NEWSDESK, September 9
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the plan for NSW to exit lockdown will be staged and “conditional” as the state records 1,405 infections and five deaths.
The Premier today unveiled the much-anticipated recovery roadmap outlining the first freedoms to Greater Sydney, which has been subjected to stay-at-home orders for nearly 14 weeks.
She said the most freedoms will be granted to the fully vaccinated and will trigger the Monday after NSW reaches its 70 per cent double dose target.
“You have been warned, if you’re not vaccinated, come forward and get the vaccine, otherwise you won’t be able to participate in the many freedoms that people have at 70 per cent vaccination,” the Premier said.
The first stage will see homes reopen for up to five visitors at a time (not including children 12 and under) and outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people.
Retail stores, gyms, nail salons, hairdressers and hospitality venues will reopen at reduced capacities with the return of the one person per 4 square-metre rule.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
The Premier said at 80 per cent double dose there will be further freedoms on the table including the prospect of international travel.
“We don’t want to put a specific date on that. It is really up to how quickly people get vaccinated and how many people come forward,” she said.
*Victoria has recorded 324 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 as doctors call for more Pfizer doses to be urgently allocated in Melbourne’s north.
Of today’s new cases, 107 have been linked to existing outbreaks and cases by contact tracers, while the rest remain a mystery.
The new cases were detected from 54,242 test results processed on Wednesday.
More than 60 per cent of the 221 new cases recorded on Tuesday were linked to Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
Yesterday Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton urged people in Melbourne’s north, particularly permitted workers moving around for work, to be “super vigilant”.
In an open letter, GPs, community leaders and pharmacists from Melbourne’s north called on the federal and state governments to bring more Pfizer doses into the region to prevent an unsustainable surge in hospitalisations.
“The vaccination rate in the Hume LGA is now the second-lowest in the state, at a time when it has the highest number of active coronavirus cases in the state,” the letter said.
“This will create enormous pressure on our healthcare system and will cost lives.”
The letter said a similar scale of response to the recent influx of vaccines to Sydney’s west was “essential”.
“Our GPs need more vaccine supply and resources to administer them and there needs to be a surge in vaccination hub capacity and locations,” the letter said.
“We call on the Federal Government and the Victorian State Government to treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves.”
Most regional areas are preparing for a significant easing of restrictions from 11:59pm tonight.
Restrictions in Greater Shepparton, which has experienced a substantial outbreak in recent weeks, will remain in line with those in Melbourne.
*Queensland has recorded one new case of community transmission of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was detected in the 10-year-old brother of a four-year-old child from Beenleigh who tested positive last week.
Both were in home quarantine and Ms Palaszczuk said there was therefore no risk of the virus spreading in the community.
The Premier said 54.28 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have now had their first dose of a COVID vaccine, with 35.8 per cent fully vaccinated.
“We need to be need to be ready for when the next Delta cluster arrives in Queensland,” she said.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said 100 families connected to the Beenleigh cluster remain in home quarantine and the vaccination of children was set to ramp up.
“From Monday next week, any Queenslander who is 12 years of age or older is able to get vaccinated, so please come forward and get vaccinated,” Dr Young said.
“The more people are vaccinated, the less the risk of an outbreak spreading.”
*Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged the “heartbreak” faced by Australians stuck overseas during the pandemic, insisting home quarantine will eventually become widespread.
In a video message to an awards ceremony held by a global network for Australian expats, Advance.org, Mr Morrison said they had carried a “very heavy burden” over the past year and a half.
“I know for Australians overseas, it has been a very difficult and frustrating time,” he said.
“It’s tough, living through a pandemic, and being separated from your family, and that’s brought its own heartbreak.
“Life’s moments missed that you will never get back. Zoom can’t do justice to these moments.”
The government has faced sustained criticism from Australians unable to get home due to strict border rules and international flight caps, with 38,000 people registered at the end of July as wanting to return.
Mr Morrison said the government had helped 53,000 Australians get back since the pandemic began, including on 167 facilitated flights.
“I also want you to know that these strong border controls though have been instrumental in saving over 30,000 lives here in Australia. Because on a per capita basis, that’s the lives that would have been lost if our death rate was just the same as the average of OECD nations,” he said.
“Your sacrifices have made that happen. You have saved lives by enduring and going through those difficulties.
“So thank you, I do appreciate it. And your fellow Australians do also.”
The Prime Minister insisted the federal government was working closely with the states and territories to make home quarantine the “primary and viable method” in Australia, rather than the existing hotel system.
South Australia has been trialling a home quarantine system for people returning from interstate, in the hope the model will eventually be used for overseas arrivals.
The federal government has also flagged rolling out vaccination passports from next month, in anticipation of international border restrictions eventually easing.
“The opportunity to quarantine at home will be an important development because it opens us up, it enables you to be able to come home and not have to go through hotel quarantine, which has its obvious restrictions,” Mr Morrison said.
“But your place here is always there for you. And we can use your place to ensure we can bring you home.”
The Prime Minister thanked expats for their patience and said he recognised the frustration and difficult many had experiences.
“We’re getting through it, we’re almost there,” he said.
“Thank you, I look forward to welcoming you home.”
When Emma Raducanu got to Flushing Meadows to try to win her way through qualifying and earn what would be a berth in her second grand slam tournament, she was not planning on a particularly long stay.
Look at her now, two weeks into this adventure: The 18-year-old from Britain is the first qualifier in the professional era to reach the US Open semi-finals … and she has not even dropped a set yet, reports the ABC
“My flights were booked at the end of qualifying,” Raducanu said with a chuckle on Wednesday, “so it’s a nice problem to have.”
Showing off the shots and poise of someone much more experienced, the 150th-ranked Raducanu became the second unseeded teen in two days to secure a spot in the final four, eliminating Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Not bad for someone ranked outside the top 350 in June after going about 18 months without a match, in part because of the pandemic, in part because her parents wanted her to finish high school.
“I’m not here to chase any records right now,” Raducanu said.
She is only the third woman not ranked in the top 100 to make it this far at the US Open and only the fourth qualifier to advance to the semifinals at any major tournament since the Open era began in 1968.
“I’m just taking care of what I can do [in] the moment,” Raducanu said.
The teen has won all 16 sets she has contested through eight matches in New York, three during the qualifying rounds and another five in the main draw.
On Thursday, she will next face number four seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, a two-time grand slam runner-up, or number 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, a semifinalist at this year’s French Open.
The other women’s semifinal will be 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada who will face number two seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
The United Nations women’s agency in Afghanistan says it is receiving reports of significant “rollbacks on women’s rights” in the country every day.
According to the deputy Afghan representative for UN Women, Alison Davidian, the complaints range from women barred from going to work — or even leaving their homes — without a male guardian to attacks on centres that have been helping women who flee violence as well as attacks on girls’ and co-educational schools.
“The lack of clarity of the Taliban’s position on women’s rights has generated incredible fear — and this fear is palpable across the country,” Ms Davidian said.
In a video, she said UN Women was receiving reports of violations through its extensive network of women, civil society organisations, women leaders and human rights defenders.
She says the agency’s Afghan operation hopes to reopen its offices in five provinces once the security situation improves, because “Afghan women have never needed us more”.
Ms Davidian said the situation for women differed from province to province and she urged the Taliban “to show that it governs for all Afghans and that it has changed” and that it would protect and promote “the full spectrum of women’s rights”.
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