, Four new cases on eve of lockdown reprieve, The Nzuchi Times

Four new cases on eve of lockdown reprieve

, Four new cases on eve of lockdown reprieve, The Nzuchi Times

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Four new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the community overnight, but the link of acquisition is not yet known.

The four new locally acquired cases are from the same household but investigations into the acquisition source are under way, the Department of Health said.

More than 23,500 tests were carried out and over 20,000 vaccines administered.

Acting Premier James Merlino is due to give a live update at 11.30am.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s hotels and restaurants say they’re likely to keep doors shut under “ludicrous” new density caps, as the city takes small steps out of the lockdown.

Some operators have declared they will open – despite making a loss – saying they need to get distraught staff back on deck amid fears the fabric of Victoria’s dining scene is being destroyed by the crawl out of lockdown.

Acting Premier James Merlino announced on Wednesday that hospitality venues would be permitted to reopen from Friday – but capped at 100 patrons, and only 50 seated indoors.

The five reasons to leave home will also be scrapped and the 10km travel limit increased to 25km, but visiting regional Victoria remains forbidden.

Visitors won’t be allowed into private homes, and outdoor gatherings will be capped at just 10 people, despite auctions going ahead with 50.

Flagging that restrictions could be further eased and the divide between regional Victoria and Melbourne pulled down from June 18, Mr Merlino said the state was making “big steps” on the way out of lockdown.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the news was good but wasn’t “the snapback we were hoping for”.

“We went fast in, but we are crawling out,” he said.

“While most businesses across the state can now open, we need to see further easing of restrictions to enable all businesses to get back to viable trade as soon as possible to keep jobs, businesses, livelihoods, culture and prosperity alive in Victoria.”

Chris Lucas, whose Lucas Restaurants includes the popular Chin Chin, said he would reopen on Friday – but only for the mental wellbeing of his staff.

“It’s disheartening for our workers and for our city. It’s very clear that this government puts its own political needs over those of everyday working people. It seems committed to propagating a constant campaign of fear and negative messaging along with damaging lockdowns all the way to the next election.”

Mark O’Reilly, who runs venues in the CBD and suburbs said he would try to open all his venues expect for one, which has a capacity of 585 people and was currently unviable.

“We are opening three venues at a loss. We need to get staff back,” he said.

“I can’t get them all back, and I feel for them. I have had some phone calls from people very distressed.”

Wes Lambert, chief executive of Restaurant & Catering Australia, said the cautious reopening would “lead to small businesses closing” and that some industry participants were considering moving to NSW where they would have more certainty about pandemic responses.

29 NEW EXPOSURE SITES ADDED

A Bunnings warehouse, Coles supermarket and an aged care facility are among 29 new alerts added to Victoria’s list of Covid-19 exposure sites.

The health department issued the tier 1 and tier 2 health alerts on Wednesday night following one new local case of coronavirus – that case was linked to a previously known outbreak and was already quarantining.

It also followed an announcement that greater Melbourne’s two-week lockdown would end at 11.59pm on Thursday, with health authorities confident they had the latest coronavirus outbreak under control.

Anyone who visited Marco Fine Food and Groceries in Reservoir on June 8 between 12pm and 12.30pm must urgently get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

More than a dozen tier 1 alerts were also issued for the Arcare Maidstone aged care facility.

Read the list of updated Covid-19 exposure sites here.

VIC FAMILY BREAKS LOCKDOWN, FLIES TO NZ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there are consequences for people who break the trans-Tasman bubble rules, even if they don’t end up being fined or jailed.

The NZ Herald reported that a group of three people from Melbourne have been put into managed isolation in New Zealand after misleading officials about where they were travelling from.

It is understood the trio, who are resident in Australia, planned to attend a funeral during their trip to New Zealand.

, Four new cases on eve of lockdown reprieve, The Nzuchi Times

They drove to Sydney and then flew to Auckland, and were caught at the border after trying to deceive officials. They will now have to pay for their 14-day quarantine stay.

It appears they broke the trans-Tasman bubble rules – which could lead to a $4000 fine or six months in jail – as well as the Victoria lockdown rules.

Melbourne is subject to a two-week lockdown as the city battles to contain a community Covid-19 cluster.

Restrictions are in place for anyone from Victoria wanting to travel to other parts of Australia.

Ms Ardern said that their mandatory stay in quarantine was a punishment, regardless of whether police decided to charge them.

Asked why they shouldn’t be charged, she said “there are consequences”.

“To anyone considering breaching the rules that we have in place – in this case, the family has been picked up, and they’ve been put into a managed isolation facility.

“As for fines, those decisions do sit elsewhere.”

CORONAVIRUS DETECTED IN BENDIGO SEWAGE

Thousands of regional Victorians are being urged to monitor for Covid-19 symptoms after viral fragments were found in sewage in Bendigo.

Residents and recent visitors to the suburbs of California Gully, Eaglehawk, Epsom, Huntly, Jackass Flat, Maiden Gully, Marong, North Bendigo and Sailors Gully between June 3 and 7 should get tested if any Covid-19 symptoms develop.

The Victorian Department of Health said the detection of fragments of coronavirus was of “interest” as there were no confirmed cases in the area.

“While the unexpected detections may be due to someone who has had Covid-19 that is no longer infectious continuing to shed the virus, it may be due to an active but undiagnosed infectious case,” the health department said in a statement.

“The wastewater testing program is designed as an early warning system and a cautious approach is always taken when these detections are found.”

The health department has increased wastewater testing in the area and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

GYMS DESPERATE FOR GREEN LIGHT

Gym owners are pleading with the state government to let them reopen after the industry was left out of the list of businesses that could reopen in metropolitan Melbourne.

Chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said fitness centres were still high risk sites.

Both small operators and large chains argue they can run safely and warn they will have spent at least three weeks without income.

Ian Jensen-Muir, chief executive of Genesis Health and Fitness, said the announcement for Melbourne was a blow to thousands of gyms.

“The revenue for these businesses drops to zero as soon as lockdowns are initiated, leaving staff without shifts, business owners with no income and members with no access to a service that is a critical part of their physical and mental health,” he said.

“We stand with others in the industry and demand answers from the government as to why gyms are being singled out as presenting a higher level of risk than other businesses.”

“A week for a small business can be the difference between surviving, or not,” he said.

Drew Westfield, owner of gym franchise GRIPT, said the state’s initial $5000 business support payment was less than 10 per cent of earnings and just enough to pay one full-time employee for three weeks.

BORDER RULES EASE AMID COVID SCARE

Hopes are rising Melburnians will be allowed to escape to Queensland during school holidays as the sunshine state eases border restrictions to regional Victoria.

From 1am on Friday, Victorians outside of Melbourne will be able to enter Queensland without completing mandatory hotel quarantine.

It could pave the way for Melbourne residents to follow suit from late next week, with the city about seven days behind the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria.

While other states failed to ease border restrictions, it is expected they could be relaxed in line with local restrictions, barring another major outbreak.

Victorians are currently allowed to enter NSW but must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. SA, WA, Tasmania and the NT remain closed to Victoria unless an exemption is granted and hotel quarantine is undertaken.

Queensland’s border news came as police launched an inquiry into how a Melbourne couple, including a Covid-infected woman, crept into the Sunshine Coast despite Victoria’s strict lockdown.

Dr Young said the 44-year-old woman left Melbourne on June 1 with her partner, more than four days after the lockdown began, and drove through NSW before arriving in Queensland on June 5.

It’s believed the couple may have chosen to travel via Goondiwindi because of a strong police presence, including mobile patrols and automated number plate recognition, on the Gold Coast border.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said Queensland police would investigate how and why the pair were allowed to enter the state.

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