Australia news LIVE: Victoria records 55 new local COVID-19 cases; NSW, ACT cases continue to rise amid harsher restrictions across the nation

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First Australians and Afghans evacuated from Kabul land in Perth

By Marta Pascual Juanola

About 100 Australian citizens and Afghan visa holders landed in Perth in the early hours of Friday morning on board the first evacuation flight out of Kabul.

West Australian authorities dressed in full personal protective equipment greeted the evacuees at Perth Airport and escorted them onto buses headed for the Hyatt Regency Perth hotel.

People arriving from Afghanistan are transported on a bus arriving at the Hyatt Hotel in Perth.

People arriving from Afghanistan are transported on a bus arriving at the Hyatt Hotel in Perth.Credit:Getty

Authorities cleared several floors of the inner-city hotel to accommodate the arrivals, who will need to spend two weeks in quarantine before bring released into the community.

Among the evacuees were Australian customs and immigration personnel, consular and foreign service officers, and Afghan interpreters and contractors who assisted Australian Defence Force troops.

Read the full story here.

Victoria records 55 new cases of COVID-19

By Broede Carmody

Victoria’s daily coronavirus numbers are in.

The state has recorded 55 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and two in hotel quarantine.

The Department of Health says 49 local cases are linked to known outbreaks. This means that there are, at this stage, six mystery cases.

Meanwhile, 25 people were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period. This means 30 people were out and about in the community while infectious.

No sign of regional NSW travel permit

By Sarah McPhee

The NSW government’s permit system to enter regional NSW begins at 12.01am tomorrow but as of this morning, there is no live link to apply.

According to the rules, any person who wishes to travel to regional NSW for one of the following reasons must have a permit, “made available on Service NSW”:

  • Authorised workers from local government areas of concern;
  • Inspecting real estate based on “genuinely” needing a home to live in, with no investment properties allowed; or
  • Travelling to a second home, only if it is to be used for work accommodation or if the home requires urgent maintenance and repairs, and if so, only one person may travel there.

The Service NSW website states there will be a permit system to enter regional NSW from 12.01am, Saturday, August 21.

“More information will be available on our website soon,” it states.

In response to questions on social media this week, Service NSW told customers the permit would be available later this week.

“Please keep an eye on our social channels for the latest updates on the permit,” it said.

NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns said this morning: “We need the Services NSW regional permit system that begins tomorrow up and running.”

The lockdown in regional and rural NSW has been extended to August 28, to align with Greater Sydney.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said under the permit system, the Central Coast and Shellharbour would be considered regional areas.

Breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate or travelling to a second home attracts an on-the-spot fine of $3000.

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Man stopped at NSW-Qld border allegedly had 145kg of cannabis in van

By Sarah McPhee

A 48-year-old Sydney man has been stopped at the Queensland border, allegedly trying to cross with 145 kilograms of cannabis in his van.

Queensland police called their NSW counterparts to the border checkpoint on Griffith Street, Coolangatta, on the Gold Coast about 8.50pm yesterday following reports it was the man’s second attempted crossing that day.

Police say the man told police he had travelled from South Australia and was transporting goods. However, he did not provide a valid permit.

The man, found to be from Greater Sydney, was arrested and taken to Tweed Heads District Hospital to be tested for COVID-19.

His Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van was searched and police say they found two mobile phones, a knife and documentation.

Officers allegedly uncovered 145 kilograms of cannabis, with an estimated street value of $1.2 million, in vacuum-sealed bags, hidden inside two large hot water systems and a toolbox.

The man returned a negative COVID-19 test result and was charged with supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, custody of a knife in a public place and not complying with a COVID-19 noticed direction, relating to travel outside of metropolitan Sydney.

He was refused police bail and is due to face Tweed Heads Local Court today.

Apartment block in south-west Sydney in lockdown

By Daniella White

In case you missed it, a Campsie apartment block has been forced into lockdown after nine residents tested positive to COVID-19.

A Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman said the cases were identified across five apartments in the block of 12 units in south-west Sydney.

Health workers leaving an apartment block in Campsie, Sydney, earlier this morning.

Health workers leaving an apartment block in Campsie, Sydney, earlier this morning. Credit:Louise Kennerley

Some people who have tested positive have been transferred to special health accommodation while all residents will be required to isolate for 14 days.

“Sydney Local Health District is working with residents and building management to assess the situation and, in collaboration with other agencies including NSW Police, is implementing measures to support the health and welfare of residents,” the spokeswoman said.

COVID scare at Melbourne vaccination clinic

By Cassandra Morgan

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Melbourne’s outer south east has been declared a casual contact exposure site, after a person who got their jab there later tested positive for coronavirus.

Peninsula Health said in a statement that a person who attended the Frankston Community Vaccination Hub to get their COVID vaccination on Monday, August 16 tested positive to the virus yesterday.

“While they had no symptoms while at the vaccination hub, they subsequently developed symptoms and tested positive to the virus [this Thursday],” the statement said.

The clinic is located within Bayside Centre, a shopping complex in Frankston, and the public health provider said anyone who attended the clinic between 11.30am and 12.45pm Monday should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible (as well as isolate until they receive a negative result).

“The Frankston Community Vaccination Hub remains open and is safe for you to visit if you have a booking for your COVID-19 vaccination,” the statement said.

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Treasurer confident economy will ‘bounce back’ after lockdowns

By Broede Carmody

As we reported yesterday, Australia’s jobless rate fell to its lowest level in May since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was speaking on Seven’s Sunrise this morning about the latest data. Here’s what he had to say:

“These numbers really show the underlying strength of the economy and also the tale of two cities.

“In NSW, these numbers take into account the second and the third week of the second and the third week of the lockdown, you saw a 7 per cent fall in the lockdown.

“In Victoria, where they were emerging out of lockdown during the time that the survey was done, you saw a 9.7 per cent increase in the number of hours worked.

“It does show that once restrictions ease, the economy does bounce back. And we know that there is a lot of pent-up demand as people have saved the money that they would otherwise have spent.”

‘Absolutely rubbish’: Federal MP on anti-lockdown rallies

By Sarah McPhee

Federal Liberal MP Melissa McIntosh, whose seat of Lindsay covers parts of western Sydney including Penrith and St Marys, says the COVID-19 situation has only worsened since NSW’s last anti-lockdown protests.

More than 1000 police officers will be on hand this weekend, deployed to disrupt people attempting to travel to potential protest locations in Sydney.

Liberal MP Melissa McIntosh during question time.

Liberal MP Melissa McIntosh during question time.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“You can see how high our numbers are,” Ms McIntosh told radio station 2GB.

“That rally that was a few weeks ago [on July 24], numbers only increased since then.

“It is absolutely rubbish that anyone would be thinking about putting themselves, their family members or their community at risk and going.”

Twelve Penrith suburbs are considered areas of concern and under tighter lockdown restrictions including a ban on outdoor recreation and mandatory face masks outdoors.

Ms McIntosh said the community is having a “really tough time”.

“We haven’t only had a pandemic. We’ve had floods, we’ve had fires. This is the latest thing.”

She urged residents to resist seeing their family members, adding that it was her father’s 85th birthday today and he had 20-odd grandchildren who would love to celebrate.

“But we just have to remember we’re doing this to protect our older people and we’re doing this to protect our family members,” she said.

Of the 681 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases announced in NSW yesterday, 74 cases were from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, 291 from Western Sydney LHD and 172 from South Western Sydney LHD.

‘Makes sense’ to temporarily shift NSW-Qld border: former treasurer

By Broede Carmody

Former federal treasurer and Queensland MP Wayne Swan has weighed into the NSW-Qld border debate that’s been bubbling along for a couple of days now.

As you might already know, there are calls to temporarily shift the NSW border a couple of kilometres south to avoid traffic delays for thousands of essential workers who live in northern NSW but work in the Sunshine State.

ALP President Wayne Swan has backed temporarily shifting the NSW-Qld border.

ALP President Wayne Swan has backed temporarily shifting the NSW-Qld border. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has written to her counterparts in NSW. However, the Berejiklian government has so far rejected the proposal.

Here’s what Mr Swan, who is currently serving as the national president of the Labor Party, had to say on the Today show earlier this morning:

“I think they should move [the border] 7kms or whatever the number is. As you well know, these are twin cities. The decision of the NSW Government not to accept the proposal from Queensland is a kick in the guts for all of those residents of the Tweed [Shire]. They are twin cities.

“It makes sense to avoid disruption to that border for the purposes of COVID further south. I just don’t get it. It is more dumb politics from the NSW Government.”

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Shopping centre, food court among Victoria’s latest exposure sites

By Cassandra Morgan

In case you missed it last night, Victorian health authorities identified a number of new COVID-19 exposure sites last night, including a shopping centre in Melbourne’s south west.

Altona Gate Shopping Centre in Altona North was declared a tier-2 site between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Tuesday, August 17.

This means anyone who attended the venue during that timeframe has to urgently get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Also listed as tier 2 sites were the food court and first-floor car park of Pacific Werribee Shopping Centre. The first-floor car park was identified as an exposure site over two days: Monday, August 16 and Tuesday, August 17.

Jack Roper Reserve and a Coles in Broadmeadows, in Melbourne’s north, were also declared exposure sites. As were McDonald’s and Shell Coles Express in Lilydale and a BP service station at Keilor Park, about 15 kilometres north west of Melbourne’s CBD.

A full list of Victorian exposure sites can be found here. You can also use our interactive map.

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