Australia Covid information reside: NSW, Victoria lockdown restrictions, instances and Sydney, Melbourne street map

After accusations that she’d been benched by the Premier, it’s been revealed the NSW CHO “did not endorse” her state’s new road map.

Welcome to Thursday’s coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.

NSW has reached it’s 70 per cent vaccination target, triggering a raft of new freedoms for vaccinated residents next week.

It comes as the state’s Covid cases continue to fall, with 587 infections and eight deaths confirmed on Thursday as the Premier announced changes to NSW’s road map.

Victoria confirmed 1638 Covid cases and two deaths on Thursday, following on from yesterday’s worrying spike in deaths, with 11 fatalities and 1420 cases.

Our live coverage has now ended, but you can catch up below on today’s top updates.

CHO ‘did not endorse’ new road map

Kerry Chant’s absence at Thursday morning’s new road map announcement raised eyebrows – leading many to believe she’d been benched by Dominic Perrottet.

And now it’s been reported the NSW chief health officer “did not endorse” the new Premier’s plan.

“I have confirmed Dr Chant did not endorse this new road map,” 9 News political reporter Chris O’Keefe wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening.

“The Chief Health Officer warned the new Premier these changes come with risk, but the decision was ultimately a matter for the government. A shift from Perrottet away from ‘the health advice’.”

After Mr Perrottet’s announcement of the changes to the plan at a media conference, he was grilled by O’Keefe over Dr Chant’s absence – considering the CHO has been a steady fixture of the Covid-19 updates and rule changes for most daily press conferences since the pandemic began in March last year.

“What does it say to your respect of Dr Kerry Chant that you wouldn’t invite her here today as one of your first major (press conferences). It is a bit disrespectful isn’t it?” O’Keefe asked.

“Dr Chant is one of my favourite constituents in Epping,” Mr Perrottet fired back.

“We’ve always had a great relationship. But … we are moving away from 11am press conferences, the health numbers will now be provided (at 9am).”

But O’Keefe kept pressing and said “if it’s a health crisis the chief health officer should be here.”

“Well, it’s also an economic crisis as well,” Mr Perrottet snapped.

“I sat down with the Health Minister and Dr Chant yesterday. We went through some of these potential changes.

“We went through the opportunities to make some sensible amendments, some stable and steady amendments to the road map and I think the changes today are sensible.”

PM lays pressure on over Christmas border openings

The PM has once again laid pressure on states who have their borders closed, telling reporters that he wants “to see Australians all reunited once again”.

“I’m sure we all want that,” Scott Morrison added.

“I have no doubt that all Premiers and Chief Ministers around the country want to see that as well. We need to keep setting out the path ahead, moving forward with confidence and giving people the hope the vaccine program is giving them.

“We can’t be complacent. We need to move in a safe way … To all those still in lockdown, you can look at this day and say, ‘we’ll be there soon’, and I know you’ll be. It won’t be long.

“As the days get warmer, then Australia’s prospects will continue to get brighter.”

Covid is coming, PM warns

The Prime Minister has urged states with lower vaccination rates to look at the restrictions elsewhere as motivation to take up the jab.

“In many states around the country, they are not living under the harsh and strict conditions that we’ve seen in NSW, Victoria and the ACT,” Mr Morrison said.

“But they can avoid those outcomes, because Covid will certainly come. There’s no avoiding that. It will come.

“But when that days comes, when your vaccination rates are at those 70 and particularly 80 per cent levels, that means you’ll be able to withstand it.”

Aussies beginning to get their lives back, PM says

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has congratulated NSW on reaching its 70 per cent double-dose target, telling reporters it’s a sign that Australians are beginning to get their lives back.

“The things that have been taken from them, because of this awful pandemic, the ability of Australians to come together, Australians to spend time with one another, to do business, to be together with family, to go to weddings, to go to funerals,” Mr Morrison said.

“All of these times so precious. And these times now being resorted. Because of the vaccination rates hitting the levels that we’ve needed them to, as set out in the scientific work that has been done by the Doherty Institute.”

With close to 30 million doses of the vaccine now administered across the country, the PM said it showed that the “problems and challenges that we’ve had [with the rollout], we’ve addressed”.

“We have fixed. And we have turned it around, and we’re in the home stretch, and we’re moving towards that line, and then we need to keep going beyond it,” he said.

‘Forced into lockdown for Christmas’: AMA’s warning

The NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has issued a strong warning to Premier Dominic Perrottet, lashing him over the decision to ease further restrictions.

AMA NSW President, Dr Danielle McMullen, said the state having a new Premier isn’t a good enough reason to deviate from the road map, accusing Mr Perrottet of making the “popular” decision instead of the safe one.

“Keeping people safe must be the Premier’s top priority. We know the virus is still circulating in the community. Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a ‘popular’ decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets,” Dr McMullen said.

“We all want to get to ‘Covid-normal’ but going too fast too soon undoes the work and sacrifices NSW residents have made to get to this point.”

Dr McMullen said NSW can’t afford to act like Covid is over and making these kinds of changes to restrictions could see cases spike all over again.

“What we don’t want is to open up and be forced to go back into lockdown for Christmas. The State Government has a strong record of making decisions based on health advice and would like to see that continue,” she said.

“Healthcare workers have been working tirelessly for months. Some haven’t been able to take leave in almost two years. If the hospitals are overwhelmed now we risk completely burning out the workforce, not to mention the impact it will have on both Covid and non-Covid care.”

Dr McMullen said it was “mind-boggling” that people will be able to attend mass gatherings outdoors yet elective surgery still hasn’t reopened.

“All of Australia is watching NSW at the moment. Making the wrong move now will not only set back the State it will have ramifications across the country,” she said.

“We urge the Premier to get this right, go carefully, and pump the brakes.”

ACT records 41 new cases

The ACT has confirmed 41 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

This brings the total number of active cases in the state to 407.

Two more cases, a baby and a worker, have been linked to the special care nursery at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

There are now five cases in total linked to the cluster, with authorities still trying to determine the source of the infection.

‘Past saying please’: Qld’s vaccine fury

A Queensland mayor has offered a brutal reality check for residents who still haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19, warning a lockdown may be the only option if more people don’t get the jab.

Mackay mayor Greg Williamson said officials were “past saying please” when asking people to get vaccinated.

“You have heard where we are. We are still 11 per centage points behind the state average for vaccinations,” he said.

“If we cannot handle 20 per cent or more unvaccinated people in our community, then the only option is lockdown.”

Mr Williamson warned cases of the Delta variant would be popping up in the community when the borders reopen and unvaccinated people would put the region’s healthcare system at risk.

“There is no further option. We are at that point in our community, we aren’t saying please anymore, we are saying it is your duty as a Queenslander,” he said.

“We don’t need to be beating around the bush anymore. We are so far behind in terms of our vaccinations.”

Lockdown still looms for unvaxxed despite changes

Unvaccinated NSW residents will still need to wait until December 1 until they can enjoy eased Covid restrictions, despite a raft of new freedoms being announced today.

The extra freedoms, may of which will kick in on Monday, will only be enjoyed by vaccinated residents, the government has confirmed.

For unvaccinated people living in lockdown areas, this means they will continue to live under those tough restrictions.

For those living in not locked down regional areas of NSW, it means they will revert back to those stay-at-home orders until they are fully vaccinated or December 1.

NSW Deputy Liberal leader Stuart Ayres said there was “no change” to what unvaccinated people can do.

“One thing we know about where we sit right now in this pandemic is that it will be a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated people are more likely to get sick. The unvaccinated are more likely to be in our hospitals,” he said.

“The message about getting vaccinated has not changed. People get access to these new opportunities because they’re vaccinated. That message is unchanged.”

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has called on Premier Dominic Perrottet to offer businesses clear guidelines about what to do if unvaccinated people try to enter their business.

“What they will say to unvaccinated people who come into their place of business; what the procedure will be for their staff, for their customers; what procedures will be in place to make sure that procedures are effective on Monday?” he said.

“This is a very serious concern for the tens of thousands of businesses that want to open.”

Glaring issue with road map overhaul

A leading infectious disease expert has pointed out a major oversight in the changes to NSW’s road map, warning it could put the state at risk.

University of NSW epidemiologist, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, said the fact people under the age of 40 represent the majority of Covid cases needs to be considered before the rules change.

She told the ABC that the changes should be postponed until that age group gets to at least 80 per cent double dose vaccinations, which could be two to three weeks away.

“So, somebody may be double vaccinated and can go to a nightclub or an enormously large venue outdoors of, I think it was 3000, come home and have a very asymptomatic, mild case and be able to transmit it to somebody in their household that hasn’t yet been fully

vaccinated,” Professor McLaws said.

“So, we still have households that have mixed levels of vaccination. So, it’s all very well and good to give all of these restriction lifts to those who are fully vaccinated. I understand, particularly the young, need to get out, earn money and have some fun. But we still have mixed households.

“The danger is that the young will acquire it and spread it to the elderly.”

Professor McLaws also pointed out that people don’t reach their full Covid protection level until 14 days after their final vaccine dose.

“Don’t forget, although we’ve reached 70 per cent – and congratulations to everyone in NSW

for that – you are not at your full protection until 14 days after that second dose,” she said.

“So, while there’s only four or five days until the opening, most people haven’t reached that maximum protective level.

“70 per cent of 80 per cent of the population 16 years and over really only represents one in two people in the general community are completely covered.

“So, we really do need more of that equity of the 70 per cent across the young, the vulnerable, and regional areas.”

No new local Covid cases in Qld, outbreak on ship

Queensland has recorded another day of zero locally acquired Covid-19 cases.

There were six cases acquired overseas, including one in hotel quarantine and six detected on a marine vessel.

Cases on the ship, named the Imabari Queen, are being monitored by Queensland Health, chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.

Authorities will determine who needs to come off the ship and enter hospital.

NSW records 587 cases and eight deaths

NSW’s Covid-19 cases have continued to fall, with 587 infections and eight deaths recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Despite the promising numbers, Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned residents not to become complacent.

“The numbers are continuing to go down. We cannot, though – we mustn’t take this for granted,” he said.

“We really need everybody to keep going out – if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you’re now in the minority but you need to go and get vaccinated because that is what you will do to keep our state safe.”

Do the road map changes put NSW at risk?

Premier Dominic Perrottet has backed his “sensible” changes to the NSW reopening plan, after being asked whether the changes deviated too much from the original plan and could put the state at risk.

Mr Perrottet said the changes had been made in line with health advice.

“These are sensible changes worked through with Dr Chant and the health team, approval of the health team, approval of the cabinet ministers yesterday and I believe the changes we’re making today are sensible, measured and ensure we continue to open up in a safe way,” he said.

Changes to NSW road map confirmed

Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced a raft of changes to NSW’s road map, with many to kick in from Monday.

The extra restrictions that will ease from October 11 include:

• Reopening indoor swimming pools for rehabilitation, children’s swimming lessons and organised lap swimming

• Household visitors will increase 10 (after being originally set at five) and outdoor gatherings will increase to 30 people (after being set to change to 20)

• Weddings and funerals will increase 100 attendees, after being set to increase to 50 in the original plan

Mr Perrottet said all NSW schools will be able to return by October 25, with stage one beginning on the 18th of October.

A number of changes have also been made to the 80 per cent reopening plan, including:

• Allowing 20 household visitors, excluding children (previously set to be 10)

• Allowing 50 people to gather outdoors (previously set to be 20)

• Up to 3000 people will be allowed to attend controlled ticketed outdoor events (previously 500)

• Nightclubs will reopen for seated drinking only, with no dancing allowed

• Masks will no longer be required in office buildings

All these new freedoms will still only be granted to fully vaccinated residents.

1638 cases and two deaths in Victoria

Victoria has recorded 1638 locally acquired Covid cases and two deaths in the 24 hours to midnight last night.

This is an increase on yesterday’s 1420 cases but less than the state’s record of 1763 infections.

Unvaxxed to be given $750 weekly payment

Unvaccinated Victorians who ignore the state’s jab mandates will be able to claim hundreds of dollars in government payments if they are sacked for not following the rules.

From October 15, all workers on Victoria’s Authorised Worker list will be required to have their first Covid vaccine dose in order to continue working onsite. They will need to be fully vaccinated by November 26.

This list includes thousands of different workers, from firefighters and police officers, to taxi drivers and actors.

The Herald Sun has revealed that workers who are stood down for not complying with the mandate will be eligible to claim Victoria’s Covid-19 disaster payment, which is $750 for those who lose more than 20 hours of work a week and $450 for those who lose between eight and 20 hours.

A spokesman for Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie told the publication that the payments were “available to people who live or work in a commonwealth declared hot spot subject to a movement restriction and have reduced hours of work”.

“If a person is temporarily stood down, they may be eligible for Covid-19 disaster payment if they meet the eligibility criteria,” he said.

The Federal government payments will be available until 80 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated and when then be phased out over a two-week period.

Premier confirms hated mask rule to be scrapped

Premier Dominic Perrottet has confirmed that the rule requiring Sydney workers to wear masks in the office will soon be abandoned.

Speaking to ABC’s News Breakfast, the Premier said there was a “positive announcement” to come regarding masks for office workers.

“Face masks, obviously, are important. But ultimately, as you say, they’re an impediment for people going back into the office, so we made some changes last night which we’re going to announce later today,” he said.

Host Lisa Millar then pointed out that Mr Perrottet had just all but confirmed that the mask rule would be disappearing.

Mr Perrottet said the restriction would be eased “earlier than we had previously set out”.

“We had originally set that down for 1 December. So, they’ll be going a bit earlier,” he said.

NSW Premier makes major Covid changes

Dominic Perrottet has already made some changes after his first full day as NSW Premier as residents brace for an update after a late-night meeting with key officials.

As Mr Perrottet stepped into a crisis cabinet meeting late on Wednesday, the premier had already flagged potential tweaks to the state’s road map out of lockdown.

Despite the news, Mr Perrottet confirmed “Freedom Day” in NSW won’t come early and committed to next Monday, but there have already been some changes made to the plan.

But there could be changes to the road map, such as indoor swimming pools opening from Monday after previously not being set to reopen until the state reached 80 per cent vaccinated.

Nightclubs would also reopen once the state reaches 80 per cent, after it was previously set for December 1.

The Premier is expected to announce what changes will come early today.

As part of his “first act”, the premier is ditching the 11am Covid-19 presser, which experts say means Mr Perrottet does not want to be the “Covid numbers premier”.

“Gladys Berejiklian, part of the aura she created around herself was those 11am pressers,” Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell said.

“That’s the end of that.”

As of next week, new case numbers will be released at 9am instead of 11am.

It has also been revealed the NSW crisis cabinet — which has been responsible for the state’s handling of the pandemic — will be renamed the Covid and Economic Recovery Committee in a bid to reflect the change of times.

– Matt Young

New freedoms coming for NSW after vax milestone hit

Sydneysiders will be rewarded with “greater freedoms” from Monday after NSW eclipsed double vaccination coverage for 70 per cent of its eligible population.

Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello outlined the new restrictions in a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon, which includes how numbers will be capped at pubs and restaurants, guests in homes will be increased and gyms can reopen.

“From Monday, 11 October, significant changes to the public health orders mean residents can leave their LGA and experience greater freedoms,” Mr Dominello posted.

This what Sydneysiders can expect:

• Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.

• Hospitality and restaurant venues can reopen subject to one person per 4 sqm inside and one person per 2 sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.

• Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).

• Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4 sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.

• Businesses will be responsible for taking reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people entering premises. This includes having prominent signs stating requirements, Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination.

– James Hall

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