The Covid Wrap: A State-By-State Summary On Covid Across Australia
Don’t blink, it could change
After a week of political posturing between premiers and state leaders, one thing remains a certainty, Delta is gaining momentum.
That said, we saw the first 450,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive in Sydney under the 4 million dose deal negotiated with the UK amid escalating outbreaks in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.
The National Briefing
We also witnessed Victoria's Premier Dan Andrew's successful suppression efforts in the first and second waves thwarted with case numbers continuing to rise, despite the state languishing through their sixth lockdown.
But the postulating of the Victorian Premier on his COVID-zero strategy has faded into a distant memory, as the morally ambiguous NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday the state's Reopening Roadmap out of lockdown once 70 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received both jabs.
A lengthy reveal, the short of it, is that home and public gatherings will be back on the cards, along with hospitality, retail and gyms set to re-open.
Furthermore, despite cases lingering near record levels, the NSW Premier on Friday unveiled further freedoms for fully vaccinated people as early as Monday.
The changes for double-jabbed residents in the 12 LGA's of concern means they can now exercise outdoors for an unlimited amount of time, while the household can go “for a picnic or recreation” for two hours every day.
But not everyone is happy with the newly afforded freedoms.
The Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said the Doherty Institute modelling, which the Premier has used as a guide, warns restrictions should not be eased until case numbers low enough that contact tracers can manage them.
“Unfortunately, (Thursday’s) plan appears to leave NSW at considerable risk of having to return to lockdowns,” Dr Khorshid said.
AMA NSW president Danielle McMullen has said she's concerned that state leaders could have bitten off more than they could chew, offering too much, too fast.
"Would have preferred to see a bit more of a staged re-opening, and in particular we would have liked to see some more information from the government about how they expect this reopening plan will impact on case numbers and the impact on our health system in particular"
- Dr Danielle McMullen
Meantime, some welcome news for NSW-Queensland border communities with the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reinstating the border bubble rules as of 1am Monday September 13, for the NSW LGA’s exiting lockdown tomorrow.
Ms Palaszczuk said this meant students and essential workers who are unable to work from home will be able to cross the border between the 12 NSW local government.
Finally bringing down the curtain of the week in politics, the NSW Premier delivered an unexpected kicker into her daily COVID update declaring that from this weekend she and health minister Brad Hazzard, will no longer be fronting the media for daily Covid briefings, substituting Health staff to deliver the COVID update via video link.
"Sunday will be the last day we officially do a press conference in this way but, from Monday at 11am, Health will provide a daily health update and myself and Minister Hazzard or any other relevant minister will present to the community on a needs basis"
- Premier Berejiklian
As you can imagine, Ms Berejiklian's declaration of abandonment was met with extreme surprise with many seeing it as a serious rescinding of her responsibilities, particularly as the state approaches its peak in COVID cases.
And who knows, in the end this could indeed be the turning point that shifts the news cycle away from the pandemic to other priorities. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, across the country:
With the tightest border in the country, Western Australia have mandated that travellers from a 'high risk' state are required to provide evidence that they have received their first COVID vaccine and have tested 72 hours prior to departing for the western skies. Elsewhere Queensland, Victoria and the ACT are considered 'medium risk' and require an exemption to enter WA. Lucky South Australian's have been deemed 'low risk', so they may play in WA but only with a border declaration. That leaves 'low risk' Tasmania, the Northern Territory and New Zealand as the only visitors allowed into the state. WA recorded no new COVID -19 cases on Friday.
South Australia continues to keep the gate firmly locked to Victoria, NSW the ACT, and some parts of Queensland. Visitors from WA and NT are allowed but must have a series of COVID tests and self-quarantine until receiving their first negative result. And once again the only Aussies deemed ‘restriction free’ are Tasmanians. There were no new COVID cases in South Australia on Friday.
Lockdown in the Australian Capital Territory has been extended until September 17 with a few changes to the rules. Further, border restrictions have been tightened for all non-ACT residents entering the capital from locked down areas of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, effectively not allowing them in. Meanwhile, travellers from all other states and territories must stay abreast of exposure site locations. The countries capital recorded 24 new COVID -19 cases on Friday.
The Northern Territory is closed to travellers from hotspots – NSW, ACT, and Victoria – and returning NT residents face mandatory supervised quarantine and all arrivals must complete an online Border Entry Form. Meantime, anyone who has been at a public exposure state in any other state must get a COVID -19 test and quarantine in a suitable place for 14 days. NT recorded no new COVID cases on Friday.
To Queensland and they have extended border to all of NSW except for LGA's along the NSW border bubble in order to allow students and essential workers carrying a border permit to cross the state line. In addition, essential workers crossing from NSW must provide proof of having had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Victoria and South Australia, along with greater Darwin and Katherine are considered a ‘hot spot’, while travellers from the NT, WA, Tasmania and SA are permitted to visit the sunshine state but must complete a travel declaration form up to three days prior to arriving. Queensland recorded one new COVID -19 cases on Friday.
After a record-breaking week of COVID numbers New South Wales recorded 1542 new infections and nine deaths on Friday. Sydneysiders remain gated into their burning hot spot, with people barred from leaving except for essential services. Meanwhile stay-at-home orders Stay-at-home orders will be lifted for some NSW regional and rural LGA's from 12:01am Saturday 11 September but will continue to operate under restrictions. For outsiders wanting to enter NSW, particularly those from Queensland, South Australia, the ACT and Victoria they must complete a travel declaration form.
Down south and Victoria continue to break records with 344 new locally acquired COVID -19 cases reported on Friday and tragically one death. From Thursday 2 September, Premier Dan Andrews tightened the border to NSW, removing 6 Victorian and 2 NSW LGA's from the border bubble. A strict permit system remains in place for all states and territories, with anyone wanting to enter the garden required to secure a permit. Meantime, no-one from NSW, the ACT, or some parts of south-east Queensland are allowed in.
Tasmania remain tightly zipped off from the mainland to avoid the Delta downfall as they continue with zero COVID cases. The Apple Isle is now off limits to people from NSW, the ACT, and Victoria, while travellers from South Australia, WA, parts of Queensland and some parts of New Zealand may visit if they don't bring any nasties with them.
Across the ditch and Quarantine-free travel to New Zealand is definitely still off the cards, even they seem to be getting ahead of the virus with 11 new COVID cases on Friday. Meantime, Auckland remains in alert level four lockdown until next week. Planning way, way ahead, travel to the land of the long white cloud could manifest in one week for some Aussies, but whose kidding who.
Finally, to wrap up in the words of Mr Scott Morrison “there are shifting sands when it comes to the evolution of this issue".
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