Local News - Victoria

Tired of takeaway, Ocean Grove’s cafes prepare to plate up again

Under the new rules, the Driftwood Cafe will accommodate 20 people inside and 12 outdoors.

Mr Simons said the numbers would need to increase to about 50 per cent of normal capacity – which is about 100 patrons – for the venue to be financially viable without the support of JobKeeper.

But he is still excited to serve food on plates again.

“We’ve gone through an extraordinary amount of takeaway containers,” he said. “We want to use our plates again. We want people to sit down and enjoy themselves.”

Mr Simons, who is also president of the Ocean Grove Business Association, said he was working with traders and the council on a compromise arrangement to use some car parking and more footpath space for hospitality businesses in The Terrace shopping strip.


But Ocean Grove Cellars manager Isaac Fryar took issue with the prospect of losing parking spots, fearing it may deter customers.

“We don’t want to lose access to our businesses,” he said.

Mr Fryar said parking on The Terrace was particularly important during the summer influx of visitors.

The Premier said on Wednesday that hospitality businesses would receive support to expand their outdoor capacity.

But concerns about parking access for retailers loom as a challenge that may need to be managed.

In the White Hart cafe, nestled in an arcade off The Terrace, owner Alisha Cogan was trying to determine whether her walkway tables were considered outdoors. She hoped restrictions would be eased further so she could open her tiny cafe at full capacity in coming months.

“Summer’s coming. We definitely hope to be at full capacity by then,” she said.

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Local News - Victoria

Double murder accused seeks bail to help prepare his own defence

He wants bail, partly because it is difficult preparing his defence while on remand in jail. He told the Supreme Court on Monday he had been refused access to the library in Port Phillip Prison and could not speak to defence witnesses because prisoners’ telephone calls were recorded.

“How can I be expected to prepare for my case?” he said during his bail application, representing himself.

“I just cannot believe that a person can get a fair trial before a jury with all these restrictions.”

Justice Paul Coghlan accepted it was difficult for a prisoner to prepare his own defence but said it was the accused man’s choice not to hire a lawyer. He urged Mr Cohrs to consider getting legal advice.

“You would be much better off being represented,” Justice Coghlan said.

“I have been doing this stuff for 50 years and I think a case as hard as these cases are make it terribly, terribly difficult for people to represent themselves, to the point of impossibility.”

Mr Cohrs said the failure of prison authorities to arrange for him to face court hearings had also caused great stress, to the point he had a heart attack.

His health concerns are among additional grounds for him seeking bail, along with the risk of contracting coronavirus in prison, the delay he faces before trial, his good character and because he needs to care for his wife. His trial won’t start until next year.

Prosecutors oppose bail because they say the case against Mr Cohrs is very strong, the charges very serious and that if released he would be a risk of offending and to the public.

Mr Cohrs told the court he hoped to win a civil case before his first murder trial, and that freeing up $2 million of his assets would allow him to hire the lawyers he wanted and grant him access to evidence that could be used in the criminal proceedings.

Mr Cohrs is yet to lodge a defence to the first murder charge but told the court he was under a lot of pressure from family members and was the subject of “mental torment”. He asked Justice Coghlan if the lines of mental impairment and the related automatism, and “defence of another” were available.

The judge replied they were but said, “I never say never but they don’t look likely in your case.”

Mr Cohrs said he only wanted to spend time with his immediate family if bailed.

“There is no way I am going jeopardise spending one more minute with my family. My main goal now is to secure the financial viability for my family. That’s my pledge to the court,” he said.

Justice Coghlan will rule next Monday.

Police allege Mr Cohrs murdered his brother in the NSW town of Rufus and drove about 100 kilometres to Red Cliffs, near Mildura, where he allegedly murdered his mother. Police say he then returned to NSW, where he was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was airlifted to hospital in Melbourne and later charged.

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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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Local News - Victoria

Police prepare to enforce coronavirus hotspot lockdowns if outbreak grows

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said the military had shown its infection-control capabilities through its management of the Howard Springs quarantine centre in Darwin, where returned cruise ship passengers were held in March.

Mr Morrison said on Monday that locking down suburbs or local government areas was always part of national cabinet’s plan as governments moved towards opening up the economy.

Victoria’s outbreak has prompted NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to urge her residents to reconsider visiting Melbourne, as her deputy John Barilaro spoke of closing the state’s snowfields to Victorians.

Restrictions could be tightened even sooner in the six local government areas if cases continue to rise at alarming levels, but a Victorian government spokesperson said it would first assess what impact new restrictions have on driving down case numbers over coming weeks.

From Monday, Victorians can only visit each other’s homes in groups of five, to rein in family contagions.

Victoria recorded 16 cases of coronavirus on Monday – the sixth day in a row of double-digit growth – with 12 of those believed to be due to community transmission, making it the largest single-day increase in community transmission since the peak of the pandemic in April.

Of the new cases, six are linked to known outbreaks, four are in hotel quarantine, five have been detected through routine testing, and one is under investigation.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government did not plan to lock down the “hotspot” suburbs imminently, but she did not rule out a return to the tough restrictions to which Victorians were subjected at the end of March.

At the height of restrictions, Victorians were allowed to leave their homes for only four reasons: to go to work or school if they could not work or learn from home; seeking and providing care; buying groceries; and exercising outside within their local area.


Ms Mikakos said people’s behaviour over the coming weeks would be paramount in helping drive down case numbers.

“We haven’t put stay-at-home directions [for those municipalities], but we’re not ruling it out,” Ms Mikakos said yesterday.

“Exactly what form [stricter restrictions] may take is under active consideration, but we’ve had stay-at-home directions in the past that limited the types of reasons that you can leave your home … but we don’t want to be in that situation.

“If people in those hotspot areas particularly limit their movements in the next few weeks, we can assess the situation and see if that makes a difference.”

Although people living in the six local government areas identified as coronavirus hotspots have been urged to “limit” their travel in coming weeks, they have not yet been banned from leaving their neighbourhoods to work, dine or visit others.

University of Melbourne professor of epidemiology Tony Blakely said if cases continued to climb dramatically over the next three days, a “very severe regional lockdown” was likely to be required.

“By severe, I would expect that would involve a lot more police patrols, possibly bringing in the military … to mobilise the workforce and to ensure people aren’t going in and out,” Professor Blakely said.

He said it could also mean children would be banned from attending schools in the hotspots.

“That’s inevitable if we see a huge increase in cases. That’s what you would have to do, there is no escaping that until it’s turned around and numbers start going down.”


The Australian Health Practitioners Principal Committee on Sunday night issued a statement “strongly discouraging” people from travelling to and from Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Darebin and Cardinia until the “control of community transmission has been confirmed”.

The committee does not have powers to enforce a lockdown, but the recommendation has been made to the Victorian government.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said while it was “sensible” for people to consider whether they should travel to and from areas identified as hotspots, they should also be stringent about following social distancing measures across the rest of the state.

Authorities will target their testing, enforcement and messaging in Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Darebin and Cardinia, with the government moving to extend the hours of testing centres in these locations and establish more pop-up sites.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says it is "sensible" for people to consider their travel plans.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says it is “sensible” for people to consider their travel plans. Credit:Getty Images

“It is sensible from a national perspective to say if these areas can be avoided, if people can understand that other parts of the country are less of a risk than these particular areas, then just make a consideration about your travel plans for these areas,” Professor Sutton said.

“We don’t want to say only think about these spots or avoid these spots, and be complacent everywhere else.”

While Premier Daniel Andrews did not speak publicly about the outbreak on Monday, Mr Morrison noted the recent outbreaks “should not come as a surprise”.

“This is a COVID-19 pandemic that is intensifying around the world. And Australia still remains, by a very long stretch, in a very, very, very good position,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said "localised containment rings" were always part of national cabinet's plan.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “localised containment rings” were always part of national cabinet’s plan.Credit:Rhett Wyman

“And localised containment rings, rings of containment, have always been part of the plan, together with, of course, the isolation.”

Mr Morrison said locking down suburbs or local government areas to suppress the spread of coronavirus was a more “sensible” measure than tightening restrictions across the entire state.

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Australian News

Solomon Islands prepare for 2023 Pacific Games by removing WWII bombs from grounds

As professional sport returns to Australia and New Zealand with the easing of coronavirus restrictions, in the Solomon Islands there is only one sporting event on people’s minds: the 2023 Pacific Games.

The capital city, Honiara, is set to host the largest sporting event in the region but before construction work starts, World War II bombs must first be removed.

The city is located on Guadalcanal Island, a former battleground for the allied offensive against the Japanese 77 years ago.

Reindhart Alalo, team leader for the unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance work, told the ABC his team was examining the ground to find remnants from the war and ensure their safe removal.

A man holding a metal detector while working in a grassy field with yellow caution tape surrounding an area.
Any unexploded ammunition is collected by the police bomb squad and taken away to be destroyed.(ABC: Evan Wasuka)

“We scan the area 60 centimetres by 60 centimetres, then we dig. After that, we do another deep scan before we move on to the next area.”

The UXO clearing team started work on the grounds last month, using machines that can scan up to six metres below the surface.

So far, as well as the plane parts, they are collecting around 200 shells per day.

‘Heavy fighting area’ set to be new running track

Ken Gross Smith, manager of the Pacific Games facilities, told the ABC warships fired in the direction of the King George VI School field in east Honiara, where the running tracks and multipurpose hall for the games are expected to be built.

He said students had been playing on the field for decades without realising the danger beneath their feet, as the unexploded ordnance could be triggered if disturbed or handled incorrectly.

The UXO clearing team wearing hi-vis in a ground with plane debris.
The clearing team has found plane debris and hundreds of shells.(ABC News: Evan Wasuka)

“This used to be one of the battlefields [and] it was a heavy fighting area. This in fact used to be an airstrip,” Mr Smith said, while gesturing to where construction is due to start.

“I understand that when the shell hits the ground it bends and comes up a bit, so any unexploded ones would still be under there.

Any unexploded ammunition they find is collected by the police bomb squad and taken away to be destroyed.

Fifteen new facilities, including a stadium, aquatic centre and a futsal complex, will be built for the Pacific Games, most of them in east Honiara and mostly bankrolled by China.

The Solomon Islands Government is hoping the massive infrastructure work from the sporting event will give the local economy a much-needed boost.

The total cost of the games is around 2 billion Solomon dollars ($352 million) with 80 per cent of it to be funded by donors.

The 2015 opening ceremony of the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.
The Solomon Islands Government is hoping the massive infrastructure work from the Pacific Games will give the economy a boost.(GNS: Dave Buller)

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AFL players prepare to head into coronavirus isolation hub as season kicks off

It is about the strangest start to an AFL season imaginable: months of training and anticipation, a single crowd-less match per team and then nothing. A complete shutdown.

After two and a half long months for fans, players and staff, season 2020 restarts tonight and Port Adelaide is apprehensive.

It is one of four teams that will move into a football hub, where players and staff will live, train and isolate for up to three weeks in luxury resorts on the Gold Coast.

“Initially, I ran away and hid from [partner] Sharna [Roelandts]. She wasn’t too happy with the idea of [me] being away,” Port midfielder Tom Rockliff told 7.30.

Tom Rockliff wears a Port Adelaide top.
Port Adelaide’s Tom Rockliff is getting ready to enter the AFL hub.(ABC News)

The initial proposal was for the four teams from WA and SA to spend up to 20 weeks in isolation hubs.

Rockcliff and Roelandts, a nurse, have a two-year-old son Jack, and they were worried about how they would navigate the logistics of family life and work.

Tom Rockliff holds his son Jack in his arms.
Tom Rockliff says he will miss his son Jack.(ABC News)

“It was like, far out, 20 weeks with them going into a hub. No way honey, you’re retiring early,” Roelandts joked.

Rockcliff says he would miss his son, but that a few weeks in a hub was the right balance between family and work.

“Kids at this age, they change so much daily, they learn a new phrase and do something different,” he said.

But as players, “we just want to get out there and play, as long as it’s safe, as long as we’re not going to put ourselves and others at risk”.

‘Out of my comfort zone’

Ken Hinkley
Ken Hinkley says being home with his family keeps him “balanced”.(AAP: David Mariuz)

The team is determined to stay focused on the positive. Coach Ken Hinkley joked his golf game might finally improve.

But he also knows being in a football bubble will be hard at times.

“I’m not typically the best person when it comes to being out of my comfort zone,” he said.

“Being at home, being with my wife and seeing my kids is really important to me … I think that keeps me in a really balanced place.”

For the season to resume, the AFL has strict procedures in place that limit contact between players and the public.

Hinkley says that will really be felt next Friday when the players enter the hub.

“We’ll come to the club, get on a bus, go to the airport, get directions through the airport with no contact with anyone from the public and go get on our plane, a chartered flight, only us on the plane.”

Being isolated could be ‘tremendously stressful’

surfer surfing
Four teams will be in the hub on the Gold Coast.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

The Herald Sun’s chief football writer Mark Robinson says hubs are essential for the game’s survival.

“The AFL is a multi-billion-dollar industry, tens of thousands of people rely on it for their livelihoods,” he said.

“Clubs were doing financial models without a season and that was going to take 10 years to recover from and some clubs might not survive.”

But he says the insular nature of the hubs will get to teams.

“Imagine you lose your first game, you lose your second game, the morale is going to be low … they’re away from their families and their kids and they can’t do anything,” he said.

“I think it will be tremendously stressful.”

‘We are going to see joy return via the Sherrin’

The AFL has not yet announced the entire fixture in a bid to stay nimble and responsive to the spread of coronavirus.

That means if SA and WA still have quarantine restrictions, the teams might have to spend another stint in the hubs.

A Collingwood-Richmond blockbuster tonight will break the months-long silence at the MCG.

Robinson says it signifies far more than just the return of elite football.

“The joy isn’t just for the players returning and the networks making the millions, and the AFL that needs the millions,” he said.

“For the majority of us, football is the joy.

“What we’re going to see when communities open up, we are going to see joy return via the Sherrin.

“Life’s getting back to normal.”

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Local News - Victoria

Life can be a cabaret again, as Victorian theatres prepare to reopen

Premier Daniel Andrews announced that from June 22, indoor cinemas, concert venues, theatres and stadiums can reopen with up to 50 seated patrons per space.

Miao, who owns Prahran small theatre The MC Showroom, said it was “brilliant news” and it would be “a big relief” for artists to perform again.

”It’s a green light for people in the industry to start to make some plans.”

Artists were “hanging out to get back to work, it’s their lifeline”, she said. Audiences would “come and feel the sense of normalcy again”.

Until now, Miao has not been able to schedule or promote shows and feared the lockdown would stretch beyond September.

Her venue can fit 50 people while observing social distancing and using hand sanitiser.

She will try running dinner theatre nights with audiences sitting at tables of two. They will order takeaway food and in turn support local restaurants.

Miao said it would be “a kick-start to get things going again”.

She has cancelled at least 200 acts due to the pandemic restrictions; the last act before a crowd was on March 8 – the Genesis rock tribute act Entangled.

“Afterwards we were meant to launch into the comedy festival and it all went down from there.”

The MC Showroom in Prahran is ready to reopen, with dinner theatre on the menu.

The MC Showroom in Prahran is ready to reopen, with dinner theatre on the menu.Credit:Penny Stephens

The venue’s landlord granted a 50 per cent discount on rent and 50 per cent deferral, but that is being reviewed “month by month”. Debts were building up and bills still had to be paid.

Khan says when she returns to the stage, there will be “so much new material” after the outbreak.

Nurses are renowned for their dark humour. She has noticed how people have taken to washing their hands – except for one surgeon she knows who is surprisingly blasé about it.


She can riff about the absurdity of nurses practising social distancing while having to shower and toilet patients, and how personal protective clothing can be sweaty and awkward to wear.

Khan said staging a dinner theatre was “a really good idea” as long as audience members were kept at a distance from one another and perhaps asked on entry if they had COVID-19 symptoms.

She said small theatres were vital for emerging artists in particular and theatres’ return would be “so important for our mental health and for connection. Without touching, of course.”

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Fresh CCTV released as police prepare to search bush for missing dad

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, from the Missing Persons Squad, said police had always been of the firm belief that someone out there knows what happened to Mr Pantic and who was responsible for his disappearance.

He said the vehicle, with registration 1NK 8BP, has never been found.

Missing man Dalibor 'Dale' Pantic.

Missing man Dalibor ‘Dale’ Pantic. Credit:Victoria Police

“Someone out there has the answers we need – I can promise that police are absolutely going to keep searching for them ourselves, but if you do know something, then the time to come forward is now,” he said.

“A year is a long time for his family to spend without answers.”

Mr Pantic’s fiancee reported him missing on April 13 last year.

There has been no activity on any of Mr Pantic’s social media accounts and his bank accounts haven’t been touched. He has also made no contact with his family, including his children, since.

In June, his family made a heart-wrenching plea for information.

Mr Pantic's family: father Jovan, daughter Maya, sister Bozina, and daughter Klara.

Mr Pantic’s family: father Jovan, daughter Maya, sister Bozina, and daughter Klara.Credit:Jason South

Daughter Maya Pantic, then 11, sobbed as she begged for someone to help bring her father home.

“He was the best dad ever,” Maya Pantic said. “Bring my dad back.”

Detectives believe the 38-year-old father left Lakes Entrance in Victoria’s east for Melbourne, where his two older daughters live, on April 10.

He stopped at an associate’s farm in Perry Bridge, north-east of Sale in Gippsland, on the way before leaving about 7pm.

But Mr Pantic never arrived in Melbourne and has had no contact with his family since.

At the time, investigators said Mr Pantic was known to be operating within the drug scene in the Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale and Sale area.

They said while he wasn’t a “big player” police feared he perhaps got in “too deep”.

His phone was later located in the possession of drug associates who also operated in those circles, at Wurruk on the outskirts of Sale, police said.

The car spotted in the days after Mr Pantic's disappearance.

The car spotted in the days after Mr Pantic’s disappearance. Credit:Victoria Police

Mr Pantic’s car, with distinctive rims, was also seen across Melbourne a number of times in the days that followed his disappearance.

The first was at a service station inbound on the Princes Freeway at Officer at 12.28am on April 12.

It was seen again outbound on Eastlink at the Springvale Road and Ringwood Bypass at 11.59am and again at the High Street Road and Ferntree Gully Road exit at 12.07pm.

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said Mr Pantic’s disappearance was extremely out of character.

Facebook photos of missing Lakes Entrance man Dalibor "Dale" Pantic.

Facebook photos of missing Lakes Entrance man Dalibor “Dale” Pantic.Credit: 

“We’re hoping that today’s search in Labertouche will give us some of the answers we need or a way to move forward with this investigation,” he said.

“The opportunity is still open for someone to come forward and speak to police and give us any information they have about why he disappeared and who is involved.”

Mr Pantic is described as being about 178cm tall, of solid build, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone who saw Mr Pantic around the time of his disappearance, anyone who may have seen his Ford sedan or anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit

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Safety plea as principals prepare for reopening of schools

Victoria recorded another 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 1487. Of the 10, one is related to the outbreak at Cedar Meats, bringing the cluster there to a total of 76 cases.

A staff member at Kyabram and District Health Services also tested positive. Colleagues who had direct contact are self-isolating, while other asymptomatic employees will be tested. Ms Mikakos said the worker had not been in close contact with any patients.

Meanwhile, customers at Fawkner McDonald’s in Melbourne’s north have been urged to get tested if they experience coronavirus symptoms following the positive test of a second employee on Saturday.

More than 150,000 people have been tested as part of a two-week blitz, with 20 returning a positive test.

The government will on Monday ramp up its efforts to find “silent” carriers of coronavirus, announcing a $20 million package which includes a specialised outbreak unit to ensure that proper testing, contact tracing and deep cleaning are carried out when a cluster is detected.

Mr Andrews gave his clearest hint yet on Friday that parents might be able to send their children back to school before the end of term two, saying he had always said “if we could bring it forward, we would”.

Ms Mikakos said on Sunday that the government had not yet made a final decision, but the crisis council of cabinet, made up of eight ministers including the Premier, would discuss the issue on Sunday night.

Teachers and advocacy groups have called for a careful plan for the return to on-site schooling, if it occurred before the end of term two on June 26.

Even with an announcement imminent, there is confusion about how the school environment – including parents interacting at drop-off – will be made COVID-safe.


“It’s not going to be as simple as everyone turning up one day and back into it,” teacher Kelly Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said teachers needed time to revise their planned lessons, given they had planned for a whole term of remote learning.

Henry Grossek, principal of Berwick Lodge Primary School in Melbourne’s south-east, said he was considering taking safety measures into his own hands by hiring a private company to spray the school grounds and classrooms with disinfectant each day.

About 50 of Berwick Lodge’s 630 students have been attending the classroom, while 12 out of about 50 school staff have been working from school. Mr Grossek said three teachers with medical issues might not be willing to return to school due to their vulnerability to the virus.

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek.

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek.Credit:Paul Jeffers

“Most schools will have a pool of [teachers with medical conditions] who may not return. How would they cope emotionally with being back at work?” he said.

“We know the kids can’t stay home forever but there is going to be a big problem with social distancing and logistics.

“We still need to get our heads around risk management … because we don’t believe we’ll have the level of protection the broader community has. There is a fear about going to work.”

Prep students and older high school students may be permitted to return first, causing further complications for families with more than one child.

Jim Laussen, the principal of Overnewton Anglican Community College in Melbourne’s north-west, said he also expected some immuno-compromised families to choose to keep their children at home.


“If you’ve got a prep class with 20 students in class and four at home … we need to work out how to provide a curriculum for children learning face to face, and also providing curriculum for children learning from home.”

The Australian Education Union urged the Education Department to address some key issues before schools re-open, including supplying more personal protective equipment, particularly to special needs schools, and only allowing large gatherings to occur if they are consistent with health guidelines.

Australian Principals Federation president Julie Podbury said a substantial period of notice for the return was essential for school staff.

“We would like at least a week’s notice prior to any changes occurring so that people can do the adequate preparation,” she said.


She also said the return of prep-to-year-two students and VCE students should be prioritised.

“The plan for special schools needs a lot of very careful consideration as well,” she said.

The Independent Education Union said several measures were key to returning students to on-site learning, including social distancing and maintaining hygiene standards.

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It advised schools to limit large physical gatherings such as assemblies, make sure any sick staff or students were identified and then followed isolation guidelines and to ensure staff could access virus testing.

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Coronavirus update: Brits told to prepare to commute by foot and Kawasaki syndrome kills three children in New York

After a dramatic decrease in COVID-19 infections and deaths, Spain is preparing to reopen from tomorrow.

Just over 51 per cent of the population lives in areas deemed by the Government eligible to move to this ‘Phase 1’ of lockdown easing.

The British Government has conceded that its public transport system, as it operates now, is not suitable for a post-COVID future.

It announced it would invest 2 billion pounds in new cycle and walkway infrastructure to encourage workers to avoid public transport and driving.

Three children in New York have died after being diagnosed with Kawasaki syndrome and COVID-19.

The syndrome is common in children under six, commonly boys, and can lead to swelling of blood vessels and heart complications.

Sunday’s top stories:

Half of Spain to reopen from Monday

A crowd of people walk on a footpath
Spain remains one of the hardest-hit countries with a cumulative total of cases exceeding 222,000.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Some 51 per cent of Spain’s population will progress to Phase 1 of a four-step easing plan on Monday after the Government decided the regions in which they lived met the necessary criteria.

In regions that made the cut, such as the Canary and Balearic Islands, bars, restaurants and shops will open at reduced capacity, and museums, gyms and hotels will open their doors for the first time in nearly two months.

The country’s two biggest cities — Madrid and Barcelona — do not currently meet the criteria for easing and will remain on Phase 0.

Emergency Health Chief Fernando Simon on Saturday urged Spaniards not to think of it “as a race” and said it was possible Madrid would be ready to move onto the next stage within a week.

Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 179 on Saturday, down from 229 the previous day and a fraction of highs above 900 seen in early April.

A national period of mourning will be called once the whole country had passed to Phase 1.

Majority of commuters in Britain could be walking or cycling

Roadway cycle path; cycleway; cyclist, pedestrian generic
Trials of e-scooters will be fast-tracked throughout the UK.(ABC News: Dan Cox)

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a 2 billion pound ($4 billion) investment in physically distant transport methods as the Government concedes its public transport system cannot go back to pre-COVID normality.

Mr Shapps acknowledged the transport network would play a “critical role” as the UK moves to the next stage of the pandemic.

With social distancing in place there would only be effective capacity for one in 10 passengers on many parts of the network, so many more people will need to walk and cycle to get the country back to work and prevent roads becoming gridlocked with cars, Mr Shapps said.

The package includes the rapid installation of pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements for pedestrians and cycle and bus-only streets.

Three New York children die from syndrome possibly linked to COVID-19

Three children have now died in New York state from a possible complication linked to the coronavirus involving swollen blood vessels and heart problems.

At least 73 children in New York have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition in children — and toxic shock syndrome. Most of them are toddlers and primary school age children.

There is no proof that the virus specifically causes the syndrome.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the children had tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies but did not show the common symptoms of the virus when they were hospitalised.

“This is the last thing that we need at this time, with all that is going on, with all the anxiety we have, now for parents to have to worry about whether or not their youngster was infected,” Mr Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

At least 3,000 US children are diagnosed with Kawasaki disease each year. It is most common in children younger than 6 and in boys.


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