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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 12

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Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world, as well as the latest health information and links to official advice.

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Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.

KEY POINTS

Nasty birthday surprise: AFL kills Port’s SANFL season

The AFL latest roadmap to playing football again has killed off Port Adelaide’s 150th anniversary season in the SANFL.

The SANFL confirmed today – the date of Port Adelaide’s birth as a club – that the AFL’s decision to ban listed players from state leagues this season meant that Port and the Crows would not be able to field SANFL teams this year.

SANFL chief executive officer Jake Parkinson said the outcome was “disappointing” for the clubs and their supporters, but at least the competition now had some clarity on its 2020 season.

“We now know it will be an eight-team SANFL competition in 2020 and we can move forward with our planning for a 14-minor round fixture to commence as soon as restrictions enable us to,” Parkinson said.

“Training starts from next Monday for the eight SANFL Clubs and we are all looking forward to getting players back on the field for 2020 SANFL competitions.”

He said consideration needed to be given to the clubs’ non-AFL listed players.

As part of a raft of rules released today, the AFL said “no AFL-listed player will be permitted to participate in a second-tier competition in 2020”.

The AFL has also ordered every listed player to be tested for COVID-19 by Friday before clubs possibly return to full contact training with complete squads next week.

The mandatory coronavirus tests are to be completed as part of the AFL’s return-to-play plan, which is still being finalised.

An official announcement on the season restart will not be made until at least Wednesday as league officials continue negotiations over training protocols with state governments.

No new cases today

SA Health reports there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in South Australia today.

There remains one active case in the state – a person who is in hospital recovering from the effects of the virus.

South Australia has had 439 reported cases, with 434 people cleared and four deaths.

Extended trading hours to continue

Treasurer Rob Lucas is using his ministerial powers to continue extended shopping hours in South Australia.

The latest move will also allow all suburban retailers – regardless of their size – to open from 9am to 9pm on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.

He said this exemption for the June 8 public holiday was unprecedented, with Queen’s Birthday trading previously allowed only for CBD and regional shops.

The exemption will coincide with the lifting of “stage 2” restrictions in South Australia.

Lucas has allowed extended trading hours throughout the pandemic, using rolling 30-day exemptions, citing SA Health advice that longer hours help facilitate social distancing.

The new 30-day exemption will apply from May 20 to June 18, allowing supermarkets to trade for 24 hours on weekdays, from 12am to 9pm on Saturdays and from 9am to 9pm on Sundays.

The moves have infuriated independent retailers, who believe longer trading hours damage their businesses to the benefit of the large national operations.

Elective surgery ramps up

The State Government will “begin to fully restore elective surgery” from midnight tomorrow.

Premier Steven Marshall said the Government believed public hospitals would be able to transition to normal elective surgery levels by early to mid-June, “as long as it remains safe to do so”.

“I want to thank those South Australians who have had their surgery postponed for their patience,” he said.

“Their surgery has been on hold, not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of the wider community in the midst of a pandemic.

“I assure everyone waiting for elective surgery that we will move as quickly as possible to reduce the backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic but it will take time.”

Govt wants to remove councils’ consultation rights

The State Government will today introduce new legislation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes an attempt to speed up infrastructure projects by reducing some local government rights.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said today the measures in the new Bill would include “removing the requirement for the State Commission Assessment Panel to consult with councils on Crown developments”.

The Bill will also include new regulations governing the relationship between commercial landlords and tenants. All of the Bill’s measures will cover the six-month period of March 30 to September 30 this year.

Chapman said the regulations will “ensure no affected commercial tenant can be evicted for non-payment of rent or outgoings, or for reducing their hours of business during this period”.

“While landlords and tenants are required to negotiate leasing arrangements in good faith, where there is a dispute, a party may seek mediation by the Small Business Commissioner,” Chapman said. “If this fails, the matter may then proceed to the Magistrates Court for a determination.”

Federal authorities warn about large groups

Australians have been warned mingling in groups or abandoning social distancing measures could spark fresh coronavirus outbreaks.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said complacency could cause major problems as state governments gradually ease restrictions on the economy and society.

Health officials have been concerned after images emerged of thousands flocking to shopping centres after restrictions on non-essential retail were lifted in some states.

Kidd said a strong commitment to staying 1.5 metres away from other people needed to be maintained.

Hand hygiene and people with symptoms staying home are also crucial to stopping the spread of the disease.

Source: Federal Department of Health

Treasurer to provide economic picture

Parliament will sit on Tuesday for three days, with the treasurer to provide an economic update.

The government says the economy could grow by $9.4 billion each month once all states have reached the third stage of reopening.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says shutting the economy for too long gives rise to health implications other than coronavirus, such as mental illness and domestic violence.

“We can’t just see this as a binary trade-off that it’s the economy or health,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.

“We need to have a healthy country, which means people are in jobs, people are in schools, people are earning incomes and contributing to society.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed speculation the government’s $1500 fortnightly wage subsidies could be scaled back or scrapped early.

The JobKeeper program is legislated to run for six months but faces a review in June.

“We are six weeks into a six-month program,” Morrison said.

“The impact of the virus, how it will impact on Australia in the months ahead with a reopening economy is very much a work in progress. That’s why we’ve put this six-month lifeline in place.”

The Federal Government will also use the sitting week to pass laws creating harsh penalties for data breaches surrounding the COVIDSafe app.

More than 5.5 million people have downloaded and registered for the contact tracing program.

Disease detectives completed training on Monday, paving the way for them to start using the data to help trace infections.

Early access to superannuation has been restored after the government paused the program because of fraud concerns.

UK’s back-to-work plan includes homemade masks

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a plan to get the nation back to work, including advice on wearing homemade face coverings.

However, his attempt to lift the coronavirus lockdown prompted confusion and even satire.

“Our challenge now is to find a way forward that preserves our hard-won gains while easing the burden of lockdown,” Johnson told the British parliament on Monday.

“This is a supremely difficult balance.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said the government had been issuing conflicting guidance that did not answer the public’s practical questions about going back to work.

“What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance, but at the moment both are in pretty short supply,” he said.

Having refused for several weeks to give any indication of how it planned to start relaxing the lockdown, the government opted for a gradual release of information over 24 hours, starting with a solemn televised address by Johnson on Sunday.

On Monday, the government published a 51-page document entitled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”, followed by a series of sector-by-sector documents offering guidance to employers and workers.

The plan includes a staged undertaking to allow businesses to reopen, advice on avoiding public transport and wearing face coverings as well as a 14-day quarantine for most international arrivals.

“It is likely that COVID-19 will circulate in the human population long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics,” the plan said.

“In the near future, large epidemic waves cannot be excluded without continuing some measures.”

But a wide range of critics said the details were nebulous and did not help people to know whether they should go back to work, how they would get there and how they could stay safe in the workplace.

Adding to the confusion, the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland made clear they did not share Johnson’s approach and rejected his new core message, “stay alert”, instead sticking to the previous “stay at home” slogan.

OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION

Local updates and resources

State Government central information

SA Health

Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.

National advice and information

Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080

Government information via WhatsApp: click here

Travel

Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au

Check your symptoms

Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

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