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What we know today, Friday August 28

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Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Follow this post for live updates through the day.

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Gatherings on up as restrictions ease

House parties can increase to 50 people and the bridal waltz is able to return to weddings as coronavirus restrictions ease across South Australia from today.

Under the changes, people living or working 40 kilometres each side of the border with Victoria and 50km from the NSW border will be allowed to come and go but will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.

The Victorian buffer zone was dropped last week, closing SA off to everyone except essential travellers.

The eased restrictions also mean that social clubs are no longer required to have a COVID Marshal but businesses that allow takeaway food and/or beverages to be consumed on the premises must now have a COVID Safe Plan and COVID Marshal.

Examples of this include a deli, a fast food outlet or a small takeaway outlet such as a pizza store or fish and chip shop.

South Australia has only recorded one new COVID-19 case in the past 11 days.

Premier Steven Marshall said the easing of restrictions comes after the remaining virus cases in regional areas close to South Australia were cleared.

“We’ve always said we wanted to remove that restriction the very second that we could,” he said.

“It has been an enormous imposition on those border communities. We apologise for the inconvenience and frustration.”

In other changes now in place, people travelling to SA from Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania who transit through the Sydney or Canberra airports will no longer need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Home gatherings in SA can also increase from up to 10 guests to a maximum of 50 people including residents, providing the density requirements of one person per two square metres is adhered to.

The restrictions have also been updated to allow the persons being wed at a wedding ceremony or reception one dance at a relevant licensed premises.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in SA today.

Only one of the state’s 463 total coronavirus cases is still considered active.

A dozen more deaths recorded as Vic virus case numbers stabilise

Victoria has had another 12 coronavirus deaths, taking the state toll to 497 and the national figure to 584.

There were 113 new cases today for the second day in a row.

The latest figures come with Victorians warned the state must return to lowered rates of infection not seen since early July before Premier Daniel Andrews spells out how restrictions will be eased.

The daily case number has been below 150 for the past five days.

Most key statistics are showing the worst of Victoria’s second outbreak is over and there is growing anticipation about lifting some restrictions.

Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown and the stage-three rules for regional Victoria are due to end on September 13.

But Mr Andrews insists it is too early to go into detail about returning to some semblance of normality, only saying a roadmap will be made public “soon”.

Instead, the government and health authorities want to see daily case numbers drop further.

Thursday’s figure was the lowest since the July 5 tally of 74 – also the last time it was below 100.

“At 100-plus cases a day, we cannot open up right now,” Mr Andrews said.

“As painful and as challenging as this is, I think (Victorians) understand that fact.”

Victoria is in the depths of lockdown fatigue, with police vowing to end daily protests that have happened this week in suburban Dandenong.

But data from the Coroners Court shows the Victorian suicide rate has not increased so far this year, despite concerns about the toll COVID-19 and lockdowns are taking on mental health.

A Roy Morgan poll released on Thursday also showed a large majority of Victorians support government restrictions such as mandatory mask wearing and Melbourne’s 8pm-5am curfew.

Three killed in Victorian storms

A four-year-old boy is among three people killed by falling trees after wild weather lashed Victoria.

Victoria Police confirmed the boy died after being struck by a tree in Blackburn South on Thursday evening.

A 36-year-old woman also died after a tree hit the ute she was a passenger in along the Maroondah Highway in Fernshaw around 7pm.

The 24-year-old male driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

In another incident, a 59-year-old man died after a tree fell on his car as he was leaving a shopping centre in Belgrave.

Police are preparing coroner’s reports for all three incidents.

Emergency services received more than 1000 calls for help during the wild storms, after a severe weather warning forecast wind gusts of up to 158 kilometres per hour.

Coronavirus creeps to Sydney’s north as QLD prisons remain in lockdown

The spread of COVID-19 in NSW is creeping into Sydney’s north, with a swathe of venues from Manly to the Central Coast closing their doors for cleaning and contact tracing.

There were nine new COVID-19 cases in the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday from more than 30,000 tests, with all cases locally acquired from known sources.

NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty issued health alerts for a number of new venues including six in Sydney’s north as a cluster at a gym in Sydney’s CBD grows from three to eight people.

Meanwhile, thousands of Queensland prisoners potentially exposed to COVID-19 remain locked in their cells until health officials are sure the disease hasn’t spread.

About 7000 inmates from the central coast to the southeast of the state have been quarantined after a corrective services trainer was diagnosed with the virus.

The man, 60, didn’t work in a prison but trained 14 prison officer recruits and came into contact with 11 other staff in the days before he was diagnosed.

“We’ve taken the very cautious step in concert with advice from Queensland Health to move to stage four, which is extreme isolation,” Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin said yesterday.

The lockdown limits movement in and out of correctional facilities.

Prisoners are confined to cells and receive no personal or professional visits. Staff who interact with them will wear protective clothing.

Teenaged girls most vulnerable to sexual assault

Young females in their late teens are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than other Australians, and young males of the same age group are most likely to be recorded as perpetrators, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Sexual assault in Australia, brings together data from a variety of sources and includes new analysis to paint a picture of what is known about sexual violence in Australia. It builds on the AIHW’s previous work exploring the impact of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.

In 2018, police recorded about 18,300 sexual assaults against victims who were aged 15 and over. This is about 90 reported sexual assaults per 100,000 Australians aged 15 and over. The rate of sexual assaults reported to police was almost seven times higher for female victims as males, with more than 154.4 assaults per 100,000 females, compared with about 23.5 per 100,000 males.

The sexual assault rate was higher for those aged 15–19 (455.0 per 100,000) than any other age group.

This was true for both females (840.1 per 100,000) and males (86.7 per 100,000).

“Victims can experience physical injury, but also many other, ongoing effects, such as fear, anxiety, and changes to their sleep, diet and social routines, as well as their ability to work,” AIHW spokesperson Louise York said.

US economy in free fall

The US economy shrank at an alarming annual rate of 31.7 per cent during the April-June quarter as it struggled under the weight of the viral pandemic, the government has estimated.

It was the sharpest quarterly drop on record.

The Commerce Department on Thursday downgraded its earlier estimate of the US gross domestic product last quarter, finding that the devastation was slightly less than the 32.9 per cent annualised contraction it had estimated at the end of July.

The previous worst quarterly drop since record-keeping began in 1947 was a 10 per cent annualised loss in 1958.

Last quarter, businesses shuttered and millions of workers lost jobs as the world’s largest economy went into lockdown mode in what succeeded only fitfully in limiting the spread of reported viral infections.

A bounce-back in hiring as many businesses reopened suggested that the economy began to recover in June with third quarter growth estimated to be around 20 per cent annualised.

But economists say a full recovery remains far off given that the virus has yet to be contained and the government’s financial support has faded.

Unemployment is still high at 10.2 per cent, and roughly 1 million people are applying for jobless aid each week even as the amount of aid they receive has shrunk. Consumer confidence has tumbled.

Though the stock market and home sales are surging, the broader economy shows signs of stalling, and millions face potential evictions from their homes.

Powerful Hurricane Laura leaves six dead in its wake

Hurricane Laura has torn through Louisiana, killing six people and flattening buildings across a wide swatch of the state before moving into Arkansas with heavy rain.

Laura’s powerful gusts uprooted trees and four people were crushed to death in separate incidents of trees falling on homes. The state’s department of health said late on Thursday that two more fatalities were attributed to the hurricane – a man who drowned while aboard a sinking boat and a man who had carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator in his home.

The hurricane’s first reported US fatality was a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, Louisiana, who died when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Residents of Lake Charles heard Laura’s winds howling and the sound of breaking glass as the storm passed through the city of 78,000 with winds of 137 km per hour and gusts up to 206 kph in the hour after landfall.

The windows of the city’s 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out, street signs were toppled and pieces of wooden fence and debris from collapsed buildings lay scattered in the streets, video footage on Twitter and Snapchat showed.

Laura made landfall just before 1am local time as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 240 kph in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

It rapidly weakened to a Category 2 storm on Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 160 kph and was forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.

Court names murder accused

The man accused of murdering his son and his son’s partner in South Australia’s South East can now be named, after a suppression order lapsed.

Pawel Klosowski, 46, appeared in Mt Gambier Magistrates Court on Monday charged with two counts of murder.

But the magistrate imposed a suppression order on his identity for 72 hours.

Lukasz Klosowski and Chelsea Ireland, both 19, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds after police were called to Klosowski’s Mount McIntyre property on Saturday night.

Police said on Sunday that the young couple, both from Adelaide, appeared to be visiting for a family event.

Delayed Tour de France to begin tomorrow

This year’s Tour de France starts in Nice tomorrow, two months later than planned and amid unprecedented health measures due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

France was one of the European countries worst hit by the coronavirus, with more than 30,000 deaths, mostly between March and mid-May.

Four staff members of Australian rider Caleb Ewan’s the Lotto-Soudal team have been sent away from the tour after two of them tested positive for coronavirus.

“After a PCR test, specific to SARS-Cov-2, revealed two non-negative cases, Team Lotto-Soudal decided to send home two staff people, as well as their roommates. Safety remains priority number one,” the Belgium-based Lotto-Soudal said.

The team members are a mechanic and a caretaker.

Lotto Soudal told Reuters they would be quickly replaced as almost all their staff had been undergoing regular coronavirus tests, meaning they can enter the Tour “bubble” quickly.

Tour organisers clung as long as possible to their planned start date of June 27, but in April, weeks into France’s strict 55-day lockdown, they bowed to the inevitable and postponed it to August.

The French lockdown, and similar measures in many other countries, have also had their impact on the cyclists.

Many were forced to spend the spring and early summer training indoors instead of getting out on the roads as they would usually do at that time of year.

And the build-up to the Tour has been marred by a series of bad accidents at the traditional warm-up race of the Criterium du Dauphine as well as other events.

Once the Tour gets started, strict health rules will be applied to prevent any outbreak of the virus among the racers.

Any team that has two members tested positive for the coronavirus within a seven-day period will be excluded from the race, according to organisers.

Spectators meanwhile can expect to be rigorously held to increasingly strict hygiene rules being implemented around France, which has recorded a new uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks.

Masks have already been obligatory in all public places in Nice since last week.

Big-hitting Irishman smashes own car

Big-hitting Irish cricketer Kevin O’Brien managed to smash the windscreen of his own car with a huge six in a domestic T20 match in Dublin overnight.

O’Brien, who cracked the fastest hundred in World Cup history in a victory against England in 2011, hit eight sixes in his 82 from 37 balls for Leinster Lightning against North-West Warriors at Pembroke Cricket Club.

However, one of the 36-year-old’s maximum blows had the unintended consequence of shattering the window of his own vehicle in the adjacent car park.

Cricket Ireland highlighted the damage on its Twitter account although O’Brien had the consolation of helping Leinster to victory.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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