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Melbourne lockdown restrictions that could be eased first

LIVE Last updated October 14, 2020 11:29PM AEDT Melburnians will get their next taste of freedom on Sunday, moving toward step three of their lockdown exit plan.    Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said in the lead-up to October 19 that his team are currently mulling over which rules might be lifted, in the face…

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Last updated October 14, 2020 11:29PM AEDT

Melburnians will get their next taste of freedom on Sunday, moving toward step three of their lockdown exit plan. 
 

Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said in the lead-up to October 19 that his team are currently mulling over which rules might be lifted, in the face of the Victorian capital not reaching the less than five cases a day needed to completely move into the next stage of its lockdown roadmap. 

What Melburnians know for sure is that schools being reopened for all students will go ahead, with prep to Year 7 and VCE students returning this week. Students in Years 8 to 10 will return to the classroom from October 26. 

Removing the 5-kilometre limit on people’s movement is on the table – with the restriction being one of Melbourne’s most contentious. 

An increase in outdoor public gatherings of up to 10 people is likely, while up to five people from one household being allowed to visit another could also likely occur – though maybe not to the full extent. 

Restaurants and cafes – which under step three will be allowed to have predominantly outdoor seated service – could also see some limited changes. 

It comes as Mr Andrews gave one of the strongest indications yet that his state’s lockdown could be drawing to a close. 

During today’s media briefing, Mr Andrews said while some restrictions would likely ease on Sunday, he didn’t think the government would “be able to go as fast and as far as we thought”.

However, he said lockdowns were not “indefinite”.

“These measures come with a cost. There is a public health benefit, but there is also a cost … and that is why it’s so difficult to impose restrictions like this,” he said.

“This is not an indefinite arrangement … At some point, the cost of the restrictions will be greater than the increased risk and the increased challenge for our public health team to keep the virus suppressed if we open earlier than we had planned.”

RELATED: Should Dan Andrews have survived vote of no confidence? Have your say

Follow the latest coronavirus news in our live updates below.

Live Updates


Jack Gramenz

There are fears 83-year-old Pope Francis may have been exposed to the coronavirus after four members of his Swiss Guard tested positive, and now the Pope has promised to try and do a better job at social distancing.

The Pope has rarely been seen wearing a mask despite Italy being one of the worst affected countries since the early stages of the pandemic.

Neither he nor Australian Cardinal George Pell were wearing masks when they met the other day for the first time since Pell recently returned to the Vatican since he spent 13 months in prison after being convicted of child sexual abuse charges that were eventually overturned.

“I would like, as I usually do, to come close to you and greet you, but… it is better to keep your distance,” Pope Francis said at the end of a recent ceremony.

“Believe that if all of us, as good citizens, respect the prescriptions of the authorities, it will help to put an end to this pandemic,” the Argentinian said.

Pope Francis would be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 if he were to contract it due to his age.

He also had part of his lung removed several decades ago.


Victoria Craw

Health authorities in Queensland and Canberra are frantically tracing the steps of a woman who tested positive to COVID-19 in Melbourne.

Health Minister Steven Miles said on Wednesday there had been no new cases in the state but a Queensland woman had been infected.

“We are monitoring a case that has been advised to us from Victoria Health,” he said about a Townsville woman in her 30s who travelled from Cairns to Brisbane and then to Melbourne with no symptoms.

Three days after she arrived in Melbourne she returned a positive test.

“Most likely, she contracted it in Melbourne,” Mr Miles said. “We know this woman had been tested in a number of health care facilities,” Mr Miles said.

The woman is also believed to have passed through Canberra Airport on October 7 during her transit from Queensland to Victoria.

“The individual, who was tested positive three days after arriving in Melbourne, was asymptomatic during her stopover at Canberra Airport from 8.30am to 10am and wore a mask on all flights and in the airport,” ACT Health said in a statement today.

A Queenslander tested positive to COVID-19 while in Victoria.

It’s most likely they caught it in Melbourne, but Queensland Health contact tracing identified some locations the person visited before going to Victoria.

Updated list of locations is here: https://t.co/OmyotFySqs pic.twitter.com/uEhk3ZXpIQ

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) October 14, 2020

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

However authorities are taking no chances and studying the virus to see if it’s the same strain found in Townsville’s waste water. If a connection is found, it could push back Queensland’s next round of easing restrictions.

“We have a roadmap in place and everyone knows it gets reviewed at the end of the month,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Wednesday, while urging anyone with symptoms to get a test.


Natalie Brown

Melburnians will get their next taste of freedom on Sunday, moving toward step three of their lockdown exit plan. 

Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said in the lead-up to October 19 that his team are currently mulling over which rules might be lifted, in the face of the Victorian capital not reaching the less than five cases a day needed to completely move into the next stage of its lockdown roadmap. 

What Melburnians know for sure is that schools being reopened for all students will go ahead, with prep to Year 7 and VCE students returning this week. Students in Years 8 to 10 will return to the classroom from October 26. 

Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling

Removing the 5-kilometre limit on people’s movement is on the table – with the restriction being one of Melbourne’s most contentious. 

An increase in outdoor public gatherings of up to 10 people is likely, while up to five people from one household being allowed to visit another could also likely occur – though maybe not to the full extent. 

Restaurants and cafes – which under step three will be allowed to have predominantly outdoor seated service – could also see some limited changes. 

The long-awaited reopening of retail (including hairdressers and beauty salons) and outdoor entertainment venues is unlikely.

It comes as Mr Andrews gave one of the strongest indications yet that his state’s lockdown could be drawing to a close. 

Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling

During today’s media briefing, Mr Andrews said while some restrictions would likely ease on Sunday, he didn’t think the government would “be able to go as fast and as far as we thought”.

However, he said lockdowns were not “indefinite”.

“These measures come with a cost. There is a public health benefit, but there is also a cost … and that is why it’s so difficult to impose restrictions like this,” he said.

“This is not an indefinite arrangement … At some point, the cost of the restrictions will be greater than the increased risk and the increased challenge for our public health team to keep the virus suppressed if we open earlier than we had planned.”


Natalie Brown

Canberra Airport have urged anyone who was at Gate 13 or 14 on October 7 between 8:30am and 10am to monitor for coronavirus symptoms.

The ACT is racing to trace the movements of a Queensland woman who flew via Canberra to Victoria, where she tested positive to COVID-19.

Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles

“The individual, who was tested positive three days after arriving in Melbourne, was asymptomatic during her stopover at Canberra Airport from 8.30am to 10am and wore a mask on all flights and in the airport,” ACT Health said in a statement today.

“ACT Health is working with public health units in Victoria and Queensland to investigate and confirm her source of exposure, and contact tracing of flights is underway.

“ACT Health is contacting passengers and crew on flight QF1543 from Brisbane to Canberra, who may have been in close contact with this particular passenger.”


Lauren McMah

It’s the border reopening Australians have been waiting for – but after months of anticipation the reality could be more of a whimper than a bang.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble will open on Friday, when the first flight from New Zealand arrives in Australia.

Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders will be allowed to travel quarantine-free into NSW and the Northern Territory if they have not been in a COVID-19 hot spot in the previous 14 days.

Australians will be able to travel across the ditch at a later, still undetermined date.

Picture: NCA NewsWire/Kelly Barnes

The bubble will finally allow New Zealanders to reunite with Australian family and friends or enjoy their first overseas holiday since March without having to quarantine on arrival.

But they will still have to complete 14 days of quarantine when they return to New Zealand, at a personal cost of around $NZ$3100 ($2900) per person, which seems to have dulled interest in making the trans-Tasman trip.

Read the full story here.


Natalie Brown

NSW Health have issued a public health alert over three new locations in Western Sydney that have been visited by a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the listed times is considered a close contact and must get tested immediately and isolate for a full 14 days from exposure, even if they return a negative result:

  • Al-Jabr – A Different Class of Mathematics, 37 Queen St, Auburn on Thursday, October 8 between 4:30pm and 8:45pm and on Sunday, October 11 between 10am and 4:30pm
  • ACE Tutoring, 25 George St, Parramatta on Saturday, October 10 between 9:30am and 1:20pm

Anyone who attended Westfield Mount Druitt on Monday, October 12 between 11:30am and 1pm is considered a casual contact and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop.

They should then isolate until a negative test result is received.


Natalie Brown

Scott Morrison has once again hit out at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s tough border stance.

Touring parts of northern Queensland today alongside the state’s LNP leader Deb Frecklington, the PM said there needs to be a justified reason why Ms Palaszczuk’s border shutdown with NSW exists.

“The medical advice has to be transparent and it should be very clear and there shouldn’t be a double standard in terms of how these things are put in place,” he told reporters in Townsville this afternoon.

Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall

“The Federal Government has never sought to say to the Queensland Government that they should take their border down.

“We’ve never actually said that, we’ve just said if you’re going to have one, you have to be clear why it’s there and you have to run it in a way that’s fair.

“I understand that Queenslanders would like the fact that there’s a buffer and a protection when it comes to this virus…At some time when it’s safe to do so, you have to be able to lift it.

“Yes, the border for a time has been able to afford some protection, particularly from Victoria, but it does come at a cost.”


Natalie Brown

Liberal MP Tim Wilson has joined in the criticism of Melbourne’s lockdown, calling it “degrading and de-humanising”.

Also speaking to Karvelas this afternoon, Mr Wilson said the “reality” of the situation is that “Victorians are being humiliated”.

“It is concerning the steps that the state government isn’t prepared to take in light of what they’ve now admitted, which is that they aren’t confident they can meet their own roadmap,” he said.

“That’s why the federal government has been strong in making sure that we communicate the expectation we have to build the spirits and the confidence of Victorians to be able to find a safe normal for people to be able to get on with their lives.”

Mr Wilson said the “reproach” of the Andrews Government has been to “lock people down and lock communities down and lock businesses down and for them then to decide what they’re going to permit and what they’re going to open”.

“Other states have taken different approaches. They’ve taken approaches assuming that people should be free and then they should target their measures to what is necessary to preserve and protect public health,” he said.

“So, when the Premier says that, he’s making a choice about what he wants to do and the reality is, lockdowns are degrading. They are de-humanising and it is very serious.”


Natalie Brown

Karvelas asks Prof Doherty if NSW should be worried about its coronavirus status, after reporting 11 new cases of community transmission today.

“I think the question is, if they’re in clusters and they can be contact traced by the contact tracers, if they are known clusters, then we have got much less of a difficult situation,” he said.

“That’s obvious and we realise that. If they are community cases, they’re widely dispersed and they’re not basically obviously tied to anything else then there is reason to be very careful. So, it could be that we’re erring on the side of caution in Victoria, but we have had a pretty bad experience of this.”


Natalie Brown

One of Australia’s leading immunologists, Peter Doherty, has warned it only takes “one or two” people to derail Victoria’s hard work.

Speaking to Patricia Karvelas on the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing earlier, Professor Doherty was asked whether Melbourne was ready for a significant easing in its lockdown restrictions.

“The judgement on this is really whether we can keep it down and I know that contact tracing, Victoria did have problems at the beginning and I believe that the contact tracing now is in very, very good shape,” he said.

“I understand that things are good. Could it ramp up again? As I understand, it just takes one or two individuals to not really comply and do some things that are silly, either from ignorance or other motives and we have got a problem again.

“Victoria has been the pariah state because of the quarantine hotels. It is understandable that the government doesn’t want to put itself in the firing line because all the people who want us to open up will suddenly disappear from the scene as we know quickly. Politicians are good at scuttling off into the distance and we have seen that across-the-board here as in many other things.

“So, basically I think we have to go with what the state is saying because they’re the law apart from anything else and we all want to obey the law and when it comes to opening up and changing then basically, it is a discussion between the politicians. It is between the Premiers and the Prime Minister and their advisers and we all have to wait to see what happens. I’m as much in the dark as you are.

“This is a tricky virus though – it is what the Americans call whack-a-mole. You think you have hit it and there it is in Townsville or Shepparton where you don’t want it to be.”

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.