Victoria has recorded another high day of Covid cases and deaths after a raft of restrictions were eased overnight, including an end Melbourne’s lockdown.
Welcome to Friday’s coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.
Victorians have woken up to a raft of new freedoms for fully vaccinated residents after reaching its 70 per cent double vaccination goal yesterday.
The state recorded 2189 new cases and 16 deaths on Friday.
NSW recorded 345 new Covid cases and five deaths on Friday, with cases expected to rise over the coming days due to the state’s eased restrictions.
Queensland is also on high alert after a rideshare driver was infectious in the community for 10 days. Authorities said the man is “so sick” he can barely speak with contact tracers.
Follow below for today’s top updates. Keep refreshing the page for the latest news.
You can find yesterday’s blog here.
Victoria records 2189 cases and 16 deaths
Victoria has recorded 2189 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
It comes after the state recorded its second highest number of Covid cases on Thursday, with 2232 infections and 12 deaths.
Victorians are enjoying a raft of eased restrictions today after the state reached its 70 per cent vaccination milestone yesterday.
Experts have warned that cases will likely rise over the coming weeks as movement around Melbourne and the regions increased.
NSW records 345 cases and five deaths
NSW has recorded 345 Covid-19 cases and five deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
PM hints at more quarantine announcements
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted that two more states will be making major changes to their quarantine restrictions today.
Mr Morrison said the national plan was “all about opening up Australia safely”, adding that is what today’s announcement from Qantas was about.
“It means that families are coming together again. It means kids are going back to school. It means the reunification of our country which I know we have all been so key to see. That begins with this,” he said.
The PM said he had “no doubt” that other states and territories would follow NSW’s lead to scrap quarantine requirements for international arrivals, adding some of those announcements could be expected today.
“The Premier of Victoria today will be making some further announcements and I’m looking forward to those. I know the Premier of Tasmania will be making further announcements today and I’m looking forward to those,” he said.
“I won’t pre-empt those, other than to say that the national plan is working, Australia is coming together, and we are realising the great efforts of the Australian people in rolling up their sleeves so we can move forward together and re-engage.”
Qantas announces new travel routes, accelerated reopening
Qantas has announced it will be bringing forward the restart of more international flights to popular destinations from Sydney, including operating flights to Delhi for the first time in almost a decade.
It comes after the Federal and NSW governments announced international borders would reopen from November 1, following a decision by NSW to remove quarantine requirements.
Qantas plans to launch the new route from Sydney to Delhi on December 6, with three return flights per week, building to daily flights by the end of the year.
The updated international schedule also includes:
• Sydney to Singapore flights resuming on November 23, four weeks ahead of schedule
• Sydney to Fiji, resuming on December 7, brought forward from December 19
• Sydney to Johannesburg, resuming on January 5, three months earlier than scheduled
• Sydney to Bangkok, resuming on January 14, more than two months earlier than scheduled
• Sydney to Phuket, resuming on January 12, more than two months earlier than scheduled
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline was also working on restarting flights to Bali before Christmas.
“We are in dialogue with the Indonesian government about opening up Bali for Australians that are fully vaccinated so that they don’t have to go into quarantine,” he said.
“Jetstar was the largest carrier operating into Bali. Australians were the largest visitors before Covid and it will be phenomenal news for our Jetstar people if we can operate into Bali before Christmas, which we’re working with the Indonesian Government to try and do that.”
Annoying rule scrapped in NSW
NSW residents have been freed from a widely hated Covid restriction, following a surprise change to the public health orders yesterday.
Gym-goers will now no longer be required to wear a mask during group classes, with Health Minister Brad Hazzard scrapping the rule following a raft of complaints, NewsLocal reports.
Many people had complained that the requirement was not practical and wearing a mask during a workout class made it difficult to breathe.
Residents can now remove their masks during indoor gym and dance classes, though they are still required it be worn in other areas of the gym, such as the reception area and change rooms.
Sports Minister Natalie Ward told the publication the change was a “step forward” for fully vaccinated gym-goers.
“It’s important people are able to exercise in as much comfort as possible, so I’m really pleased it will no longer be a requirement for masks to be worn during an indoor gym or dance class,” she said.
Vic set for major international travel announcement
Victoria is reportedly set to follow in NSW’s footsteps and remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international arrivals.
This means people who arrive in Victoria from overseas will not have to go into hotel or home quarantine.
According to the ABC, travellers will need to need to be fully vaccinated and present a negative Covid-19 test.
It is believed the change will likely come into effect from November 1, the same day quarantine requirements will be scrapped in NSW.
The announcement is expected to be made during Victoria’s Covid press conference today.
It comes after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed last week that quarantine would be scrapped for international arrivals from November 1.
“Those people returning to Australia … and those who want to come back, who want to visit Australia and come to Sydney, hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past,” he said.
“Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st. This is a significant day for our state”.
When asked earlier this week whether Victoria would follow NSW’s lead, Premier Daniel Andrews suggested international arrivals to his state would still be required to quarantine at home.
“What Dominic announced the other day is he is getting rid of hotel quarantine, we will do a similar thing, it will be home-based particularly for those who are double-dosed,” he told Sunrise.
Victoria eases Covid restrictions
Victorians are waking up to eased restrictions this morning, with vaccinated residents now able to enjoy a number of new freedoms.
The changes came into effect at 11.59pm last night after the state reached its 70 per cent double dose vaccination milestone on Thursday.
The new freedoms include:
• Removing the Melbourne lockdown and curfew
• Up to 10 visitors to a home per day, including dependants
• 15 people can gather outdoors in Melbourne (20 in regional Victoria)
• Community sport training returns
• Pubs and clubs can open to 20 vaccinated people indoors and 50 outdoors. Entertainment venues can open to 50 vaccinated people outdoors
• In regional Victoria, Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can open indoors to 30 vaccinated people
• All school students return onsite at least part time in Melbourne and full time in regional Victoria
• Funerals and weddings are allowed with 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors in Melbourne and 30 indoors and 100 outdoors in regional Victoria
• Hairdressing, beauty and personal care services can open to five vaccinated people indoors
Qld’s new Covid case a ‘wake up call’
Queensland recorded one new community Covid-19 case on Thursday, with authorities saying they are “concerned” about the new infection detected on the Gold Coast.
“Now this is a wake up call for the Gold Coast,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“The issue with this gentleman is that they were not vaccinated. They were potentially infectious in the community for up to 10 days.”
The Premier urged anyone with the slightest symptoms to go and get tested.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young revealed the unvaccinated man in his 30s is a rideshare driver, saying he had become so sick that he was struggling to even speak with contact tracers.
“He is so sick that we are having difficulties talking to him and getting information from him Dr Young said.
The man lives at an apartment complex in Broad Beach and is understood to have been in Melbourne on October 10 before coming back to Queensland.
“He started to develop symptoms on October 11, which means his infectious period goes back to October 9, but we believe he was in Melbourne at that stage,” Dr Young said.
“He became increasingly unwell, presented to the emergency department.”
Authorities are working closely with Uber to get information about whether the man had passengers during his infectious period.
Dr Young also revealed the man hadn’t used his QR code check in system when visiting venues since September.
“It is hard to work out where he has been in the community, “ she said.