Australia Covid live news update: Victoria looks to open early as 70% vaccine target met; NSW to decide on plan for 80% opening

1 week ago 22

Perrottet:

There is alfresco dining change that is well brought in last year. They were temporary and now permanent.

We know that they’ve been incredibly successful here in the CBD and down in The Rocks. We want to bring life and laughter into the city during summer. We’re also offering up to $500,000 grants to councils right across the state to improve their High Streets, to improve amenities.

We want to make sure that every single neighbourhood flourishes and has activity and action right through the summer months and beyond. So these grants will help them with that as well. And importantly, we’re providing $5,000 grants to 5,000 businesses on a first in, first serve basis, who want to embrace alfresco dining.

We want to move the inside to the outside. There’s no reason why there should be something that’s just limited to Europe.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has just been speaking in Sydney this morning, announcing the second part of his government’s business supports in the lead up to Christmas.

And this time the customers have something to look forward to as well.

We know that Dine and Discover vouch have been incredibly successful, incredibly positive, used by close to five million people right across our state.

So today, we are doubling down on Dine and Discover. We’re offering two additional $25 vouchers. We know that these vouchers have injected close to $500 million into the New South Wales economy. They have been incredibly successful and popular, from Ballina to Balmain, from Byron to Broken Hill.

People right across the state have gone out and used the voucher, and importantly, spent more. It’s driven economic activity in New South Wales. It’s got people back into work. We know that they’re popular.

We said as we were going through the economic recovery period that we’d look at those programs that worked and we would expand them if we could. That’s exactly what we’ve done in relation to this.

Elias Visontay

Australians hoping to fly overseas in the coming months are facing exorbitant costs due to high demand and a scarce supply of seats on services flying into the country, as experts warn high prices will last another year.

The complicated logistical planning required for airlines to ramp up from skeleton operations has meant those seeking to take advantage of the reopened border will face financial hurdles, while aircraft are recalled from desert parking lots and furloughed staff and ground handling contracts are brought back online.

A backlog of more than 45,000 Australians are still stranded overseas, adding another layer of complexity, demand and frustration to the picture.

An analysis of flight costs provided to Guardian Australia by the booking site Kayak shows the average cost of a one-way economy ticket from Sydney to New Delhi – the most sought-after route on the site over the past month – is $1,051, while the return leg on average adds $2,668 to the ticket cost for travel between November and December.

You can read the full report below:

Updated at 9.45pm BST

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Thursday. We are nearly done with the week – don’t worry, we can do it!

Well, vaccinations rates are rising fast in Australia’s two most populous states and, as positive is as that is, it’s causing a little bit of a headache for the new NSW premier.

Dominic Perrottet is looking down the barrel of reaching 80% of the 16 and over population being fully vaccinated less than a week after opening the state up after reaching 70%.

The government has promised that the next stage of the post-lockdown reopening will start the Monday after the state reaches 80% full vaccination among its eligible population. But whoops! Many are predicting 80% to be reached on Sunday, potentially leaving only a week between the two phases.

The government’s Covid-19 and economic recovery committee – formerly known as crisis cabinet – will on Thursday discuss postponing regional travel, given the lower vaccination coverage in rural communities.

Perrottet alluded to this yesterday:

There has been concerns raised about regional NSW when you look at those double dose vaccination rates ...

[But] we don’t make decisions on a knee-jerk reaction. We make decisions in consultation with our health and economic teams.

Down south in Victoria it looks as though reopening could be coming early as well, with the chief health officer suggesting he is open to lifting Melbourne’s lockdown before next weekend.

The state is on track to reach its 70% double vaccination target before the indicative date of 26 October, and Brett Sutton confirmed that a decision on reopening could be announced as early as this weekend.

While speaking to ABC radio yesterday, he also hinted that the home visitation ban could be lifted, which under the state’s original Covid-19 roadmap, was slated to change at 80%:

We’ve always said, if we can do more, we will do more ... We’re acutely aware of home gatherings leading to spikes and that was definitely a feature of [the AFL] grand final. They were people that didn’t normally come together ...

It’s different for families. If we can limit numbers, if we think the epidemiology looks OK, absolutely open to that as well.

OK, with all that out of the way, why don’t we jump right into the day!

Updated at 9.33pm BST

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