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CBA chief calls for faster easing of restrictions in Victoria


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced changes to restrictions on Sunday, including extending travel limits from five to 25 kilometres and opening certain industries including hairdressers and golf clubs.

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However, retail and hospitality venues will remain closed until November 2 and will only be permitted to open under strict guidelines, within the travel limit.

Mr Comyn said health had become “by far the most important economic policy”, and while the Victorian government was erring on the side of caution, a faster reopening would be beneficial.

“They’re obviously trying to mitigate the risks that they see or foresee could lead to a rebound in cases, but based on the level of cases at the moment – it certainly would provide a lot of encouraging support to be able to open the restrictions faster.”

“And certainly in some sectors, where those risks could be probably quite well mitigated, there is a lot of encouragement from us and all businesses around the country, and particularly in Victoria, to help them get restarted.”

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“Clearly this is having a very, very sharp impact on small business and Melbourne is definitely bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Much more harshly than other parts of the country,” he added.

The economy would continue to be propped up by fiscal stimulus offered by the federal government, Mr Comyn said, but further hardship was expected once the JobKeeper and loan relief falls off in March.

“Perhaps some of the underlying impact to the economy has been masked for the time being due to a number of those different factors. We’re by no means out of the woods,” he said.

However, he added the impact on unemployment and house prices had not been as severe as initially expected and the speed of the recovery would now be determined by state government policies.

“Reopening the economy, the state borders, Victoria, are all critical to that,” he said.

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Mr Comyn also weighed into Australian relations with China, that have become increasingly toxic as the Chinese government issues directions to avoid Australian industries, including the most latest move to isolate Australia’s cotton industry.

Mr Comyn said China was “a really important trading partner” but added businesses might look to lessen their reliance on one market.

“Some customers who had a singular dependence on a particular market probably are looking to diversify but China will still be an extremely important trading partner.”

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Local News - Victoria

What the easing of restrictions means for dining out


In regional Victoria, venues will be allowed to open for up to 40 diners indoors and 70 diners outdoors from Monday. For operations with multiple rooms like pubs, that will mean a bigger grand final weekend, but the 10 person per space rule means the increased capacity will have little to no effect for restaurants, cafes and bars that have a single dining room.

Alla Wolf Tasker owns the two hat Lake House in Daylesford and feels the restrictions haven’t relaxed nearly enough.

“Colleagues from interstate just cannot believe what we are facing. They have been open for months,” she said.

Many are also unable to take advantage of the increase to outdoor spaces.

Liam Thornycroft opened his Daylesford trattoria, Beppe, earlier this year, and says “as an evening restaurant in Central Highlands, not many people are satisfied with dining in the cold and opt for our takeaway instead”.

Provenance in Beechworth will not gain any new seats under the new rules, but owner Michael Ryan says he is just going to make the most of the next two weeks, saying “when we do open up I know how busy things are going to get”.

Hospitality businesses in metro Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula can open from November 2 for 20 diners indoors and 50 outdoors, although this may be advanced should numbers hold at their low level.

Con Christopoulos of the European and City Wine Shop was hoping to open on Monday. He has applied to extend all of his Spring Street spaces and is also hoping to have Russell Place closed off for a collaboration with Gin Palace, Bar Ampere, Marameo and Neapoli which all share the laneway.

“We are ready to feed and serve Melburnians. We can’t wait.”

The delay is a devastating and confusing blow for business owners. Mallory Wall of Di Stasio says.

“Why all the rhetoric, money and plans for outdoor dining and then only open them simultaneously in two weeks? Why allow a group of 10 in the park but not allow outdoor dining now?”

Christian McCabe of Embla Wine Bar in the city says, “it’s better than nothing, and good to have some clarity at all.

” The announcement at least means businesses can now begin taking bookings, hiring staff and building outdoor spaces ready for November 2.”

Chin Chin restaurateur Chris Lucas, who has been vocal in pushing for hospitality to be allowed to reopen, says Sunday’s announcement is “unworkable and not what the industry agreed upon or asked for”.

He says that the Restaurant and Catering Association and chamber of commerce have pushed for 20 people per space upon reopening, which would increase to 50 people two weeks later and 100 by December 1.

“That’s what we need, otherwise industry will be crippled,” he said.

Frank Van Haandel of Stokehouse in St Kilda says the continued delays “cannot be justified”.

He had hoped to open Pontoon this Thursday and says “City of Port Phillip have been amazing in encouraging outdoor dining on footpaths and outdoor public spaces, giving grants specifically to help with costs of tables, fencing and umbrellas.”

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Springboks withdraw from Rugby Championship due to South Africa’s coronavirus travel restrictions and player safety concerns


World champions South Africa will not defend their Rugby Championship title after governing body SANZAAR announced the Springboks were withdrawing from this year’s competition.

The announcement delivers a big blow to the tournament, 15 days before its scheduled start.

The Rugby Championship, which had included South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, will now go take the form of a Tri-Nations competition between the latter three national sides.

The annual Test tournament was already delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is being staged in one country for the first time.

“Naturally, it is extremely disappointing that the Springboks, due to the continued complexities of operating in and around this COVID environment, cannot fully compete in the previously planned six-round Rugby Championship,” SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said in a statement.

SANZAAR’s statement cited a number of factors leading to the decision, including South African Government travel restrictions, player welfare and safety concerns, and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on South African players.

“SANZAAR recognises the challenges and adversity that the national unions have had to face this year due to the pandemic.

“It is a tribute to the unions in how they have been able to adapt and, dependent on COVID restrictions, run domestic competitions with the exception of Argentina who has been impacted the hardest through their lockdown.

“These short domestic tournaments, and in Argentina’s case no domestic competition, are not the normal lead into an international playing window, and while it has been a far from ideal preparation we look forward to an exciting and vibrant Tri-Nations tournament.”

Last year the Springboks won the Rugby Championship for the fourth time, finishing with two wins and a draw in a shortened competition due to the Rugby World Cup.

The team went on to beat England 32-12 in the final, to claim a third Rugby World Cup title.

South African Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux acknowledged that the other rugby bodies including Rugby Australia had “bent over backwards” to help them and that it would have been unfair to delay a decision any longer.

“This is a hugely disappointing outcome for supporters and commercial partners but the ongoing impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations mean we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare, apart from other logistical challenges,” Roux said.

The new format will see six international matches played in Australia across six consecutive weekends. Each team will play each other twice, with matches to be played in Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

The first two matches involving Australia and New Zealand will double up as the final two Bledisloe Cup series matches.

Tri-Nations Match Schedule 2020

  • October 31: Australia v New Zealand (Olympic stadium, Sydney)
  • November 7: Australia v New Zealand (Lang Park, Brisbane)
  • November 14: New Zealand v Argentina (Western Sydney Stadium)
  • November 21: Argentina v Australia (Hunter Stadium, Newcastle)
  • November 28: Argentina v New Zealand (Hunter Stadium, Newcastle)
  • December 5: Australia v Argentina (Western Sydney Stadium)

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Bathurst 1000 ticketing, camping restrictions deal ‘massive’ economic blow to local businesses


It is going to be a very different kind of Bathurst 1000 this year with only 4,000 tickets per day on offer due to coronavirus restrictions.

The great race’s carnival normally starts days before the climactic 1,000-kilometre endurance race on Sunday.

Event organiser Supercars normally sells 50,000 tickets a day to watch the action unfold at Mount Panorama-Wahluu.

The restrictions mean a dramatic reduction in the number of people visiting the town and a potentially “quite massive” hit to businesses, including The Oxford Hotel.

He said the school holidays, and particularly weekend warriors from Sydney, brought a welcome injection of cash to the town during the pandemic, but it would not make up for an influx of race fans.

“Traditionally, it’s that one week where it picks us up after a cold and slow winter,” he said.

“Winter traditionally is our quietest time, it’s everyone’s quietest time, and then it sort of wakes us up and gets us ready for summer.”

A man leans against a bar with a large array of various alcohol bottles behind him. Two beer taps are in the foreground.
Ash Lyons says race week is generally the peak of his hotel’s entire year.(ABC Central West: Mollie Gorman)

Mr Lyons said he has rostered staff for a rush similar to school holidays, but he was not sure what to expect.

‘No icing on the cake’

Camping is an important element of the Bathurst experience, with thousands of people flooding into campsites on Mount Panorama days out from the start of races.

But this year there’s no camping on the mountain due to COVID-19 restrictions, and ticket holders have been told to find accommodation in town instead.

Kangaroos in a field with the Mount Panorama sign in the background.
Bathurst is within a few hours’ drive of Sydney and brings many tourists to the region, despite the pandemic.(ABC Open: Tim Bergen)

Elaine Hamer runs a farm stay at Perthville, 7 kilometres from the track, or 2km as the crow flies.

She said normally up to 150 campers stayed in her paddock. This year, she expected no more than 20.

“V8 weekend is usually the weekend where there’s a little bit of icing on the cake as far as the business goes,” she said.

“Certainly it’s going to affect my overall annual income.”

A woman wearing a blue shirt and broad brimmed hat holds a lamb and a bottle next to a pen with three other orphaned lambs.
Elaine Hamer has been offering camping to Bathurst 1000 fans for 12 years.(ABC Central West: Mollie Gorman)

Some of her regular customers, including security guards and members of a race team, are still camping.

She said that helped mitigate the pain of refunding thousands of dollars to other campers.

“Normally you think of nothing else except maintaining amenities, garbage, checking people in, checking who’s driving in,” Ms Hamer said.

Soccer club missing out

The Bathurst City Red Tops soccer club runs a canteen at the top of Mount Panorama, feeding hungry campers with a sausage sizzle.

There will not be any spectators up there this year.

Fiona Prosser said the club will miss out on thousands of dollars of fundraising.

“It helps with families who are disadvantaged financially or have had issues with family violence,” she said.

“It also helps with any kind of uniforms that are required … any kind of equipment, balls, cones.”

A woman stands with parkland behind her.
Fiona Prosser’s soccer club raises money through their canteen at the top of Mount Panorama, but spectators and campers aren’t allowed there this year.(ABC Central West: Mollie Gorman)

Ms Prosser said some of the campers who cannot be at the race this year have created a social media campaign to ensure the money they would normally spend on a steak sandwich still finds a way to the club.

And while the Bathurst 1000 is still going ahead with reduced numbers, other events at the track that the canteen caters for have been cancelled.

“If it continues like this then we are going to be in a bit of strife because we’re a self-funded soccer club,” Ms Prosser said.

The general manager of the Bathurst IGA, Isaac Bernardi, said he was not sure what the impact on supermarket sales would be.

He said the boost was effectively double a normal weekend — particularly for items like alcohol, snacking and finger food, and chairs.

“It’s a spike in revenue the town looks forward to. It’ll be sorely missed if we don’t get the numbers of people attending that we did as previous years,” Mr Bernardi said.

“It’s not just the Bathurst 1000, we operate in a number of towns and there’s a lot of events that have been cancelled.

Watch Brock: Over the Top at 8.30pm Tuesday November 3 on ABC TV+iview



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Local News - Victoria

Which Melbourne COVID-19 restrictions are likely to be eased next week?


He also suggested the figures used for easing lockdown might have to be redrawn.

“It may be at a point where we have to call it, where we have to say that this is as good as it will get,” the Premier said.

Melbourne had a target of 70 or fewer new cases between October 5 and October 18 to meet the average required to progress to step three of the government’s road map for reopening.

On Monday it hit 79 with seven days to go. A second target of five or fewer mystery cases in the two weeks leading up to October 19 was also missed.

Despite this, epidemiologists have offered suggestions about which rules it might still be safe to relax, including one that has frustrated many: the requirement to stay within five kilometres of home. However, gatherings of up to five people from another household within a home may be ruled out for the near future, due to the risk of transmission posed by family clusters.

Cafes and restaurants had been due to reopen next week in Melbourne.

Cafes and restaurants had been due to reopen next week in Melbourne.Credit:Bloomberg

Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said the case numbers did not necessarily mean Melbourne had to postpone moving to step three, which would involve allowing outdoor dining for cafes and restaurants from next week.

“It is a cautious step and we know we can contain outbreaks,” she said.

However, Professor Bennett said if there was a concern around the number of mystery cases present in the community, meetings between households would need to stay banned.

“One compromise could be [that] you didn’t allow meetings in the home, that you expand it so people can meet people outside the five-kilometre rule,” she said.

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UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said the five-kilometre limit could be extended to 10 kilometres – or a bit further – to allow more movement, but she would not allow Melburnians into regional Victoria. As for the other rules – “I’d probably go to opening up retail before family gatherings,” she said.

“The only reason they would go the other way is because they think that contact tracing is easier from people’s homes where everyone knows each other.”

Allowing gatherings in homes might lead to further spread of the virus, she said, because people would spend longer periods together while not wearing masks.

“I think you’ll get clusters, home clusters,” she said.

Professor McLaws said to aid with contact tracing in retail, people should have to scan a QR code with their mobile phones when entering a shop.

Mr Andrews has reiterated that restrictions set to ease on Sunday will probably relate to social activities rather than businesses.

Daniel Andrews has offered hints about what might change next week.

Daniel Andrews has offered hints about what might change next week.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

“I think it’s unlikely this weekend there will be a big shift in terms of retail,” he said. “There are risks, not so much with the setting. The risk relates to movement.”

University of Melbourne professor of epidemiology Tony Blakely said the five-kilometre rule should be one of the first to go.

Aside from that, he said he expected a “fairly modest” set of changes.

“I don’t think we’re quite ready to get the restaurateurs back in big business,” he said. “I assume we will focus on those that are solo operators, trying to get as many of those back to work as we can, but not opening up the pubs at this point.

“I think we’ll go halfway between step two and step three.”

He likened each rule that gets relaxed to “putting another log on the fire”.

“We’ve just let all the kids go to school this week. They aren’t big spreaders but they are another piece of wood on the fire, as well as the essential workers a few weeks back,” he said.

“We can’t put too much fuel on the fire in case it all blows up.”

Disquiet with government ranks about the slow path out of lockdown emerged on Monday when Labor MP Tim Richardson publicly called on Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to allow ‘‘family bubbles’’ in Melbourne from this weekend.

In a letter to Professor Sutton, also published on the Mordialloc MP’s Facebook page, Mr Richardson wrote he was buoyed by the success of the “singles bubble”, and that he had received thousands of messages, emails, phone calls and comments about the struggles his community had endured.

‘‘We have heard countless stories of constituents having not seen family since the start of the pandemic in March,” wrote Mr Richardson, a factional ally of recently sacked Labor MP Adem Somyurek.

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WA could face harder domestic border restrictions, Premier Mark McGowan says


WA Premier Mark McGowan has warned that West Australians could face more strict restrictions if the state opens its borders with the rest of the country.

Mr McGowan compared West Australia’s restrictions to other states, which have been more strict than in the west, and said it would be difficult for West Australians to live under increased restrictions long-term.

He says those tougher restrictions could be needed if WA’s hard border dropped and last week claimed a travel bubble with other states would only result in the west losing tourism money.

“These are the sorts of things you need to consider before you bring the border down, so we haven’t made any final decisions on that, we haven’t made a final decision on phase 5,” he said on Sunday.

“While people think it’s an easy decision, it isn’t. There are lots of considerations in order to keep people safe.”

RELATED: WA’s hard border ‘unconstitutional’

RELATED: Rogue state’s bizarre plan to split nation

The Premier has long said the health advice was that the hard border should only be removed when there was no community transmission for 28 days across the country.

Victoria and NSW are nowhere near that target.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said this week that travel bubbles with other low risk jurisdictions had “always been a consideration”, although it would mean WA was reliant on their restrictions.

“We are probably one of the more susceptible states if we were to get a case,” he told 6PR radio.

“If we get one or two cases, we could get a substantial outbreak and that would obviously require considerable effort to get it back under control.

Two more return travellers in quarantine have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 15 active cases – not including a potential new case from a crew member on a Port Hedland ship who is currently in isolation while tests are being confirmed.

WA recorded more new coronavirus infections on Monday than Victoria – the first time a state has since June 6 – after months of soaring numbers which crippled the southern state.

That brings the total cases in WA to 694 – including 670 recoveries.

PORT HEDLAND OUTBREAK

The WA Health Department declared a new coronavirus outbreak in Port Hedland only a day after settling another virus-infected ship problem.

A crew member of the Vega Dream iron ore cargo ship anchored off the WA coast feared to be infected with coronavirus has been was transferred to a nearby health campus while COVID tests are being confirmed.

Officials are concerned the new cases could be a ticking time bomb for the community and the resource hub dubbed the “engine room” of Australia’s economy.

Health Minister Roger Cook said a crew member on board the Vega Dream iron ore carrier returned a positive result to a rapid COVID-19 test which is still yet to be confirmed.

The crew member is currently isolated while results from a second test which has been sent to Perth are confirmed tomorrow.

This comes after the Patricia Olderdoff cargo ship leaves Port Hedland after 18 of its 21 crew members tested positive to COVID-19.

The ship arrived in Australian waters from Manila last week.

Mr Cook said the two outbreaks show its time for the Federal Government to step up.

“The Commonwealth Government has to actually make sure that it works with its international partners so that we don’t have these situations continue to emerge,” he said.

He added that if it gets out into the community it will create a disaster – worse than what’s been seen in Melbourne.

AMA president Omar Khorshid issued a severe warning that the outbreak could prove to be a “death sentence” if not managed correctly.

“If the virus gets out into the Port Hedland community, particularly into the Indigenous community in Port Hedland, we would expect a catastrophic outcome that would be worse than what we have seen in Melbourne with severe illness and death resulting in an outbreak,” he told The West Australian.

— with Angie Raphael



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Sport returns in regional Victoria as COVID-19 restrictions ease


This weekend, for the first time in months, regional Victorians were allowed to play competitive sport and they could not be happier about it.

Sale Tennis Club head coach, Anthony Zafiris said there was a “buzz” in the air when the Wellington District junior pennant competition got underway on Saturday.

“It’s incredible — a few weeks ago it was touch and go and we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get on or not,” he said.

“Thankfully, Dan Andrews allowed us!

“Every single court was taken … and you could just feel the energy and the buzz around here.

A smiling man in a cap and wearing a hoodie standing in front of some tennis courts.
Anthony Zafiris says his junior pennant players are displaying a new level of intensity.(ABC Gippsland: Kellie Lazzaro)

Mr Zafiris said he was working with his players to set new goals after such a long period of lockdown.

“They are desperate for something to look forward to,” he said.

“Even at training last night there was really high intensity that I haven’t seen for while, they are so keen to get going.”

Mr Zafiris, who moved from Melbourne to Sale 18 months ago, said he could not have imagined how hard it would be to be sidelined from sport for so long.

“A lot of my fellow tennis coaches in Melbourne have barely worked for the last six months, so I really feel for them,” he said.

A young person on one foot, preparing to hit a tennis ball.
Junior champion Sen Goold, 14, trains daily and has ambitions to play college tennis overseas.(ABC Gippsland: Kellie Lazzaro)

‘Great to be batting and bowling again’

The junior cricketers of Sale’s Collegians Cricket Club took to the pitch this week for the first round of training since coronavirus put a halt to their schedule.

They are preparing for their first round of matches next weekend.

“Under the current restrictions we could play, but we just needed to give clubs time to get organised and get their teams out on the park,” club delegate Jim Sutton said.

Matches will be played under strict rules, including the regular cleaning of cricket balls, hand sanitisation and social distancing.

Mr Sutton said players were happy to oblige.

A young cricketer using hand sanitiser.
Madix Grattan, 14, says he’s happy to follow the rules if that’s what it takes to return to the pitch.(ABC Gippsland: Kellie Lazzaro)

“They just want to get down here to see their mates,” he said.

“So to actually get out here into the fresh air and knock around with their mates, it’s great for them physically, mentally and socially.”

Mr Sutton’s 13-year-old daughter, Acacia, who is on track for state selection for cricket, said she was relieved to be able to finally play again.

“We missed out on a whole footy season and so cricket has been like the only sport we’ve been able to play this year,” she said.

Cricketer Sam Dean, 14, said it had “been tough” living under restrictions.

A large group of smiling children in bright football uniforms standing on a soggy field on a grey day.
These junior soccer players in Sale did not let rain stop them from getting back on the field.(ABC Gippsland: Kellie Lazzaro)

“Homeschooling, not being able to play sport, not seeing your mates — you get pretty unfit through quarantine,” he said.

“So it’s great to be batting and bowling again after a long lockdown.”

At Sale United Football Club, parents lined up in drizzling rain to sign their children in for their first “MiniRoos” training session of the season.

“It’s the first solid competition for the year, so especially for the little kids, it’s just so important for them to know that the world is getting back to normal,” coordinator Laurel Irvine said.



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Victoria Police issue fines after partygoers breach lockdown restrictions


A house party has ended in more than $21,000 worth of fines being issued after police found 20 people inside not wearing face masks or socially distancing.

Officers stormed the party at the Bentleigh address in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs about 1.10am on Saturday after receiving complaints of loud music.

Upon entry into the South Rd apartment, several partygoers climbed onto the roofs of neighbouring businesses and fled.

Police also discovered four people hiding on the roof of a neighbouring premises, and they were fined once they came down.

All up, 13 people were fined $1652 each for breaching COVID-19 directions of the chief health officer, resulting in a massive $21,476 worth of fines handed out.

Victoria Police issued a total of 79 fines in the past 24 hours, including seven for failing to wear a face mask and 11 at vehicle checkpoints.

It comes as Victoria chief health officer Brett Sutton warned coronavirus case numbers were lingering in the double-digits largely because of community-based outbreaks.

The Premier revealed a grim lockdown warning for Melburnians after the state recorded 14 more infections on Saturday.

“The tale of this second wave was always going to be stubborn and that is exactly the way it is panning out. I think it unlikely that we will be able to move as fast as we would like to have done next Sunday,” Daniel Andrews said.

“We will take steps next Sunday, and (we) will spend an enormous amount of time this weekend and throughout the week determining exactly what those next steps can be. ”



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How COVID restrictions will change cruising forever


Cruising accounts for a sizeable portion of Sarah Solah’s photo albums.

The mother-of-three is a sea travel veteran, by anyone’s standards, having sailed seven separate cruises over the past decade through the South Pacific, New Zealand and up Australia’s east coast.

Desperate to get back to her “happy place”, she has already pre-booked two cruises for next year, buoyed by the hope that life goes back to pre-COVID normal.

But things on ships will be drastically overhauled in a new normal that will see operators instigate more safety precautions than ever before, to get people like Ms Solah back on board and keep the $5.2-billion industry afloat.

“I am addicted to cruising, if I could go more often I absolutely would,” Ms Solah said.

“The pandemic won’t stop us … I am busting to get back on a cruise, we have one booked for the Great Barrier Reef next year with a group of 20 and are really hoping this goes ahead.”

Ms Solah, who has done seven cruises, was defensive of people who blamed cruise lines for spreading coronavirus.

“You don’t see people stopping going to the shops or to the beach – for the states that can get out, going on a holiday is no different.”

Cruise tourism is worth $5.2 billion a year to the Australian economy and supports more than 18,000 jobs across every state, including regional and remote communities that have suffered enormously in the tourism shutdown.

And it’s not just cruisers and the travel industry that have taken a hit – it’s people along every link of the supply chain – like Steven Biviano, whose business Select Fresh Providores supplies fruit and vegetables to cruise ships, as well as hotels, pubs and clubs.

When cruising halted at the end of March, his business dropped by up to 50 per cent, with cool rooms switched off and warehouses sitting all but empty.

With pubs and clubs now open and a shift to focus on residential delivery, his business is down about 30 per cent overall.

“And it’s not just us either – it’s the farmers, the growers, the chicken guy, the meat guy – so many people have been hugely affected by this,” Mr Biviano said.

“We did everything we could to sustain the business … but in terms of our cruise division – it’s been zero since late March.”

Mr Biviano, who is on a Cruise Suppliers Advisory Group made up of businesses that supply cruise lines’ on-board operations, said the impact for Aussie suppliers like him was considerable.

Aside from a surplus of produce that can’t be used since cruising isn’t occurring, there is a concern that if it were to return in three months, that would be the middle of summer with little stock available and threats of fires to crops.

Recent figures show the suspension of cruise operations cost Australia more than $1.4 billion in lost economic activity up to September, threatening 4800 Aussie jobs.

Commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, analysis forecasts that if the cruise suspension continues, the economic loss to Australia would total a further $3.8 billion and put another 13,000 jobs at risk.

CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said when the time was right, cruising would return in a carefully phased, regional approach, beginning with local cruises for local residents.

“With the help of scientists and medical experts, cruise lines are developing an industry-wide response to COVID-19 that will be adopted by all CLIA ocean-going cruise lines worldwide,” he said.

“The approach is wide-ranging, involving a door-to-door concept that begins at the time of a passenger’s booking, continues throughout the entirety of their journey, and concludes only after their return home.”

He said it would include robust screening and testing, expanded cleaning and sanitation practices and comprehensive shipboard prevention, surveillance, and response measures.

“Everything is being taken into account – boarding processes, dining, entertainment, ventilation, shore excursions – every step of the cruise experience is being examined,” Mr Katz said.

He said when cruising resumed in Australia after the December 17 ban lifted, it was likely to involve restricted passenger numbers and intrastate or interstate itineraries, which in time, could be extended to a trans-Tasman bubble or ‘carefully managed’ operations in the South Pacific.

CLIA ocean cruise line members worldwide this week agreed to conduct 100 per cent testing of passengers and crew on all ships with a capacity to carry 250 or more persons. — with a negative test required for any embarkation.

“This is a travel industry first and an example of the cruise industry leading the way,” a spokesperson said.

“We see testing as an important initial step to a multi-layered approach that we believe validates the industry’s commitment to making health, safety, and the wellbeing of the passengers, the crew, and the communities we visit our top priority.”

A report by the Healthy Sail Panel of international experts recently detailed 74 detailed best practices to protect the public health and safety of guests and crew.

They included compulsory testing, daily temperature tests, face masks, modified facilities, touch-less check-ins, upgraded air filter systems, increased medical staff, designated quarantine cabins, and verified offshore excursions only.

“Despite the challenges our industry is responding to, we know there is an enormous number of passionate cruise fans in Australia who are keen to travel again as soon as they can,” Mr Katz said.

“The extensive new health measures planned by cruise lines will help give them confidence.”

President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Sture Myrmell said their seven cruise lines — P&O Cruises Australia, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Seabourn and P&O Cruises World Cruising — were preparing to return to sailing for when the time was right.

“We know there is a vast reservoir of hundreds of thousands of experienced cruisers who are looking forward to sailing again but like us they are taking a realistic and pragmatic approach,” the spokesman said.

“Future cruise programs are being released by our cruise lines and the response has been both gratifying and encouraging.

“We are ensuring that bookings can be made with minimal financial outlays and, should it become necessary due to the pause, with generous and flexible cancellation arrangements.”

Sydney Cruise blogger Honida Beram has been on 25 cruises – eight last year alone. She quit her job last year to follow her passion, with 300,000 readers on her blog Cruising with Honey and 2.5 million page impressions and strong social media following.

“It’s been a really tough time – it has really affected people because if you love cruising it takes a lot of your time thinking about past cruises and planning new ones – it gives you a sense of hope, freedom and enjoyment,” the mother of three said.

“It’s a whole state of mind.”

She said passionate cruisers like herself were worried about crew who had lost their jobs, as well as primary producers, food and beverage divisions, travel agents – the entire industry that needed support.

“So many people have been affected by the cruise pause, but I’m trying to keep hope alive … it will come back and cruisers will be able to get back to doing what they love to do.”



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NT to ease coronavirus border restrictions with regional Victoria


People living in regional Victoria could be able to travel to the Northern Territory without undergoing mandatory quarantine from next month.

The NT Government announced on Monday it was set to revoke its coronavirus hot-spot declaration for most of the state from November 2.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said all but four council areas in regional Victoria would be struck from the hot-spot list, as its rolling average for cases falls to 0.3 – or “next to nothing”.

“All the numbers basically amount to this – regional Victoria has crushed the coronavirus,” Mr Gunner said.

“The critical factor for making this decision is regional Victoria’s success in easing their restrictions without spreading the virus.

“They are stepping out of lockdown while still staying safe.”

The four areas to remain on the watch list are Greater Geelong, the Macedon Ranges, Mitchell Shire and East Gippsland Shire, as they have all recorded at least one positive case in the last fortnight.

However, Mr Gunner said those areas could be also be removed as declared hot spots by November 2 if they continue to suppress new cases.

“That’s likely to happen but it’s not something we are confirming today,” he said.

Metropolitan Melbourne will remain a declared hot spot for the foreseeable future despite Mr Gunner remarking it appeared the city was on the “cusp” of crushing its deadly second wave.

He tried to allay any fears from Territorians worried about letting Victorians past the NT’s strict quarantine controls, saying police would still be patrolling borders and airports to vet all arrivals.

But he said his advice for locals wanting to travel interstate remained the same: “Think twice about it, think hard about it. Don’t travel if you don’t need to, and stay safe if you do.”

More to come



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