Australia Covid live news update: NSW records 787 cases, 12 deaths; Victoria 705 cases, one death; some restrictions to ease in both states

3 weeks ago

NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has doubled down on warning that unvaccinated people will not be able to partake in the freedoms being announced:

The message to the unvaccinated is you will not achieve any further freedom until you get vaccinated.

Barilaro also outlined the key restrictions that will be eased between the 70 and 80% vaccination marks:

The changes from 70% to 80% in road map are really five key areas - community sport, ten visitors to the home, of course vertical drinking, which is something we know as we head into spring and summer it is something that the public would like to see, no caps on funerals and weddings and no caps on personal services such as hairdressers.

That is the key change again for the 80% road map.

Finally, Barilaro also said there has been one change to the 70% reopening plan - that travel to regional areas has been moved to the 80% mark.

Dr Kerry Chant, the NSW CHO, has given an update on the 12 deaths (which makes yesterday one of the deadliest in this outbreak), saying six men and six women passed away.

Four of them were in their 60s, two in their 70s, four in their 80s and two in their 90s. Half were unvaccinated, five had one dose and one person was double vaccinated.

Chant also said that the virus has been detected in sewage in Grafton, Wardell and Dareton, as well as seeing increasing cases in Illawarra, especially in Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Of note in her opening remarks, Berejiklian said the following on hospitalisations:

Pleasingly the hospitalisation rate has not been as high as we had seen in the modelling and the ICU admissions have been a bit lower as well but it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods in terms of overwhelming our hospitals.

Technically we are still looking at our system being overwhelmed in October and I ask people to exercise caution there.

We know that once we start reopening at 70% double dose that the case numbers will go through the roof but what will protect us is the fact that so many people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and those people will have that extra layer of protection against ending up in hospital or worse.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during in Sydney on Monday.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during in Sydney on Monday. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Updated at 9.18pm EDT

Berejiklian announced 11 October as day restrictions ease

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has laid out some clear details for the state’s reopening plan for the first time.

The premier announced three stages NSW will go through to reopen, and saying that the state will hit 705 doubled vaccinated on 11 October, when some freedoms will kick in.

At 80%, people will be able to travel anywhere freely in NSW, and the state is expected to hit the mark around a week after hitting 70%.

The third stage of reopening will happen on 1 December, which is around five weeks after hitting 80%. The 2 sq m rule will kick in then, (before then, it’ll be the 4 sq m rule).

The premier said that although she is laying out the dates, that people shouldn’t see them as “freedom days”:

I don’t want to be the party pooper but I’ve said let’s not think about this as a freedom day but let’s think about this as a sustained reopening to getting back to normal but there is no doubt that for those of us who are fully vaccinated at the 70% double dose life will feel so much better.

Life will feel getting back to normal ideally and obviously a number of things kick in at 80%, including community sport, regional travel and a whole range of other things and then on 9 December will be the final stage of reopening where unvaccinated people will be able to participate.

Now the only exception is for places of worship: at 80% double-dose vaccinated people will be able to attend places of worship ... but that is it and we ask people to exercise a huge degree of caution.

Updated at 9.18pm EDT

NSW records 787 new Covid cases and 12 deaths

New South Wales has recorded 787 new locally acquired cases, and sadly reported another 12 deaths to 8pm last night.

The drop in cases is considerable considering the state has hovered at around 1,000 cases for around a week.

NSW Health (@NSWHealth)

NSW recorded 787 new locally acquired cases of #COVID19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

September 27, 2021

Updated at 9.04pm EDT

OK, so now we are on standby for the NSW Covid update, due any minute.

Updated at 9.01pm EDT

In the meantime, Victoria announced it will hold its press conference at 11:15am, which means we will have press conference crossover again (and in a rare treat, they may be talking about the same things – that being the national reopening plan.)

Updated at 8.58pm EDT

Queensland records no new Covid cases and announces two new vaccination centres on Gold Coast

Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired cases, as premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced two new vaccination centres on the Gold Coast.

Palaszczuk, however, would not be drawn on the PM’s comments earlier today on borders opening at 80%, repeating (quite often) that she was very excited for this Friday’s national cabinet meeting:

“We’ve got national cabinet happening this Friday, I’m really looking forward to that,” she said, a couple of times. I guess there might be fireworks.

Updated at 8.57pm EDT

We are on standby for the Queensland press conference, due to begin in a couple of minutes.

New Zealand records 12 new Covid cases

New Zealand has recorded 12 new cases in its coronavirus outbreak, bringing the total cases to 1,177, as the country hits a new milestone in its vaccine rollout.

All of the cases are in Auckland and two are yet to be epidemiologically linked. Thirteen people are in hospital, and four of those are in intensive care. One of the cases reported on Monday had previously been under investigation and is now confirmed. That person has since recovered.

More than 5 million vaccine doses have now been administered – 74% of the eligible population (12 years and older) have had their first dose, while just over 41% are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in Auckland, health officials are going door-to-door, testing people for Covid-19 in their homes in suburbs where cases have been recorded.

Updated at 8.38pm EDT

Sarah Martin

The Senate committee has heard evidence from the Accountability Round Table and the Grata Fund about their concerns regarding the bill to make national cabinet deliberations exempt from freedom of information access.

Isabelle Reinecke, the executive director of Grata Fund, told the committee that Australia’s freedom of information regime was already restrictive, and operating contrary to its intent, with the proposed bill making the situation worse.

“If passed, the proposed amendment will see secrecy increase without appropriate justification, and to the detriment of the public good, and the quality of Australia’s democracy,” she said.

“Transparency and accountability are foundational pillars of a functioning democracy. Fundamental to this is the public’s general right of access to government information, a practical ability to learn what decisions governments are making, as their public representatives, and on what basis.”

Accountability Round Table chair Fiona McLeod, a respected barrister and also a former Labor candidate, said the bill in its current form was “untenable”.

“The bill subverts responsible government accountability and transparency, and the government’s own commitment to the Open Government Partnership,” McLeod said.

So Darren Chester, the s MP who has decided to take a “break” from the party, was on the ABC this morning, and explained that he wanted a break because of the “very hard rightwing agenda” of some members of the s.

Chester said the leadership at the party was “dysfunctional” and he had raised concerns about some comments made by some of his colleagues, to little effect:

It’s about some of the comments colleagues made, particularly around the withdrawal from Afghanistan and some comments around the protests in Victoria.

I found them very unhelpful … and having asked them to not make them privately, then them continuing, I felt I was unsupported in trying to moderate our voice.

My concern and my frustration has been that there are some that want to push a very hard rightwing agenda which isn’t something I’m comfortable with.

I’m concerned about where some in other arms of the party are wanting to take the party.

I think the s have a great future if we represent the mainstream regional values, and that’s not the extreme right wing that others seek to represent.

Darren Chester.
Darren Chester. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Updated at 8.19pm EDT

Queensland will be the first press conference out the gate this morning, scheduled for 10:45am and will feature premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

She will be followed by NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian providing an update at 11am.

We are still waiting for confirmation for when the Victorian press conference will be though.

Updated at 8.00pm EDT

Ben Doherty

More than 100 prominent Australians, including Tamie Fraser, the widow of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, have signed an open letter calling on Australia to take greater action to assist the people of Afghanistan, following the fall of that country to the Taliban.

Included on the list are actors, sportspeople, musicians and advocates, including Fraser, Nova Peris OAM, Craig Foster, Peter Greste, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame.

The letter calls on the Australian government to:

Commit to an additional humanitarian migration intake of at least 20,000, prioritising the most vulnerable persecuted people of Afghanistan. Grant permanent protection to more than 5,100 refugees from Afghanistan, predominantly from the historically persecuted Hazara ethnic groups, who are currently on temporary protection visas in Australia. Prioritise family reunification visas for Afghanistan-Australians. Lift the ban on resettlement of refugees to Australia through the UNHCR in Indonesia.

The letter states:

After almost two decades of intervention and promises to the people of Afghanistan, promises of protection for persecuted groups, women, democratic freedoms and rule of law, prime minister Scott Morrison has a moral obligation to act in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Australia has a moral duty toward the people of Afghanistan and should not abandon them, particularly in light of alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers as documented in the Brereton report in November 2020.

Fraser said it was imperative the government worked towards helping people in Afghanistan:

Many women, men, and children in Afghanistan at the moment are desperate for food and shelter and are at risk. It is little enough to demand the government accept and welcome them as refugees to this wonderful country where they can join people from Afghanistan who have been here for a hundred years.

It comes as around 180,000 people signed a petition in support of the group’s call.

Australia was part of the US-led military coalition in Afghanistan for 20 years before a hurried and violence-plagued withdrawal last month. Since then, the Taliban have installed a new hardline government and begun to reintroduce the repressions that blighted its last rule, between 1996 and 2001. Girls have been banned from schools, and women from work, and the Taliban have reinstated violent corporal and capital punishments. At the weekend, Taliban authorities in the western Afghan city of Herat killed four alleged kidnappers and hung their bodies up in public to deter others.

Taliban fighters patrol a road against the backdrop of a mural painted on a wall in Kabul on 26 September.
Taliban fighters patrol a road against the backdrop of a mural painted on a wall in Kabul on 26 September. Photograph: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 8.11pm EDT

Sarah Martin

The Senate’s finance and public administration committee is holding a hearing this morning into the federal government’s proposed legislation to keep national cabinet deliberations secret.

The hearing kicked off with senators upset that the secretary of the prime minister’s department, Phil Gaetjens, is not attending as expected, with the program changing late last week.

Phil Gaetjens.
Phil Gaetjens. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Labor senator Tim Ayres and independent senator Rex Patrick (who initially challenged the secrecy ruling) have called for an explanation for Gaetjens’s absence, saying it is important the committee hears from someone who knows about the national cabinet structure.

“He is the principal architect of this,” Ayres said.

“He led the department and the government to this humiliating defeat in the tribunal.

“So it’s either cowardice, or hubris. I want to know what arrangements we’re going to make to make sure that this secretary gives the evidence that he’s required.

“I want to know whether this committee is going to stand up for its role scrutinising pieces of legislation like this. That’s what the parliaments charged us with doing, we either do it properly or we squib it.”

The government introduced a bill into parliament on the last day of the sitting fortnight, which would effectively overrule a finding in the administrative appeals tribunal that national cabinet was not a subcommittee of the federal cabinet.

The national cabinet is effectively the rebranded version of the Council of Australian Governments, and is attended by the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers.

Updated at 7.59pm EDT

Expert push to reduce Pfizer jab intervals

A leading epidemiologist has called on NSW and Victoria to redouble vaccination efforts in under 40s, and to reduce the dose intervals for Pfizer jabs.

Professor Mary Louise McLaws was on ABC News this morning, and said she thought those Covid-hit states should reduce the gap between Pfizer jabs from six to four weeks.

There’s only one small study that had nearly 300 healthcare workers who hadn’t ever had infection and they looked at extending that dose.

Mostly, it worked well during the Alpha (variant) period in England, but not Delta.

I’d suggest that they go back to that 28-day period between first and second dose to try to get young people under the age of 40 vaccinated as soon as possible with two doses.

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.
Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Updated at 7.48pm EDT

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