FRIDAY, MAY 15
Queensland schools will fully reopen to all year levels from May 25, the State Education Minister has confirmed. Education Minister Grace Grace says schools will act quickly on outbreaks and anyone sick should stay home. Students won’t be social distancing but schools will act to limit contact. Parents are being urged to remain outside school gates and sport and excursions are off. It comes after the youngest and oldest students returned to school last Monday.
“I’m pleased to say that we’ve had a very successful return to school for our preppies and year 1, and of course our kindy students as well, and year 11 and year 12,” Ms Grace Grace said.
“Because of that, the Queensland disaster management committee yesterday resolved that we would stick to our plan and we would welcome back, on Monday May 25, all the rest of the year students from 2 to 10.”
She said this week more than 80 per cent of students had returned to school overall.
As people in parts of Australia enjoyed newfound freedoms today, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that history showed that easing restrictions could lead to a second wave of infections.
“I know some may even have already started enjoying the new freedoms that come with easing restrictions today but that also comes with personal responsibility and I can’t stress that enough,” she said as NSW reopened restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.
“Easing restrictions has failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in New South Wales.
“I want people to have personal responsibility for the way we respond, let’s do our part in keeping everybody safe so that we can keep moving forward so that we never go backwards, that is really critical.”
In other COVID-19 news:
- A nurse has tested positive for coronavirus at a Rockhampton aged care home, one of two new cases for Queensland in the past 24 hours. The state-run North Rockhampton Nursing Centre reported the case and said extensive contact tracing was underway. The centre is a 115-bed facility, with 180 staff. Health Minister Steven Miles said the centre was in lockdown and any staff who had contact with the nurse were in quarantine and had been tested. He said the result from that test was confirmed at 8:00pm last night and a rapid-response team from Brisbane had been sent to the city.
- The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 300,000 as of Friday morning according to data from Johns Hopkins University. These are the countries with highest individual tolls: United States (85,489); United Kingdom (33,692); Italy (31,368); France (27,428) Spain (27,321). The US, UK and Italy alone account for half of all fatalities worldwide.
- Australia has recorded 7003 cases of COVID-19, with 3071 in New South Wales, 1523 in Victoria, 1054 in Queensland, 439 in South Australia, 554 in Western Australia, 225 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory. Australia’s death toll is at 98.
- Tough coronavirus travel restrictions placed on Fraser, Stradbroke and Moreton islands off South East Queensland will be eased tomorrow for day trips but people cannot go camping there just yet. Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island have been off-limits during the coronavirus pandemic to anyone but people who live there or those delivering supplies. The islands were restricted by a special order from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young labelled a Restricted Access to Designated Areas Direction. It is lifted tonight at 11:59pm.
- Retailer Myer has announced it will open 15 stores as coronavirus restrictions are eased across Australia this week. The company previously opened seven stores in a trial run in Sydney suburbs Bankstown and Liverpool as well as Queensland stores in Chermside, Carindale, North Lakes, Townsville and Toowoomba. After a positive response, Myer announced it will now open a further eight stores – Albury, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Erina and Miranda in New South Wales, Morely and Garden City in Western Australia, and Tea Tree Plaza in South Australia.
- Two giant pandas have booked tickets on a one way flight to China after the Canadian zoo they lived in conceded it could no longer keep up with the feed demands of the pair. Er Shun and Da Mao have been living in the Calgary Zoo on loan from China since 2018 and weren’t planning on moving for another five years. But the scarcity of international flights during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems with the delivery of enough bamboo to feed the animals. The zoo’s president, Clement Lanthier, said the facility spent months trying to overcome transportation barriers in acquiring fresh bamboo and decided it was best for the animals to be in China, where their main food source is abundant.
- Italian convicted mobsters who were last month temporarily transferred from prison to house arrest for fear of coronavirus contagion are being brought back behind bars after their release triggered heavy criticism. Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede came under fire after more than 370 convicted mobsters and drug traffickers successfully argued they needed to be temporarily released to avoid becoming infected while in prison. Mr Bonafede has now confirmed that mobsters are being ordered back to prison. Local media reported that one of the first inmates returned to prison was a convicted Cosa Nostra boss, Antonio Sacco.
- The chairman of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, has stepped aside after the FBI served a search warrant for his mobile phone as part of an ongoing insider-trading investigation tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Burr and his wife sold stocks including in hospitality businesses in late-January and mid-February. Mr Burr acknowledged selling the stocks because of coronavirus but said he relied on “public news reports” He was not the only US politician to sell off stocks before the market slide. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the move, saying he and Mr Burr had agreed that it was in the committee’s best interests.
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