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Australian News

Border closure decision hated by 20 million Aussies


Of all the rules that Australia’s states and territories have introduced since the COVID-19 pandemic struck seven months ago, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hard border closure has been one of the most contentious.

From breakfast television hosts and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Ms Palaszczuk’s NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, a barrage of criticism has been flung at the Sunshine State’s call to keep its southern neighbours locked out for the better part of 2020.

Ms Palaszczuk, who will seek her third term as Premier on October 31, has been dubbed the “Queensland version of Donald Trump … building the wall keeping all of the Mexicans out from down south”, destroying jobs and the economy by maintaining her “silly” and “cruel” stance.

“It’s not evidence-based. It’s simply I think off the back of her election. She wants to look tough for Queensland residents,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said earlier this month.

“If she keeps this up and we don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have a treatment, this could go on for years. This is a silly game you shouldn’t be playing. She’s playing with people’s lives.”

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Despite the rest of Australia hating the rule, Queenslanders have come out in support of the closure – which won’t be going anywhere, even if Ms Palaszczuk isn’t re-elected.

The latest Newspoll, conducted for The Australianin mid-September, found that 53 per cent of voters found the border controls “about right” – compared with 37 per cent, who said the restrictions were “too strict”.

Under the rule, Queensland won’t reopen to NSW or Victoria until the states have gone 28 days straight without any cases of community transmission.

When asked last week if she thought that was “achievable”, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said her party would follow the health advice.

“The health advice is that it is 28 days … we accept that advice,” Ms Frecklington told reporters in Townsville.

RELATED: Key deadline approaches for Qld

RELATED: You can’t travel right now, but you can take our travel quiz

However, Ms Frecklington said while she accepts the guideline, her stance on the borders was different.

“I have always said it can’t be set and forget … I’ve always said that borders shouldn’t be closed for a day longer than they need to be,” she said.

“But that is current health advice and we accept that.”

She chimed in on Mr Hazzard’s calls that Ms Palaszczuk was “playing politics with the border and playing politics with the pandemic”.

“With me as premier, you would have a premier that would make decisions with compassion, consistency and common sense,” she said.

The PM said yesterday that while Ms Palaszczuk’s hard border closure had decimated Queensland’s tourism and hospitality industries, Ms Frecklington “has a plan to get Queenslanders working again”.

“The real difference I think is whether someone’s actually got a plan to get Queenslanders back into jobs,” he told reporters.

“(Deb has) thought very carefully about the way that Queensland can grow back out of this COVID-19 recession.”

RELATED: Palaszczuk’s ‘cruel’ move a stroke of genius

Queensland was pegged to at last reopen to NSW on November 1 – the day after the election – but a growing number of cases of community transmission in the latter state could throw the decision into jeopardy.

The Courier Mailreports that the chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young will make the call the week before the slated reopening, based on the latest information.

Dr Young told reporters last Friday that while NSW had made “extremely good” progress in tracing the latest clusters, “we need to wait a bit longer (to decide) whether or not we need to change the plan to open to NSW. At the moment, it’s planned for November 1.”

“We will continue to monitor … although they are finding the contacts … they are getting continuing cases. So we will have to watch and see what happens,” she said.



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Local News - Victoria

Aboriginal community reconnected after being cut off by border closure


Barmah publican Mat Gissing said the community was relieved.

“It’s good it’s open and emergency services could get through if they needed to, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Barmah publican Mat Gissing at the previously unmanned Barmah Bridge barriers.

Barmah publican Mat Gissing at the previously unmanned Barmah Bridge barriers.Credit:Mathew Gissing

Residents on both sides of the border were angered after the barriers were erected without consultation.

“We weren’t told it was going to close; there was no warning, nothing,” Mr Gissing said at the time.

“Nobody’s manning it. Nobody can access anything. It would take an ambulance an extra 20 minutes to get around.”

Belinda Day, the chief executive of local health organisation Viney Morgan Aboriginal Medical Service, said commonsense had prevailed.

“We know restrictions need to happen for a reason but it was a difficult thing for people to swallow that there was no taking the time to understand the vulnerabilities of our small community which is already isolated and the bridge closure further increased that isolation.”

Ms Day said if the bridge had stayed closed, elderly residents would have been forced to walk across or drive a much longer way around.

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“That wouldn’t have been ideal for the many elderly people in our community with chronic care issues,” she said.

The service is now busy organising border passes for residents.

Local NSW MP Helen Dalton met with the affected communities this week and said in a Facebook post that she had discussed the impact of border closures with the local police and council.

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Local News - Victoria

Long queues into NSW as border closure enforced


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But in border communities such as Albury-Wodonga many people live, work and have family on both sides of the border.

Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes said she was concerned that some people may face long waits to access key services such as health care.

“I’m concerned about the transition period and people being subjected to long queues in the early days,” she said.

Ms Symes said many people in northern Victoria needed to access cancer treatment in Albury.

But she was confident arrangements would be finalised by the end of the week so that residents in border communities would be able to travel over state lines when necessary.

“But it’s going to be a rocky start,” she said.

Ms Symes, who is also agriculture minister, said she was talking with her counterparts in NSW to ensure farmers could travel across the borders.

Albury teacher Amy Rooke said she had successfully applied for a border entry permit online. She teaches at a school in Wodonga.

“I got the permit online but I’m guessing I’ll get something from the Education Department to say I work in Wodonga,” she said.

A person wishing to cross the border on Wednesday morning presents documentation at Wodonga.

A person wishing to cross the border on Wednesday morning presents documentation at Wodonga.Credit:Justin McManus

By mid-morning on Wednesday the traffic appeared to have eased but motorists still faced long waits in their cars with the queue stretching hundreds of metres from Albury’s south back over the Murray River.

Some drivers took the wait in good cheer, singing along to music and shrugging their shoulders at the media camped beside the checkpoint.

The other side of the causeway leading into Wodonga was quiet with barely any cars making the trip into Victoria. NSW police are only checking cars heading into Albury leaving motorists free to travel over the border into Victoria without being stopped.

The border crossing on Wednesday morning.

The border crossing on Wednesday morning.Credit:Justin McManus

West Wodonga resident Lauren Mitchell said it took her two hours to reach her job at a café in Albury – a drive that usually takes just 11 minutes.

“It was hell,” she said.

The bakery and café where she is manager is usually abuzz in the morning but on Wednesday it was quiet with few travellers leaving NSW.

By 11pm on Tuesday NSW police had already begun stopping motorists travelling into NSW. There was a slow stream of traffic in the final minutes leading up to the midnight border closure with police waving some cars through and stopping others before allowing them to pass into NSW.

The checkpoint was set up just a few hundred metres north of the Murray River on the NSW side. The first car to reach the checkpoint after the deadline arrived at 12.07am and was promptly stopped by police. It was later allowed to pass.

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Business

NSW-Victoria border closure is worth the economic pain


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision on Tuesday to send metropolitan Melbourne back into lockdown, in response to surging COVID cases, will deal a further blow to hopes of a recovery in the state.

But like so many questions in economics, assessing these restrictions means looking at both costs and benefits. If you only look at the negative economic impact of tighter restrictions — and there will undoubtedly be many — you only get half the story.

Monday’s decision to shut the NSW-Victoria border is the most dramatic in a series of recent border closures by state governments trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The last time this happened was the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, also following an initial attempt by the federal government to have all states work together.

That border closure, put in place by NSW, was unsuccessful. NSW State Archives and Records reports that closing the border did not stop the Spanish flu gradually spreading throughout the state after it reached Sydney on a ship.

But regardless of how successful this closure is a century later, it’s clear there will be nasty side-effects for some parts of the economy.

NSW accounts for about a third of national economic output, and Victoria makes up just under a quarter. Closing off the movement of people between the states and having Melburnians stay home is undoubtedly a setback to the federal government’s plan to reopen activity, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has acknowledged it will probably cost jobs.

The pain from the border closure will be particularly acute for the already struggling tourism and travel industries, at a time when inter-state visitors brought a ray of hope after international tourism had ground to a halt.

Illustration: Simon Letch

Illustration: Simon Letch Credit:

Deloitte Access Economics reports that inter-state tourism is worth $39 billion in annual spending, about a quarter of the domestic tourism economy. “It’s a sobering outcome when the industry was starting to feel some optimism about travel and visitation returning,” says Access partner Adele Labine-Romain, pointing out South Australia and Tasmania’s sectors are particularly dependent on spending by inter-state travellers.

Business travel is another likely casualty, though much of this has already been replaced by Zoom meetings in recent months.

The border closure is also a further blow to the reeling aviation sector, given Sydney to Melbourne is also one of the world’s busiest air routes (or at least it was until the virus struck).

Less tangibly, the confidence of households and businesses may well suffer from the border closure and Melbourne’s lockdown. And such a hit could have a real influence on economic activity, because if consumers all tighten their purse strings at the same time, it makes a bad situation worse for businesses that depend on us spending money.

Even so, the closure of the NSW-Victoria border — and indeed the other state borders closed this year — do not mean all economic links are severed.

Trucks have continued crossing state borders for months, and the NSW government says freight will be given special treatment, as will people in border towns who have a permit. Industry is worried about the complexities of a permit system and the potential for delays, with the Logistics Council pointing out there are 7300 heavy vehicles that cross the NSW-Victoria border every day.

But these disruptions need to be seen against the much bigger economic benefit from containing the virus —which, without a vaccine, can only be achieved by restricting the movement of people.

For all the financial pain of the last few months, Australia’s economy has emerged in better shape from the pandemic than the experts were fearing in March.

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That track record is the result of moves to suppress the spread of the virus, which allowed the earlier-than-expected lifting of restrictions — until now in Victoria.

There is therefore an economic case for trying to protect this position in other states, including NSW, while doing what’s needed to contain the virus in Victoria.

And this is not just some theoretical argument cooked up by economists — there’s already early evidence of how fresh outbreaks can have real financial consequences.

ANZ Bank’s weekly data on customer spending on Tuesday showed Victoria lagging other states, which the bank put down to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne.

Closing the NSW-Victoria border will have real costs, but these should be compared with the economic and human costs we’d face from the virus spreading more widely in our two most populous and economically significant states. In that contest, a border closure looks like the lesser of two evils.

Ross Gittins is on leave.

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Local News - Victoria

Authorities prepare for long queues ahead of Vic-NSW border closure


Albury mayor Kevin Mack said light vehicles would be diverted onto the Lincoln Causeway between Albury and Wodonga so that trucks could use the Hume Freeway. He called on the NSW government, which is administering the closure, for travel permits to be issued to residents within 100 kilometres of the border so they could access health care and other services in both Albury and Wodonga.

The border between NSW and Victoria was set to close on Tuesday at midnight.

The border between NSW and Victoria was set to close on Tuesday at midnight. Credit:Getty

“As one community and two cities we’ll do what we can to a make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios said health services would remain open on both sides of the river and that patients would be able to pass over the border with documents from their healthcare providers.

“We have had reports today that patients are cancelling appointments because they’re worried that they won’t be able to get across the border … or won’t be able to get back. That’s not the case.”

A permit system will allow residents to travel between the cities but it remained unclear on Tuesday who would be eligible and how the system would operate.

There were three suspected cases of COVID-19 in Albury Wodonga this week although the region had been free of the virus for several months. Across regional Victoria, Mitchell Shire had seven active cases, Greater Geelong had two and Greater Bendigo, Latrobe, Greater Shepparton and East Gippsland had one each.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael KalimniosCredit:Justin McManus

Central Medical Group associate Mark Trotter said his clinic in Wodonga was testing up to 80 people a day. Demand for tests at his clinic had surged since the latest round of infections in Melbourne, he said, but it remained unclear how the border closure would affect his clinic, which tests a high proportion of children.

“Since last Monday when the cases increased in Melbourne our demand went up significantly. We’ve been turning people away for a week. We can’t meet the demand,” Dr Trotter said.

About 30 per cent of his patients come from Albury, Dr Trotter, said, but even when they were no longer able to cross the border he expected there would “be enough in Wodonga to keep us busy”. A pop-up clinic was being established in Albury.

Ken and Faye Thorn rushed back to their home in Shepparton when the heard the NSW border was closing.

Ken and Faye Thorn rushed back to their home in Shepparton when the heard the NSW border was closing. Credit:Justin McManus

Already many at the border have stories about how the closure has disrupted their plans.

Ken and Faye Thorn cut their holiday short in Batemans Bay on the south coast of NSW when they heard the border was closing. On Tuesday they drove their caravan through Wodonga towards home in Shepparton. The couple had paid for 15 days in a caravan park but only stayed for nine.

“It was our opportunity to get away and now it’s been turned upside down,” Mr Thorn said. “At our age panic and packing up wasn’t very good.”

The pensioners say they lost $240 in accommodation costs when they made the hurried decision to drive home.

Kate O’Hara had to cut her trip to Melbourne short so she could make it back to Australian National University in Canberra. A genetics student, Ms O’Hara feared she may have to isolate for 14 days because she was coming from Victoria but obtained a note from a hotel in Albury to show she had spent Monday night in NSW.

“We just made it to the other side at the right time,” she said.

She had been visiting family in Camberwell, where she grew up, and travelled back to NSW with her father John.

Mary Richards rushed from her new home in Bendigo to NSW for a family reunion. Her family had planned a physically-distanced gathering in two houses over a week in Bendigo. But they wee in Albury when the border closure was announced so their gathering was reduced to one night eating Chinese takeaway in a hotel.

Her brother, John Creasy who lives in NSW, said there was no use quibbling about it.

“If you fight it you just get depressed. I understand people have lost their jobs. A lot of people are worse off. This is a first-world problem for us.”

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Queensland government says border closure has not affected the crippled hospitality industry


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state’s border closures have not caused hardship for businesses and is determined to keep them shut – despite the entire nation recording no new COVID-19 community cases overnight. 

A handful of business owners and individuals are challenging the state’s hard border closure in the High Court, arguing the measure is ‘irrational’ and causing them ‘financial harm’. 

But the state government on Tuesday refuted the claims in documents filed to the court, saying it ‘does not admit’ financial hardships are directly related to border closures. 

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said he was astonished by the state government’s defence.

‘That is possibly the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard,’ he told The Gold Coast Bulletin.  

The Queensland government has refused to admit the border closures have contributed to financial hardship for businesses. The response comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appeared to acknowledge the impact her decision could have on the industry

The Queensland government has refused to admit the border closures have contributed to financial hardship for businesses. The response comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appeared to acknowledge the impact her decision could have on the industry

Waiters at Costa D'Oro in Surfers Paradise are simply happy to be back at work - even though they can't work at full capacity yet

Waiters at Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise are simply happy to be back at work – even though they can’t work at full capacity yet

The stunning development comes after Premier Palaszczuk on May 19 publicly acknowledged the impact border closures would have on the state’s $12billion tourism industry.

‘It has been heartbreaking to make tough but unavoidable decisions; for example, the decision to close our borders and place hard restrictions on the industry knowing they would hurt, while at the same time understanding they were absolutely critical to save lives,’ she said when announcing the policy. 

Ms Palaszczuk’s refusal to open the border, against the advice of federal health experts and despite the pleas of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, has earned her comparisons to fellow Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, who is accused of holding back the economy by relaxing rules too slowly in Victoria. 

While Victoria’s Liberal Opposition has dubbed him ‘Chairman Dan’ – after former Chinese Communist Party leader Chairman Mao – while Ms Palaszczuk has been mocked as ‘comrade Anna’ by some of her critics frustrated by her uncompromising stand on border closure. 

Ms Fusco (pictured with two men wearing shirts which encourage people to sanitise their hands) said the industry is doing whatever it can to stay afloat

Ms Fusco (pictured with two men wearing shirts which encourage people to sanitise their hands) said the industry is doing whatever it can to stay afloat

Pictured: Demonstrators at the Sydney Black Lives Matter protest on June 6. While many of those who attended the protest wore face masks and used hand sanitiser, medical experts fear there is still a risk of the highly infectious virus passing among them

Pictured: Demonstrators at the Sydney Black Lives Matter protest on June 6. While many of those who attended the protest wore face masks and used hand sanitiser, medical experts fear there is still a risk of the highly infectious virus passing among them

Australia recorded zero new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Tuesday for the first time since the peak of the pandemic, with two new cases in New South Wales identified as returned travellers who remain holed up in quarantine hotels.

While the milestone is great news for the nation, it is little comfort for businesses if it doesn’t result in restrictions being eased.   

Nuccia Fusco, co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise, told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday night the lack of interstate traffic and gathering restrictions had crippled her business since they closed their doors on March 23. 

‘Restaurants should be working together and demanding change… I think that will happen very soon,’ Ms Fusco said.

Ms Fusco hopes strength in numbers will encourage state governments to reassess current measures.

‘I’m meeting with a group of restaurateurs and bar owners tomorrow to start a Facebook group to give us a voice,’ she said.

Pictured: Ms Fusco with a chef at her restaurant

Pictured: Ms Fusco with her husband out the front of the restaurant

Nuccia Fusco (pictured left and right), co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro in Surfers Paradise, told Daily Mail Australia she believes her business should be able to operate at full capacity

Ms Palaszczuk has faced increased calls to completely reopen her state by the July school holidays to inject much needed funds into the economy.

Poll

Should restaurants be able to trade as normal across Australia?

  • Yes 238 votes
  • No 45 votes

‘It’s not good for the economy, particularly as we go into this next school holiday season. Those tourism businesses need that support,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said.

‘So those individual states, they’ll have to justify those decisions themselves because it wasn’t something that came out of national cabinet.’

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham also previously said the state was more reliant on tourism than most others in Australia, and would haemorrhage money. 

In Surfers Paradise, the co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D'Oro, Nuccia Fusco (pictured) admitted seeing the protests made her want to break the rules

In Surfers Paradise, the co-owner of Italian restaurant Costa D’Oro, Nuccia Fusco (pictured) admitted seeing the protests made her want to break the rules

Pictured: The restaurant operating at full capacity prior to coronavirus lockdowns. They are turning away upwards of 100 customers in a night due to restrictions

Pictured: The restaurant operating at full capacity prior to coronavirus lockdowns. They are turning away upwards of 100 customers in a night due to restrictions

‘Tourism businesses currently have no choice and no access to international visitors, and if we also leave them with no access to interstate visitors, then they’re going to be bleeding in terms of viability and job losses for a long time,’ he said.  

Even though Queensland’s borders remain shut, the premier has encouraged intrastate travel and on Saturday did not ban Black Lives Matter rallies.  

Restaurant owner Ms Fusco explained that watching 60,000 people gather to attend Black Lives Matter protests throughout the nation – blatantly disregarding social distancing measures – was ‘horrifying’.

‘I was horrified. Three months of our hard work was just taken for granted,’ she said.  ‘If this is allowed, we should be allowed the same thing and have as many people as we want in the restaurant.’

Instead, her restaurant turns away upwards of 100 loyal customers in a night because of restrictions allowing only 50 patrons at a time.

The New South Wales government released these statistics about the current coronavirus figures in the state

The New South Wales government released these statistics about the current coronavirus figures in the state

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Tuesday said thousands of fans should be welcomed back at NRL games from this week onwards in response to the demonstrations

Ms Fusco said maybe they would receive more leniency from the government if they staged a protest.  

‘I’ve been thinking well maybe the restaurant and all the other operators should do something, put up signs and have a protest day so we can have as many people as we want too. This does make you want to rebel when you see all these other people getting away with it… Why can’t we do the same thing?’ she asked.

Ms Fusco said she was set to defy the restrictions and allow more than 50 people in her restaurant this weekend, but her husband talked her out of breaking the rules, for now.   

While she considered breaking the rules, Ms Fusco said in all honestly, she couldn’t afford to pay the fine if she were caught.

In fact, he thinks it is only fair that the bigger stadiums be allowed to open up to 40,000 fans within the next two weeks. Fans can currently pay to have cardboard cutout of themselves in the stands

In fact, he thinks it is only fair that the bigger stadiums be allowed to open up to 40,000 fans within the next two weeks. Fans can currently pay to have cardboard cutout of themselves in the stands

‘As much as I’d love to ignore the government restrictions and open for more customers, we can’t afford the fine. I’m not even sure how much it would be but after three months of no money we can’t afford to pay,’ she said.

Instead, she said her family is praying the government will reconsider restrictions and allow them to reopen at full capacity soon.

‘We’re being far more careful [than the protesters]. We’re sanitising and distancing…  they should lift restrictions and we should get much more freedom,’ she said.  

Weddings have been restricted to just 20 people in New South Wales and Victoria. Above, a wedding of just five on Sydney Harbour, at the height of the pandemic. This couple married at the height of the pandemic, meaning they could only have three guests

Weddings have been restricted to just 20 people in New South Wales and Victoria. Above, a wedding of just five on Sydney Harbour, at the height of the pandemic. This couple married at the height of the pandemic, meaning they could only have three guests

The protest in Sydney was allowed, then banned, then allowed once again - and tens of thousands eventually showed

The protest in Sydney was allowed, then banned, then allowed once again – and tens of thousands eventually showed

Ms Fusco isn’t alone in demanding change following nationwide protests last week.

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Tuesday said thousands of fans should be welcomed back at NRL games from this week onwards in response to the demonstrations.

In fact, he thinks it is only fair that the bigger stadiums be allowed to open up to 40,000 fans within the next two weeks.

‘In my mind, it’s now clear we need some ­consistency with what is being approved,’ he said in light of the protests.

‘Hypocrisy at its best… the NRL have already proved they have the right plans in place. So as far as I’m concerned the evidence is clear that we can open up these restrictions.’ 

Mr Barilaro said venues like ANZ Stadium could safely seat 40,000 guests, with a single seat in between to enforce social distancing measures.

‘I want to see stadiums opened to the fans this weekend. There is no longer any need to keep these lockdowns in place. We can have crowds back and still be abiding by some social-distancing rules. The evidence is there to support that.’ 

Mr Barilaro is part of a taskforce overseeing the return of sport in a covid-safe manner, and has also called for grassroots sports to recommence.  

Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July

Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July

On Monday night, Sal Navarra, the CEO of five prime wedding venues in Sydney under the Navarra Venues umbrella, including Le Montage and Curzon Hall, said he would ignore government advice following Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protests. 

Photos taken at the rallies appear to show people ignoring social distancing policies as they crammed into tight spaces and marched through the cities. 

Mr Navarra said it was untenable to continue to disappoint his brides – some of whom book their dream dates years in advance – while the government was allowing so many people to attend demonstrations without punishment.

He said his business would reopen as normal in as little as three weeks.  

‘From July, we are reopening,’ he said. ‘Reopening to any numbers. Yes we will implement social distancing, but we don’t want to deal with upset clients anymore.

‘It is not fair on them… The government allowed 15,000 or 20,000 people to gather.’

People walk along Surfers Paradise beach on April 7th after residents were warned they could not sunbake or loiter on the sand to avoid spreading coronavirus

People walk along Surfers Paradise beach on April 7th after residents were warned they could not sunbake or loiter on the sand to avoid spreading coronavirus

The sunshine state was quick to lock down the border to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, and has indicated it may not reopen for tourists until September

The sunshine state was quick to lock down the border to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, and has indicated it may not reopen for tourists until September

Border closure HASN’T impacted businesses, Queensland government argue

Lawyers representing the Queensland government do not believe the state’s strict border policy has been harmful to local business.

Six plaintiffs have accused the government of implementing unnecessary and harmful policies to limit the spread of coronavirus.

In particular, they have argued in the High Court that the Queensland government has gone beyond federal recommendations to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory infection.

They claim to have experienced financial hardship at the hands of the government.

Sydney barrister Guy Reynolds SC is representing the group, and told the High Court on Tuesday the decision was ‘irrational’.

But the Queensland government is defending the decision to close borders for the safety of locals.

‘The purpose of the border restriction direction is to protect persons within Queensland from the health risks associated with COVID-19,’ the defence argued.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall described the defence as ‘ludicrous’. 

The rules currently state just 20 people can attend a wedding in New South Wales – an increase from just five (including the bride and groom) at the height of the pandemic.

Mr Navarra said he predicts there will not be a spike in coronavirus cases despite the close proximity of demonstrators this weekend.

‘If my predictions are correct, then we will reopen as usual on the 1st, 7th or 15th of July,’ he said. 

Though a spokesman for the business on Tuesday said any brides and grooms choosing to go ahead during the pandemic would be doing so at their own risk.

Police would have the power to break up the event and distribute fines of up to $5,000 if they believed guests were flouting restrictions.

Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July

Curzon Hall is one of five venues owned by Navarra Venues and will be open for unlimited guests by July

For bride-to-be Casey Girdham, 26, and her 24-year-old fiance Mitchell Coleman, the fine would be worth the risk.

‘I’m over the moon someone has finally stood up to the government for us brides,’ Ms Girdham told The Australian.

‘The government has no right to keep telling us what to do. Our guests should be allowed to attend our wedding if they understand the risk. Even my sick grandparents would go, they wouldn’t miss it for the world.’

Mr Navarra joked he would consider ‘holding a rally with all the brides’ to convince the government to ease restrictions. 

There are currently just 445 active cases of COVID-19 in Australia, including just two people in intensive care.

So far, 6,720 people have recovered in Australia, while 102 people have died from the virus. 

This week, just seven cases of COVID-19 were acquired locally – six in Victoria and one in Queensland, but health authorities nationwide are on high alert to see if cases spike following the Black Lives Matter protests.

‘We don’t know if anyone in those mass gatherings were infected or infectious, and so it is a wait-and-see approach,’ Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Sunday. 

Restaurant warns influencers ‘smashing us with horrible reviews’ they will cost people their JOBS – as it finally reopens after crippling COVID-19 shutdown 

The owner of one of Australia’s most-Instagrammable restaurants has issued a stern warning to influencers as the industry crawls out of lockdown: ‘Don’t leave a horrible review’.

Milky Lane’s outlandish burgers, milkshakes and cocktails have become a hit among the foodie social media set across New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT.

But just like any restaurant business, they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown that saw doors shut at midday on March 23 – more than two months ago.

The managers of Milky Lane, one of Australia's most-Instagrammable restaurants, has issued a stern warning to influencers: 'Don't leave a horrible review'

The managers of Milky Lane, one of Australia’s most-Instagrammable restaurants, has issued a stern warning to influencers: ‘Don’t leave a horrible review’

With the lifting of restrictions across much of Australia – including NSW allowing 50 people to dine-in from June 1 – it is an exciting, but anxious time, for the struggling hospitality industry.

Many restaurants, cafes and bars are operating with less staff while modifying their businesses to comply with strict social distancing and dining limits.

Which is why Milky Lane’s managers have pleaded with customers to raise issues in the store instead of on TripAdvisor or social media platforms to protect their brand and save jobs after the severe impact of COVID-19.

Milky Lane asked customers to be kind upon their return post-COVID-19, urging them to raise any issues in the store instead of on social media in a bid to protect their brand after the severe impact of the pandemic

Milky Lane asked customers to be kind upon their return post-COVID-19, urging them to raise any issues in the store instead of on social media in a bid to protect their brand after the severe impact of the pandemic

 The blunt message – aimed mainly at pompous influencers – is the latest in a running battle with restaurants also slamming diners for making bookings and failing to show up, or owners mocking D-Listers for demanding free food in return for positive social media posts. 

‘If you walk into OUR restaurant, someone else’s or any commercial premise and you see some mistakes, DON’T reach for your phone to record it all or take some pics to upload to social media,’ the post on Milky Lane’s Facebook page read.

‘Ask for the owner. Get ‘Karen’ to speak to the manager.

‘Let a supervisor or your wait staff member know that something is wrong.

‘Don’t leave a horrible review, reach out so we can fix it.

‘We’ve gone above and beyond to stay afloat during COVID-19 and are so excited to see you all again, reemploy our staff and create experiences together.’



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Local News - Victoria

Schools still safe despite Keilor Downs College closure: Sutton


Those students, and other students and teachers from Keilor Downs, are now isolating at home.

An Education Department spokesman said the Health Department had advised that neither Taylors Lakes Secondary College nor St Albans Secondary College needed to close, and staff and students did not need to take any further action beyond existing precautions.

A teacher from Keilor Downs College tested positive to COVID-19 a week ago, but authorities believe the student’s case is the result of a “family cluster” and there is no link to the previous case. The Health Department said the teacher was not infectious when they last attended the school.

Professor Sutton said there had been “very few” cases associated with schools across Australia.

“The understanding of transmission in schools is it’s really pretty rare,” he said.

“We haven’t seen transmission from students to teachers. If we’ve seen some cases it’s usually been introduced by adults.

“The risk of transmission from that student to others is there, but I wouldn’t expect significant numbers.”

Keilor Downs College will close temporarily while cleaning and contact tracing is carried out.

Keilor Downs College will close temporarily while cleaning and contact tracing is carried out. Credit:Google Maps

Professor Sutton told radio station 3AW that children and staff who came into contact with the student who tested positive have been quarantined for 14 days. They will only be tested if they show symptoms.

The number of students self isolating could rise as contact tracing continues, he said.

“That’s our precautionary approach; that’s how we manage it not being transmitted to others.”

Nathaniel Peacock, who is in year 12 at Keilor Downs College, said students had been told about the closure on Thursday night.

“I’m worried a little bit but we’ve been told by teachers to be assured that student-to-student contact is very rare so we’re not too fussed,” he told Channel Nine.

“In every classroom there’s some hand sanitiser, some wipes. After every period we wipe down the tables and use hand sanitiser.”

A mother speaking outside Taylors Lakes Secondary College said she didn’t have safety concerns for her child.

“I think the school will do everything that has to be done and that’s not a problem,” she told Nine.

Professor Stephen Duckett, head of health economics at the Grattan Institute, said until coronavirus was eliminated there would be a small risk of cases in schools.

“The response is what is really important here; that it be identified quickly and the school closed down for a period of time to stop the spread further,” he said.

“This is something that doesn’t call for you to shut the whole school system down again, you manage it as isolated outbreaks.

“Only if you have a large number of schools affected might you have to say we’re changing our minds and closing the system down again.”

Australian Principals Federation president Julie Podbury said schools were completely prepared for COVID 19-related closures.

“I have never seen such an enormous amount of documentation coming out of schools to make sure they are covering absolutely everything,” she said.

“These processes were in place well before school went back.”

Students in prep, grades 1 and 2, years 11 and 12 and specialist schools returned to Victorian schools on Tuesday, in the first step of a staged return to face-to-face classes.

Keilor Downs College is expected to reopen on Monday after a thorough clean on Friday and across the weekend.

The state government has invested up to $45 million for enhanced, daily cleaning in every school during terms two and three. All Victorian school staff were prioritised for voluntary coronavirus testing before classes resumed.

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News

Queensland border closure could remain in place until September, Premier warns


Queensland’s border with New South Wales could remain closed until at least September, after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reiterated her intention to keep southerners at bay despite easing coronavirus restrictions.

It comes as two new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Queensland overnight, though Health Minister Steven Miles said both were women who had returned from overseas recently and this was the likely source of their infections.

Earlier this month, the Queensland Government’s roadmap to easing restrictions indicated the state’s borders could reopen by mid-July “subject to further planning and review”.

But this morning Ms Palaszczuk told ABC News Breakfast she was concerned about the rates of community transmission in southern states.

“I would say that things would look more positive towards September — having said that, I do not want to rule anything out, I will give you that advice at the end of May, as quickly as possible,” she said.

'Road closed' signs and concrete blocks on a rural road.
Rural border crossings like this will remain closed.(Supplied: Kelly Ostwald)

“It’s not my decision, it’s based on the best health advice.”

She said the decision would be reviewed on a monthly basis.

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“There is still community transmission in Victoria and in New South Wales so as soon as my Chief Health Officer says I can relax those restrictions, we absolutely will,” she said.

“We want to welcome as many people to the Sunshine State as soon as possible where it’s beautiful one day, perfect the next but of course we just can’t do that at the moment.

“We do know that there’s school holidays approaching as well, we know people want certainty.

“At the end of the day, I really hope that we see an Australia where people can travel freely once again through all of our borders because that’s the way we work best together.”

Yesterday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Sky News she hoped Queensland would reopen the border “as soon as possible”.

“The sooner the borders come down the better and I’m certainly looking forward to that — I don’t want to be able to say to people I’m allowed to go to Auckland before I can go to Brisbane.

“So I’d really like to see those borders come down because just that trade, and commerce and flexible workforce across the states will boost our economy no end.

“I’ve been quietly having a jibe at all of my state colleagues who have their borders shut,” she said.

“New South Wales didn’t, Victoria didn’t.”

‘Our Premier is extremely cautious’

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the threat from community transmission was serious, as highlighted by the Rockhampton aged care nurse who contracted the virus from an unidentifiable source.

“We just don’t know — we have not found an epi-link [epidemiological link] for her yet, they’re the cases that worry me,” Dr Young said.

She said restrictions on interstate travel could remain in place beyond July.

“My advice is that we need to look at this carefully and our Premier is extremely cautious.

“What we would need to see is no cases for two incubation periods … so best-case scenario July but I think it’s very, very unlikely.

“We have had 42 cases, right from the word go, that we have not been able to find an epi-link for,” Dr Young said.

“This is why we cannot assume we have beaten this virus — we haven’t.

“It’s unlikely that we ever will beat this virus, we have to find ways of managing it.”



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Australian News

Waverley Council vote to reopen Bondi Beach after coronavirus closure


Sydney’s eastern suburbs beaches will reopen next week.

Only a few weeks ago, Australians were condemned worldwide for flocking to the iconic Bondi Beach when social-distancing measures to combat coronavirus were in place.

Bondi and its neighbouring beaches were promptly closed, but now Waverley Council has resolved to relax some restrictions.

From Tuesday, swimmers and surfers will be allowed back at Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches, but sunbathing, exercising and hanging out on the sand will remain banned to stop people congregating.

You’ll only be allowed in the water on weekdays between 7am and 5pm.

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Tamarama will only be open for surfers, but swimming and surfing are both allowed at Bondi and Bronte.

People after a “casual paddle” are discouraged from visiting the beaches, which are in the middle of a coronavirus hotspot.

Waverley mayor Paula Masselos emphatically denied on Saturday that the beaches would reopen any time soon.

“It has been reported in the media that council is working on a proposal to reopen its beaches. I strongly reiterate that this is not the case,” Ms Masselos said in a message on the council’s website.

She noted the council was “looking at ways to provide managed access to the water for the sole purpose of ocean swimming and surfing for exercise”.

RELATED: Surfers’ ‘stupid’ lockdown act angers

It appears that beachgoers will only be allowed on the sand to get in and out of the surf.

The vote to let people back in the water was passed at a council meeting last night, with only one councillor opposed.

The number of people in the water will be monitored and the beaches will be shut if rules are broken.

Rule-breaking was popular the day after the beach was closed.

Ms Masselos is expected to provide further detail about the reopening of water access this afternoon.

Nearby Randwick City Council reopened its beaches on Monday for those exercising on the sand or in the water, provided they obey social distancing measures.

It comes after beaches in the US state of Florida were reopened, attracting huge crowds and leading to the coining of the derogatory hashtag #FloridaMorons on social media earlier this week.



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