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- SA marks 20 days of no new cases
- Zoos set to reopen
- Federal Govt wants “fast-tracked” environmental approvals to boost economy
- Funding and finding vaccine best way to boost economy: poll
- Key dates for national easing of restrictions
- Australian and global toll
No new SA cases in 20 days
South Australia today recorded 20 days straight of no new COVID-19 cases, according to SA Health.
More than 126,000 tests have now been undertaken across the state.
SA zoos to reopen
The Adelaide Zoo will reopen next week after State Government moved to increase the number of people allowed into large venues under COVID-19 restrictions.
The city zoo will open on June 22 followed by the Monarto Safari Park on June 29.
The government’s changes on patron numbers take effect from June 19, which effectively allow venues to cater for up to 300 people, so long as they are divided among four groups of no more than 75.
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said it had been almost 90 days since the facilities had closed because of the pandemic.
“Naturally, we will have a number of measures in place to ensure everyone’s safety including the necessity to pre-purchase tickets online so that we can keep within the SA Government’s guidelines and monitor the number of visitors on any given day,” she said.
“In addition to helping us manage capacity, this will allow us to easily trace and contact people in the event of a COVID-19 related incident.”
Bensted said social distancing measures would apply throughout the zoo’s outdoor and indoor areas.
All indoor areas would also comply with the four square metre per person requirements.
PM wants 30-day environment approvals
Environmental approvals for major projects should take 30 days to complete, Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes.
Approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act took 90 days on average at the end of last year, and take 40 days now.
Morrison has set a 30-day target in the hope it’s achieved by the end of the year.
“According to departmental estimates, delays associated with these approvals alone cost industry over $300 million just in 2019 and that’s not good enough,” he told an economic forum in Canberra on Monday.
Environmental assessments occur before it’s decided if approval is given.
The assessment time currently takes three and a half years on average, which the government wants to reduce to 21 months.
EPBC Act approvals are currently in addition to any state or local council processes.
But Morrison wants to streamline the approvals into one, which will be discussed by national cabinet.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley says fast-tracked approvals won’t impinge on environmental safeguards.
Fifteen major projects will be fast-tracked for approvals in a bid to help with the recovery from coronavirus.
The EPBC Act is currently under review, with an interim report expected this month.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young says easing environmental protections will hurt the environment, with the current laws resulting in the loss of one million hectares of critical koala habitat.
“Rio Tinto was able to blast away 46,000 years of indigenous heritage. Water catchments for Sydney have been polluted by dirty coal mines,” she said.
“Using COVID-19 as an excuse to scrap environmental protections is an act of bastardry. Most Australians want better protection for the environment, not less.”
New infrastructure projects
Also today, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled some of the first infrastructure projects he says will help revive the post-COVID economy.
“I am committing a further $1.5 billion to immediately start work on small priority projects identified by the states and territories,” he said.
“As part of this package, $1 billion will be allocated to priority projects which are shovel-ready, with $500 million reserved specifically to target road safety works.”
Morrison said joint assessment teams would work on accelerating the projects worth more than $72 billion in public and private investment, and supporting more than 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The priority list of projects includes the inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane; the Marinus undersea electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria; the Olympic Dam extension in South Australia; emergency town water projects in NSW; and road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia.
Further announcements on specific projects will be made soon.
“Our number one priority is getting people back into jobs, And they need to be real, productive jobs. Jobs that produce goods and services that people want,” he will say.
But he is also calling on the states to cut red tape and unions and businsses to work together to increase productivity.
“All levels of government, business and the community must rethink how these systems can better contribute to our recovery from the pandemic,” Morrison will say.
“We need to bring the same common sense and cooperation we showed fighting COVID-19 to unlocking infrastructure investment in the recovery.”
Finding vaccine best way to boost economy: poll
Most Australians believe boosting funding to find a coronavirus vaccine or treatment is the best way to support the economy.
More than 3200 Australians were asked about the government’s coronavirus response policies, and which ones would best solve economic woes.
Three quarters said increasing funding for a vaccine or treatment would make the most difference.
Study co-author Matthew Gray from the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research Methods isn’t surprised.
“If a vaccine or effective treatment can be found then it would enable the world to open up again,” he said.
“The problem is there is no guarantee of a cure being found and if one is found how quickly this will happen.”
Scientists around the globe are rushing to find a vaccine for coronavirus, which is expected to take about 18 months.
Trials for potentials vaccines have begun in Australia and overseas.
After vaccine funding, Australians think opening up pubs, clubs and cafes will best support the economy.
Extending JobKeeper wage subsidies and boosting JobSeeker dole payments beyond their September expiry was the third most supported measure.
Greens and Labor voters were most supportive of this, while coalition voters were the least.
NSW, Victoria chart path out of restrictions
NSW will scrap a 50-person limit at indoor venues, including pubs and restaurants, from July 1 and move to the one person per four square metres rule.
The state’s cap on funeral attendances has been lifted, effective immediately.
Health authorities are continuing to investigate how a teacher at a southern Sydney primary school contracted coronavirus.
Laguna Street Public School has been shut until June 24, with all of its students told to learn from home and self-isolate.
In Victoria, patrons will be able to drink in pubs and clubs without having to order a meal from next week.
The venues will be allowed to host up to 50 people, as will cafe and restaurants.
Meanwhile, border restrictions have altered in the Northern Territory, with interstate arrivals now allowed to quarantine for a fortnight at a place of their choice instead of government-run facilities.
Key dates for lifting restrictions
* JUNE 15 – The NT will lift mandatory hotel stays for interstate arrivals undergoing 14-day quarantine
* JUNE 17 – Tasmania to ease indoor and outdoor venue restrictions, weddings and funerals, allowing up to 80 people and 20 visitors to homes.
* JUNE 19 – South Australia to ease patron limits at pubs, restaurants and other venues to 300 maximum.
* JUNE 22 – The ski season starts in Victoria and NSW. Victoria to also ease limits from 20 to 50 people at restaurants and cafes, pubs, outdoor hobbies, community facilities and swimming pools.
* JUNE 29 – SA to move to stage three of lifting virus restrictions
* JULY 1 – NSW resumes community sport and will scrap a 50-person cap on indoor venues
* JULY 10 – Queensland to reopen borders dependent on case numbers
* JULY 20 – SA to reopen borders
* LATE JULY – Tasmania likely to open its borders
Australian coronavirus toll
* Australia has recorded 7320 cases with only 380 still active and no cases in SA, Tasmania or the NT. Only three people remain in intensive care across the nation.
* The national death toll is 102: NSW 50, Victoria 19, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Qld residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states).
* Cases: at least 7,787,271
* Deaths: at least 430,139
* Recovered: at least 4,044,230
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
State Government central information
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
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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