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What we know today, Wednesday July 7


The NSW government has announced 27 new local COVID-19 cases this morning as it confirms a plan to extend the coronavirus lockdown by a week in Greater Sydney and surrounds.

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New cases force Sydney lockdown extension

The coronavirus lockdown in Greater Sydney and surrounds will be extended by a week after NSW recorded 27 new local COVID-19 cases.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the stay-at-home orders for Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast will now end at midnight on July 16, rather than this Friday.

“This decision wasn’t taken lightly,” she told reporters this morning.

“This Delta strain is a game-changer – it is extremely transmissible and more contagious than any other form of the virus that we’ve seen,” the premier said.

School students due to return from holidays next week will mostly learn from home, but schools will be open for children of essential workers.

On the current timetable, schools across NSW will return to full face-to-face learning on July 19.

Of the 27 new local COVID-19 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, only 13 were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period.

Berejiklian confirmed the attention of health authorities was shifting to the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas amid a surge in cases in Sydney’s southwest.

NSW announced 18 new cases yesterday and 35 cases on Monday.

Queensland records one new case as Vic, NT restrictions ease

Queensland has recorded one new locally-acquired case of COVID-19 as government hopes grow that the state’s five outbreaks are under control.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the new case in Tarragindi, in Brisbane’s south, is a contact of a known case and was already in-home quarantine.

She says the case emerged after 16,336 tests across the state in the 24-hours to 9am on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, mask rules will ease in workplaces, dancefloors can make a comeback and crowds can increase at stadiums and theatres in Melbourne.

The easing comes after Victoria recorded its first full week of no COVID-19 community transmission since its fourth lockdown.

Victoria on Wednesday recorded zero new local cases and no new cases acquired overseas.

The virus-free week means Melbourne can now have the same COVID restriction settings as regional Victoria.

From 11.59pm Thursday, masks will still be required indoors and at work if there is interaction with the public. But office and factory workers will no longer need face coverings.

Stadiums can have 75 per cent crowd capacity, or up to 40,000 people outdoors and 7500 indoors, and theatres can also open to 75 per cent capacity.

Dancefloors will also be allowed to reopen, capped at 50 people.

But gatherings of people in the home remain capped at 15 people.

Face masks and COVID-19 social distancing health rules are also set to be eased in Darwin and Alice Springs.

Other health restrictions to be relaxed on Friday include a 10-person limit on the number of people permitted at private residences.

Patrons won’t be required to sit down at hospitality venues and indoor exercise venues, such as gyms, and markets will reopen.

Details of North South Corridor tunnels revealed

A purpose-built site in Clovelly Park will be the launch location for two tunnel-boring machines that will dig the four-kilometre-long tunnels as part of the North South Corridor, the State Government has announced.

The Torrens to Darlington Project is the final piece of the 78-kilometre non-stop motorway between Gawler and Old Noarlunga.

The “southern laydown area” for the tunnel boring has been revealed at a site near the Tonsley Boulevard in Clovelly Park.

Transport Minister Corey Wingard said property acquisitions have started in the area where the tunnel boring will take place.

“When we announced this project we made a commitment to let the community know as soon as possible, when activities would begin in particular locations and which properties were likely to be impacted,” Wingard said.

“When we know, you’ll know and as soon as we get certainty on elements of the Reference Design, we’ll be engaging with impacted land owners directly, before information is shared with the broader public.

“By announcing that we’ve started property acquisitions in the southern laydown area, we’re ensuring everyone who has a stake in this project and in the local community is aware of the progress that’s been made and how the next steps will play out.”

The transport minister said the State Government’s plan for the overall project will require the acquisition of 390 properties.

Last month, the State Budget revealed the cost of the Torrens to Darlington stage of the project had blown out by $1 billion to $9.9 billion.

This was due to updated plans for the tunnels which included increasing the number of lanes from two to three to accommodate greater traffic volumes than first predicted.

The project is expected to be completed in 2028.

Stabbing in Adelaide’s south

Police are investigating an altercation between a group of people at Christie Downs on Tuesday evening after one man was taken to hospital with stab wounds and another with assault injuries.

SA Police say emergency services were called to an oval off Flaxmill Road in Christie Downs around 5:15pm on Tuesday following reports of altercation involving a group of people.

Paramedics located two men at the scene: an 18-year-old Christie Downs man left with assault injuries and a 26-year-old Port Noarlunga South man who suffered a stab wound to the torso.

The two men were transported to the Flinders Medical Centre with non-life threatening injuries.

Police say the knife allegedly involved in the stabbing was later found by a police dog while crime scene officers attended the scene to collect evidence.

All parties in the group are known to each other, according to police.

Meanwhile, a man and a woman are due to face the Christies Beach Magistrates Court today after police located a stolen car and firearms in St Marys on Tuesday morning.

Police attended a backstreet in St Marys around 12:30am on Tuesday morning after reports of a disturbance with a man and a woman arguing next to a BMW and a Range Rover.

The man fled the scene but was arrested nearby, with police checks on the vehicle later revealing it to be stolen from a property at Chandler Hill on Sunday. Police say an Audi sedan and rifle were also stolen in the same break in.

A police search of a nearby home later found firearms, the keys to the Audi and sets of number plates and power tools.

A 40-year-old Hackham West man and a 30-year-old Morphett Vale woman were charged with firearms offences, drug trafficking, theft and serious criminal trespass.

Push to include businesses in vaccine rollout

Employees could start receiving COVID vaccinations at work within months under a push to include businesses in the immunisation rollout, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to discuss the proposal with industry leaders today.

Major companies have put their hands up to administer jabs using workplace flu vaccination schemes already in place.

Frydenberg and John Frewen, who leads the vaccine task force, will meet with business leaders on Wednesday to discuss industry rollout options.

Vaccine incentives are on the agenda after firms including Qantas raised the prospect of rewarding vaccinated customers through loyalty schemes.

Lieutenant General Frewen said both handouts and more policy settings to encourage people to receive a vaccine would be considered.

“As to whether they’re necessary, I think for now there is a lot of interest from the community about getting vaccinated,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“Perhaps later in the campaign when we’re starting to get to those people who are less convinced or a bit more hesitant that may be a better time for incentives.”

He said nurses used to doing workplace flu vaccinations could be trained to administer coronavirus shots.

With a significant speeding up of the sluggish rollout expected as more Pfizer doses arrive in Australia, businesses could join the rollout in September or October.

People under 40 could also receive access to Pfizer shots from as early as September.

Most people in that age bracket are not currently eligible for Pfizer but can talk to their GP about receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

Almost 8000 younger people have received their first AstraZeneca dose since Prime Minister Scott Morrison highlighted it as an option last week.

A lack of supply and changing health advice has hampered the rollout with around 9.5 per cent of people in Australia over the age of 16 fully vaccinated.

Victoria awaits COVID-19 restrictions call

Victoria is aiming for its first full week of no COVID-19 community transmission since its fourth lockdown, as the state awaits a decision on eased restrictions.

An announcement on the state’s next step toward “COVID-normal” rules is expected today.

Victorians have been living under the same set of restrictions for the past fortnight, including mandatory indoor masks and a 75 per cent office workplace cap.

Business groups have been lobbying for both measures to be scraped, encouraging more Melbourne workers to return to the CBD.

Premier Daniel Andrews would not be drawn on whether face masks would still be required beyond 11.59pm on Thursday.

“If masks across the board stop that one chain of transmission that gets away from us, then they’re worth wearing,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, acting Victorian Chief Health Officer Dan O’Brien described masks as a “safety blanket” but said the public health team would review the mandate.

Larger crowds at sports stadiums and theatres are also on the cards after planned capacity increases were delayed last week due to unfolding outbreaks across the country.

“That’s a decision that we’ll be making in the next 12 to 24 hours,” Sports Minister Martin Pakula said on Tuesday afternoon.

“I can’t pre-empt what that might be but I make the point we’ve had six days of zero.”

Pakula added he hoped to see many thousands of AFL fans at Saturday’s clash between Carlton and Geelong.

Barty through to Wimbledon semis

Ash Barty says she’s living a dream after beating fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic on Centre Court to become the nation’s first woman in more than 20 years to make a Wimbledon semi-final.

The pair’s quarter-final under the roof on another soggy day at SW19 ended up being as predictable as its billing on Tuesday with the world number one proving far too accomplished for the No.75 as she soared to a 6-1 6-3 victory in 66 minutes.

Playing in her first-ever grand slam quarter-final, 28-year-old Tomljanovic was valiant but outmatched, bewildered by Barty’s all-court mastery which has seen her become the first Australian since Jelena Dokic in 2000 to make the last-four at Wimbledon.

“Ajla’s an incredible competitor, I’ve practised with her a lot, we’re Fed Cup teammates and she was always going to bring out the very best in me,” Barty told the crowd.

“She’s had an incredible fortnight and I think all Aussies back home are bloody proud of her.

“This is a dream come true, genuinely it is.”

Barty will next play the 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-final after the rejuvenated German 25th seed had earlier outclassed Czech Karolina Muchova, the No.19 seed, 6-2 6-3 on No.1 Court.

Barty has had two wins and two losses against Kerber previously.

The other semi-final will see Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, Barty’s regular foe this season, pitted against Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.

-With AAP and Reuters

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