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Australia coronavirus live news: thousands told to self-isolate after Covid-19 exposure


Good morning,

People caught not wearing a face mask in greater Sydney could be issued with a $200 on-the-spot fine from today. Masks are mandatory on public transport, shopping centres, theatres and cinemas, hairdressers, and places of worship for everyone except children under the age of 12 – and older children are encouraged to wear masks where practicable.




Mannequins with masks are seen in a shop window in Manly on 3 January. Face masks are now compulsory in certain indoor settings in greater Sydney.

Mannequins with masks are seen in a shop window in Manly on 3 January. Face masks are now compulsory in certain indoor settings in greater Sydney. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Health authorities in NSW have added new exposure dates for the BWS store at Berala, identified as the source of a cluster in western Sydney which currently stands at 13 positive cases. The earliest exposure dates now extend back to 20 December. More than 1,000 people attended the store on Christmas Eve alone, and authorities are trying to track down thousands of people who may have attended the store during at-risk periods to get tested and isolate.

New restrictions also apply to Victorians currently visiting Queensland. From 1am today, anyone who was in Victoria from 21 December onward, and is currently in Queensland, is barred from visiting “vulnerable facilities”. That’s aged care homes, hospitals, disability accomodations and prisons. Chief health officer Jeanette Young has also asked anyone who was in Victoria from that date to get tested and quarantine until they get a negative result. Queenslanders have been urged to reconsider their need to travel to Victoria or NSW, with Young saying that while there aren’t currently any travel restrictions in place against regional NSW or Victoria, border changes could occur.

In Victoria, more than 1,500 people have applied for exemptions to the border closure with NSW, which prevents anyone outside the border bubble from travelling from NSW to Victoria without being granted a permit under exceptional circumstances. So far only 117 such permits have been granted. Testing capacity will be boosted again today, after the 60,000 people who rushed back to Victoria from NSW before the border slammed shut overwhelmed the state’s testing capacity and caused queues of more than eight hours.

The cut to the jobkeeper payment kicks in from today. The fortnightly payment had already been reduced from $1,500 to $1,200 in September. As of today, it’s $1,000 per fortnight for full-time workers and $650 for part-time workers. Labor’s Katy Gallagher has called on the federal government to introduce further targeted support for businesses, saying that small businesses have faced further booking cancellations in what should be their busiest time of the year.

And finally, institutions which had been holding out against joining the national redress scheme for victims of institutional child abuse have now joined the scheme. Social services minister Anne Ruston said institutions named by the government as failing to sign up to the scheme in July had now joined or were in the final stages of joining, if they had capacity to do so.

However the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Kenja Communications and Fairbridge Restored Limited have not joined the scheme. They were named on 1 July 2020 as having not joined the scheme or signified an intent to join.

Let’s crack on. You can follow me on Twitter at @callapilla. If I’ve missed something, let me know at calla.wahlquist@theguardian.com





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