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Coronavirus: What we know today, June 20

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Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world.

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

KEY POINTS

Victoria reintroduces restrictions after 25 new cases

Victoria has scrapped plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions after another double-digit rise in new cases.

A total of 25 new cases have been recorded in the state on Saturday, up from 13 on Friday, 18 on Thursday and 21 on Wednesday.

Of the cases, 14 were linked to existing outbreaks, six were discovered in routine testing, one was a returned traveller, and four are still under investigation.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lifting of restrictions would be halted until July 12 while some would be tightened.

From midnight on Sunday night to July 12, household gatherings will be reduced to five people. Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to 10.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs had been set to be allowed 50 patrons at one time on Monday, up from 20 currently. But that will also be put on hold until July 12.

Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues will be allowed to reopen as promised on Monday, but will be restricted to a limit of just 20 people.

Premier Daniel Andrews broke the news on Saturday afternoon.

Andrews said more than half of the new cases since the end of April have come from family-to-family transmission.

“It is unacceptable that families anywhere in our state can, just because they want this to be over, pretend that it is,” he said.

“It is pretty clear that behind closed doors … they are not practising social distancing.”

The premier said a new “hardship” payment of $1500 would be made available to those who need to stay away from work if unwell.

Andrews said strict lockdowns, including limited travel, like those the whole state faced in recent months, could be imposed in specific local government areas to combat outbreaks.

Of thirteen new cases on Friday, up to five were linked to the Stamford Plaza hotel in Melbourne’s CBD.

Victorian health authorities believe social-distancing breaches by security guards at the hotel, used to quarantine returned travellers, may have contributed to an outbreak that has grown to seven cases.

Hundreds of hotel workers are now in quarantine across the state.

Match cancelled after AFL player tests positive for COVID-19

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has announced that Sunday’s match between Essendon and Melbourne will be delayed, after Essendon player Conor McKenna tested positive for COVID-19 on return from Ireland.

The match will be delayed until everyone in Essendon’s bubble has been cleared of the virus, but is likely to be played in the next month.

McKenna, who served 14 days of quarantine after returning from Ireland this month and is asymptomatic, will be isolated from his club.

McLachlan said he understood McKenna had tested negative multiple times before the positive result.

Essendon’s club rooms will be cleaned, and the squad and staff could potentially be put into quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to McKenna at a Saturday morning training session, with investigations ongoing into whether teammates and club officials were infected.

McLachlan would not comment on whether Essendon’s match the following weekend against Carlton will go ahead.

Labor urges clarity on small bars

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas has called on the Marshall government to provide greater support for small bars in South Australia, questioning why borders are being opened while businesses are still not able to serve locals at capacity.

Joined by small bar owners in Adelaide on Saturday, Malinauskas said the criteria for lifting restrictions needs to be revealed.

“If we are opening our borders while SA businesses are subject to restrictions that make their operations unviable – then they are entitled to know what the criteria is for those restrictions to be lifted,” he wrote on Facebook. “This would at least allow them to plan accordingly.”

Labor has proposed a $200 million tourism and hospitality fund to support these businesses, along with the waiving of council rates, the waiving of land tax, and freezing increases in taxes, fees, and charges.

Marshall responded by noting the challenges faced by small bars would be considered on Tuesday, but that restrictions would only be eased when the health advice indicated it was safe to do so.

SA considers delay of Victorian border reopening

South Australian officials are closely watching continued double-digit growth in Victorian COVID-19 cases, signalling that border restrictions may remain in place for that state alone.

SA lifted border restrictions on Queensland at midnight, and also opened up to Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory this week.

Those states and territories are yet to relax restrictions on South Australian travellers, although Queensland announced it would reopen borders on July 10 and the NT is expected to follow suit on July 17.

South Australia is scheduled to relax all interstate border restrictions from July 20, but Premier Steven Marshall noted this was only a goal.

“We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t know what level of community transmission will be in different jurisdictions around the country,” he said on Friday.

“We do have some concerns about some jurisdictions but overall we are doing well as a nation.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said South Australia needed to continue monitoring the level of community transmission in Victoria before making a decision to allow visitors.

No new cases in SA

SA Health reported on Saturday afternoon that no new cases were recorded across South Australia over the preceding 24 hours.

More than 136,000 tests have been undertaken in South Australia, with 440 cases reported in total, and none currently active.

In addition to opening the border with Queensland, South Australia also eased a number of other restrictions on Friday.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants are now allowed to cater for up to 300 people at a time, with no more than 75 people allowed in any one area, and the one person to every four square metre rule still in place.

Other changes include a move to allow dance and fitness classes to cater for up to 20 people at a time, provided they allow seven square metres for each person.

Retail staff working through pandemic last to receive pay rise

The national minimum wage will increase by 1.75 per cent to $753.80 per week, the Fair Work Commission announced on Friday after its annual wage review.

But the change will be phased in from July 1, with low-paid workers in some of the industries most affected by the pandemic to have to wait until February 1, 2021.

The affected workers include those in retail, accommodation and food services, arts and recreation, aviation and tourism, industries which represent about 35 per cent of the workforce.

Front line services personnel who have continued working during the pandemic will be the first to receive the boost, including staff in healthcare and social assistance, some teachers and child care workers.

The pay rise will be rolled out on November 1 to other industries adversely impacted by COVID-19 measures, including construction and manufacturing, which make up about 40 per cent of the workforce.

The increase is well below last year’s three per cent rise.

Peak union body the ACTU fought for a four per cent rise this year, while business groups had argued the minimum wage should be frozen until mid-2021 to enable people impacted by the coronavirus-driven downturn to find jobs.

It comes as chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum Margy Osmond says 133,000 tourism and hospitality jobs could be lost if the JobKeeper payment is not extended beyond September.

The TTF wants the subsidy to continue until March 2021, as the industry loses about $10 billion a month due to COVID-19 measures.

WHO head warns pandemic is accelerating

World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussays on Friday warned the pandemic is “accelerating”, with the highest single-day number of cases on record.

More than 150,000 cases have been reported within 24 hours, he said, nearly half of which were from the Americas and significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.

“We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that restrictive measures are still needed.

“Many people are understandably fed up with being at home (and) countries are understandably eager to open up their societies.”

But Tedros warned that measures like social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing are still critical.

Meanwhile, a study by Italy’s National Institute of Health indicated the coronavirus was in circulation in wastewater in the northern cities of Milan and Turin as of December 18, 2019 – at least two months before the virus was confirmed to have spread locally in the population.

The study was based on 40 water samples collected as part of regular checks from sewage treatment plants in northern Italy from October 2019.

Indian authorities recorded the highest one-day spike of 13,586 new cases on Friday, raising the total to 380,532.

India’s death toll reached 12,573, a rise of 336.

India stands behind the United States, Brazil and Russia in the number of cases.

More than 8.54 million people have been reported to be infected globally and 454,152​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

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

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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