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Local News - Victoria

One public housing tower to remain in lockdown, restrictions to ease on others


Mr Andrews said a specialised coronavirus management plan would be introduced for all nine towers and flagged that there would likely be more new cases uncovered in the coming days.

“Acknowledging this is in some respects akin to an aged care facility, there will be continued support and continued protection for those residents, given their age and, for many of them, their health status makes them especially vulnerable,” the Premier said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said increased infection prevention measures would include hand hygiene stations on every floor plus a “very substantial deep clean”, cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as lifts and stairwells and check-ins with health officials every day.

Mr Andrews said a 14-day isolation period for those at 33 Alfred Street, which he described as reaching a “balance” for residents, will continue to be enforced by police.

“That is an abundance-of-caution approach that not only protects the welfare and the wellbeing, the health, of all of those residents, but also protects public health as well.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville acknowledged it would be a “really tough” nine days for the residents remaining in a hard lockdown.

“It is very clear, the message from the health authorities,” Ms Neville said.

“We can’t allow people to be moving across floors or in lifts, because it is such a high-risk environment in that particular tower.”

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Ms Neville said residents who tested positive and their close contacts would be offered the option of hotel accommodation.

“That is the safest for you and for everyone else in those towers,” she said.

Ms Neville said there would be a reduced police presence at the towers and an increased number of care workers and health workers. Some police will remain on-site to ensure public order, she said.

“It will be much more a health response than a police response,” she said.

Mr Andrews said police would not be “mucking about” in handing out $1652 fines for breaking restrictions, after residents of the Mornington Peninsula complained of scores of Melburnians illegally travelling to their holiday homes before the new, six-week lockdown began on Wednesday night.

“If you are breaking the rules then you will be fined. There won’t be too many warnings given out, there can’t be,” the Premier said.

Premier Daniel Andrews making the announcement for public housing residents on Thursday afternoon.

Premier Daniel Andrews making the announcement for public housing residents on Thursday afternoon.Credit:Joe Armao

“This six weeks, we have got to give ourselves every chance that at the end we can get the numbers down to control the virus and maintain that.

Victoria recorded 165 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with six new aged care centres sent into lockdown and more infections confirmed among Melbourne hospital workers. Of Tuesday’s new cases, 135 are yet to be traced to a known outbreak.

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The Al-Taqwa College outbreak in Truganina grew by six, making it Victoria’s largest cluster with 113 cases.

Professor Sutton confirmed some families in the Al-Taqwa cluster lived in the nine public housing towers but said it was unclear if either outbreak was sparked by the other location.

“It might have gone in one direction, it might have gone in the other direction,” he said.

“There may be multiple importations of the virus into the towers … these are communities that cross over between Truganina and these towers.”

Thursday’s cases included two healthcare workers from both the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Sunshine Hospital plus one staff member from the Northern Hospital, increasing the cluster linked to the Northern’s emergency department to 11.

Seven workers from six aged care centres have tested positive, putting six facilities into lockdown in addition to four aged care centres locked down on Wednesday due to confirmed cases among four staff and one resident.

Victoria has 932 active cases of coronavirus. Forty are in hospital, including nine in intensive care, up from seven on Wednesday.

Federal Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth revealed the national body of health experts had decided that people in areas of high community transmission, such as in Melbourne’s lockdown area, should now wear masks in situations where they could not maintain social distancing.

“There is a part of Australia in the moment where community transmission is on the rise … in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire area, surgical masks or cloth masks is recommended if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot socially distance,” Dr Coatsworth said.

Of the 165 additional people diagnosed in the past 24 hours, the majority are residents of local government areas in the city’s inner-north and west.

The Moonee Valley area – which includes the suburbs of Ascot Vale, Flemington and Moonee Ponds – recorded 26 cases.

Of Melbourne’s regional areas, Greater Geelong has six cases, up from two on Wednesday; Bendigo has four, up from one on Wednesday; and there is one case in each of Surf Coast, East Gippsland, Shepparton and Wodonga councils.

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Australian News

As NSW coronavirus restrictions ease further, here’s what has changed from today



Today brings a raft of eased NSW coronavirus restrictions right in time for school holidays, but the winter break is going to look a little different this year.

From today, indoor venues including pubs, cafes and restaurants, as well as functions, can hold any number of people, as long as they remain seated and stick to one person per four square metres.

Weddings can have up to 20 guests, excluding the couple getting married.

A maximum of 10,000 fans are allowed to fill stadiums for sporting or cultural events from today, while community sport can resume for kids and adults alike.

But some things are staying the same: the 20-guest limit on household and outdoor gatherings remains in place, which means nightclubs and music festivals are still off the cards.

What can I do this winter break?

Winter break begins in NSW from this weekend until July 19, meaning about a million students in the state will have two weeks worth of free time to fill.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and Luna Park will reopen this week, while the Blue Mountain’s Scenic World will also open its gates.

Ice-skating rinks across the state have reopened, along with museums, galleries, libraries and some cinemas — but are all subject to the four-square-metre rule.

If you’re eyeing off an alpine holiday in the state’s snowy region, be warned: although the 2020 season has gone ahead, slashed capacity resulted in mountain passes and accommodation mostly selling out.

Where can I travel?

Although international travel is still off the cards, NSW people are free to visit Queensland, Victoria and the ACT these school holidays — however, there are a few catches.

Although she has refused to shut the Victoria-NSW border, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian commanded people not to travel to Melbourne at all and encouraged NSW accommodation vendors to bar Melburnians.

From July 10, Queensland will welcome travellers from every state except Victoria, whose citizens will need to quarantine for 14 days before they can visit the sunshine state.

Everyone else will need to sign a form swearing they haven’t been to Victoria in the past two weeks and Health Minister Steven Miles warned that “strict penalties will apply for people who lie to us about any travel to Victoria”.

Travel to South Australia is not permitted for NSW or Victorian people, after the SA Government scrapped plans to fully reopen their borders by July 20.

The NT said they plan to open their borders on July 17, but people who live in Melbourne “hotspots” will have to self-isolate for 14 days at their own cost upon arrival.

Tasmania’s borders are still shut to interstate travellers.



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Australian News

NSW coronavirus restrictions to ease further, all sport allowed to return from July 1



Community sports teams will be allowed to resume competition from July 1, as the NSW Government continues to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Outdoor sports are currently restricted to no more than 10 people, including players, officials and spectators — but those rules will be lifted from next month.

The State Government has previously announced that children’s sport competitions could return from July 1.

Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee thanked the community for their patience during the pause on local sports.

“All community sports will return from July 1 and everybody can play, it’s game on for the whole community, whether it’s under 18 over 18 competition,” Mr Lee told Nine Radio.

Mr Lee said the guidelines were in the works and would be released online later this week.

“We have reduced the spread of COVID-19 to the point where further restrictions can be lifted,” he said.

“It is only because communities have followed the strict social distancing guidelines that this announcement is possible.”

Food and beverage stalls at sports facilities will also be permitted to operate, as long as no more than 50 patrons are inside a single venue at any one time.

Chief executive of Netball NSW Caroline Campbell described the return to the courts from July 1 as the “best news”.

She said players must adhere to strict health measures to ensure the safety of the game.

“Hand hygiene, being able to wipe the balls over, not sharing bibs, all of those things have been put into play,” she told ABC Radio Sydney.

In Victoria, community sport has been limited to groups of 20 people or less since June 1, and contact remains banned.

In Queensland, gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted for competitions and events from July 10, and contact sport will be allowed from the same date.

Australia recorded no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus yesterday — the first time that has happened since the pandemic began.

Crowds in some corporate boxes will be allowed to return to NRL grounds in NSW this week.

But Premier Gladys Berejiklian has told Channel 9 it was too soon to put fans at risk.

“I think all of us want to see that normality come back but we just have to make sure that we do that at the right time, and obviously we’re relying on good health advice for that,” she said.

“All of us have worked hard to get where we are and we just want to make sure we continue that progress.”



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Coronavirus Australia live update: more freedom as NSW and Victoria ease curbs while PM announces $1.75bn funding for rail line to Sydney’s second airport – latest news | Australia news


This project will create 14,000 jobs in New South Wales – music to our ears. In April we lost 21,000 jobs in New South Wales. We also know that there are so many other of our fellow citizens on jobkeeper. We know we have a job ahead of us of getting people into working, into sustainable jobs.

Having those direct and indirect jobs is fantastic, especially through the partnership of the federal government … We’re able to start acceleration of the project this year.

As we know, New South Wales has been supporting the federal government efforts in building this project to service a metropolis. It will not only service the airport, but so many people who will call this place home or will come to the airport for work.



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Australia’s restrictions ease in multiple states; Decision expected on future of Al Kuwait ship; US protests spark COVID-19 spread fears


Authorities in the German city of Goettingen say 160 people have been placed under quarantine after several large events caused a new coronavirus outbreak.

Thirty-five people tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a series of private events banned under coronavirus-related restrictions. Of those, one person is in serious condition.

City authorities said that everyone who had come into contact with the 35 would be tested, irrespective of whether or not they are showing symptoms. They said that they were now looking for 140 to 200 people who had contact in the first degree with those infected.

A local newspaper reported that the health authorities again contacted nearly 75 people on Sunday morning after they didn’t show up for testing as requested.

The central city’s social affairs department head said family groups had apparently met with relatives from other states last weekend, with the first infections already being reported as early as Tuesday.

The news came one day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her country had “passed” the coronavirus test so far, but added that some hard work still lay ahead.

Although Germany has had a large coronavirus caseload, the number of deaths has remained comparatively low.

As of Sunday morning, Germany had recorded a daily rise of 286 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to more than 180,000 infections.

People relax on rafts and paddle boards on the Landwehrkanal in Berlin, Germany. Source: Sean Gallup/Getty



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Local News - Victoria

as restrictions ease, Matt can invite his mum to his wedding


Monday’s further loosening of social restrictions in Victoria has come just in time: they will have a 20-person ceremony in Melbourne’s east on Saturday, and Mr McMahon’s mother will be there.

“We had to cancel everything then re-book it,” Mr McMahon said.

“It’s been stressful; we haven’t been able to go shopping in stores for things like clothes. Twenty people does feel like a little win.”

The couple will make use of other changes to social restrictions. They’re organising a hotel for their wedding night as accommodation restrictions are lifted on Monday

Many couples postponed their wedding dates in recent months, while others went ahead with video-streamed ceremonies.

Mr McMahon and Ms Eldridge will stream their wedding via Facebook and Zoom for interstate family members who can’t attend.

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“I’ve got some work colleagues who will get together and watch it, having a barbecue and some drinks,” Mr McMahon said.

“It’s something you never envisaged. Our groomsmen and bridesmaids will have to be 1.5 metres apart, so we had a practice ceremony on Saturday to map out how it will look.”

Helen Manuell, a Melbourne bridal designer, said all except one of her clients for autumn and winter postponed their weddings, setting her business back about 18 months.

“Many have had to push out to next year as they were unable to reschedule all their suppliers,” Ms Manuell said.

“One bride was supposed to get married on June 7 this year. Now she’s getting married in August next year. Her dress was half finished.”

Ms Manuell said she had been run off her feet with inquiries in the past fortnight once the Victorian government began to ease restrictions on gatherings.

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Stage three of the federal government’s three-phase recovery roadmap, likely to be some time in July in Victoria, includes allowing up to 100 guests at events such as weddings.

Mr McMahon and Ms Eldridge’s 20 guests will include their four children between them, Ryder, Imogen, Beau and Baylee.

“It’s a unique situation for all of us,” Mr McMahon said.

“We’ll look back on this in, touch wood, 20 years for our anniversary, and go, ‘Jeez, remember what we went through? Remember what COVID-19 was?’

“We’ll have people watching the wedding all across the country. It’ll have different memories for that reason. In one way it’s a good thing because it’s unique.”

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Australian News

Lockdown restrictions could ease sooner than thought


Lockdown restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 may be lifted earlier than previously thought, with the National Cabinet to meet on Friday to discuss Australia’s progress.

Lifting restrictions earlier than planned and allowing larger gatherings could be recommended within two weeks, according to The Australian.

The publication revealed Australia has reached a non-quarantine infection rate of less than 10 new cases a day, with health authorities believing an infection rate at this level would allow more of the economy to safely reopen.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-stage plan in which social distancing restrictions would be eased.

Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Stage one involved allowing five visitors at a home, groups of 10 in public places and businesses and allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen while still abiding by distancing measures.

Stage two would allow gatherings of 20 people in their homes, in businesses and in public places.

Gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks would be able to reopen, as would caravan and camping groups. Some interstate travel could also be permissible in stage two.

Stage three would see allowable gathering sizes increased to 100, meaning pubs and clubs could reopen.

Other businesses and places of gathering like food courts and saunas would also reopen.

Mr Morrison had hoped each state and territory would reach stage three by July, but with the country’s low infection rate the federal government is hopeful it could come even sooner.





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Australian News

Victoria’s lockdown set to ease from June 1


Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has just announced relaxed restrictions from June 1, with the advice no longer being “stay at home”.

The state will have completed more than 200,000 tests by the end of May which gives the state “options”, Mr Andrews said.

Overall, the state is on track to ease lockdowns as planned, with Step Two beginning next Tuesday May 26, according to Mr Andrews.

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From May 26:

  • Public playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skateparks can open as long as there’s no more than 10 people gathered.

From June 1:

  • Gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed in the home, including the members of the household
  • Overnight stays – including hotels, motels and other accommodation — will be permitted across the state
  • Swimming pools will reopen
  • Funerals allowed up to 50 people
  • Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities will be able to open
  • entertainment and cultural venues like galleries, museums, drive-in cinemas and historic sites will be able to open their doors, alongside zoos and outdoor amusement parks

From June 22:

  • Alpine resorts, described by Mr Andrews as “a billion dollar industry”, will reopen to skiers
  • Gyms will reopen for 20 people
  • 50 people allowed in cafes, restaurants and bars.

On Monday there will be a pupil-free day and the following day – May 26 – classes will resume for Prep, Grade 1, Grade 2, Year 11 and Year 12.

On June 9, Grades 3 through to 10 will rejoin their school mates.

All government schools will have returned to class by June 9.

Premier Dan Andrews has not given workers the green light to return to work yet – saying the risk is still too high.

“Working from home is very, very important. In fact, it is critical,” Mr Andrews said.

“If we have literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people returning to office blocks, pressing lift buttons, sharing the kitchen, using common spaces, bathrooms and other spaces like that, then we will simply have this virus get away from us. It is the greatest risk to a second wave.

“It contributes the greatest, we think, to the potential of a second wave and all that we are trying to avoid, the notion of having to reimpose some of these rules.”

Mr Andrews said the government would continue to assess the working from home arrangement but it would likely stay in place until the end of June.

“I know it is inconvenient working from home and I apologise for the inconvenience but if you have been working from home you must keep working from home throughout June,” he said.

“We will work through particularly the issue of working from home with those large, not just CBD employers but there will be employers, large office space employment right across the city and state.

“It is inconvenient but it is a must. If we have everybody returning to business as usual in those indoor workplaces then we will just see this virus spread and all of our good work will be frittered away.”



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Australian News

50 people permitted from June 1 as coronavirus rules ease


New South Wales has declared “it’s happy hour” and announced a further significant easing of restrictions on pubs, restaurants and cafes in the state.

From June 1, the number of patrons allowed in those kinds of hospitality venues will increase from 10 currently to 50, well ahead of schedule, in a bid to revive the economy.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that going out for a meal or a beer won’t look and feel like it did just a few months ago before the coronavirus pandemic began.

And there will be strict rules and regulations in place to ensure the privilege of going for a pint or a parma isn’t abused.

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“It has to be in adherence to the four-square-metre rule,” Ms Berejiklian said.

That means, even with the limit on patrons lifted to 50, smaller venues won’t be able to house that many customers.

“So, some venues are small in space, they will only be able to have as many customers as is allowed in that space according to the four-square-metre rule.”

There will also be restrictions on group bookings, with no more than 10 people per booking allowed, she said.

“And also, nobody will be able to be standing up in these venues. You have to be seated at a table, even if it’s a pub. You have to be seated at the table, you have to be served at the table.”

That means, “no mingling, no standing around”, Ms Berejiklian said.

It’s understood that pubs will have to provide table service to customers, rather than having them buy drinks at the bar.

RELATED: Can you catch coronavirus twice?

“There are strict guidelines in place, which will ensure that we can do this safely,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro declared that “it’s our happy hour – it’s our time to wine and dine” and welcomed the easing of restrictions.

More than 250,000 people across the state are employed in the hospitality sector and many small and medium-sized businesses were at risk of collapse if restrictions weren’t wound back quicker, he said.

But he warned that the new freedoms shouldn’t be seen as a “free-for-all”.

“There will be regulations and guidelines in place for every restaurant, cafe, pub and bar across the state,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We want people to do the right thing. We want people to stay safe. We don’t want to see the transmission of COVID in the regions. That’s why our regulations and our guidelines that will be released next week will remain and remain strong.”

Between now and June 1, NSW authorities will finalise clear guidance and regulations for venues.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new rules were a cautious return to normal life but warned people not to become complacent.

“As we do open up, and as we do make sure that our economy will lead again this nation, I also want to make sure that all of us understand that this virus is still out there, it’s still lurking, and we still have to be careful,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The way that we’re moving forward is in a cautious and sensible way. It has the maximum of 50 people in a cafe or restaurant, but a lesser number if the cafe or restaurant, defined by the four square metre rule, requires a lesser number.

“So, for example, if you had 80 square metres, you would have 20 people. That’s the basic lesson. Just do the basic maths.”

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello, who is responsible for liquor and gaming regulation, said the government had liaised extensively with both the Australian Hotels Association and ClubsNSW to deliver the plan.

“This has been really considered and thought out to make sure we have the best regulatory settings in place,” Mr Dominello said.

All venues must develop a COVID Safety Plan consistent with NSW Health guidelines, he said.

Patrons are urged to contact venues to confirm their arrangements and capacity, rather than just turning up.



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Premiers sling barbs at each other over border policies as coronavirus restrictions ease


Opposing stances on coronavirus restrictions related to state borders has exposed rivalries between premiers, with several leaders taking swings at each other as tensions boiled over this week.

The two main agitators, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, have been squaring up across the country.

Ms Berejiklian wants the return of domestic tourism to help the economy, and has been leading the push to convince other states to scrap travel restrictions.

Out west, Mr McGowan has remained adamant the WA border would remain closed for months, taking exception to being told what to do, and landing a few jabs.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also entered the ring, holding the rope for her Transport Minister Mark Bailey, neither missing a chance to take a crack at the southerners.

Here’s what’s been said as the border issue heats up.

WA — Mark McGowan

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Mark McGowan strongly defends his border closure policy

The WA Premier’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been well received and, according to Ms Berejikillan, he is bickering with NSW to keep his popularity high.

When Ms Berejiklian said closed states would hurt the national economic recovery, Mr McGowan was quick to suggest NSW was in no place to give advice.

“Do you think I should listen to them? I’m not listening to them.

“Some eastern states politicians don’t like it … but it is based on health advice, it is the best thing for the state.

“It’s odd, New South Wales is saying don’t catch public transport in Sydney, they’re restricting the number of people who can go to a restaurant or cafe far more than Western Australia is, yet they’re saying ‘why can’t New South Wales people fly to Western Australia?’

“We’re not going to give in to that sort of bullying by the New South Wales Premier, or anyone else.”

Mr McGowan said WA would not succumb to pressure from Canberra after Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said if COVID-19 continued to be successfully suppressed states should relax border controls.

“I know the New South Wales Premier is unhappy, I know Mr Birmingham is unhappy. But frankly, bad luck,” he said.

NSW — Gladys Berejiklian

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Gladys Berejiklian responds to the WA Premier calling her a “bully” after her coronavirus border restriction comments

She fired one of the first shots while announcing an end to travel restrictions, positioning NSW as central to the success of the rest of Australia.

“We intend to keep our borders open. We think that’s best for New South Wales but also best for Australia. We’ll play our part as the largest state, traditionally the economic powerhouse of the nation, to make sure we engage as much economic activity as possible.” she said.

When speaking about her opposition to the other premiers’ border shutdowns, said she would “probably feel offended if they told me how to do my job”, but then added:

Ms Berejiklian has suggested closures may be more about politics than health.

“In fact, I’m sure those premiers are getting more popular in their states for keeping their borders closed.”

She has also pointed out that, as international travel ground to a halt during the pandemic, NSW had been the “gateway to Australia”, playing a crucial role in helping people in other states get home.

“The irony is that we have been doing that for all the states, for a significant number of months, so we have been supporting them [other states],” she said.

QLD — Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mark Bailey

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says borders must remain closed

At times, Ms Palaszczuk has appeared frustrated when defending the ongoing border closures, which will be reviewed monthly but are unlikely to ease before September.

She has been open to creating a domestic travel bubble with states other than NSW and Victoria.

“Unfortunately, New South Wales and Victoria have that community transmission and they have to get that under control before we allow visitors to come here,” she said.

“You know what, when we get through this together, I’ll be the number one supporter going down there and urging people to come here.”

Mr Bailey took aim directly at Ms Berejiklian, and said his Government “won’t be lectured” by the “worst performing state in Australia”.

“There were 33 times the number of active cases in NSW compared to Queensland,” he said.

Chief Medical Officers don’t want ‘countries within countries’

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Deputy CMO says he’d be ‘happy to meet’ Mark McGowan

While the states have been clashing over what they see as best for their residents, the nation’s top medical officers have stepped in to clarify what they think is the best way forward.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Wednesday said there was never national advice issued that states should close their borders, but he respected their decision to do so “to protect their own population”.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth said decisions about reopening were up to each state.

“At the moment though, with the small number of cases Australia-wide, it is challenging to see the medical benefit of keeping State borders closed for lengthy periods of time going forward,” he told Channel Nine’s Today Show.

“The national strategy is suppression. Which means we are not going for zero cases Australia-wide. So we expect to see small numbers of cases come up now and again.

“Closing the borders may lead to an expectation that you can have zero cases in a particular area until there is a vaccine. I think that would put too much pressure on the nation, of course.

“It is looking for an outcome that we are not even sure that is going to happen. Which is a vaccine that could be 12–18 months away or could never happen.”



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