Good evening and thank you for watching our live coverage of the day’s events. If you are just joining us now, here’s everything you need to know:
- NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has effectively confirmed the lockdown in Greater Sydney will extend beyond Friday and into a fourth week, amid a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases in the state.
- The length of the lockdown prompted the NSW and Commonwealth governments to announce a new COVID-19 disaster payment package today, which will also be available in any other state and territory where a lockdown extends into a fourth week.
- Under the new assistance package, workers will receive an increase in their income support from $500 to $600 a week if they have lost 20 or more hours of work a week. Those who have lost between eight and less than 20 hours a week will receive $375 a week, an increase of $50 a week. Business owners will also be offered a cash-flow boost of up to $10,000. But they must also show they are not laying off staff, meeting the core government objective of protecting jobs.
- A man in his 70s from Sydney’s eastern suburbs died on Monday after contracting COVID-19. It is the second coronavirus-related death this year.
- NSW reported 89 new local coronavirus cases today, including 30 who were in the community for at least some of their infectious period.
- New testing rules start tomorrow for essential workers moving between greater Sydney and regional NSW for work, who will be required to get a weekly COVID-19 test. The rules are even tighter for people who live in the Fairfield local government area, a COVID hotspot, who must attend work outside the area. They must get a COVID test every three days but will not need to isolate while waiting for a result if they do not have symptoms. If they do have symptoms, they must get tested immediately and the usual isolation rules apply.
- Australia’s Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released new advice amid the growing cluster of COVID-19 cases in Greater Sydney. It has shortened the recommended gap between first and second doses in outbreak areas to between four and eight weeks, compared with their initial advice of up to 12 weeks between doses.
- ATAGI also says that where the supply of the Pfizer vaccine is constrained, “adults younger than 60 years old who do not have immediate access to [Pfizer] … should re-assess the benefits to them and their contacts from being vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, versus the rare risk of a serious side effect.”
- Victoria recorded one new case of COVID-19 today, in addition to two cases first reported yesterday. All three are members of the same household who have been isolating throughout their infectious period.
Victoria’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar visited a Melbourne apartment complex earlier today where 78 apartments have been locked down after removalists visited the building while infectious. Mr Weimar said public health teams arrived at the Ariele Apartments complex in Maribyrnong late last night to start advising residents they had to quarantine for 14 days after the exposure. Thus far, nobody has tested positive for the virus.
This is Michaela Whitbourn signing off on the blog now. My colleague Broede Carmody will be back with you from 6am tomorrow.
NSW Health has identified a string of new exposure sites visited by confirmed COVID-19 cases, including two bus routes in the Fairfield local government area.
Passengers on board the following buses have been designated as close contacts and are required to get tested for COVID-19 immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result:
- The 804 bus from Fairfield to Fairfield (Hamilton Road opposite Wenden Street to Stand J, Fairfield Central) on Thursday 8 July, departing at 10.58am and arriving at 11.03am
- The 800 bus from Fairfield to Smithfield (From Stand A, Fairfield Station to Polding Street opposite Bourke Street) on Thursday 8 July, departing at 6.15pm and arriving at 6.33pm
People who visited the following premises are also close contacts and must get tested for COVID-19 immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result:
- IGA Condell Park, Monday 12 July between 8.55am and 9.10am
- Fred’s One Stop Shop at Edensor Park on Friday 9 July between 2pm and 3pm
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:
- Ramsgate, Health Save Pharmacy on Wednesday 7 July between 5pm and 5.40pm
- Fairfield East, BP Carrington on Thursday 8 July between 4.45pm and 5pm
- Fairfield, Aldi on Friday 9 July between 1.55pm and 2.15pm
- Fairfield, Chemist Warehouse on Wednesday 7 July between 2.45pm and 3.40pm
- Penrith, Ground floor food court, Westfield Penrith Plaza on Saturday 10 July between 12.30pm and 1.30pm
- Penrith, Woolworths, Westfield Penrith Plaza on Saturday 10 July between 12.30pm and 1.30pm
- Penrith, Trims Fruit Shop, Westfield Penrith Plaza on Saturday 10 July between 12.30pm and 1.30pm
- Emu Plains, Lennox Village on Friday 9 July between 3.40pm and 4.30pm
- Emu Plains, McDonalds on Thursday 8 July between 2pm and 2.30pm
- Jamisontown, Penrith Pies and Pastries on Friday 9 July between 11.50am and 12.20pm
- Greenacre, Coles Express on Thursday 8 July between 6.10am and 6.40am
- Guildford, Dan Murphy’s Guilford on Wednesday 7 July between 6pm and 6.45pm
- Granville, Woolworths Granville on Wednesday 7 July between 6.15pm and 7pm
- Bondi Junction, Chemist Warehouse on Monday 5 July between 12.45pm and 1.15pm
- Bankstown, Sydney Sand and Cement on Monday 5 July between 7am and 7.15am
A number of warnings have also been issued for train services. Anyone who travelled on the following routes is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received:
- T8 Line from Green Square Station To Lidcombe Station on Sunday 4 July departing at 12.38pm and arriving at 1.21pm
- T4 Line from Hurstville Station to Miranda Station on Wednesday 7 July departing 11.49am and arriving 12.17pm
- T4 Line from Hurstville Station to Wynyard Station on Thursday 8 July departing 5.44am and arriving 6.18am
- T4 Line from Wynyard Station to Hurstville Station on Thursday 8 July departing 8.34am and arriving 9.05am
The full list of exposure sites can be found here.
Australia will donate 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam soon, the south-east Asian country said in a statement on Tuesday.
After successfully containing the virus for months, Vietnam has recently brought in movement restrictions in major cities after a spike in infections, fuelled by the more infectious Delta variant first found in India.
The donation of the Australia made vaccines and $40 million to help procure vaccines followed a meeting between Vietnam’s Deputy Minister Pham Binh Minh and Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment, Dan Tehan.
The Vietnamese government also said it would receive an additional batch of one million AstraZeneca doses from Japan in July.
Vietnam’s domestic inoculation program, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine and authorities have faced calls for a faster rollout.Only around 3.8 million people have received one vaccine dose so far, while 280,367 have been fully vaccinated in the country of 98 million people, according to official data.
In non-coronavirus news, the Star Entertainment Group plans to abandon its $12 billion merger proposal with Crown Resorts if Victorian royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein, QC, finds that Crown Melbourne must be run as a standalone entity.
The spectre of the royal commission producing such a finding has played havoc with proposals from Star and from private equity player Blackstone to bid for Crown.
The Star is already looking at other options in the event that there is a break-up of Crown Resorts, which also owns casinos in Perth and Sydney (although the latter has yet to open, given Crown has been found unsuitable to hold a licence in NSW at this stage after a separate inquiry in that state).
Star is most likely to offer to acquire Barangaroo in Sydney, thus cementing its monopoly in NSW, and is believed to be running the numbers on Crown’s Perth casino.
Mr Finkelstein has said he has seen “evidence of misconduct or unacceptable behaviour from people high-up and low down and in-between”.
“Wherever I look I see not just bad conduct but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct and it permeates the whole organisation,” he said on July 5.
Repatriation flights for Kiwis stranded in Sydney have sold out, but more seats will become available as more spaces in managed isolation are added for those travelling from NSW, Traveller reports.
Stranded travellers can also apply for a flight home on compassionate grounds.
Bookings for Air New Zealand’s managed flights from Sydney to Auckland and Christchurch opened at 10am on Monday morning and sold out within 15 minutes.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been at pains to point out that the new COVID-19 disaster payments for businesses and employees, announced this afternoon in Sydney, is not a special arrangement for NSW.
It will be rolled out in any state or territory facing an extended lockdown of four or more weeks.
Melbourne residents emerged from a two-week lockdown on June 10 but did not have access to the “upgraded” payments that will be funded jointly by the NSW and Commonwealth governments as Greater Sydney faces a fourth week of lockdown next week.
“What I’m announcing today is not just a partnership with NSW. What I’m announcing today is an upgrading of the Commonwealth government’s national response,” Mr Morrison said.
“So it is certainly our hope and ambition that we would not see lockdowns extending like we’re seeing them here in NSW and other states and territories. But, as I said, COVID-19 will set those rules. What we’re saying is when situations get like this, it is in the national interest that we ensure that a lockdown that is occurring here in NSW will be effective.”
In addition to the COVID-19 disaster payments announced by the Commonwealth and NSW just now for workers and businesses, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state would defer all payroll tax liabilities for the next two months.
It would also “completely waive” payroll tax for the first quarter of the year for businesses with payrolls between $1.2 million and $10 million, where they could demonstrate a reduction in turnover of at least 30 per cent.
“In addition to this program today, we also announce a further expansion and extension to our small business grants; they will increase and access to those will be expanded for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million,” he said.
Businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 that experience a decline in turnover of 30 per cent will also be eligible for a $1500 payment per fortnight of restrictions.
As the Commonwealth and the NSW government unveil a new financial assistance package for workers and businesses affected by the latest COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney, Premier Gladys Berejiklian says that the government’s intention “is to have this lockdown not go longer than it needs to”.
“These payments will make sure that whether you are someone who runs a business or someone who is an employee, you will be able to respect the rules we put in place and also have peace of mind,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“It’s really having peace of mind an also the ability to follow the health advice. They are the things that will help us get through the lockdown.”
The lockdown will pass the three-week mark on Friday and is expected to be extended.
Australia’s Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has released new advice amid a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases in Greater Sydney.
It says today that where the supply of the Pfizer vaccine is constrained, and in light of the evolving situation in Sydney, “adults younger than 60 years old who do not have immediate access to [Pfizer] … should re-assess the benefits to them and their contacts from being vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, versus the rare risk of a serious side effect.”
ATAGI has also urged people in outbreak settings such as Sydney to receive their second dose between four and eight weeks after their first.
This a change from previous clinical guidance urging people to wait up to 12 weeks for their second dose of AstraZeneca.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is unveiling a new financial assistance package for workers and businesses that will apply in the cases of “protracted” COVID-19 lockdowns, as Greater Sydney faces a lockdown extending beyond three weeks.
“The NSW outbreak has proved to be more severe, more dangerous, and it’s in the national interest that we now put in place an upgraded set of arrangements for cooperation with the states and territories that will first be put in place here,” Mr Morrison said just now.
Mr Morrison said national cabinet had previously agreed that the Commonwealth would provide direct income support for individuals and that state and territory governments would provide the support for business payments.
He said a joint financial assistance package would now apply in NSW, and in any state or territory in the future where a lockdown extended beyond a third week.
The Commonwealth and NSW will share some costs 50/50, although the state government has already indicated it will cover disaster recovery payments for areas in the state outside Commonwealth declared COVID hotspots from week four of the lockdown.
Under the plan, workers will receive an increase in their income support from $500 to $600 per week while business owners will be offered a cash flow boost of up to $10,000.
“What we have decided to do to go forward into week four [of lockdown] is that those payments will be increased to $600 for those who have lost more than 20 hours, and increase [from $325] to $375 for those … who have lost between eight and 20 hours a week,” he said.
This would continue “as long as the lockdown continues”, Mr Morrison said.
Companies with annual turnover of up to $50 million will be able to receive the cash flow boost as long as they can show a 30 per cent fall in their turnover.
But they must also show they are not laying off staff, meeting the core government objective of protecting jobs.
The cash flow benefit will range from $1,500 to $10,000.