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Local News - Victoria

Up to 50% of city workers to return to office from Monday, mask rules relaxed


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“To get to this eight days in a row of zero is no small thing and it’s a credit to all of our public health team and a credit to all Victorians who play their part in doing so,” he said.

However, Mr Andrews predicted that many Victorians would continue to work from home, saying flexible working arrangements were no longer “a concept”, but “the lived experience for many people over a long year”.

“They’re gonna want much more flexible working arrangements,” he said.

“They can do the job from home for some part of the week and they’re going to want to do that.

“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from many, many very big employers about productivity not really being impacted, [and] in fact, in many cases, actually being enhanced by people working in a much more flexible way.”

The return-to-work schedule was pushed back last Wednesday, when there were 28 active cases of COVID-19, and a man with no apparent link to the Black Rock cluster was diagnosed with the virus.

From Monday, up to half of all private sector workers can begin working from their desks again, while Victoria’s public service, the city’s largest employer, can bring back up to a quarter of staff.

Mr Andrews said the government had capped the return of public servants at a lower setting to give the private sector more capacity to bring workers back.

The news will be welcomed by many thousands of Victorians who have been working from makeshift home offices since March.

However, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce expects the return to be a slow, drawn-out process and major employers, including NAB, Westpac and ANZ, have said their staff will return in stages, mostly from next month.

As The Age revealed on Wednesday, a Fair Work Commission survey found that only 5 per cent of workers want to return to the office full-time.

The survey of 322 users of the social media site LinkedIn by researchers at Swinburne University found that 35 per cent of participants would prefer to work from home every day, and a majority would like to split their time between home and office.

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One of the report’s authors, John Hopkins, said most employers were developing plans to allow flexible work arrangements, but, in some cases, they were insisting workers return to the office full-time.

Industrial lawyers have warned workers could be sacked if they refuse a request from their employer to return to the office once their workplace is deemed safe and the Victorian government relaxes restrictions on attendance.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said authorities were “relatively confident” there was no community transmission in Victoria, but urged people to remain vigilant.

“What we’d like to do is encourage employers to be flexible to allow staggered start times,” he said. “Employers hopefully understand the need to be flexible and to make sure that not everyone’s going into the building at the same time, but obviously it will be different for different employers.”

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Pre-COVID, almost half the estimated 1 million people who travelled into the CBD every day did so for work, leaving CBD businesses heavily reliant on office workers for financial survival.

At the 2016 census there were 37,341 residents of the CBD, almost half (45 per cent) of whom were students.

But since Australia shut its borders in March, applications by foreign citizens to study in Australia have collapsed by more than 80 per cent. The number of international students is expected to be half its pre-pandemic total by mid 2021.

Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp said having office workers return to the CBD would be a lifeline for city retail and hospitality businesses.

Mr Andrews said: “This will be a massive boost not only for the office workplaces in the heart of Melbourne, but the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops that rely on their business – it will be fantastic to see the city coming alive again.”

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Local News - Victoria

Bail relaxed for Auscoin founder to attend wedding, manage souvlaki stores


In seeking the changes, defence counsel Dermot Dann, QC, said Mr Karagiozis had complied with bail conditions since his release and wanted a curfew condition dropped so he could be best man to his brother George on January 30 and attend the bucks night two weeks earlier. Seeing his brother get married would “hopefully be a once-in-a-lifetime event”, Mr Dann said.

Mr Dann said the dropping of the curfew would also allow his client to be at his souvlaki stores at night. Mr Karagiozis has up to 10 stores, the court heard, but had been unable to be at any outlets in Melbourne’s outer suburbs because of the nightly curfew.

The accused man’s partner is also due to give birth in April and the couple wanted to avoid any potential trouble from them going to hospital at night, Mr Dann said.

Prosecutors opposed granting variations to Mr Karagiozis’ bail given the serious charges against him, but magistrate Andrew McKenna ruled there was justification in seeking the changes because a wedding was an important part of people’s lives and the request was not unreasonable.

However, Mr McKenna warned Mr Karagiozis could not discuss his charges or court case with co-accused Fox Emmanuel-O’Neil, who is also part of the bridal party. There is a non-association clause in Mr Karagiozis’ bail conditions, but it will be suspended for when the men attend the bucks night and wedding.

“They can talk about how wonderfully well the night is going or the weather or the pandemic, but nothing about the proceedings,” the magistrate said.

Mr Karagiozis, of Bulleen, is on a $600,000 surety and must report to police twice a week and cannot leave Victoria under the conditions of his bail.

He and Mr Emmanuel-O’Neil, a 34-year-old Victorian police officer, will appear before a hearing in March which will determine whether they face trial.

Tuesday’s hearing was told prosecutors and police considered their case against Mr Karagiozis stronger than when he was first charged in March 2019 because of the statements of witnesses who alleged he was the ringleader of the drug syndicate.

Police allege the syndicate used the dark web and bitcoin accounts to source, buy and distribute drugs as part of a multimillion-dollar importation operation.



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Australian News

Hundreds arrive in WA as tough border stance relaxed


Up to 1600 people are driving and flying into WA on the first day of the state’s relaxed border restrictions, with families happily reuniting after months of forced separation.

At midnight, WA moved to a “controlled border”, allowing travellers from every jurisdiction except Victoria and NSW to enter without quarantining, but they must register on the G2G PASS app and declare whether they are suffering any COVID-19 symptoms.

Travellers from NSW and Victoria must self-quarantine for two weeks and be tested for coronavirus on day 11.

WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said that as of 11am WST, 205 people had driven through the South Australia border checkpoint at Eucla and 97 had crossed the Northern Territory checkpoint at Kununurra.

“Both of those border points are operating smoothly,” he said.

“Today, we expect to see between 1200 and 1300 travellers arriving by domestic aircraft and that’s by comparison to only 281 as of yesterday.”

More than 3000 applications to enter the state had been lodged in the G2G system between 10pm WST on Friday night and 11am WST on Saturday, he said.

Airport arrivals are being temperature-checked, met by police and handed a face mask to wear while they are being processed and travel to their quarantine location.

“And police officers will scan their G2G pass,” Assistant Commissioner Steel said.

“Providing their details are finalised and all correct, there will be a short conversation with police officers where they will just reinforce the quarantine requirements, issue the people with their 11 day testing notification … and the people will be free to come out and collect their bags, and leave the airport.”

He urged travellers to be patient during the process, during which they must re-declare whether they have any symptoms of the virus.

People also have to declare if they have knowingly had any direct contact with someone from Victoria and NSW in the prior 14 days. If so, they must quarantine.

“There is an element of trust in asking people to make a declaration but in doing so they commit an offence if they make a false declaration,” Assistant Commissioner Steel said.

“Those people who disregard their quarantine requirements, disregard the community of Western Australia, they should expect to be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“We’d ask anyone who is going to be subject to quarantine requirements to download the G2G Now app.

“This app enables people to complete their compliance check-ins for their quarantine easily by taking a selfie – it takes a few seconds – rather than waiting for police officers to knock on their door some time in the day or night.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan says Victoria and NSW will need to reach 28 days of no community spread before consideration can be given to easing the rules for those states.

As of Friday, Victoria had gone 14 days without a locally-acquired case, while NSW hadn’t had one in seven days.

In WA, it has been seven months.

The state government has warned the hard border will be reinstated if there is an outbreak.

The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nurses Federation claim WA is not prepared for an outbreak, saying the health system cannot cope, but Mr McGowan has labelled the commentary scaremongering.



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Coronavirus rules to be relaxed to bring big crowds back to stadiums, concerts, pubs, restaurants and other venues around Australia


Thousands of fans would be able to attend sporting events again and limits on the numbers of people in indoor venues would be scrapped under relaxations of coronavirus rules flagged on Friday.

Speaking after a National Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said states were working toward rules which would let stadiums capable of seating up to 40,000 people host crowds of up to 10,000

He said states and territories were on track to implement the changes in July.

The changes would apply to events like sporting matches, concerts and festivals, though venues would only be able to seat 25 per cent of their capacity.

“It would have to be a large, open area. There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance. It would need to be ticketed, so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said venues with capacities of more than 40,000 people could be allowed to fill a quarter of their seats, but said the details of that were still being worked out in conjunction with chief health officers around the country.

A crowd of Geelong Cats fans in a stadium grandstand, wearing blue and white, holding banners and shaking oversized pom poms.
Fans could be back at footy games under the new rules.(AAP: Julian Smith)

“When you’re up above 40,000, you’ve got more than 10,000 people going to a gathering, that has implications for the egress and access of and to those premises, public transport crushes, all those sorts of things,” he said.

“That will require much more significant work.”

Outdoor festivals will be allowed, but they will need to offer seating to patrons.

“If we’re talking about large folk festivals where people roam around from tent to tent, and gathering to gathering, that is not something that is being talked about here,” Mr Morrison said.

The changes will be implemented as states move to ease restrictions at their own pace.

Friday’s National Cabinet meeting heard that all states and territories were on track to complete the move to the new stage three restrictions next month.

Protests condemned despite new crowd rules

A limit of 100 people on indoor gatherings will also be scrapped, with no limit on numbers, but a requirement that venues allow for four square metres of space per person.

Mr Morrison said that would allow for weddings, funerals and other indoor events to only be limited by the size of their venue, but said nightclubs would remain shut.

Thousands of demonstrators flocked to Sydney's CBD to protest racial injustice at the Black Lives Matter rally. June 6, 2020.
The risk of coronavirus at protests remains too great, authorities say.(ABC News: Jack Fisher)

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said even though governments around Australia would soon move to allow stadiums to reopen and allow socially-distant crowds to gather, it was not acceptable for protesters to flout health restrictions.

“Events where you have a large number of people who don’t know each other, and who we can’t contact-trace easily or track, are one of the highest-risk events,” he said.

“These sort of events really are dangerous.”

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against Indigenous deaths in custody last weekend, and one person has since tested positive for COVID-19.

“We saw in Victoria that one of the people who was at the event potentially could have been infectious,” Professor Murphy said.

“We won’t know for another week or so whether that has led to any spike in cases in that state.”



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Restrictions being relaxed from June 1 in Victoria, South Australia and NSW


Australia is gradually opening up with many states announcing more coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed from next Monday, June 1.

Beauty salons, gyms and cinemas will all be reopening in particular states over the next few weeks.

On Monday, South Australia Premier Steve Marshall brought forward Stage 2 of the state’s restrictions road map to June 1, allowing cinemas, gyms and beauty salons to re-open. Large venues will also be allowed to accommodate up to 80 people if they have separate spaces.

Originally restrictions were due to ease on June 5.

“It’s only possible because of the low or no results and high level of testing,” Mr Marshall said.

South Australia had its first confirmed virus case in almost three weeks on Wednesday, bring the state’s total number of cases to 440.

“If it continues, it opens up a world of possibilities of when and what (restrictions) we’ll be able to remove in the future,” Mr Marshall said.

After an announcement earlier this week, West Australians will be allowed to travel throughout most areas of the state from today, in time for this weekend’s WA Day public holiday.

Here is what the current situation is in your state and what you will be able to do.

VICTORIA

From June 1:

• Gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed in the home, including the members of the household;

• Restaurants, cafes and the dining areas of pubs will be allowed to reopen with up to 20 patrons but must abide by physical distancing requirements;

• Skate parks and playgrounds will reopen in line with school returning;

• Overnight stays – including hotels, motels, camping and caravan parks and other accommodation, will be permitted across the state; and

• Indoor and outdoor swimming pools will reopen with a maximum of 20 patrons per space and a limit of three people per lane;

• Outdoor group sport allowed with a maximum of 20 people;

• Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos, arcades, libraries and other community facilities can reopen with up to 20 customers allowed in each separate space, subject to four square metre rule.

• Drive-in cinemas will also reopen;

• Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours, massage parlours can reopen with up to 20 patrons subject to social distancing;

• Market stalls can re-open, but indoor markets must adhere to four square metre and social distancing rules;

• Place of worship can open for up to 20 people in one space;

• Weddings with up to 20 people allowed, on top of the celebrant and couple;

• Funerals with up to 50 people, in addition to the officiant and funeral staff, subject to four square metre rule;

From June 22:

• Alpine resorts will reopen to skiers;

• Restaurants, cafes and the dining areas of pubs will be allowed to seat up to 50 patrons;

• Indoor sports centres and venues can reopen with up to 20 people allowed per space subject to the four square metre rule and with a limit of up to 10 people per group/activity;

• Gyms can reopen with up to 20 people allowed per space, subject to four square metre rule and up to 10 people per group;

• Cinemas, concert venues and theatres to reopen with a maximum of 50 customers allowed per movie. Those not from the same household should be seated at least 1.5 metres from others.

• Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades allowed up to 50 visitors.

From mid July, up to 100 patrons will be allowed per enclosed space.

Patrons will be required to provide contact details so they can be reached if a positive coronavirus case is identified.

Face-to-face teaching at schools will resume by June 9, with a staggered return for students starting with students in Prep and Years 1, 2, 11 and 12 on May 26.

The AFL has also announced it will begin its competition again on June 11.

What’s already allowed:

• Up to five visitors in a home;

• Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people;

• Continue to work from home if possible, but workplaces should develop a COVID-19 plan;

• While several public gathering rules are relaxed, records must be kept of who attends to help with contact tracing;

• Outdoor sport and exercise is allowed and the 10-person limit applies. Every activity must be conducted with people 1.5m apart;

• Professional sport can resume, giving the green light to the AFL and NRL. But there will be permit use only for restricted facilities such as gyms and pools, and no public access at indoor facilities for now;

• Weddings allowed up to 10 guests in addition to the couple and celebrant;

• Funerals allowed up to 20 mourners indoors and up to 30 outdoors, plus those required to conduct the service;

• Religious private worship of up to 10 people, plus those required to conduct the ceremony;

• Hairdressers and barbers open unless they can’t enforce person density rules;

• Retail stores can open subject to four square metre rule;

• Auction houses and real estate auctions can go ahead with up to 10 people;

• Restaurants and cafes still only open for takeaway, baseline restrictions also remain for bars and casinos;

• Community facilities can host essential public support services or support groups, with the 10-person limit applying (plus anyone needed to host the meeting or operate the facility);

• No camping yet;

• Public parks, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skate parks are closed, unless for exercise, sport or recreation of up to 10 people;

• Caravan parks remain closed to tourists.

NSW

What you can do from June 1:

• Beauty salons to reopen for a maximum of 10 clients and subject to four square metre rule, magazines will be removed from waiting areas;

• Up to 50 people will be allowed in restaurants, pubs and cafes, subject to four square metre rule. Bookings of no more than 10 people and patrons must be seated.

• NSW residents will be able to take a holiday anywhere in NSW

• Museums, galleries and libraries across NSW will be allowed to reopen, subject to four square metre rule

• Weddings allowed up to 20 guests in addition to the couple and celebrant

• Funerals allowed up to 50 mourners

• Places of worship allowed up to 50 worshippers

What’s already allowed:

• Pubs and clubs open for dining for up to 10 people;

• Bars and gaming facilities remain closed but table service for alcohol with a meal will be allowed so long as businesses adhere to social distancing requirements and stick to a limit of 10 patrons;

• Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people;

• Cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time;

• Up to five visitors to a household at any one time;

• Weddings with up to 10 guests;

• Indoor funerals with up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals with up to 30;

• Religious gatherings/places of worship with up to 10 worshippers;

• Use of outdoor equipment including gyms and playgrounds with caution, people encouraged to wipe down equipment;

• Outdoor pools can open with restrictions;

• Randwick City Council has reopened its beaches for recreation, including Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra, as well as some ocean pools;

• Employees to work from home where it is reasonably practical to do so;

• Property inspections and on-site auctions allowed as social distancing rules followed.

NSW students began attending school in stages from May 11.

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA

On Monday, Premier Steven Marshall announced Step 2 of SA’s restrictions road map had been brought forward to June 1, it was originally due to start on June 5:

From June 1:

• Cinemas and theatres to reopen with maximum of 20 people;

• Galleries and museums allowed to open with up to 20 people;

• Beauty, nails, tattoo and massage parlours can re-open, subject to four square metre rule;

• Driving instruction lessons allowed, subject to social distancing;

• Gyms and indoor fitness venues to reopen for up to 20 people;

• Funerals allowed to have a maximum of 50 people;

• Venues will be able to have up to a maximum of 80 people provided they can have 20 in discrete rooms or areas within the establishment;

• Pubs allowed to serve drinks without a meal but they must be seated; and

• Non-contact sport allowed to resume.

From June 25, contact sports training and outdoor competition of contact sports will be allowed.

What’s already allowed:

• Seating dining including alcohol service at licensed establishments allowed for up to 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors;

• Gatherings of up to 10 people allowed subject to four square metre rule but there are exemptions for supermarkets, universities, airports, medical facilities and other public areas.

• Travel within the state is allowed;

• Food courts are closed but takeaway food and drinks are allowed;

• Wineries and cellar doors are closed but takeaway food and drinks allowed;

• Hairdressers and barbers open subject to four square metre rule but beauty salons, nail salons, massage parlours, tattoo parlours and saunas are closed;

• Parks, playgrounds and national parks are open;

• Hotels, campsites, caravan parks are open for guests subject to four square metre rule;

• Universities and TAFE and private RTOs able to start face-to-face education for up to 10 people;

• Community and youth centres open for up to 10 people indoors;

• Auctions and open inspections for up to 10 people;

• Local government libraries open for up to 10 visitors, plus the staff at work in those libraries.

• Non-contact sport training in groups of up to 10 people;

• Funerals of up to 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors will be allowed, plus those who are officiating;

• Churches open for small ceremonies including weddings or private worship for up to 10 people, plus those who are officiating; and

• Public pools open for up to 10 people, especially for lap swimming.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

From noon on June 5:

• The two-hour limit on indoor activities will be removed;

• Bars and clubs will be allowed to operate without food being compulsory,

• Entertainment venues and cinemas allowed to re-open in approved configuration;

• Team sports such as football and netball permitted;

• All licensed gaming activities allowed including TAB;

• Restricted services at beauty, cosmetic, tattoo parlours can resume;

• Amusements parks, recreation centres, sporting arenas and stadiums can open with seating in an approved configuration;

The internal border controls restricting access to areas that include indigenous communities under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act will remain in place until June 18 and possibly longer. The NT’s border closures with other states will also remain in force.

What’s already allowed:

Activities that can be done within a two-hour limit:

• Gatherings of up to 10 people, subject to social distancing;

• Visiting a park, camping, golf, fishing and swimming;

• Restaurants, cafes, bars and RSL club open for people who purchase food;

• Food can be served in shopping centre food courts;

• Non-contact sports has resumed, with indoor activities allowed under a two-hour time limit;

• Beauty salons, gyms, libraries and places of religious worship; and

• Art galleries, museums, public memorials, public historic sites, zoos and wildlife facilities are open.

QUEENSLAND

From June 12:

Subject to the four square metre rule and social distancing, up to 20 people will be allowed to gather in:

• Homes;

• Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, hotels and casinos allowed to offer dining-in (but no bars or gaming allowed to reopen);

• Indoor cinemas;

• Beauty therapy, nail salons, tanning, tattoo parlours and spas;

• Public spaces and lagoons;

• Non-contact indoor and outdoor community sport;

• Personal training;

• Gyms, health clubs and yoga studies;

• Indoor and outdoor pools and community sports clubs;

• Museums, art galleries, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos, arcades, concert venues, theatres, arenas and stadiums;

• Weddings;

• Parks, playground equipment, skate parks and outdoor gyms;

• Libraries;

• Hiking, camping and other recreational activities in national and skate parks;

• Places of worship and religious ceremonies;

• Open homes and auctions;

• Funerals will be able to have a maximum of 50 people;

• Travel including stays in camping and caravan parks allowed up to a maximum of 250km within your region.

Those living in the Outback will have restrictions further relaxed, with restaurants and other dining establishments allowed to have up to 50 people. Travel within the Outback is only allowed if you live in the Outback.

From July 10, limits on the number of patrons in public spaces will be lifted to 100.

What’s already allowed:

• Gatherings in homes with a maximum of five people;

• Up to 10 people to gather in public spaces;

• Some beauty therapies including nail salons to re-open catering to a maximum of 10 people by appointment;

• Recreational travel up to 150km from your home for day trips;

• Reopening of libraries, playground equipment, skate parks, outdoor gyms with a maximum of 10 people at a time;

• Wedding guests to increase to 10 people;

• Funerals to increase to 20 people indoors, 30 people outdoors;

• Up to 10 people at open homes and auctions;

• Reopening of public pools and lagoons (must have an approved plan for numbers greater than 10); and

• Non-contact community sport for a maximum of 10 people.

For those living in the Outback, up to 20 people allowed in pubs, restaurants and cafes, and residents are able to travel up to 500km but they must remain in those Outback areas.

TASMANIA

From June 9, high school students in year 7 to 10 to return to schools.

Racing will resume on June 13.

From June 15, the state will move to stage two, subject to health advice:

• Up to 20 people will be allowed to gather in both indoor and outdoor areas including restaurants, cinemas and museums;

• Funerals of up to 50 people will be allowed;

• Restrictions on people staying in hotels and caravan parks will be lifted so people will be able to move around the state and stay overnight;

• Camping and use of shacks will be allowed;

• Open homes and auctions with up to 20 people allowed;

• Gyms and bootcamps will be allowed for up to 20 people;

• Beauty services including tattoo, nails, waxing, facials and tanning will be able to open;

• Up to 20 people allowed to use parks and exercise equipment

• Outdoor community sports will be able to resume with 20 athletes or personnel involved;

• Indoor sports, including pools, will be allowed for up to 20 people but with no spectators.

From July 13, stage three will begin, subject to health advice:

• Gatherings of between 50 and 100 people allowed;

• Aged care residents will be allowed up to five visitors and multiple visits per week;

• Bars, nightclubs, casinos and gaming to return;

• Markets and food courts to re-open; and

• Border controls to remain.

What’s already allowed:

• Funerals with up to 20 attendees;

• Aged care residents will be allowed two visitors at least once a day;

• National parks and reserves will be open for exercise but people will only be able to visit those within 30km of their home; and

• TasTAFE and other training institutions will be open to small groups of students for practical learning and assessment sessions.

• Gatherings of up to 10 people allowed for both indoor and outdoor activities, including for weddings, real estate sales and religious gatherings;

• Funerals of up to 30 people if they are held outdoors;

• Visitors allowed in the home will to increase to five people (from two people);

• Up to 10 people allowed in restaurants and cafes, including venues located in pubs, RSLs and clubs for seated table service;

• Tasmanians returning to the state will be allowed to quarantine in their principal residence if it is suitable, others will still need to quarantine in hotels;

• Libraries and other government facilities will be open for up to 10 people; and

• Parks with exercise equipment and playgrounds, pools and boot camps outdoors will be opened for up to 10 people;

• Students in kindergarten to year 6, as well as those in year 11 and 12 have returned to school.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

From June 1, Canberrans will be allowed to visit NSW for a holiday.

Further lifting of restrictions has not yet been announced.

What’s already allowed:

• Indoor and outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of 10 people, which includes children. However, it’s OK if two households coming together exceeds this number;

• Restaurants, cafes and pubs and clubs with dining areas are allowed up to 10 patrons at a time, nightclubs and bars are closed but takeaway and delivery services are allowed;

• Hairdressers and barbers open subject to four square metre rule;

• Retail shops are open subject to four square metre rule;

• Up to 10 people can attend a wedding including the couple, but this doesn’t include the celebrant and wedding photographer;

• Up to 20 people can attend an indoor funeral, and this increases to 30 if it’s held outdoors, not including those conducting the service.

• Open houses and auctions can go ahead with up to 10 people and (non-contact) outdoor fitness training and boot camps of up to 10 people are allowed.

• Beauty salons, tattoo parlours and massage parlours are closed;

• Students have been returning to school in stages between May 18 and June 2.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

From Friday, May 29, the state’s travel restrictions will be eased with travel around WA permitted everywhere except for Commonwealth bio security areas and remote Aboriginal communities.

“This means people will be free to travel to all regions except the Kimberley and the bio security zones from this Friday,” Mr McGowan said on Monday.

Vulnerable remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley region, parts of the East Pilbara and the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku will remain off-limits.

Mr McGowan said they were also working with the Federal Government to relax restrictions around bio security areas including Broome from June 5.

The state has a four-phase road map but has not released details of Phase 3 or Phase 4 yet.

Premier Mark McGowan said on Monday he planned to announce details of Phase 3 by the end of the week, or over the weekend.

“It’s my hope that we will then be able to roll out 3 as soon as possible,” he said.

Phase 3 was expected to begin in mid-June and involve increasing the number of people allowed at gatherings, further relaxation of regional travel restrictions, restrictions further relaxed for gyms and to allow contact community sport, beauty therapy and personal care, real estate auctions and the reopening of public playgrounds, galleries, cinemas and outdoor gym equipment.

The government has flagged that the final restriction to be lifted as part of Phase 4 would be controls on Western Australia’s interstate border.

What’s already allowed:

Phase 2 began on May 18:

• Western Australians are encouraged to return to work, unless they are unwell or vulnerable;

• Indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings allowed of up to 20 people;

• Weddings and funerals up to 20 people inside or 30 outside;

• Cafes and restaurants with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino allowed to serve up to 20 patrons;

• Non-contact community sports with up to 20 people allowed including outdoor and indoor fitness classes and public pools;

• Places of worship, community facilities and libraries permitted to reopen with up to 20 patrons;

• Businesses that want to reopen, including hospitality, sports and recreation, community and cultural venues, will need to complete an official COVID Safety Plan;

• Travel restrictions relaxed, with travel between South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Perth-Peel regions; Mid-West, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions (excluding the biosecurity zone); Goldfields-Esperance region (excluding the biosecurity zone); and within Kimberley Local Government areas (the Commonwealth’s biosecurity zone remains in place).

• Restrictions on picnics, boating, hiking, camping and group exercise were lifted earlier, while open homes and display villages are also permitted.

Continue the conversation @charischang2 | charis.chang@news.com.au





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Young people warned about coronavirus amid relaxed restrictions in restaurants and bars


Health authorities in NSW have confirmed three new cases of coronavirus from almost 9,000 tests done yesterday, bringing the state’s total infections to 3,086.

Of the three new cases, all were overseas cases identified during the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine, Dr Christine Selvey from NSW Health said.

She said there was no risk of community transmission from those cases.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was crucial that high testing rates continued, particularly as eased coronavirus restrictions meant restaurants and bars would open their doors to more patrons.

“It’s absolutely essential as we move forward and we try to relax some of the restrictions we’ve lived under for the past few months,” he said.

He highlighted that one in five people who tested positive for coronavirus have been within the 20-29 age bracket.

“I want to emphasise again the danger of young people who may be asymptomatic or might have mild symptoms,” he said.

“As we are freeing up our restrictions, particularly around clubs and hotels and so on … these young people who may think they are invincible, are actually not invincible.

“With these freedoms come big responsibilities.”

Under the relaxed coronavirus restrictions from June 1, hospitality venues will be required to adhere to strict guidelines to operate:

  • Each patron must have at least four square metres of space
  • Bookings can be no larger than 10 people
  • No patrons will be allowed to stand, mingle or dance
  • Shared cutlery and buffets are also banned

Mr Hazzard refused to comment on the specifics of the rules, reiterating that industry consultation was ongoing, but stressed that social distancing was essential to the success of eased restrictions.

When asked about when beauty therapists can commence business again, Mr Hazzard said plans were in motion but did not provide a timeline.

Mr Hazzard also announced a $34 million program to train physiotherapists to deal with the “horrific lung conditions” associated with the virus.



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NSW COVID-19 restrictions relaxed, Scott Morrison announces mental health funding boost, Australia death toll at 98


But on the cusp of even more restrictions ending Monday, including gyms being cleared to reopen, a political confrontation is growing over attempts by big cities to keep some guardrails. The dispute underscores the gulf between Democrats who run city halls and GOP leaders who call the shots in the capital in Texas, where unlike in some other states, the governor’s orders supersede all local mandates during the pandemic.

The renewed tensions come at a moment when Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Congress this week of “needless suffering and death” if the US moves too quickly.

Nevertheless, Wisconsin’s courts tossed out the state’s stay-at-home orders, throwing communities into chaos as some bars opened immediately while strict local restrictions were kept elsewhere.

In Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also expressed unease with the speed that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has reopened the state. Oklahoma lawmakers, irritated by local officials who imposed stricter measures during this health crisis, passed a House bill Thursday that would weaken the power of cities during the next one.

And in Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton this week lashed out at the cities of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio over what he called “unlawful” local orders that are tougher than restrictions prescribed by Abbott, and threatened lawsuits if the cities don’t back off. The warning came one day after El Paso pleaded to postpone easing up on any more lockdown measures in light of the number of COVID-19 cases there surging 60 per cent over the past two weeks.

“Unfortunately, a few Texas counties and cities seem to have confused recommendations with requirements and have grossly exceeded state law to impose their own will on private citizens and businesses,” Paxton said.

City leaders said their local orders, which include more stringent emphasis on face coverings in public and restaurant protocols that aren’t strictly enforced, don’t conflict. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the county’s top elected official, said he made his case to the governor during a phone call and asked for a few more weeks to assess data and reduce cases before more restrictions are lifted. But he doesn’t think he’ll get an answer before Abbott’s public announcement Monday.

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“I’m not fighting his plan, I’m fighting his timing,” Samaniego said. “It looks like it would work for us months from now.”

The spat is a reversal from the early days of the outbreak in Texas, when Abbott gave cities and counties wide latitude to issue restrictions as they saw fit. But Abbott has since taken the reins over how quickly Texas will reboot, which last week included moving up the reopening of hair salons following complaints from conservatives. Testing for most of May has fallen well short of Abbott’s stated goal of 30,000 per day, although testing numbers have surged in recent days, according to state health officials.

Overflow hospitals set up in Dallas and Houston were dismantled without ever being used, which Abbott has pointed to as a reminder that the virus has not overwhelmed Texas. But experts still worry.

“They see the decline going in and they pat themselves on the back and say, ‘Look at the good work we’ve done, now we can let this happen and open up things,”‘ said Dennis Perrotta, a retired state epidemiologist in Texas. “And then we get slammed with a second peak.”

In Austin, restaurants have grumbled over recommendations to log dine-in customers for the purposes of contact tracing, coupled with a warning that health officials otherwise might have to publicly out eateries if outbreaks spread. Some restaurateurs saw that as a threat, but at The Peached Tortilla, owner Eric Silverstein says his industry has to do what it takes to reopen.

“We have no choice,” he said. “You kind of have to going back to doing some form of business.”

A few blocks away at Brentwood Social House, a neighbourhood coffee shop, owner Suzanne Daniels isn’t so sure. Though her competitors have reopened, her indoor seating remains closed, and she doesn’t know when she’ll feel safe to follow them.

“It feels early,” Daniels said. “In my gut, it doesn’t feel right or good.”



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Local News - Victoria

Dramatic drop in COVID-19 fines ahead of relaxed coronavirus restrictions


The number of fines issued by police for breaches of coronavirus rules dropped dramatically ahead of restrictions easing in Victoria.

Only two fines were issued in the 24 hours before restrictions were eased at midnight on Tuesday. Victoria Police said the reduction could be attributed to officers showing more discretion, as well as a new process that began on Monday that requires police officers to get the approval of their supervisors before handing out infringement notices.

Victoria Police issuing COVID-19 fines in Preston during a refugee protest last month.

Victoria Police issuing COVID-19 fines in Preston during a refugee protest last month.Credit:Nine

The numbers were the lowest since the end of March, when stage three rules halting gatherings and restricting movement came into force.

The lower numbers are also due to a new process that introduces a delay between a breach being detected and a fine being issued.



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Australian News

Scott Morrison warns coronavirus is ‘still out there’ as restrictions relaxed


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the coronavirus is “still out there” and Australians need to remain on guard despite the relaxation of some restrictions.

During a press conference today, Mr Morrison was asked about his past statements that a six-month shutdown was the only way to squash the virus.

“How did you get that wrong?” one reporter asked.

The PM was also asked whether Treasury was being asked to look into whether the JobKeeper program could be cut off or phased out earlier than September given restrictions were now being eased, as news.com.au reported today.

Mr Morrison said he didn’t share the reporter’s certainty about the future.

“We still have a long way to go on this. I think it is dangerous, I think, to assert this is all over, as your question suggests,” the Prime Minister said.

“We’ve still got a long way to go. We are just now starting to reopen our economy. We are not fully certain about what the implications of all of that will be and that’s why we have to remain on our guard and that’s why the states are moving at their own pace to implement the road map that I set out last week.

“And we will come under test again with the protections that we have put in place.”

Mr Morrison said Australians “have to remain on their guard”.

“The reason that we’re opening things up again is not because the virus is beaten,” he said.

“The virus is still out there – it hasn’t gone anywhere – it is still out there.”

While the number of active cases in Australia has fallen to about 700, Mr Morrison said “Australia is still very much at risk”.

“The reason we’re reopening is we put protections in place, and it will take us some time to reopen our economy and get it back to a point where it can start supporting Australians again.

“We have put in place and bought six months’ worth of time. We’re only six weeks into that six months.

“We’ve put the commitment in to support Australians over that period of time. As we need to adjust, based on advice and the strength of the economy and how many people we are getting back to jobs – well these are the things we’ll be watching carefully.

“I don’t think Australians can be in any doubt that when they needed us most, we were there and we’re there for them right here, right now and we will be there for them in the future.”

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

RELATED: JobKeeper shock as PM considers shake-up

RELATED: State-by-state guide to restrictions and when they’ll be lifted

In an exclusive report, news.com.au revealed today that Mr Morrison was considering slashing the $1500 JobKeeper payment or phasing it out faster than expected amid fears it’s creating “zombie” companies that don’t exist without the wage subsidy.

The current JobKeeper scheme is legislated to end on September 27, but new options under examination include: reducing the $1500 subsidy, targeting it at smaller businesses, or limiting it to particular industries that are hardest hit by COVID restrictions.

Australia’s success in flattening the curve of COVID-19 is triggering a major rethink of the most expensive wage subsidy in the nation’s history.

On Friday, Mr Morrison outlined a three-stage plan for businesses to end hibernation, which could allow thousands of cafes and restaurants to reopen by June.

After the announcement, states and territories began announcing how they would gradually lift their lockdowns and ease restrictions.



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COVIDSafe downloads exceed 2 million, Treasury flags job losses following JobKeeper stimulus, NSW social distancing rules partially relaxed as COVID-19 cases surpass 3 million worldwide


In Sydney’s south-west, demand for food from families struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic has skyrocketed. It is the same story across Sydney and the country.

“At the moment, it is food, food, food,” said Sharon Ward, the coordinator of Liverpool’s Heckenberg Connections centre which since the pandemic has been distributing over 1000 kilograms of donated potatoes, cereal, milk, canned goods and meat to families per week.

Patricia Hall and Sharon Ward, who is an outreach coordinator have received government funding to continue to provide food parcels to disadvantage community members.

Patricia Hall and Sharon Ward, who is an outreach coordinator have received government funding to continue to provide food parcels to disadvantage community members.Credit:Rhett Wyman

The food bank could only keep operating thanks to a $10,000 emergency relief grant from Be Kind Sydney, a charity created by the Sydney Community Foundation and the Sydney Women’s Fund in response to the pandemic.

It has launched a $1 million Be Kind Sydney COVID-19 appeal asking Sydneysiders to give anything to keep the lights on at neighbourhood charities as other sources of income and donations fall.

Read more here. 



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