- While the NSW Premier was speaking about a cautious reopening, the NSW Treasurer appeared much more bullish. Dominic Perrottet told Sydney’s radio 2GB today that unvaccinated people should enjoy the same freedoms as everybody else once 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over in the state are fully vaccinated. Ms Berejiklian has made clear that only fully vaccinated people will be able to take advantage of a suite of eased restrictions once the state reaches the 70 per cent target. The state government has yet to release its road map to easing restrictions further when the 80 per cent milestone is reached.
- NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said coronavirus case numbers are declining in some of the worst-affected areas in the state’s outbreak, including the Canterbury-Bankstown and Cumberland areas. But there were concerns about rising cases in the Illawarra area, after 103 cases were reported in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. Dr Chant said there had also been a “high level detection” of coronavirus in the sewage in Jindabyne in the state’s south-east and urged people to get tested for the virus. The virus was also transmitting in Cowra in the state’s central west, including among young children.
- Victoria recorded 733 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one death, a woman in her 80s from Melbourne’s northern suburbs. The new total is down on yesterday’s tally of 766 cases. Health Minister Martin Foley said 84 per cent of these new cases were people aged under 50 and this outbreak “continues to be an overwhelming outbreak among both the unvaccinated and, disproportionately, younger Victorians” (this may, of course, be because older people had earlier access to vaccines).
- Mr Foley said 297 people were in the state’s hospitals with COVID-19, 66 of whom are in intensive care. Forty-six people are on ventilators. “In regards to the cases that were hospitalised yesterday, 77 per cent were not vaccinated, 19 [per cent] were partially vaccinated and 4 per cent of people were fully vaccinated,” he said.
- A small group of anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protesters converged on the inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote on Friday as protests continued for a fifth day in the city, but the group was forced to disperse as hundreds of police swarmed the scene. Despite the smaller crowds, Victoria Police said it had arrested more than 200 people over the course of the day, 31 of whom were in Northcote.
- Victorian Health Minister Foley said he was “very concerned” Wednesday’s protests against vaccine mandates and lockdowns in Melbourne’s CBD could become a superspreader event, after an attendee was hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19. Mr Foley said the decisions of protesters had potentially prolonged public health measures. “Potential superspreader events make us very concerned, not just for the ill-advised protesters, but think about the Victoria Police members who’ve had to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us,” he said.
- A small number of Victoria Police officers were subsequently identified as close contacts of the protester. “The officers involved have been informed to get tested and isolate,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said on Friday afternoon.
- Victorian health authorities have implored footy fans not to break lockdown rules by visiting people’s homes to watch the AFL grand final (which is being held for the first time in COVID-free Perth). Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed the curfew in Melbourne and some other local government areas will remain in place. “The overwhelming transmission that’s occurring is between households for people who are not aware that they’re positive… enjoy your fancy cheeseboards or whatever you want to enjoy at home, put the barbecue on, but also put your iPad up and have your phones on FaceTime.”
Victoria is unlikely to meet its 80 per cent first dose vaccination target for people aged 16 and over this weekend, Health Minister Martin Foley says, but is likely to reach that milestone next week. When the state hits the 80 per cent target, Melburnians will be able to travel up to 15km from their homes, and contactless outdoor sports will also reopen.
- Back in Perth, the “COVID-free” label needs a slight qualification. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan revealed this afternoon that a woman who had entered the state from NSW without approval had tested positive to COVID-19 in hotel quarantine. But he said the AFL grand final would proceed as planned in Perth on Saturday. Mr McGowan said he believed the woman was originally from WA. She had tested negative to the virus before her departure and had been directed to hotel quarantine immediately upon her arrival in the state because she did not have permission to enter.
- Mr McGowan also announced that from Wednesday next week Victoria would be reclassified an extreme risk state, which will stop all travel from Victoria to WA except for politicians and compassionate circumstances where a loved one is in palliative care.
- The ACT recorded 19 new cases of COVID-19, at least 13 of whom were infectious in the community. Four people were in isolation throughout their infectious period and two cases are under investigation. Twelve people are in hospital, including three people in intensive care. Two people are on ventilators. The territory has very high rates of vaccination overall: 83.5 per cent of people aged 12 and over have received a first dose and 57.3 per cent have received second dose. (The ACT counts everyone aged 12 and over in their vaccination totals while the national approach has been to count people aged 16 and over).
Queenslanders will no longer have to wear masks in public if they are sitting down, in a minor change to mask rules ahead of the NRL grand final. The state recorded no new COVID cases in the community on Friday, with 20 active cases in the state all contained in hotel or home quarantine. “Once you sit down, you can take your mask off,” Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said. “[It] doesn’t matter if you’re in a cinema, theatre, at school or work. But once you stand up, please put it on again because we don’t know who you’re coming into contact with.”
This is Michaela Whitbourn signing off on the blog for the evening. We’ll have more live news coverage for you from tomorrow morning.
Medical clinics and a flight school are among new COVID-19 exposure sites identified by Victorian health authorities.
MedicAid Medical Clinic in the regional city of Geelong was declared a tier-1 or close contact exposure site on Wednesday, September 22 between 11.45am and 1pm.
Anyone who attended the clinic during that timeframe has to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days from the exposure, regardless of whether they receive a negative test result.
The University RMIT Flight School at the RAAF Base at Point Cook in Melbourne’s south west was declared a tier-1 site on Friday, September 17 between 8am and 5.30pm.
Also declared tier 1 was Kelly Reynolds Hair at Camperdown, about 190 kilometres west of Melbourne.
The remainder of new sites are tier 2, and include the Murray House Clinic at Berwick in Melbourne’s south east, and Warrnambool Train Station in Victoria’s south west.
A number of other venues in Warrnambool were also identified as tier-2 sites, as were several venues in Camperdown, a V/Line bus from Warrnambool to Camperdown, and several venues in the regional city of Bendigo.
Authorities also identified multiple new tier-2 sites at Brunswick and Coburg North in Melbourne’s north. A motel at Wodonga on the border of NSW and Victoria was identified as a casual contact site over three days.
A full list of Victorian exposure sites can be found here.
Victoria Police said it had arrested 215 people during a fifth day of unrest in Melbourne’s CBD and inner north.
“Police responded quickly as small groups of protestors gathered throughout the afternoon in various locations,” Victoria Police said in a statement.
Thirty-one people were arrested in the inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote, police said, “after a group of up to 80 demonstrators attended at a park on Separation Street and a nearby shopping centre this afternoon” in contravention of public health orders.
“In total, 215 people will be issued with penalty notices for breaching the CHO [Chief Health Officer] directions.
“A number of other people will be charged with criminal offences including deception, theft and drug offences.
“Police are disappointed to see the number of people who are continuing to breach the CHO directions and remind those people that we will not tolerate their behaviour and will continue to arrest and fine them if they are found to be in breach of the CHO directions.”