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Nurses ‘verbally abused’ at Victorian vaccination facilities

Mr Foley said more than 49,000 people in the state became fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this week, and 50,000 Victorians were booked in next week to receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

National cabinet on Friday resolved to halve the number of people arriving in Australia.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will take his plan to slash overseas arrivals to national cabinet on Friday morning.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will take his plan to slash overseas arrivals to national cabinet on Friday morning. Credit:Getty

That followed a strong push from some state leaders, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, to temporarily cut the number of people coming to Australia.

He said it would be “desperately sad” to have to reject some Australians trying to come home for compassionate reasons, but if they did come home, a coronavirus outbreak was much more likely, as were lockdowns.

“The greatest good for the greatest number, and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” Mr Andrews said.

Travel changes for Victorians entering from NSW

There are no longer any “green zones” left in NSW, after Victorian authorities at 6am on Thursday made all those remaining orange under the state’s traffic light travel system.

This means Melburnians and regional Victorians who aren’t from a border community won’t be able to re-enter Victoria from the NSW side of the border unless they obtain a permit, agree to isolate upon arrival and get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours.

Previously, Melburnians were able to travel freely to and from the NSW side of the border (for example, to Albury) but not any further into NSW due to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department of Health says it made this change “out of an abundance of caution”.

Mr Foley said 50 members of the Australian Defence Force have been enlisted to help with the state’s COVID-19 home visit program.

The ADF will assist authorised officers checking in on people isolating in Victoria.

Some will be isolating because they’ve returned from a designated “red zone” interstate, which dictates that residents have to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Victoria.

Mr Foley said officers yesterday conducted 160 household checks in Victoria and the majority of those isolating were doing the right thing.

“These ADF members are specially trained to conduct these household visits,” Mr Foley said.

“More visits give us more confidence that everyone who is staying home is doing the right thing by themself, and the community.”

Officers in the state’s border patrol operation with NSW stopped and checked 2100 people yesterday, Mr Foley said. That was in addition to the 2000 people stopped at the border on Wednesday.

Businesses still waiting for support

More than 53,000 Victorian businesses are still waiting for lockdown support payments, a month after a state government assistance scheme went live.

The assistance fund was set up to help small businesses and local venues after Victoria’s latest lockdown.

Nearly 123,000 small businesses and venues applied for the grants. The Business Victoria website received 10,000 hits a minute after the grants went live and businesses had three weeks to apply.

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As of Thursday, more than 63,000 businesses were yet to receive a payment from the scheme, but that number fell to more than 53,000 on Friday after 10,000 payments went through overnight.

A Victorian government spokesman said direct economic support for businesses had topped $6 billion over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The government has so far delivered more than $278 million in grants to 59,000 small and medium-sized businesses and sole traders through the latest round of business support programs,” the spokesman said.

He said the Jobs, Precincts and Regions Department aimed to let businesses know the outcome of their grant applications within 10 business days, but if it took longer than that, an email update was sent.

With Michael Fowler, Paul Sakkal

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