat similar conditions to that in which he hit his first 59 given TPC Boston was closed to spectators because of the virus.

“There was nobody out there watching our group until I think 17 some cameras showed up,” said Scheffler. “So we were pretty much just out there having fun, hanging out. Just playing golf, really. There was not too much thinking going on for us.

“We were just kind of — everybody is in their own little world trying to do what they are doing. Wasn’t too

much activity.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)





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Murray calls for more mixed-gender events on main tours



FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Davis Cup Finals – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – November 20, 2019 Britain’s Andy Murray in action during his match against Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor REUTERS/Susana Vera

July 30, 2020

(Reuters) – Tennis is “missing a trick” by not including more team events involving both men and women on the main tours, three-times Grand Slam winner Andy Murray has said.

Mixed doubles is currently played only at the four Grand Slams on the professional tennis circuit.

“I think sports miss a bit of a trick with this stuff,” said Murray, who is taking part in the Battle of the Brits exhibition featuring male and female players.

“The Hopman Cup, for example, was a brilliant event in my opinion. The players enjoyed it. I played there a bunch of times and I loved it.”

The inaugural ATP Cup men’s team competition took the Hopman Cup’s Australian Open warm-up slot in 2020 but organisers have said it will return.

“Putting match-ups in tennis like Serena Williams and Roger Federer on the same court, it is so brilliant for our sport,” Murray told British media.

“We are able to do that in tennis and we should embrace it a little bit more, not necessarily every single week but at times it would be great. I would like to see Rafa (Nadal) on the court with some of the top female players.

“When I watched Roger and Serena playing, it was great. They were into it and I’m sure they enjoyed it as well.”

Murray said there was opportunities for other sports to embrace mixed-gender events.

“Golf is another sport where I think it would be interesting to see a mixed Ryder Cup event,” he said.

“Again it’s a sport where they are able to do it and they just miss out a little bit. I do think people really enjoy watching it, and the players like it too.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)





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Minecraft version of South Australian school created by students, to run virtual tours amid COVID-19


Students at Wallaroo Primary School on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula have recreated their entire school campus in Minecraft — during class time.

The game lets players build terrain, objects and structures from virtual blocks, producing colourful, three-dimensional images.

Armed with trundle wheels, it took a group of about 38 students 10 weeks to measure and then replicate their school, using the education version of the Minecraft program.

Technology teacher Damian McCarthy said the students were originally learning about hydraulics when he had to alter his lesson plans.

“With the social distancing and the COVID-19 stuff that has come into play, the kids weren’t actually able to work in small groups with each other,” he said.

A bird’s eye view of Wallaroo Primary School.(Supplied: Mojang)

Confronted with the problem of not being able to physically attend school, the students came up with idea of creating a virtual version.

Mr McCarthy had to make sure the lessons followed COVID-19 social distancing rules.

“The kids had to be separated due to the COVID-19 stuff and the best way to do that was for the kids to actually be on separate devices,” he said.

“With the COVID weeks involved, we had a fair few classes of 50 per cent (on-site) so there was work done, it was just at a slow pace.”

Throughout the process, the students learnt about ratio, area, perimeter, teamwork and used critical thinking.

Runaway turtle and other unique difficulties

Year 6 student A’Edan was responsible for building the playground, floors and an enclosure for the school’s pet turtle, Squirtle.

It proved to be easier said than done.

“We started off with wooden blocks and sand in the middle, glass and then water, but we couldn’t get the egg to hatch,” he said.

A laptop screen shows an animated green turtle in a glass enclosure.
The students had some difficulties keeping the school’s pet turtle, Squirtle, in its virtual enclosure.(ABC North and West: Shannon Corvo/Mojang)

“Then I found a code that gives me an invisible block called a ‘barrier block’ to block the top so it couldn’t jump out.”

Year 7 student Marnie said another issue they faced was making both the inside and outside of the buildings match the proportions of the real life structures.

“By doing the ratio of one over one, which is one block equals one metre, we found that the rooms appeared squished and smaller than what they were in real life,” she said.

A virtual room with computer screens and a green turtle in a glass enclosure.
This is one of many classrooms built by the students in Minecraft.(Supplied: Mojang)

One-of-a-kind school tours

The students will now plan virtual “fly-through” school tours.

“I’m going to have the Year 6/7s present a walkthrough to a student from another student’s point of view,” Mr McCarthy said.

There are also plans to display student work in the library of the digital world.

“There are going to be some Narungga books in there, different creative stories and a couple of persuasive text pieces,” he said.

Two boys and two girls sitting at a table with laptops in a library.
Roughly 38 students are involved in the project.(ABC North and West: Shannon Corvo)

Timely benefits of game-based learning

Associate Director of the Digital Media Research Centre at the Queensland University of Technology, Michael Dezuanni, has been studying Minecraft for the past six or so years.

Mr Dezuanni said there were multiple benefits to using the program as an educational tool in schools.

A man in a black shirt and dark blue blazer wearing glasses stands in front of a white background.
Associate Director Michael Dezuanni said video game-based learning can benefit students.(Supplied: Queensland University of Technology)

“When we see engagement with a game like this, we see that there’s a great deal of enthusiasm from the students and that they really want to learn.”

He said it provided a sense of connection for people who might be in self-isolation or working from home.



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How realtors are giving virtual home tours in the absence of open houses during the pandemic


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“I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” says Tom MacDonald. “I started when something electronic was the acceptance of a contract with a telegram.”

MacDonald heads up his own realty group in California’s Central Valley, and like most realtors, his business in recent months is depending on technology more than ever before. Jurisdictions across the U.S. have responded to the coronavirus with an array of restrictions, including a total ban on traditional open houses in California.

So in the absence of baked-cookie scents and mingling strangers, MacDonald and other realtors are turning to tools that help them show off houses online. This allows for more immersion than was possible just a few years ago, and makes it easier and less expensive for realtors to put a property’s best foot forward.

These new tools include so-called “virtual staging,” in which images of a property have lifelike decor added to them digitally using 3D modeling and Photoshop. They also increasingly include digital walkthroughs of various kinds, verging on full-blown virtual reality. And while many serious buyers still want to see the property in person before signing on the dotted line, realtors and entrepreneurs believe the new marketing tools will stick around well after coronavirus pandemic is under control.

“Because a lot of open houses and conventional staging companies were not operational during the lockdown … we were actually busier,” says Young Kim, cofounder of Vancouver-based Bella Staging.

Bella specializes in virtual staging, the digital evolution of the common practice of temporarily redecorating a house to impress potential buyers. But instead of renting real furniture and hiring movers to haul it in, which can cost into the thousands of dollars, Bella adds furniture to photos of an empty house using digital wizardry. According to Kim, his team of designers and photo editors can virtually stage an entire house for under $100.

The decor in this room is almost entirely computer-generated—just one example of how technology is helping sell homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bella Staging

That occasionally leads to confusion. “There’ve been times our clients have had offers on a property, and the buyers wanted the [virtual] furniture included,” says Kim—but for the most part, clients understand that virtual staging is an exercise of imagination. “We help paint the picture of what it can be.”

Another digital tool that has seen a surge in relevance is the virtual walkthrough, which gives potential buyers a more immersive sense of the space. At the very high end, those can be built as full-blown virtual reality experiences using a 3D-rendered simulation. But more common (and affordable) are walkthroughs created using 360-degree photos.

“It gives you a feel for the place. How big it is, what’s the layout,” says Bartek Drozdz, cofounder of Kuula, whose core product he describes as “like Powerpoint for virtual tours.” Users take their own photos, then use Kuula to arrange them into an immersive home-tour experience. (One downside is that Kuula doesn’t allow for the addition of virtual decor, instead capturing a house’s real-life appearance.)

Drozdz says he’s seen a significant uptick in interest and web traffic during the pandemic. But growth at Kuula was steady for years before the coronavirus hit, and Drozdz sees lockdowns as accelerating a longterm change in homebuying, rather than a temporary shift. That’s because of a simple reality: even in normal times, open houses aren’t always an efficient way to shop for a home.

“In L.A., with the traffic, you have to drive for an hour to see a house you don’t like the moment you walk in,” says Drozdz. While sites like Zillow have been shifting more of the homebuying process online for well over a decade, immersive experiences take that to the next level.

MacDonald agrees: “I think this will change longterm how homes are sold. People are becoming very comfortable with sitting in their living room, using their Apple TV to look at real estate.” MacDonald says most shoppers do still want to see their new home in person before committing to a purchase, but the new tools give added confidence to some, such as cross-country movers, who snap up properties without ever setting foot in them.

Thanks in part to these digital tools (but also a lot of help from record-low mortgage rates), the real estate business overall appears to be holding up during the pandemic. In May, according to the National Association of Realtors, contract signings were off just 5.1% compared to the year before. That’s a minor drop compared to many sectors of the economy.

In fact, with supplies tight, U.S. home prices have actually gone up on average in recent months. Combined with job losses and economic uncertainty, that might make it tough for some people to buy a new home, even as stay-at-home orders have highlighted the shortcomings of their current one.

“Almost everybody during this pandemic is learning how their space isn’t working for them,” says Sally Huang, who directs visual technologies for online home design community Houzz. The site offers an online visualization tool called “View in my Room” that lets shoppers virtually check the size and style of furniture against their living space.

So whether you’re on the hunt for a new house to love, or trying to love the house you’re in, you can do more of that work online than ever before.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

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Cricket Australia cuts 40 staff, international tours, to save $40 million after coronavirus pandemic


Cricket Australia will cut 40 staff and slash executive pay as part of a restructuring effort to shore up finances hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the board has announced.

The cost-cutting measures, which also include the suspension of international tours for Australia A, will save the board up to $40 million a year and “partly mitigate” the impact of COVID-19 on revenue.

“We recognise that this is a difficult time for Cricket Australia employees, particularly for those staff members affected by these redundancies and their families,” CA chairman Earl Eddings said.

“However, our responsibility is clear — to navigate a path for cricket through this period of uncertainty and disruption to ensure we come out the other side sustainable in the short term and prosperous in the long term.”

Former Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts resigned this week after mounting pressure over his handling of the pandemic.(AAP: David Crosling)

The restructuring details come a day after the board announced Kevin Roberts had resigned as chief executive with immediate effect.

CA have already furloughed about 80 per cent of its workforce in April and cut executive pay to “proactively” manage the impact of COVID-19.

Reuters



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Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to reopen June 19, tours and cultural centre to remain closed


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will be open to visitors once more from June 19, Parks Australia has confirmed.

Stage one of the reopening means walking tracks and sunrise and sunset viewing areas will be open, but the cultural centre will remain closed and there will be no guided tours or group activities.

Director of National Parks, James Findlay, said walking paths may also be one-directional or have other restrictions in place, and there were will extra cleaning of high-contact areas along with more handwash stations.

“Visitors can take a walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole, hike around the base of Uluru or explore Kata Tjuta’s breathtaking views,” Dr Findlay said.

Sightseers are asked to keep up social distancing.

Kakadu National Park will also reopen the same day, but for day use only, between 8am and 5pm.

However it will be mostly Territorians that visit the parks, as any interstate visitors must still quarantine for 14 days upon entering the Northern Territory, but from Monday they no longer have to do it in commercial accommodation at their own cost.

From June 19, Uluru sunrise and sunset viewing areas will be open, but the cultural centre will remain closed.(AAP/Lukas Coch)

Accommodation options

Ayers Rock Resort said it will also have its campground and caravan park open from June 19.

Further limited accommodation options will be available from July 1 to coincide with the NT Government’s tourism voucher scheme.

But Grant Hunt, CEO of Voyages, the company that owns the resort, said their other facilities in Yulara will not come online until August, depending on border restrictions being lifted.

“We’re in heavy dialogue with Jetstar in particular about providing flight services from Victoria and New South Wales, that’s the date we’d like to be going from and all our plans are geared around that,” Mr Hunt said.

“All of our tours and activities and restaurants, including Field of Lights, will be open [from August].”

The resort was not expecting many visitors before August, and there was little financial incentive for the partial reopening of accommodation before then.

“It’s probably a loss-making affair, but we think that for the benefit for Territorians, and particularly aligning with the NT Government’s initiative on the voucher system, it’s the least we can do as major players in the Territory,” Mr Hunt said.

“Even until the international borders are reopened, it will be a very much reduced scale of operation.

“We don’t expect full recovery until probably the 2023 financial year, this is a long process for us … we’re just keen to get going, and if the first guests that we have are Territorians, all the better.”



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