Melbourne anti-vaxxers came up with a plan to defy vaccine passports as the city reopened today. Some claim they succeeded, others were trolled.
Welcome to Friday’s coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.
Victorians woke today to a raft of new freedoms for fully vaccinated residents after reaching its 70 per cent double vaccination goal yesterday.
The state recorded 2189 new cases and 16 deaths on Friday.
NSW recorded 345 new Covid cases and five deaths on Friday, with cases expected to rise over the coming days due to the state’s eased restrictions.
Queensland is also on high alert after a rideshare driver was infectious in the community for 10 days. Authorities said the man is “so sick” he can barely speak with contact tracers.
Today’s live blog has wrapped up. Read on for the main talking points frm Friday.
‘Critical situation’ at Melbourne hotel
A former asylum seeker who spent eight years in Australia’s immigration detention program — including several years inside a hotel room in the Melbourne suburb of Preston — says 13 refugees in a Melbourne hotel are infected with Covid-19.
Former Kurdish-Iranian refugee Mostafa Azimitabar says the situation at the Park Hotel in Carlton where dozens of refugees are being held is “critical”.
“At least 13 refugees have tested postive with Covid,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“Ambulances cannot get in, and one was turned away … for someone who was on a respirator.”
News.com.au previously wrote about the deteriorating situation at the hotel where one refugee claims he was promised a Covid-19 vaccine months before he contracted the virus.
Victorian businesses targeted by anti-vaxxers
On the first day of freedom for vaccinated Victorians, a disgruntled group of anti-vaxxers have come up with a plan to short-circuit the state’s vaccine passport system.
A poster shared by organisers of the so-called Melbourne “freedom rallies” is doing the rounds on social media, urging the unvaccinated to visits shops and restaurants to see whether they will be denied entry.
Under Victoria’s current rules, only fully vaccinated members of society can dine at restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs. They are expected to show their vaccine certificates on entry when they check in.
But anti-vaxxers are attempting to shame those who deny them access.
“Be a part of #Danslockoutfail by highlighting how the Victorian Government will once again fail to enforce its disgraceful mandates,” the poster reads.
“Step 1: Visit a restaurant or shop without showing a vaccine passport and post proof on social media.
“Step 2: If you are denied access to a business because they choose to segregate you from society, shame (them) by posting them on social media.”
But business owners are not having it. One operator who saw the poster on social media responded with the following message:
“I own a retail store. If you try this in my shop, I will film you and post you being a d***head all over social media.
“I will also contact television networks, they love a story involving Chads and Karen’s being twats in public.”
However, many flaunted that they were able to dine in or get a haircut without being vaccinated.
Some suggested using a friend’s phone had worked, others said no check-ins were required and businesses were not enforcing the new rules.
“I had a nice lunch out in Errol Street, North Melbourne. Not vaccinated and not asked for cert,” one person wrote.
Another wrote that they were “going everywhere”, to which one commenter wrote “except overseas or interstate”.
Another replied: “Cool, see you at the Spring Carnival, Boxing Day Test, Aus Open, F1 or any other ticketed event. oh wait, no I won’t as you aren’t vaccinated. Enjoy spending all you time looking for establishments that will allow you in.”
As part of Melbourne’s reopening, tickets went on sale for the city’s first music show in months. Only vaccinated people were able to buy tickets to Play on Victoria at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl — a show that sold out in minutes.
Tasmania reveals when borders will open
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has revealed that the state’s border will open when 90 per cent of the adult population are double vaccinated against Covid-19. That is estimated to happen on December 15.
“So today I’m signalling to every eligible Tasmanian over the age of 12, if you’re not vaccinated, get it done, and get it done as soon as possible,” he said.
“Don’t wait until 14 December.”
The rules outlined by the Tasmanian Premier mean that fully vaccinated Australians from any other state and territory will be eligible to enter the state from December 15 but they will require a negative covid test within 72 hours of arriving.
The Premier said there would be no turning back after that point, but a number of restrictions will remain.
Low vax rates force doctors to chuck supplies
A Queensland doctor has revealed health workers in some parts of the state have been forced to throw out vaccine supplies due to the slow uptake from residents.
Gold Coast GP, Dr Natasha Yates, told the ABC, that she has been forced to throw out doses of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
“We’ve had to throw out supplies as they’ve gone out of date. We’re doing our best, as are all the clinics on the Gold Coast, to make sure that we get them to other clinics, if possible, before they run out of date,” she said.
“But then, because everyone’s experiencing the same low turnout, we’re just finding that we’re having to bin Astra and Pfizer vaccines.”
So far just 58.2 per cent of Queenslanders over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, with 73.66 per cent receiving their first dose.
Authorities have been desperately trying to encourage fast vaccine uptake, with the Premier telling residents they only have nine days left to get their first dose if they want to be fully vaccinated when the borders open on December 17.
Dr Yates said the majority of appointments had been made up of young people, though those have dropped off now with kids back at school.
“We have also had, I’ve noticed, a lack of people in their 30s and 40s, probably because they’re working and, again, because there doesn’t seem to be an urgent need to get it done now,” she said.
“It does mean, often, taking a day off and maybe the next day off, or at least planning for that, in case you do feel unwell.”
‘Extremely sick’: ICU fears for Qld case
Authorities have revealed the health of the unvaccinated Queensland man who is infected with Covid-19 is rapidly deteriorating, with concerns he will soon need to go into intensive care.
Duran Raman, a rideshare driver in his 30s, was so sick yesterday that he was struggling to speak with contact tracers.
Speaking on Friday, CHO Dr Jeannette Young said he was still “very unwell”.
“They are keeping a very close eye on him. He is on high flow oxygen and he will probably need to go into intensive care,” she said.
“That is terrible. He is a very young, fit man who was not vaccinated and he is now extremely sick.
“The best thing we can all do to protect ourselves is to get vaccinated so we don’t end up in that situation. He was so sick that he probably has not been out in the community so we don’t have exposure venues for him other than his place of residence.”
Dr Young urged everyone with even the slightest symptoms to go and get tested immediately.
Victoria scraps quarantine for travellers
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced quarantine will be scrapped for international arrivals from November 1, bringing the state into line with NSW.
International travellers landing in Melbourne will need to be double vaccinated and return a negative Covid test within 24 hours of their arrival in order to skip quarantine.
“This is very significant, so people will be able to, I think, as the federal government have indicated, you’ll be able to leave after the 1st of November, and then what I’m confirming is, when you come back, if you are double-vaxed and if you’ve been tested before and you agree to test within 24 hours, then you will be able to go home,” Mr Andrews said.
“No hotel quarantine – you’ll be able to go about your business. And the reason for that is that, at 80 per cent, 90 per cent – which is where we’re going to get to – we are as protected as we can be.
“There’ll still be some rules around masks and some other density issues and just common sense will have to drive us. This won’t be over. But we will be as protected as we can be.”
Interstate truck driver infectious in Qld
Another interstate truck driver has tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling through Queensland.
“He’s now currently in Victoria but he tested positive on 20 October and was here infectious in our community on the 18th and 19th of October,” chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
“We have already put up some venues that he has been at. It is really important, we know we can get [the] virus in our community at any point in time, so the protection to that is to just get vaccinated.”
Dr Young warned Queenslanders “we don’t know when we will have our next case”.
“This truck driver had had one dose of the vaccine on the 1st of October but that is not sufficient to stop someone spreading the virus. We know that’s a risk,” she said.
No new local cases in Qld
Queensland has recorded no new locally acquired Covid-19 cases.
It comes after the state recorded one new case yesterday, an unvaccinated man in his 30s from the Gold Coast who was recently in Melbourne.
Authorities announced yesterday that the man had been infectious in the community for 10 days and was now “too sick” to talk to contact tracers.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was “absolutely critical” for Queenslanders to get vaccinated.
“It is absolutely critical. This gentleman was unvaccinated. He is a fit man in his 30s. This is why it is critical that people get vaccinated,” she said.
“On the Gold Coast, can I please urge people there to get vaccinated and if you have any symptoms whatsoever, get tested.”
State hints at barring unvaccinated travellers
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has hinted that unvaccinated travellers could soon be barred from entering the state.
It comes after Western Australia announced strict new vaccine mandates for tens of thousands of workers, with a now revised document claiming unvaccinated people would be banned from crossing the border.
The frequently asked questions document published by WA Health stated that from “Monday 15 November all travellers from very low risk jurisdictions will be required to be fully vaccinated.”
“WA is the first jurisdiction to introduce this type of measure,” the document stated.
Under the current rules, travellers from medium, high or extreme risk areas cannot travel to WA unless they have an approval through the state’s G2G pass system.
Approved travellers from high risk areas must also show proof of at least one vaccine dose unless they are exempt.
However, Mr McGowan claims the new advice around vaccinations was not correct, though he did suggest that barring unvaccinated travellers could be the direction the state was heading.
“That’s not correct at this point in time, but that’s the way all the states are moving,” Mr McGowan told ABC Radio.
“Currently, anyone coming in from NSW or Victoria, that is the requirement.
“If you want to go overseas, get vaccinated. If you want to travel, get vaccinated. That’s basically the way the entire country is going.
“There have been some administrative mistakes there, but it’s certainly the broad direction we’re heading.”
The document has since been revised and the section on the border rules has been removed.
ACT records 13 Covid cases
The ACT has recorded 13 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
There are 20 Covid patients in the hospital, including 11 in intensive care.
Victoria records 2189 cases and 16 deaths
Victoria has recorded 2189 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
It comes after the state recorded its second highest number of Covid cases on Thursday, with 2232 infections and 12 deaths.
Victorians are enjoying a raft of eased restrictions today after the state reached its 70 per cent vaccination milestone yesterday.
Experts have warned that cases will likely rise over the coming weeks as movement around Melbourne and the regions increased.
NSW records 345 cases and five deaths
NSW has recorded 345 Covid-19 cases and five deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
PM hints at more quarantine announcements
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted that two more states will be making major changes to their quarantine restrictions today.
Mr Morrison said the national plan was “all about opening up Australia safely”, adding that is what today’s announcement from Qantas was about.
“It means that families are coming together again. It means kids are going back to school. It means the reunification of our country which I know we have all been so key to see. That begins with this,” he said.
The PM said he had “no doubt” that other states and territories would follow NSW’s lead to scrap quarantine requirements for international arrivals, adding some of those announcements could be expected today.
“The Premier of Victoria today will be making some further announcements and I’m looking forward to those. I know the Premier of Tasmania will be making further announcements today and I’m looking forward to those,” he said.
“I won’t pre-empt those, other than to say that the national plan is working, Australia is coming together, and we are realising the great efforts of the Australian people in rolling up their sleeves so we can move forward together and re-engage.”
Qantas announces new travel routes, accelerated reopening
Qantas has announced it will be bringing forward the restart of more international flights to popular destinations from Sydney, including operating flights to Delhi for the first time in almost a decade.
It comes after the Federal and NSW governments announced international borders would reopen from November 1, following a decision by NSW to remove quarantine requirements.
Qantas plans to launch the new route from Sydney to Delhi on December 6, with three return flights per week, building to daily flights by the end of the year.
The updated international schedule also includes:
• Sydney to Singapore flights resuming on November 23, four weeks ahead of schedule
• Sydney to Fiji, resuming on December 7, brought forward from December 19
• Sydney to Johannesburg, resuming on January 5, three months earlier than scheduled
• Sydney to Bangkok, resuming on January 14, more than two months earlier than scheduled
• Sydney to Phuket, resuming on January 12, more than two months earlier than scheduled
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline was also working on restarting flights to Bali before Christmas.
“We are in dialogue with the Indonesian government about opening up Bali for Australians that are fully vaccinated so that they don’t have to go into quarantine,” he said.
“Jetstar was the largest carrier operating into Bali. Australians were the largest visitors before Covid and it will be phenomenal news for our Jetstar people if we can operate into Bali before Christmas, which we’re working with the Indonesian Government to try and do that.”
Annoying rule scrapped in NSW
NSW residents have been freed from a widely hated Covid restriction, following a surprise change to the public health orders yesterday.
Gym-goers will now no longer be required to wear a mask during group classes, with Health Minister Brad Hazzard scrapping the rule following a raft of complaints, NewsLocal reports.
Many people had complained that the requirement was not practical and wearing a mask during a workout class made it difficult to breathe.
Residents can now remove their masks during indoor gym and dance classes, though they are still required it be worn in other areas of the gym, such as the reception area and change rooms.
Sports Minister Natalie Ward told the publication the change was a “step forward” for fully vaccinated gym-goers.
“It’s important people are able to exercise in as much comfort as possible, so I’m really pleased it will no longer be a requirement for masks to be worn during an indoor gym or dance class,” she said.
Vic set for major international travel announcement
Victoria is reportedly set to follow in NSW’s footsteps and remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international arrivals.
This means people who arrive in Victoria from overseas will not have to go into hotel or home quarantine.
According to the ABC, travellers will need to need to be fully vaccinated and present a negative Covid-19 test.
It is believed the change will likely come into effect from November 1, the same day quarantine requirements will be scrapped in NSW.
The announcement is expected to be made during Victoria’s Covid press conference today.
It comes after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed last week that quarantine would be scrapped for international arrivals from November 1.
“Those people returning to Australia … and those who want to come back, who want to visit Australia and come to Sydney, hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past,” he said.
“Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st. This is a significant day for our state”.
When asked earlier this week whether Victoria would follow NSW’s lead, Premier Daniel Andrews suggested international arrivals to his state would still be required to quarantine at home.
“What Dominic announced the other day is he is getting rid of hotel quarantine, we will do a similar thing, it will be home-based particularly for those who are double-dosed,” he told Sunrise.
Victoria eases Covid restrictions
Victorians are waking up to eased restrictions this morning, with vaccinated residents now able to enjoy a number of new freedoms.
The changes came into effect at 11.59pm last night after the state reached its 70 per cent double dose vaccination milestone on Thursday.
The new freedoms include:
• Removing the Melbourne lockdown and curfew
• Up to 10 visitors to a home per day, including dependants
• 15 people can gather outdoors in Melbourne (20 in regional Victoria)
• Community sport training returns
• Pubs and clubs can open to 20 vaccinated people indoors and 50 outdoors. Entertainment venues can open to 50 vaccinated people outdoors
• In regional Victoria, Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can open indoors to 30 vaccinated people
• All school students return onsite at least part time in Melbourne and full time in regional Victoria
• Funerals and weddings are allowed with 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors in Melbourne and 30 indoors and 100 outdoors in regional Victoria
• Hairdressing, beauty and personal care services can open to five vaccinated people indoors
Qld’s new Covid case a ‘wake up call’
Queensland recorded one new community Covid-19 case on Thursday, with authorities saying they are “concerned” about the new infection detected on the Gold Coast.
“Now this is a wake up call for the Gold Coast,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“The issue with this gentleman is that they were not vaccinated. They were potentially infectious in the community for up to 10 days.”
The Premier urged anyone with the slightest symptoms to go and get tested.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young revealed the unvaccinated man in his 30s is a rideshare driver, saying he had become so sick that he was struggling to even speak with contact tracers.
“He is so sick that we are having difficulties talking to him and getting information from him Dr Young said.
The man lives at an apartment complex in Broad Beach and is understood to have been in Melbourne on October 10 before coming back to Queensland.
“He started to develop symptoms on October 11, which means his infectious period goes back to October 9, but we believe he was in Melbourne at that stage,” Dr Young said.
“He became increasingly unwell, presented to the emergency department.”
Authorities are working closely with Uber to get information about whether the man had passengers during his infectious period.
Dr Young also revealed the man hadn’t used his QR code check in system when visiting venues since September.
“It is hard to work out where he has been in the community, “ she said.