Australian News

State to keep border shut

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that the state’s borders will remain closed to Victorians.

“Today I want to address the issue of borders. Let me state from the outset, Queensland has very large concerns about the state of Victoria,” she told reporters today.

“There have been 250 cases in the past seven days. Yesterday, 75 and, today, 64.

“There is community transmission. There’ve been outbreaks in hotels, schools, healthcare, retail and a distribution centre. So, due to the current community transmission levels, the border with Victoria will remain closed and will be strengthened.

“Tougher measures will apply from this Friday, July 3, at 12pm.

“Anyone who has travelled from Victoria, including Queenslanders, will be prevented from entering or will have to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for two weeks.

“We just can’t risk removing border restrictions for people coming from areas of Victoria right now.”


Queenslanders will discover today if they’ll be making a cheeky jaunt over the border soon.

Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stood firm on when she would make an announcement on the easing of such restrictions, not budging on the June 30 deadline – even going so far as to laugh off border reopening date questions during a press conference on the weekend.

But the day has finally arrived when Queenslanders will find out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased and that includes the contentious decision on the reopening of borders.

The Queensland Premier has assured the public numerous times that her decision would be supported by “evidence” and medical advice from chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young.

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has pressured on the Palaszczuk Government to reopen borders ahead of schedule from July 1 and said during a press conference yesterday the Premier should be running the state, “not a medical expert”.

“If the Prime Minister says it’s safe for the borders to be open, well then it’s safe,” Ms Frecklington said.

When pressed on the situation in Victoria, where a gobsmacking 75 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded overnight, Ms Frecklington said the health advice for quarantine should be followed.

“I would encourage them not to travel, but visitors coming from hot spots in Victoria should quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and they should do so at their own cost,” she said.

Ms Frecklington said the Premier’s lack of decision-making on borders was costing jobs and closing businesses.

Businesses such as The Tour Collective are especially keen to see the border reopen.

The Tour Collective brand manager Lauren Horner said the border closure had hit every facet of the eco-tourism business, which operates marine and whale-watching tours out of southeast Queensland and the Gold Coast.

“We had to end our season earlier than normal and we are now operating at 50 per cent capacity,” Ms Horner said.

“It’s just not sustainable. We’d like to see borders open as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler said the Whitsunday region had been like a ghost town since borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

“We’re a global destination so the closure of borders has crippled us. Having said that we absolutely do not want to go backwards,” Ms Wheeler said.

“Now that school holidays have started in Queensland, the region is quite busy again and we’re receiving a lot of support from Queenslanders.

“What would help local businesses here most is an easing of restrictions in restaurants and on tours – or even a travel partnership with states who do not pose a serious risk to the public health.”

Today’s announcement is likely to flag the easing of restrictions from July 10, which is also the last day of school holidays in Queensland.

Up to 100 people will be permitted to gather in restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, although opening borders is not covered in the state’s road map to easing restrictions.

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Australia coronavirus live update: Qld border could stay closed until September as 12 Victoria McDonalds shut – latest news | World news

This is a package that is designed to make sure that tradies and all of us, because as those wages are earnt and the contracts are won, the money is invested and spent. They move around the Victorian economy, and that money flowing throughout the Victorian economy benefits all of us.

Hundreds and hundreds of projects delivering thousands and thousands of jobs.

That’s exactly what we need right at this time, and I want to be clear with you that these projects, many of which are new, some of which were in the planning, but have been brought forward.

Because we’ve got to get the projects away quickly. These projects, some of them, the public housing maintenance for instance, will begin next week.

The rest of them will be under way over the next three to six months. And we’ll be pushing as hard as we possibly can to get those projects done closer to the three months than the six months.

It’s very, very important that we underpin demand. That we give to tradies and so many others across the economy, that sense of absolute certainty and confidence that this work is here and it’s here right now.

There’s never been a better time for us to invest. Never been a more important time for us to invest in these jobs.

This, of course, comes after our very significant business survival package, which included the best part of $2bn in grants to businesses hardest hit by the shutdowns.

Payroll tax refunds to businesses right across the state, and of course, the Working for Victoria fund, which is all about trying to make sure that those who have lost their job can work for all of us doing deep cleaning, doing all sorts of other functions.

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Local News - Victoria

Workers told to meet at work two days after site was shut


The western suburbs meat company said workers were given the option not to attend the meeting if they felt unsafe and insisted they adhered to physical-distancing guidelines and that employees were broken up into groups.

A senior employee, who asked not to be named because it could endanger his job, told The Age that employees were “bunched up” at the meeting.

“You bring all these guys in a week after you know about positive cases, and they’re just standing around talking. It spread on that morning, of course it did,” the employee said.

A spokeswoman for the company said workers were split into five groups, the largest including 70 people and the smallest made up of 15. The groups met for no more than 15 minutes in an indoor lunchroom large enough to ensure workers spread out, she said.


Cedar Meats said it had been in discussions with the Victorian Health Department to conduct on-site testing for its workforce. The senior employee said some workers believed they were coming on site to get tested by the Health Department.

The company decided against on-site testing, and asked its workforce to gather to discuss where to get tested and how to ensure they did not infect others in the community.

The company opted not to provide this information digitally because its workforce is comprised largely of non-native English speakers, making communication more difficult.

The Health Department did not answer questions about whether it had told Cedar Meats it would conduct on-site testing. A spokeswoman said in a statement that it had “provided Cedar Meats with information about a range of nearby testing facilities to ensure the testing could happen as quickly as possible”.

Quarantined workers are not subject to the same isolation policy applied to returned travellers, who are not allowed to leave their hotel room other than for medical care.

“The health and safety of those in hotels is managed through the use of physical distancing, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment by staff and hotel guests,” said a Health Department spokeswoman.

An infection-control consultant hired by the Health Department has been overseeing the workers’ quarantine period at the hotel and random checks are conducted to see if workers are in their rooms.

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Coronavirus case in teacher sees Victorian Government shut primary school amid jump in new cases

A primary school in the northern suburbs of Melbourne has been temporarily shut down after a teacher tested positive to coronavirus, the Victorian Government has announced.

At a press conference on Sunday morning, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a teacher at Epping’s Meadowglen Primary School had tested positive to the virus.

Ms Mikakos said the school would be shut down from Monday to Wednesday to enable cleaning and contact tracing.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the case yesterday and was working to support the school, she said.

Parents, carers and staff were contacted by the school to let them know a staff member had tested positive.

“Students who need to attend in person and have no other option … will be supported to be able to attend a neighbouring school,” Ms Mikakos said.

The exterior of Meadow Glen Primary School.
Meadow Glen Primary School will be shut down from Monday to Wednesday to allow time for cleaning and contact tracing.(Google Maps)

She said that given 97 per cent of Victorian state school students were studying from home the potential for transmission was limited and students who were at the school but not in the teacher’s classroom may be able to go straight to a neighbouring school.

‘Brilliant music teacher’ in good health

Loretta Piazza in 2013.
Meadowglen Primary School principal Loretta Piazza said no students had been in contact with the teacher.(Supplied: Loretta Piazza)

Meadowglen principal Loretta Piazza told Melbourne radio station 3AW the infected staff member was a “brilliant music teacher” who was in good health.

“I spoke to him this morning, he’s doing just fine,” Ms Piazza said.

Ms Piazza said the teacher had been at the school recording videos for students learning from home.

He had not come into contact with any students during the days he had attended the school’s music room and staffroom.

She said contact tracing had only identified two other teachers as close contacts who needed to undergo a fortnight of self-quarantine.

“The good news is that no adults, no staff at our school are showing any symptoms either,” she said.

More cases identified at Melbourne abattoir

Ms Mikakos said Victoria recorded 13 new coronavirus cases overnight, bringing the state total to 1,384.

It is the biggest single-day increase in Victorian cases since April 18 when 17 new confirmed cases were announced.

Six of the new cases relate to the cluster at an abattoir in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, in addition to the eight already identified at the facility and another one who tested positive on Friday.

Of the other new cases identified in the past 24 hours, three were returned overseas travellers in quarantine, one was a close contact of a past case and the other three were identified through the Government’s testing blitz.

Victoria’s death toll remains at 18.

Ms Mikakos continued to refuse to name the meatworks, saying there was no threat to public health because of the thorough response to the cluster.

She said the decision had not been made “based on anyone’s reputation”.

Source of school infection under investigation

An exterior shot of Meadowglen Primary School.
A music teacher at Meadowglen Primary School in Epping tested positive to coronavirus.(ABC News: Emilia Terzon)

Ms Mikakos said health authorities did not yet know how the teacher contracted the virus and were investigating potential sources of the infection including colleagues or students.

“There might have been a tradesperson, there might have been someone else that attended that school in recent days,” she said.

Anyone who believes they might have been exposed to the virus should call the coronavirus hotline or attend a screening clinic.

She said any close contacts of those exposed would need to self-isolate.

“This is not about blaming the teacher or any individual who might test positive,” she said.

“People can contract coronavirus very easily … this is not about anybody feeling guilty about going to get tested.

“We know the only way that we have managed to slow down the spread of this virus is the vast majority of Victorians doing the right thing and staying home.”

Tension bubbles over between State and Federal Governments

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Victorian Health Minister responds to criticism of Daniel Andrews

Earlier on Sunday, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan lashed out at Victoria, urging parents to ignore Premier Daniel Andrews and instead follow medical experts and send their children back to school.

Speaking on Insiders, Mr Tehan accused Mr Andrews of taking a “sledgehammer” to the state’s education sector as tension bubbles over between the State and Federal Governments.

Minutes later, the program broke the news that the Victorian Government was about to announce a school closure due to a coronavirus case.

During this morning’s press conference, Ms Mikakos responded by questioning whether Mr Tehan’s comments reflected Canberra’s views.

“I think it’s important that the Prime Minister clarifies today whether Dan Tehan is speaking for his government,” she said.

“I refer you back to the Prime Minister’s own comments, just recently, where he asked Victorian parents to listen to the advice of the Victorian Premier.

‘We are the Government that runs our schools in Victoria’

Ms Mikakos insisted state authorities were best placed to decide the future of the schools.

“I encourage Victorian parents to continue to heed the advice of our Government,” she said.

“We are the Government that runs our schools in Victoria, we are the Government that is leading the public health response that is keeping Victorians safe.

“If we just look to the fact today that we’ve had a staff member in a school test positive.

She said the advice remained unchanged, which was that Victoria should continue to learn online for the “foreseeable future”.

“If that changes, then of course Victorian parents will be the first to know.”

Ms Mikakos said the State Government was “absolutely committed” to giving all children of all backgrounds the best possible education.

As a product of a working-class family, she said she was absolutely committed to making sure that all children got opportunity.

“This is a response to a public health emergency, an unprecedented emergency … one that we have not seen in this magnitude for 100 years,” she said.

“They [online learning measures] are, of course, temporary measures and we will continue to reflect and respond to the contemporary data.”

More to come.

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The Virus: We could be in for an ‘early mark’ on physical distancing measures

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Australian News

Sunbakers at shut beaches ahead of Bondi reopening

A metres-high metal fence and COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions didn’t stop dozens of Sydneysiders bathing in the sunlight in the eastern suburbs on the weekend.

People were scattered among the rocks at Mackenzies Bay on Anzac Day, with many stopping to sit or sunbake in their boardshorts and bikinis despite local and state government advice.

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

The bay is a small inlet between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach, which both remain closed to all land-based activities including social gatherings, sunbaking, walking and jogging.

In NSW, residents are allowed to leave home to exercise but “must not participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two persons”. Members of the same household are an exception to this rule.

Failure to comply with a direction under the Public Health Order carries a maximum penalty of six months behind bars or a fine of up to $11,000.


Bondi Beach and Bronte Beach will partially reopen tomorrow for local surfers and experienced swimmers to exercise from Monday to Friday, according to the local council.

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said access to the water will be via designated entry and exit points managed by rangers.

“The council expects to provide access to the water for the sole purpose of exercising for surfers and swimmers between the hours of 7am and 5pm on weekdays commencing Tuesday 28 April,” a statement from Waverley Council reads.

“The council will review these measures on an ongoing basis, including whether to provide access on weekends.”

In addition, surfing will be permitted at Tamarama and Mackenzies Bay between the same designated hours “but the beach remains closed to swimmers and all land-based activity”, Waverley Council states.

The council said, as per public health orders, all public ocean pools including Bronte Pool remain closed.

Ms Masselos said the strict “Swim & Go” and “Surf & Go” measures had the support of NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant.

She stressed that it was not a “reopening” of Waverley’s beaches.

“There will be no relaxing or gathering around on the sand. The sand remains strictly off-limits other than for access to the water for exercising. If social distancing rules can’t be followed, then this access to the water will be shut down,” Ms Masselos said.

“I also want to remind people that the NSW public health order to stay at home remains in effect. These measures are strictly for locals to exercise locally, and if you are attending the beach to exercise, please do your exercise and leave.

“The timing of our measures coincides with the onset of cooler weather and the opportunity to monitor what is happening in other council areas with regard to their beaches.”

She said if the conditions or instructions from rangers were not adhered to, Waverley Council would have “no choice” but to ban all access to the water.

“Remember, these measures are not designed for people to have a dip or paddle or for children to play on the sand,” Ms Masselos said.


The move follows measures introduced further south in the Randwick Council enclave that got off to a rough start last week when they were ignored.

Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly beaches closed on Friday afternoon after people “failed” to acknowledge the rules, Randwick Council said. They were hit by crowds again over the weekend.

The situation has been reassessed and they opened on Monday from 6am to 9am for swimming, surfing and jogging.

“Leave once you’ve finished exercising,” the council says.

All other unpatrolled beaches in Randwick City remain closed until further notice including Gordon’s Bay, Malabar Beach, Little Bay Beach, Frenchmans Beach, Yarra Bay and Congwong Beach, as do ocean rock pools.

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Google and Apple are adding some key privacy boosts to their upcoming coronavirus-tracking tool, and say they will shut it down once the pandemic is over

  • Google and Apple’s COVID-19 contact tracing technology is getting improved ahead of launch, with some notable improvements to protecting privacy.
  • The tool, which will roll out to developers in beta next week, will allow users to see when they have come within close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It will work across both iOS and Android devices.
  • As well as improvements to privacy, the companies will allow health authorities to track contact cases with greater detail, including proximity and length of exposure time.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Work is underway between Apple and Google to push out the first version of their COVID-19 tracing technology, which will be used to alert people if they have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The first version of that tech will be available for developers next week, and the partnering tech companies have just announced some changes that will make the tool both more secure and more accurate.

They have also promised to shut the tracker down once the pandemic is over.

One of the big new changes is to encrypt the metadata that gets shared via Bluetooth. This information could feasibly be used to identify a device, so encrypting it will make it far more difficult for anyone to do so.

The way identifiers work also is being changed. It was initially announced that phones would produce a fixed identifying key from which other random daily keys would be derived. Apple and Google say that instead the phone will now produce and hold an independent key every day, so all identifying information is constantly changing.

Apple and Google are relying on registered public health authorities to build apps that use their application programming interface (API), and so they’re also improving the fidelity of information these authorities can take from their respective apps.

One such change is that they will be able to tell you many days have passed since the last “exposure event,” should you come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The tool will also now offer information about the power level of the Bluetooth signal being exchanged between two phones. The companies say that when combined with Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) this will let apps more accurately estimate the distance between two phones when contact was made.

Both companies said that the API will also be able to share the amount of time an exposure lasted, starting at a minimum of 5 minutes and moving up to a maximum of 30 minutes. Health authorities will be able to use both of these changes to determine thresholds for an “exposure event.”

Apple and Google also announced that they intend to shut the tracking tool down once the pandemic is over, and will do so on a region-by-region basis. However, the companies did not comment on at what point it would choose to do so, or what a “region” might look like.

The updates will qualm certain privacy concerns about the technology, but there are still some lingering issues. For example, it is still possible that apps using the API could ask users to share other information, such as GPS location data. Apple and Google previously said that governments would not be allowed to mandate use of their technology.

For the first major public rollout, set to happen mid-May, users will be required to download an app from a verified health authority to use the technology. But the companies plan to eventually embed the technology into the Android and iOS operating systems, too.

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Tasmanian outbreak forces hospitals, retail to shut down

Tasmania has closed two hospitals in the northwest and tightened the region’s retail restrictions to control a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie will shut on Monday from 7am, with patients transferred out.

The majority of patients will be transferred to the Mersey Community Hospital at nearby Devonport, so the hospitals can have a deep clean.

RELATED: Six coronavirus facts experts want you to know

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

More than 1000 people including hospital staff and their households will have to quarantine for two weeks.

“We need to ensure that we can crush this virus at its source, and with this outbreak we need to take these steps,” Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters on Sunday.

There has been an increase of 11 COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s overall figure to 144. All these cases are from the northwest region. Eight health care workers, one patient and two close contacts of people who previously tested positive are among the latest confirmed cases.

The state government aims to reopen the hospitals after two weeks. It hopes the emergency department, maternity, cancer and intensive care unit services can return after 72 hours.

Retailers in the northwest have also been hit with tougher restrictions. From midnight on Sunday all shops not providing essential services or goods will be closed, including Kmart, Target and Harvey Norman.

But pharmacies, supermarkets, service stations, newsagents, banks, vets and takeaway food outlets will be exempt.

The state recorded its fifth virus death on Sunday.

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Tasmania to shut two hospitals, staff forced to quarantine

Tasmania will close and “deep clean” two hospitals at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak in the state’s northwest.

The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie will close from 7am on Monday, it was announced by Premier Peter Gutwein.

All hospital staff and their households, more than 1000 people in total, will be placed into quarantine for two weeks.

“I am sorry we need to do this but at the end of the day we need to get on top of this,” Mr Gutwein told reporters.

“We need to ensure that we can crush this virus at its source, and with this outbreak we need to take these steps.” Forty-nine virus cases are linked to the outbreak at the hospitals, including 35 health workers.

A total of 61 cases have been recorded in the northwest, with the state figure at 133 as of Sunday afternoon.

All patients at the two hospitals will be transferred to other facilities, the majority to the Mersey Community Hospital at nearby Devonport. Specialist teams will then conduct a “deep clean” of the two hospitals.

Mr Gutwein said the state government is aiming to reopen the hospitals in two weeks.

He hoped the emergency department and maternity, cancer and ICU services would be able to be brought back online after 72 hours.

Further restrictions have been placed on retailers in the northwest from midnight on Sunday.

All retailers not providing essential services or goods will be forced to close, including giants K-Mart, Target and Harvey Norman, Mr Gutwein said. “I would hope that at the end of this two-week period we will be able to lift some of these restrictions,” Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania recorded its fifth virus death on Sunday, an elderly woman at the North West Regional Hospital.

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Gambling giants out of luck as casinos shut

“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for Crown and many others in Australia,” Crown chief executive Ken Barton said in a statement.

Shaw and Partners senior investment advisor Adam Dawes said shareholders had already priced a “worst case scenario” into the casinos’ share prices, and the question was now how long it would take for patrons to return.

“Once you turn the switch off, it’s a lot harder to turn it back on again,” he said. “Confidence will be zapped for a lot of shareholders.”

Meanwhile, fellow gambling giant Tabcorp’s wagering revenue is also under pressure as the curent viability of holding sports and racing events comes under a cloud.

Shares in wagering giant Tabcorp – which has betting terminals in 4000 pubs, clubs and retail betting agencies – fell 14.5 per cent yesterday to $2.14. The stock has halved in value since February 17.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough said in a statement the company was working with “governments, regulators, and our venue and racing industry partners to manage the impact on them, our customers and our businesses during this unprecedented period”.

That included encouraging customers to buy tickets and place bets online instead of in pubs or retail outlets.

The $4.4 billion group noted the cancellation of several major sporting codes, such as the AFL, which are important to its wagering business, and said the status of racing “may require further clarification”.

JP Morgan analyst Don Carducci last week said that racing – which makes up 86 per cent of Tabcorp’s wagering revenue – would likely be disrupted, as it had in the UK, with the main threats being the requirement for emergency services workers at thoroughbred tracks and further restrictions on gatherings.

The majority of Tabcorp’s lotteries revenue was at risk from customers stay home rather than venture out to retail centres where they normally buy tickets, Mr Carducci told clients in a note.

Tabcorp said convenience stores that sell its lottery tickets would remain open, and it was expect – but not yet confirmed – that newsagencies would too.

Tabcorp said the situation was “evolving” and could not give specific guidance on how COVID-19 would affect its earnings this year or next.

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LIVE Coronavirus updates: Cafes, restaurants to shut in Victoria from midday as worldwide cases surpass 300,000

Cafes, restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms and other meeting spots will close from midday in Victoria on Monday, as death toll in Europe continues to climb.

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