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Australian News

Melbourne shoppers cram stores as lockdown looms


Shoppers have been filmed lining up at a Melbourne market as the city – and the whole state of Victoria – awaits news on tough new restrictions.

It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews prepares to detail a stage 4 lockdown for the capital and new measures through regional communities, with more than 650 new cases of COVID-19 to be announced.

It’s understood that today will mark a new record number of deaths.

Racing.com editor in chief Paul Tatnell shared incredible vision on Twitter on Sunday of the South Melbourne Market.

“Lockdown panic is well and truly alive,” he said. “Shortage of meat and staples already. One shop likened it to the Christmas rush.”

RELATED: Follow our latest coronavirus updates

Supermarkets across the city have seen long queues of people today as news of the imminent lockdown spread.

While details are not yet confirmed, it’s believed that most retail stores and businesses will be forced to close within coming days under the new measures.

Supermarkets, considered essential services, will remain open but under strict social distancing and health rules.

The panic to stuck up on food has seen some ignore social distancing measures.

“Bloody hell. Has everyone suddenly forgotten we’re in this mess because people are congregating like this!!!!!!!! No social distancing whatsoever,” one Twitter user said after seeing Tatnell’s footage.

Images have emerged from all over Melbourne of the panic buying hitting the shelves.

There are also fears of meat shortages due to the panic-buying, spurred on by reports on the ABC that abattoirs could be shut down. Industry experts have assured consumers that this will not impact on supermarket meat supply.

Meat processing facilities have been hit by coronavirus outbreaks.

The latest figures show 99 confirmed cases are linked to Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham, 89 cases to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown, 76 cases have to JBS in Brooklyn, 50 to Australian Lamb Company in Colac and 10 cases to Don KR Castlemaine.

Indeed, Aussies seem in a rush to get their red meat before the harsher lockdown takes effect.

Yesterday, KFC has reported running out of chicken in multiple stores.

Others have used humour as a coping mechanism, to make fun of the panic-buying.

The press conference is happening soon. Victorians wait with bated breath.





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Statewide lockdown looms as 191 new cases confirmed


The threat of a statewide lockdown is still looming over Victoria, after the state recorded another record spike in COVID-19 cases.

Victorian health authorities have confirmed another 191 cases were recorded overnight, bringing the state’s total to 2824 after 27 previous cases were reclassified.

The Australian reports Victoria could announce a four-week lockdown from this afternoon.

That would be the biggest daily increase in cases the state has seen throughout the whole pandemic.

RELATED: Enormous infection spike forecast

This could be bad news for those hoping to avoid a statewide lockdown, with a meeting under way with the Victorian government’s COVID-19 Cabinet to discuss how best to manage the outbreaks.

This morning, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt refused to rule out the possibility of more restrictions.

Speaking on Nine’s Today, Mr Hunt said the main focus was on Melbourne but tactics may have to be reassessed if cases continue to grow.

“I don’t think that anybody can rule out that if the disease continues to spread, there could be further restrictions,” he told the program.

“I think it is very important to be open and honest about that. At this stage it appears primarily urban Victoria.

“But we actually have to respond to the facts as they occur and we’ve always identified this notion of rings of containment, of isolating the hotspots and then working out from there.”

He said the outbreak in Victoria was “very serious”.

“To have the unprecedented closure of the border, not done in a hundred years, that is a sign that we have seven states and territories with effectively zero community transmission, one state, in particular, the north and the west of Melbourne, with a very serious outbreak,” Mr Hunt said.

Six days ago new lockdown restrictions came into effect for 10 postcodes across Melbourne, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for work or school, care or care giving, exercise or buying food and essentials.

On Saturday two additional postcodes, 3031 and 3051, were also placed under lockdown.

Residents in nine public housing towers in the city have also been placed on a “hard lockdown” and ordered to stay in their homes.

Yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned of a statewide lockdown if people didn’t follow the current restrictions.

“This is serious, this is real, and no Victorian has any excuse but to take this seriously. Otherwise, we will finish up in a situation where all postcodes are locked down. No-one wants that and no-one through their actions and the choices they make should make that more likely, should contribute to that outcome,” he said.

“It isn’t too much to ask that people just use common sense and good judgment. It is real, it is serious, it’s not over. I need each of you to do the right thing.

“Otherwise, everyone is going to be back in their home in a lockdown. That’s what’s going to happen.”

His warning came after the state recorded 127 new cases, breaking the previous daily record of 111 cases back in March.



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Local News - Victoria

Prison looms for former court official who faked an intervention order


She hacked into the computer system and issued the false order for a friend involved in a custody dispute with his former partner over their daughter.

Borg sent the order to South Australian police and also posed as her friend’s lawyer in email correspondence and during a trip interstate.

Sara Borg is likely to be jailed next month.

Sara Borg is likely to be jailed next month.Credit:AAP

But police became suspicious and traced the order back to Borg, and she resigned in disgrace. The 40-year-old had worked as a registrar for 10 years and was studying law but her dream of practising is now over, replaced by the prospect of prison.

Defence counsel Sharon Lacy on Friday called on Judge Dalziel to consider a non-custodial sentence given the price Borg had already paid, and the impact prison would have on her two young children.

Ms Lacy accepted there was a need to punish public officials who abused their positions of responsibility but said her client’s case would have already had a powerful deterrent effect on others.

Borg had lost her court registrar job and a subsequent position at the Department of Justice, could not practise law and had endured public humiliation in media reports, Ms Lacy said, all of which would have deterred others from similar offending.

“They would have very loudly got the message,” the lawyer said.

Time in prison could also doubly punish Borg, Ms Lacy said, because of the impact it would have on her children. It is unclear whether Borg’s 12-week-old son can stay in prison with her but her eldest child cannot.

“The anguish she would experience as a result of not being able to provide any physical comfort, in my submission, would be quite extreme,” Ms Lacy said.

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Prosecutors accept jailing Borg would cause her family hardship.

Borg has pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office, making and using false documents and unauthorised access with intent to commit a serious crime.

She is on bail while she awaits sentence.

With AAP



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NRL officials boss refuses to back down over one-referee plan as restart deadline looms


The start of the rugby league season could hinge on the outcome of a Fair Work Commission hearing on Thursday, after mediation between the NRL and national referees association broke down today.

The Referees Association believes the decision to reduce the number of on-field referees from two to one ahead of next week’s season start date is not upholding the current enterprise bargaining agreement.

In a conciliation that lasted around three hours today, both parties failed to reach an agreement.

“We made an offer to the NRL with respect to helping them save some costs and a few other things, but they were rejected,” said chairman of the Professional Rugby League Match Officials, Silvio Del Vecchio.

“They made an offer to us, but it was immaterial to us and we rejected that.”

A referee holds up 10 fingers as he sends an NRL player to the sin-bin during a match.
The NRL referees association lodged a dispute with the Fair Work Commission after the league reduced the number of on-field referees from two to one.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Last week the NRL announced that only one on-field referee would be used for the rest of the season, in a bid to save money and make the game more entertaining.

Many of the game’s stakeholders have been split on the benefits of such a move, while the referee’s association have maintained they were not properly consulted.

Chairman of the ARL Commission Peter V’Landys attended the meeting in Sydney today and was one of the first to leave.

Mr Del Vecchio says both parties didn’t really come close to reaching a resolution.

“We went to the Fair Work Commission this morning with a desire to resolve this issue through conciliation,” he said.

Silvio Del Vecchio stands on a street wearing a blue suit and pale yellow tie
Silvio Del Vecchio said wholesale changes had been made without consultation.(ABC News: Elena de Bruin)

“We need to look at what’s brought us here and what’s brought us here is wholesale changes have been made without any consultation, without any discussion.”

Mr Del Vecchio doesn’t believe the dispute will stop the game from going ahead with its planned season restart next week, although he’s unsure what role the referees will play.

“The game will go ahead next week on the 28th,” he said.

“This is about employee rights and our employees are governed by the enterprise bargaining agreement and it must be upheld.

“We are willing to talk about a whole range of things.”

The National Rugby League declined to comment on the progress of discussions.

The game did confirm the six venues that will stage matches during the first phase of the competition restart, to be used for at least seven weeks.

Western Sydney Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium, Central Coast Stadium, Lang Park, North Queensland Stadium and Melbourne Rectangular Stadium will all host matches.

The full draw for the remainder of the season will be released this Thursday, the same day the Fair Work Commission arbitration is scheduled.



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Local News - Victoria

Melburnians return to CBD as restriction announcement looms


The city’s foot traffic sensors counted almost 3500 people passing through the mall between 1pm and 2pm on a typical Wednesday pre-lockdown.

That almost halved to 1859 on Wednesday, March 18, three days before social distancing laws were introduced.

Foot traffic in Bourke Street Mall was higher on Wednesday than in the previous four weeks.

Foot traffic in Bourke Street Mall was higher on Wednesday than in the previous four weeks. Credit:Chris Hopkins

On March 25, just 592 people were in the mall and two weeks later there were only 337.

This Wednesday, the number has doubled, with 751 people recorded passing through the sensors at the same time of day.

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It is still a long way off numbers seen in the mall before the pandemic, but shows a steady return to the crowds we are used to seeing in the city.

The City of Melbourne has set up sensors at fixed locations throughout the CBD and surrounding areas that count pedestrians passing through each hour.

The sensors are installed on light poles or awnings, and keep track of the footpath below.



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