Daily News Roundup

October 13, 2020

 

TUESDAY OCT 13

There are renewed calls to end Victoria’s harsh lockdown after Premier Daniel Andrews admitted it might now be be “as good as it will get”.  

Under Premier Daniel Andrews’ road map to recovery, the state required an average of five cases over two weeks to move into step three – but as of this morning, the metro Melbourne average was double that at 10.

Speaking at his daily press conference on Sunday, Mr Andrews said it was now “mathematically impossible” for Melbourne to reach its goal to easing restrictions as previously hoped by this weekend.

And yesterday, he repeated that message, telling reporters the road map to recovery will likely be overhauled.

“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 — that means there is some greater risk, that means that the task of keeping this thing suppressed will be harder,” he said.

“If we open up right now, then it will be almost impossible for us to keep this thing contained and every jurisdiction in the world that’s done it has had that same challenge.”

Of yesterday’s 15 new coronavirus cases, 10 were linked to family outbreaks or known clusters and the remainder were under investigation.

The Department of Health and Human Services revealed four were linked to a family cluster in Melbourne’s southeast and two cases to a second family cluster in the capital’s north.

Yesterday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged the Premier to open up the state, saying: “It’s time his government gave millions of Victorians their freedom back this weekend.”

Industry groups also called on the government to allow retailers to get back to work this weekend.

But Mr Andrews insisted his government was committed to seeing out the coronavirus crisis.

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With just weeks to go until Queenslanders head to the polls, the state’s Opposition Leader has been reportedly referred to the state electoral watchdog by her own party. 

The ABC reported Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington had been referred to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, over alleged concerns about a series of fundraising events that could have violated laws intended to curtail the political influence of property developers.

The LNP has insisted that no such complaint was made.

The ABC reported a number of attendees made donations totalling “almost $150,000” over a series of events, which could have violated laws introduced in 2018 to curb the risk of corruption around government decisions on development projects.

The LNP said “the ABC’s allegation that the LNP has referred Deb Frecklington to the ECQ is false”.

“It has not,” an LNP spokesman said. “The LNP regularly communicates with the ECQ to ensure that we comply with the Act.”

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a tiered lockdown system for local authorities in England, including shutting down pubs in the north-western city of Liverpool, as the country struggles to contain rising coronavirus infections.

The announcement is an attempt by the Government to standardise the patchwork lockdown system currently in operation in England — which has been criticised as too complex and confusing — but will still need to be approved by Parliament during a vote by MPs today.

The lockdowns will include shutting pubs and bars in areas placed into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday.

The other levels in the new system are “medium” and “high”.

So far, Merseyside in north-west England — which includes Liverpool — is the only area in the highest risk category.

Gyms, leisure centres, casinos and betting shops there will also close, Mr Johnson said.

However, pubs and bars can remain open during the highest alert level providing they serve substantial meals, such as a lunch or evening mains, and only serve alcohol as part of that meal.

“We must act to save lives,” Mr Johnson said during a statement to the House of Commons, adding that he did not want another national lockdown and that he understood the frustrations of those struggling with the “repressions of liberty”.

“If we let the virus rip, then the bleak mathematics dictate that we would suffer not only an intolerable death toll from COVID, but we would put such a huge strain on our NHS (National Health Service) with an uncontrolled second spike that our doctors and nurses would simply be unable to devote themselves to other treatments.”