Australia Covid live news update: Victoria records 705 new cases, one death; some restrictions to ease in NSW and Victoria this week

3 weeks ago

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

The s senator Matt Canavan has doubled down in his opposition to net zero emissions, saying it’s “about as silly as zero Covid”.

Speaking to 2GB this morning, Canavan said he couldn’t speak for his whole party, but said net zero was a “utopian target”:

Before we blindly pursue something like this, surely someone would show us the bill.

The party in the past at least has been against net zero emissions.

What [s leader Barnaby Joyce] has said is that he wants to make sure the party room has an opportunity to discuss these matters.

In our party room we provide people the liberty to take their own positions.

s senator Matt Canavan.
s senator Matt Canavan. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated at 7.31pm EDT

Northern Territory charging ahead with reopening plans

The Northern Territory government is charging ahead with its reopening plan, despite concerns some of its remote communities still have low vaccination rates.

The NT’s chief minister Michael Gunner says the low vaccination rates “won’t stop the Territory’s progress” towards easing restrictions, and moving away from snap lockdowns and supervised quarantine.

Health authorities are working towards the 80% vaccination rate, but the latest data shows the Territory’s remote communities won’t reach that rate until late January.

The data also shows that there are still 19 communities with less that a quarter of their population vaccinated.

But in a statement, Gunner says the NT “cannot wait forever” to reopen, and that the government was considering restricting movements in some communities instead of delaying reopening plans (or working to get those communities vaccinated I guess).

A Darwin resident exercises during lockdown on 16 August.
A Darwin resident exercises during a snap lockdown on 16 August. Photograph: Charlie Bliss/Getty Images

Updated at 7.26pm EDT

Calla Wahlquist

Police in Perth have arrested a man following a “firearm incident” in the CBD.

A spokeswoman for WA police said they were called to the incident in Lord Street, Perth, at 5.20am local time this morning.

Cordons were set up around the area and the public was advised to stay away. About 90 minutes later, police said, they arrested a man who was in a car on the Graham Farmer Freeway.

There are traffic delays around the Graham Farmer tunnel but police said there is no further risk to public safety.

Victoria records 705 new Covid cases and one death

Updated at 6.56pm EDT

We’re expecting the NSW government to unveil what life will look like at 80% double vaccinated today, and deputy premier John Barilaro said the plan will include details of what freedoms unvaccinated people can expect as well.

Barilaro was on 2GB this morning, and was asked about the rumours that the government was intending to set a “freedom day” for unvaccinated people:

I can promise you this, that under the 70% road map, unvaccinated people will have very little changes to their freedoms to what they have today.

It doesn’t mean we’re going to open up soon after that to unvaccinated people.

If you want the freedoms we are talking about right across the board you’re going to have to be vaccinated.

As he said that there will be a “stark difference” between the freedoms for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, he also confirmed the plan would be unveiled today at 11am.

So stick around and we’ll go through it together.

NSW deputy premier John Barilaro.
NSW deputy premier John Barilaro. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Updated at 6.41pm EDT

Vaccine passports to be trialled in regional Victoria from 11 October

So the vaccine passport trials will begin in 20 regional LGAs in Victoria from 11 October and we have some idea of what that will look like now.

The trial LGAs include Buloke, Pyrenees, Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, East Gippsland and Warrnambool, and were picked for their high vaccination rates.

“No jab, no entry” rules will be implemented at those 20 LGAs, with pubs, clubs and entertainment venues to host up to 30 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

To enter, people will need either a physical or digital copy of their vaccine passport and staff at the venues will be required to enforce the rules.

There is still an element of uncertainty here, with one key role the trial will play is telling the government how best to check on a person’s vaccination status.

Currently, the easiest way is via the MyGov app, but with evidence that vaccine certificates and histories can be forged, this may change in time.

The Victorian government has indicated it intends to train the staff in how to enforce the rules, and will be providing support for for business owners and public communication of vaccine requirements.

“Support officers” will also be deployed to support the trial.

The rules are meant to emulate what the government intends to roll out across the state, so it will be interesting to see how the trial pans out.

Updated at 6.34pm EDT

Some restrictions have been eased today in New South Wales, including around face masks and swimming pools.

From today, outdoor swimming pools are allowed to reopen to both vaccinated and unvaccinated swimmers, coming as a relief to all those suburbs that don’t have a beach within their 5km radius.

Other restrictions eased from today include allowing retailers like Bunnings and plant nurseries to reopen in LGAs of concern, as well as allowing people in those areas to exercise without a mask.

The public health orders were amended on Saturday, and take effect now, with more restrictions expected (or hoped) to ease this week.

Updated at 6.13pm EDT

Picking on the thread about borders reopening (what I’m sure will be a recurring theme this week, especially as NSW steams ahead towards 70% double vaccinated), yesterday Queensland’s deputy premier criticised Scott Morrison for giving people false hope for reopening.

PM Scott Morrison had earlier appeared on Weekend Sunrise, saying state premiers should honour the national reopening plan at 70% and 80% double vaccination rates:

There comes a time when you’ve got to honour the arrangement you’ve made with the Australian people, and that is when you get to 80% vaccination, it’s very clear that you can start opening up.

But Queensland’s Steven Miles was not having it, telling media yesterday that the PM should worry more about the “health and wellbeing” of people in NSW and Victoria than on Queensland’s border:

It’s not that simple and it’s misleading people to tell them that it should be that simple.

This bloke should focus on his job. You know, diplomacy is his job, international trade is his job, vaccination should be his job but we’re doing it.

Quarantine should have been his job, but we’re doing it. Keeping Covid out of NSW was his job and he failed at it.

I don’t think Queensland does want to just give in this close to the end of the pandemic. I don’t think Queenslanders will want to let Covid in for Christmas if we don’t have it but NSW still does.

Deputy premier of Queensland Steven Miles.
Deputy premier of Queensland Steven Miles. Photograph: Russell Freeman/AAP

Updated at 6.07pm EDT

Good morning everyone, Mostafa Rachwani with you today to take you through the morning’s news.

We start in New South Wales, which yesterday passed 60% double dose Covid vaccination, with the 70% mark not far off. We’re expecting the NSW government to provide more details on their reopening plan this week, as numbers continue to drop.

Yesterday the state recorded below 1,000 cases for the second time in a week, raising hopes the case number baseline can be lower than expected. But testing numbers also dropped in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, reflecting the trend towards lower Covid testing rates on the weekend.

In Victoria, we’re expecting some restrictions to be eased by Wednesday, but with the state recording 779 cases yesterday, there are fears case numbers could equal or surpass NSW this week.

It also comes after another protester tested positive on Sunday, with authorities racing to investigate the case and his close contacts.

It came as the prime minister yesterday, who is expected back in Australia this week, urged the states to stick to the national reopening plan after some leaders indicated doubts about opening borders at 80% double vaccinated.

Elsewhere, s MP Darren Chester yesterday announced he is “taking a break from the party”, as discussions around the announced 2050 emissions reduction target begin to bite. It came as his colleague, Queensland Matt Canavan, said he was prepared to defy his party if they accept a commitment to net zero.

We’ll keep our eyes across the board, and on any headlines that come up throughout the day.

Updated at 5.39pm EDT

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