With the state just one day away from enjoying new freedoms, Victorian officials have revealed an extra “big” perk for the fully vaccinated.
Welcome to Wednesday’s live coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.
Victorians are just a day away from enjoying new freedoms, with the state edging closer to its 70 per cent double dose vaccination goal.
The state recorded 1841 Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths today.
In NSW, cases have continued to remain low, with 283 new infections and seven deaths.
Follow below for today’s top updates. Keep refreshing the page for the latest news.
You can find yesterday’s blog here.
New live music freedom for vaccinated Victorians
Victorians have been offered yet another incentive to get vaccinated, with thousands of residents set to enjoy a new long-awaited freedom in under two weeks.
On October 30, almost 4000 vaccinated residents will be able to attend the Play On Victoria live music event at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as part of Victoria’s vaccinated economy trial.
“As all of you know, Melbourne has got a fantastic reputation as being Australia capital for live music. And over the past 19 months this has been an incredibly challenging time for artists, performers, venues, promoters, techies,” Government Minister Danny Pearson said.
“We know it has also been difficult for those people who have a passion for live music, people who love to go and see bands play, in large venues and small venues.”
The line up includes artists such as Baker Boy, Victor and Linda Ball, Grace Cummings, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Amyl and the Sniffers.
Tickets will go on sale at 3pm on October 22 and will be available from the Melbourne Art Centre website.
“In relation to the event itself, on the night, concertgoers will spread across the venue in allocated seats and picnic areas,” Mr Pearson said.
“You are going to have to wear a mask. When you are in attendance. Unless you are eating or drinking. And most importantly, everyone who attends is going to need to be fully vaccinated.”
Vaccination to become mandatory for range of WA industries
In a bid to prepare Western Australia for an inevitable outbreak of Covid-19, Premier Mark McGowan has announced that vaccination will become mandatory across a range of industries, covering about 75 per cent of the state’s workforce.
Workers in industries determined to have high transmission risk, a vulnerability risk or that are crucial to the safety of the community will need to have both vaccine doses by the end of the year.
Examples of these include cross-border freight workers for high/extreme risk locations; public and private hospitals and healthcare facilities; border and air transport; staff working in or entering remote Indigenous communities and corrective services staff.
Industries and workforces deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of business and the function of the community will need to be fully vaccinated by January 31, 2022.
Examples of these include supermarkets, petrol stations, construction workers, schools, and childcare, as well as hospitality workers.
A third group must be fully vaccinated to attend work during a lockdown or while under similar restrictions, like bottle shop staff, roadside assistance and members and staff at the Parliament of Western Australia.
‘Cop out’: Qld blasted for controversial unvaxxed rule
The Queensland government is copping major backlash over a new rule that would see businesses forced to decide whether or not they should serve unvaccinated customers.
Under Queensland’s reopening road map, it is suggested businesses will be able to choose who they open to, however, those who don’t allow unvaccinated patrons will be allowed to operate without any restrictions and those that do open to unvaccinated people will continue to operate under some form of restrictions.
Furious business owners have hit back at the government for putting the controversial decision back on them.
Amanda Scott, owner of Farm House cafe in Kedron, told The Courier Mail the move was “a cop out”.
“If I have to choose, I’m making a political statement and alienating people and I’m in hospitality to be hospitable – it’s really hard for us,” she said.
Restaurateur Simon Gloftis said businesses who make the decision to ban unvaccinated people in order to operate at full capacity would risk opening their staff up to abuse.
“As restaurateurs, we have had a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders the last couple of years and this is asking a lot. We’ll definitely cop abuse if we ask them (diners) for a vaccine passport – that’s a given,” he told the publication.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said venues who choose to open to unvaccinated people would operate under restrictions until the state reaches 90 per cent double dose vaccinations.
“We hope we can release all of the restrictions on those venues that choose to only have people who are vaccinated,” he said.
“Other venues that have people who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated – they’ll continue to have some level of public health restrictions probably until we meet that 90 per cent threshold.
“But we would prefer not to have to if we can get people to get vaccinated now, then we shouldn’t need those kinds of mandates.”
‘You can’t be saved’: Anna’s dark warning for unvaxxed
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has targeted unvaccinated Queenslanders with a fresh warning, telling residents in no uncertain terms why they need to get the jab.
The Queensland government has been ramping up its messaging around vaccinations, after revealing the state would reopen its borders on December 17.
Today, Ms Palaszczuk delivered one of her most blunt messages yet to those who still haven’t booked a jab, telling them they “can’t be saved” if they don’t “get on the lifeboat”.
“The storm is coming. We need to be prepared,” she said during Wednesday’s press conference.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was “no time to wait”, warning residents that they risk serious infection if they don’t get vaccinated.
NZ travel to reopen with Qld
Queensland will once again be allowing travellers from parts of New Zealand to visit without undergoing hotel quarantine.
“Queensland will be allowing green flights again from the South Island of New Zealand,” chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
“So any of you who have relatives they will be able to travel without quarantine.”
She said travel between Queensland and Auckland would still be blocked due to the ongoing outbreak in the region.
Australia hits major vaccine milestone
Australia has reached a huge vaccination milestone, bringing us closer to becoming one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced 70 per cent of the eligible Australian population was now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with first dose rates sitting at 85.5 per cent.
“That is continuing to grow and this is a testament to the work of Australians and it is a testament to our health professionals and everybody that has been involved in the vaccination program so to Australians, I want to say thank you and congratulations, but keep going,” he said.
“There are many people still to come forward for first doses and there are many people still to come back for their second doses and that second dose program is providing real and significant protection.”
NSW walks back international travel date
The NSW government has appeared to tone down its messaging around welcoming back international travellers from November, with the Premier refusing to give a firm date on when tourists can return.
Last week, Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed quarantine arrangements would be scrapped from November 1, saying NSW would be “open for business” for fully vaccinated people around the world.
“From November 1st, those people returning to Australia who want to come back, who want to visit Australia and coming to Sydney, hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past,” he said.
But today, the Premier appeared to be uncertain about when international travel can officially resume, saying NSW is “not at that stage” to predict how many tourists will be able to come to the state by the end of year.
Mr Perrottet said international tourism would be able to return “hopefully this year”, but said the decision to remove quarantine was to ensure the measures are in place for when a decision on international travel is made.
“What we need to do is have the proper settings in place. That is exactly what we have done from 1 November,” he said.
“The changes we have made ensure we will open up safely but ultimately, it is a clear signal and direction to the rest of the country and the rest of the world that NSW is open for business.”
Six month warning on vax protection
One of Melbourne’s top doctors has warned there is “profound evidence” that people who received their Covid vaccines early could already be experiencing a decline in their protection.
Australian Medical Association Victoria president, Doctor Roderick McRae, said research suggested the protection from two Covid vaccine doses “wanes after six months”.
Director of Infectious Diseases at Mater Health Services, Associate Professor Paul Griffin, told 3AW that this meant booster shots would be “a really important part” of Australia’s ongoing strategy to fight Covid.
“The key in our country is we don’t have enough people vaccinated the first time around to really focus on those just yet,” he said.
“I think for now we’ve just got to focus on getting those primary doses up as high as we can.”
Professor Griffin said some countries have started delivering booster shots at around eight months after the second vaccine dose, but said there were many different variables that would go into the decision.
NSW records 283 cases and seven deaths
NSW has recorded 283 locally acquired Covid-19 cases and seven deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Victoria records 1841 new cases and 12 deaths
Victoria has recorded 1841 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths in the 24 hours to midnight.
Man charged with assault after mask request
A man has been charged after allegedly assaulting an employee at a store in the Upper Hunter Region yesterday and refusing to wear a face mask.
A 30-year-old man was working at a food store on Mayne St, Murrurundi, at about 4.15pm when a man entered without wearing a mask.
“The store employee offered the man a mask, when the man allegedly became verbally aggressive towards the worker and left the store,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“A short time later, the man returned to the store and walked behind the counter, before allegedly assaulting the employee repeatedly and attempting to drag him from the store while threatening him.”
Customers went to help the employee and the man left the scene.
NSW Ambulance were called and the employee was treated at the scene for cuts and bruises to his face, along with swelling to his left eye.
He was taken to Murrurundi Hospital and has since been released.
Following inquiries, police attended a home on Rosella Street, Murrurundi, and arrested a 53-year-old man.
He was taken to Muswellbrook Police Station and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
He was granted conditional bail to appear at Scone Local Court on November 18.
Vaccine boosters expected by Christmas
Booster vaccines will reportedly be rolled out across Australia by Christmas, with thousands of at risk residents already receiving their third jab.
The federal government has plans to launch a third round of vaccinations for the wider population in the coming months, The Daily Telegraph reports.
However, they will first need to seek approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
It is understood the third dose will either be a Moderna or Pfizer jab, with the TGA waiting on approval to administer its booster jab to the general population.
The publication reports an eight month gap between the second and third dose for the Pfizer jab will likely be recommended, meaning many Aussies wouldn’t be getting their third dose until next year.
It comes after Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a booster vaccine program for 500,000 immunocompromised Australians.
“Australians who are severely immunocompromised may have a decreased immune response to a Covid-19 vaccination and be more at risk from severe Covid-19,” he said.
“If you or someone in your family are severely immunocompromised, we encourage you to reach out to your GP or specialist to discuss whether an additional dose is required.”
Costly typo in Victoria’s reopening plan
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has apologised after a “typo” in his state’s lockdown exit road map declared that entertainment venues would be allowed to reopen once 70 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated (set to happen by this Thursday).
The error – which was present in a copy of the road map shared to the Premier’s Twitter and later updated on the State Government’s website – said that along with pubs and clubs, 20 fully vaccinated people were allowed indoors or 50 fully vaccinated people were allowed outdoors at entertainment venues.
Having taken the road map shared by Mr Andrews at face value, the owner of Melbourne’s Comedy Republic, Kyran Wheatley, didn’t waste any time – organising and selling out eight shows for this weekend.
When he realised that it had been a mistake and the word “entertainment” had been removed from the road map, Mr Wheatley told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Virginia Trioli it was like “they’ve slammed that door shut on our fingers”, and that all of the shows had to be cancelled.
“I’m reading the Premier’s Twitter account right now, and it still says pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can open to 20 fully vaccinated people indoors, but late yesterday …[we saw] that the word ‘entertainment’ had vanished from the [road map] that was published to the Premier’s site,” he said.
“It was just a small crack in the door, 20 people just enough to put your fingers in, and it feels like they’ve slammed that door shut on our fingers.”
Addressing the matter yesterday, Mr Andrews said entertainment venues will open when Victoria hits its 80 per cent double dose target, adding he knew it was “frustrating”.
Nearly 600 kids infected in NSW in past week
Statistics from NSW Health show that nearly 600 children under the age of nine tested positive to Covid-19 in the past week.
Kids aged 10 to 19 made up for over 400 of the last seven days cases, while similar numbers were recorded in the 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 age brackets.
The numbers come as NSW numbers continue to decline, while Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently gave Pfizer approval to apply for the use of its vaccine in children aged five to 11 years.
While the Delta variant has spread at a rate five times higher than the virus in 2020, the majority of children have had asymptomatic or mild cases of Covid-19 – reaffirming that they are significantly less likely to pass on the virus to adults, according to research from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).
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