The Covid Wrap: A State-By-State Summary On Covid Across Australia
Don’t blink, it could change
Anxiety and politics were served up as key dishes of the week, with a side of madness and mayhem.
From rallies and rants, to pilgrimages and propaganda, Australia delivered a degustation unlike anything on Yotam Ottolenghi's menu.
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It all started with Victoria's proposed pandemic laws, which were met this week by angry protests, with a "small, ugly mob" of critics camping on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne for three consecutive days.
"Debate is fine. This disagreement is fine, that is a part of our system. What we have seen in recent days and weeks is not fine. It is awful. But it does not speak to the values the views and conduct of the vast, vast majority of Victorians," premier Dan Andrews said.
Brewing over the last 18 months, Melbourne’s anti-lockdown and anti-mandatory vaccine movement culminated on Wednesday in radical protests with people chanting they wanted to "hang" and "kill" the Victorian premier with a prop gallows and noose on show.
Designed to replace Victoria's 'state of emergency' powers, the controversial bill gives authority to the premier and to the health minister, rather than the chief health officer, to declare a pandemic and enforce public health orders without putting it to Parliament.
Across the west and WA premier Mark McGowan was forced to close his electorate office following death, rape and bomb threats against him and his staff.
"To target people's staff and their families is unfair. Unfortunately, that's the way these people are conducting themselves, so I just ask them to stop and act like reasonable human beings."
It came as the Premier was forced to call out anti-vaxxers who were targeting WA schools running vaccination clinics, warning that “extremist behaviour...verging on urban terrorism” will not be tolerated.
“It's demented, it’s deranged, it’s outrageous, it’s selfish. And I’d just urge these people to stop. Harassing kids at their schools or in shopping centres is not the Australian way.”
- Premier McGowan
Meantime, Prime Minister Scott Morrison created a stir on Thursday, condemning the violence on display among the protesters, while saying he also recognised their frustration and said it was time for state governments to step back from "telling Australians what to do".
Herein started the war of words between state leaders and the PM, with the Victorian Premier accusing Morrison of chasing votes from extremists.
“I’m not about chasing through double speak the votes of extremists or their preferences,” he told Channel Nine’s Today Show.
"If others choose to do that - that’s on them.”
- Premier Andrews
Meantime, Morrison maintains that he is going to "keep the deal with Australians" and reopen the nation, despite pushback from some states, remaining closed until higher dose rates are met.
"I’ve been saying this consistently ever since I put the national plan together and got all of the states and territories to agree with it and we’re going to keep going with that plan. Australians have earned that. They’ve kept their part of the deal. I ensure you that I intend to keep mine".
- PM Morrison
But a national agenda, seems quite a way off as states and territories grapple with their own dilemmas and delights.
Restrictions, Borders and Vaccine Targets
Victoria has emerged from another long slumber, to unlocked freedoms this weekend, with the state edging towards the 90 per cent double dose target a week ahead of schedule.
Most restrictions have been lifted, with density caps on hospitality venues, retail and home visits scrapped, while you can stand with a drink at the pub and hit the dance floor.
Meantime, Queensland's breakthrough of 70 per cent of people fully vaccinated on Monday, threw open the state's borders to double dosed travellers from hotspot areas now able to apply for a border pass and "isolate at home with a negative test".
Furthermore, when the state reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target, due on December 17, fully vaccinated travellers from interstate will be able to enter the state without having to quarantine at all.
Heading south and from November 23, double-dosed travellers from across Victoria and NSW, except for Byron Bay LGA will be able to enter South Australia without quarantining.
While dancing and drinking restrictions are set to be relaxed across Tasmania from December 6, for those who are fully vaccinated, before they usher in mainland travellers from December 15.
Meanwhile, with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, NSW are set to roll out Rapid Antigen Testing kits for primary school students in a bid to reduce overall quarantine time and classroom absences.
While in Western Australia, with vaccination rates lagging behind Covid ravaged states, 60,000 fly-in, fly-out workers face a vaccination deadline with only two weeks to get jabbed or become jobless.
Finally, the Northern Territory are battling to contain a Covid outbreak this week after 21 infections were detected across four days, with Indigenous Territorians all those infected.
Genomic testing has confirmed the outbreak was triggered by an infected woman who illegally entered the NT.
Meanwhile, across the country:
With the harshest border restrictions in the country, Western Australia have mandated that travellers from Victoria, NSW, the ACT and Queensland are not permitted to enter without an approval through G2G Pass. While all other travellers 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. WA recorded no new Covid cases on Friday.
South Australia has the gate firmly locked to Victoria, NSW and the ACT for now. Visitors from Queensland, WA, NT and Tasmania are allowed but must first complete a Cross Border Travel Registration. There were no new Covid case recorded in South Australia on Friday.
All travellers to the Australian Capital Territory need to complete an exemption before arriving. From November 1, border restrictions eased allowing ACT residents to visit NSW and Victoria. The nation's capital recorded 17 new Covid cases on Friday.
The Northern Territory is closed to people from hotspots including NSW, ACT, and Victoria. Travellers into the Territory from other regions must get a Covid test and are required to enter supervised quarantine for 14 days at their own expense. NT recorded two new Covid cases on Friday.
To Queensland and they have extended border restrictions to all of NSW except for LGA's along the NSW border bubble. Victoria, the ACT and the Jervise Bay Territory are also considered ‘hot spots’ and are not permitted to enter. While travellers from the NT, WA, Tasmania, and SA must complete a travel declaration form up to three days prior to arriving. The sunshine state recorded no new locally acquired Covid cases on Friday.
As Covid numbers continue to plateau in New South Wales, the state recorded 216 new infections and sadly three lives lost on Friday. Restrictions have further eased with regional travel back on, while the border between New South Wales and Victoria is now open to fully vaccinated travellers. All visitors must complete a travel declaration form.
Down south and Victoria’s cases meander with 1273 new infections reported on Friday and tragically eight Covid deaths. All LGA’s in Australia are now deemed a ‘green zone’, with all residents permitted to travel to Victoria. There are no longer testing or quarantine requirements for travellers and workers from a green zone, including unvaccinated people, however, they are still required to obtain an entry permit from Service Victoria to verify they are not Covid positive or close contact.
Tasmania happily reported no new cases on Friday. The Apple Isle remains 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 more nasties with them. Tasmania are set to plan to reopen borders on December 15.
Across the ditch and Trans-Tasman families are set for a second-consecutive Christmas apart as the New Zealand government opts against a border reopening to Australia this year. New Zealand reported 198 new Covid cases on Friday.
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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