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What we know today, Monday September 7


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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Victorian infections dive as curfew extension sinks in

Victoria has announced the lowest number of new coronavirus infections today in more than 10 weeks as Victorians prepare for an extra seven weeks of lockdowns

Nine more deaths from coronavirus were announced this morning, taking the state toll to 675 and the national figure to 762.

But there was some good news for the state, with new case numbers dropping significantly to 41 – the lowest daily case number since June 26.

Monday’s figures come as Victorian small business rails against the government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, with Melbourne under stage-four measures for another fortnight.

A broader state-wide reopening is still months away, but Victorian deputy premier James Merlino said the government is doing all it can to have the economy moving again in a COVID-safe way.

Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said owners are struggling under the weight of costs, including rent, equipment leases, loans and accumulation of worker entitlements.

“What small businesses are telling us is that they are giving up,” she told Nine’s Today program this morning.

“For many of them, they are not going to be open until the end of November.”

Merlino said the worst thing the government could do for business was open up and then a few weeks later reimpose restrictions because of a third wave.

“You’ve got to get the (infection) numbers down … and once we do that then we can have a much broader reopening of our economy,” he told ABC radio.

The Victorian Government yesterday announced Melbourne’s stage four restrictions will remain for another fortnight, although from September 14 the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm and run until 5am.

People living alone will also be able to nominate a friend or family member who can visit, while two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including social interactions such as picnics in parks or reading books at the beach.

The curfew won’t be lifted until October 26, with people able to leave home for non-essential reasons.

The lockdown will only lift on that date if the average number of new cases falls below five and there are fewer than five unknown source cases.

Up to five visitors from a nominated household and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will also be allowed.

“We can’t run out of lockdown … I want a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible and this is the only way,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.

He added the nominated 14-day average of five cases provided a 97 per cent chance of avoiding having to go back into lockdown.

Victoria’s average daily number of cases during the previous 14 days was about 100.

The last step will come into effect from November 23, if Victoria goes 14 days with no new cases, allowing public gatherings up to 50 people and 20 home visitors at a time.

All remaining restrictions will be removed when Victoria goes 28 days with no new cases, although masks will likely remain compulsory for some time.

But regional Victoria will be able to move to the third step of restrictions “quite soon”.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 63 new cases and five more deaths.

Kyrgios takes shot at Djokovic after shock disqualification

Controversial Aussie tennis player Nick Kyrgios has weighed into the debate after World No.1 Novak Djokovic was sensationally booted out of the US Open for hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a tennis ball this morning.

Once suspended from the tour after falling foul of officialdom one too many times, Kyrgios took to Twitter to start a poll to determine what fans thought his punishment would have been for committing such an offence.

“Swap me for jokers incident. ‘Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat’ how many years would I be banned for?” asked the sport’s most polarising figure.

“5? 10? 20?”

One respondent said Kyrgios would get a life ban.

The Australian boycotted the US Open, saying officials were “selfish” for forging ahead with the grand slam during COVID-19 and claiming Djokovic, the former head of the players’ association, failed his peers by contesting the major.

The disqualification was a stunning end to Djokovic’s bid for an 18th grand slam title and his 26-0 start to this season.

The top seed had just lost a game to Carreno Busta, to fall behind 6-5 in the first set.

As he walked to the sideline for the changeover, Djokovic smacked a ball behind him.

The ball hit a female line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court.

After a discussion of several minutes with officials on court, Djokovic walked over to shake hands with Carreno Busta, and the default was announced.

The first 2020 loss for Djokovic’s has blown the Open wide open, ensuring a first-time champion will be crowned next Monday morning, possibly even 21-year-old Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur.

While some thought Djokovic’s disqualification was harsh, most agreed it was the only outcome.

“Players have been defaulted for less,” said South Australian super-coach and ESPN commentator Darren Cahill.

Tennis legend Billie-Jean King concurred.

“The rule is the rule. It is unfortunate for everyone involved, but in this specific situation the default was the right call,” the 12-times grand slam champion tweeted.

But the world No.1 was not without sympathy, including from several of his rivals who stand to benefit from the Serb’s ejection.

“I think the supervisors and all them are just doing their job, but very unlucky for Novak,” said fifth seed Alexander Zverev, who could have run into Djokovic in the semi-finals.

“If it would have landed anywhere else – we’re talking a few inches – he would have been fine.”

Zverev’s quarter-final opponent, Croatian Borna Coric, who contracted coronavirus like Djokovic after appearing at the Serb’s ill-fated Adria Tour charity tournament in July, said: “I feel sorry for him”.

“At the same time, you know, that’s the rules. I think he needed to be defaulted,” Coric said after ousting Australian Jordan Thompson on Monday.

“Again, I do feel sorry for him. He’s my friend. Obviously I think nobody’s happy that that happened.”

Djokovic took to social media to apologise, saying he needed to evolve as a human being.

But four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman, once disqualified himself for hitting a ball girl at The All England Club, said the top seed should have fronted up to the media first rather than drive away from Flushing Meadows without explaining himself.

“Unfortunately he’s compounding the error,” Henman said.

“He needs to face up to it, apologise and accept he made a mistake.”

Meanwhile, Aussie Jordan Thompson’s career-best grand slam run has come to end with a straight-sets fourth-round US Open loss to Croatian Borna Coric.

Thompson bowed out with a 7-5 6-1 6-3 defeat at Flushing Meadows this morning.

The 26-year-old’s departure leaves Alex de Minaur, who plays unseeded Canadian Vasek Pospisil on Tuesday for a place in the quarter-finals, as the last Australian alive in the singles in New York.

Despite the loss, Thompson will head to the French Open starting later this month with renewed belief and $US250,000 richer following his breakout effort.

Air search for missing SA yacht

Police and RAAF aircraft are working together to search for a boat missing in waters south of Port Lincoln.

The 30-foot boat named Margrel with identification number RF83S left Coffin Bay with two men aboard about 3pm on Thursday bound for Goolwa, with a stopover planned at Victor Harbor.

A friend of the men notified police yesterday when she had not heard from them since 11pm on Friday night, when they were halfway between Coffin Bay and Kangaroo Island, where they had diverted towards due to engine trouble.

Yesterday, Sunday 6, the friend of the men, aged 57 and 48-years, notified police as she had not heard from them again, sparking a police search.

SAPOL’s Water Operations Unit, Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR) recommenced the search this morning with two Challenger Aircraft currently in the search area. A Poseidon from the RAAF will also be assisting later today.

Anyone who sees the missing boat is urged to call police.

Hot, dry winds lash state

A severe weather warning is in place across South Australia’s coastal regions for potentially damaging winds.

A low-pressure trough will move across the state today, bringing wind gusts of up to 90 km/h.

Locations that may be affected include Port Lincoln, Mount Gambier, Ceduna, Maitland, Kingscote and Victor Harbor.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the conditions will produce areas of raised dust particularly in the southeast and the far northeast.

Adelaide is likely to miss the worst of the weather.

Temperatures will also jump ahead of a cool change with the city expected to have a top of 31C ahead of a cooler 19C on Tuesday.

The mercury will climb even higher in some regional centres with Ceduna expected to reach 36C, Wudinna and Nullarbor both 35C.

Vanstone presses on with MP allowances investigation

South Australia’s new Independent Commissioner Against Corruption says she will continue to investigate a controversial allowance paid to some state MPs, and has secured a promise from three at the centre of the inquiry to provide information.

Ann Vanstone took over as ICAC commissioner last week, replacing Bruce Lander.

Lander had begun an investigation into the country members’ accommodation allowance paid to country MPs who are forced to stay in Adelaide for parliamentary business.

After a recent check on claims, a number of MPs repaid money while two ministers, Tim Whetstone and Stephan Knoll, quit the Liberal government cabinet because of errors they made.

The ICAC investigation includes the claims made by three government MPs, former upper house president Terry Stephens, Fraser Ellis and Adrian Pederick.

All three were asked to produce material by Lander, but initially declined, questioning whether the documents would be covered by parliamentary privilege.

Vanstone said she had written to each of them to tell them she would continue the investigation but that she has withdrawn notices issued last month for them to produce relevant material.

“However, I asked that each of them voluntarily provide a narrower group of documents,” she said in a statement today.

“In the cases of Mr Stephens and Mr Pederick the documents I sought relate to proof of their places of residence at relevant times.

“For Mr Ellis, the documents go to his incurring actual expenditure during nights he stayed in Adelaide and also to demonstrate a requirement that he be in Adelaide on the occasions when claims were made.”

Vanstone said the solicitors for all three MPs had advised that they would provide the documents as soon as practicable.

Dancing Tigers fined for COVID breach

The Glenelg Football Club has been fined more than $5000 after video footage was posted on social media showing patrons at a club function drinking and dancing.

Police became aware of vision clearly showing a group of about 20 people dancing, drinking alcohol while standing and failing to socially distance at the club on Saturday night.

Officers from the Licencing Enforcement Branch met with club management on Sunday morning, issuing them a $5060 fine.

There were also reports of $5060 fines handed to a club in Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs and a licensed venue in the city for COVID-19 protocol breaches on Saturday night.

In a statement on its website, Glenelg Football Club said the alleged breach took place at a private player and partner function.

“Whilst this was an isolated incident, the Club understands that as a key stakeholder in the football community, we must set and maintain high standards of compliance,” the statement said.

“The club values all of the hard work SAPOL and SA Health are doing to keep our community safe and will use this event to further educate our people.”

West Terrace bashing victim dies

Charges are expected to be upgraded today after a man bashed in the city on August 28 died from his injuries.

The 24-year-old was dropped off at Royal Adelaide Hospital with serious head injuries on the night of August 28 following the attack by up to four men in the Adelaide High School car park on West Terrace.

The man died in hospital on Saturday.

A 23-year-old Adelaide man was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm, which is now expected to be upgraded.

Detectives believe the victim may have visited the Welland Shopping Centre car park earlier on August 28.

Anyone who has dashcam footage or who may have seen suspicious activity at the centre or the school is urged to contact police.

Morrison unveils vaccine plan

British and Queensland-designed coronavirus vaccines could be available early next year under two deals struck by the federal government at a cost of $1.7 billion.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to today announce a free COVID-19 vaccine would be made available progressively through 2021, should promising trials prove successful.

The Oxford vaccine is tipped to be available from early 2021 while the University of Queensland version is on track for midyear.

It follows the government’s initial “letter of intent” signed with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, and talks with the University of Queensland/CSL.

The Federal Opposition was critical of the earlier promises by the government, saying they did not amount to a fully-fledged agreement that Australians could rely on.

More than 84.8 million vaccine doses would be manufactured, primarily in Melbourne.

“By securing the production and supply agreements, Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a safe and effective vaccine, should it pass late-stage testing,” Morrison said.

“There are no guarantees that these vaccines will prove successful. However, the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”

The first stage of the agreement would see 3.8 million doses of the University of Oxford vaccine delivered in January and February 2021.

Both agreements will also allow for doses to be provided to Australia’s partner countries in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is in the third phase of trials and is considered one of the best hopes in the world, with regulatory approval expected to be sought shortly.

UQ has recently announced that pre-clinical testing showed the vaccine is promising and already effective in animal models.

Experts believe the vaccination of at least two-thirds of the population will be required to have a chance of halting the spread of COVID-19.

Aussies go 2-0 down in T20 series

Australia has stumbled to a Twenty20 series loss to England in Southampton, where a poor start with the bat proved decisive in a six-wicket defeat.

Aaron Finch won the toss then watched his side crumble to 3-30 at the end of the fifth over, when Steve Smith took off for a single that was never there and was found well short of his ground by Eoin Morgan’s direct hit.

Finch (40), Marcus Stoinis (35) and Glenn Maxwell (26) helped the tourists scrap together a total of 7-157, but Jos Buttler (77 not out) made a mockery of that target in 18.5 overs.

Buttler and Dawid Malan shared an 87-run stand, with the former securing victory in authoritative fashion when he danced down the pitch and slapped a delivery from Adam Zampa back over the legspinner’s head for six.

The T20 series finale starts at 3am AEST on Wednesday, with the rivals then shifting to Manchester for a three-match ODI series.

England, currently second in the International Cricket Council’s T20 rankings, will dethrone Australia and claim top spot on the table if they win the series 3-0.

UK virus cases surge to three-month high

Nearly 3000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the UK in the largest daily figure since May, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitting the rise is “concerning”.

Government figures show there have been a further 2,988 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK as of Sunday morning.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 347,152.

Sunday’s figure is the highest since May 22 when 3,287 cases were recorded, and is also the first 24-hour period when cases passed 2,000 since the end of May.

The tally was an increase on Saturday’s figures of 1,813 new cases.

Scotland recorded 208 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase in positive tests for more than 17 weeks.

The last time more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Scotland was May 8, when there were 225 new cases of infection.

Hancock told Sky News the spike in cases was predominantly among younger people.

“But we’ve seen in other countries across the world and in Europe this sort of rise in the cases amongst younger people leading to a rise across the population as a whole,” he said.

“It’s so important that people don’t allow this illness to infect their grandparents and to lead to the sorts of problems that we saw earlier in the year.”

Despite the sharp increase in cases, the number of deaths has not increased in kind.

On Sunday, the Government said 41,551 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday, an increase of two on the day before.

Boats sink at Trump campaign event

Five boats have sunk during a nautical parade in support of President Donald Trump in Texas, but no-one was injured.

Boaties began calling for help “almost immediately” after the procession for Mr Trump’s re-election got under way on a lake west of Austin on Saturday, according to Kristen Dark, of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies ultimately responded to 15 distress calls and received three other reports of boats taking on water.

Images of the event show the water of Lake Travis choppy with the wakes of dozens of boats flying American, Texas and Trump 2020 flags.

Dark said that weather on the roughly 7,690-hectare lake was calm, but that the tightly packed boats created large waves in areas.

Deputies have found no evidence of foul play, she said.

The first call for help came at 12.15pm, and later distress calls were for boats taking on water, stalled engines and capsizing.

Three of the boats that sank were towed to shore, while the other two were still at the bottom of the lake.

– with AAP and Reuters

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