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Covid: Vaccination will be required to fly, says Qantas chief

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International air travellers will in future need to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to board Qantas flights, the airline says.

The Australian flag carrier’s boss, Alan Joyce, said the move would be “a necessity” when vaccines are available.

“I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe,” he said.

Australia shut down its international borders early in the pandemic and required those returning to quarantine.

The country has more recently relied on lockdowns, widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing to push daily infections nationwide close to zero.

In an interview with Australia’s Nine Network on Monday, Mr Joyce said Qantas was looking at ways of changing its terms and conditions for international travellers as the industry, which has been hit hard by travel restrictions, looks at ways of moving forward.

“We will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft… for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity,” he told the broadcaster.

In August, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was likely that any successful vaccine would become “as mandatory as you could possibly make it”.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he told radio station 3AW.

That same month, Qantas reported an annual loss of almost A$2bn ($1.46bn; £1bn) because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Joyce said at the time that trading conditions were the worst in the airline’s 100-year history and that “the impact of Covid on all airlines is clear – it’s devastating”.

On Monday, the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) reopened its border with neighbouring Victoria for the first time since infections soared in Victoria’s state capital, Melbourne, in July.

Flights between the city and the NSW capital Sydney – normally one of the world’s busiest routes – had been cancelled.

Arriving in Sydney on a Qantas flight for the first time in months, passengers were greeted by people at the terminal holding up signs that read “welcome back”.

More than 20 additional flights were scheduled between the two states on Monday.

“Today is the day I get to meet my four-month-old grandson for the first time,” one passenger told the BBC.

Australia has recorded about 900 coronavirus-related deaths and almost 28,000 infections in total.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55048438

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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Australia v India: Five touring players in isolation after restaurant visit

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Five India players are isolating as a precaution after a video on social media showed them eating indoors at a Melbourne restaurant.

Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini – all part of India’s Test squad to play Australia – will be isolated from other players but are still able to train.

Both teams are investigating to determine whether bio-secure protocols for the tour have been breached.

The third Test begins on 6 January.

The tour is being played with restrictions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

While in Melbourne, where the recent second Test was played, players and staff are allowed to leave their hotel but if they attend a restaurant they must remain outdoors.

An India supporter posted a video on social media of the five players eating indoors at a restaurant on New Year’s Day.

“The BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] and CA [Cricket Australia] are investigating the matter and seeking to determine whether the outing constitutes a breach of biosecurity protocols,” a Cricket Australia statement said.

“In the interim, on the advice of the Australian and Indian medical teams, the aforementioned players have been placed in isolation as a precaution.

“This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when traveling and at the training venue.”

On Monday the teams are due to travel from Melbourne to Sydney for the third Test which will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

No details were given on whether the five players would be able to play in Sydney.

Pant and Gill both played in the second Test, which India won to level the four-Test series, while vice-captain Rohit was expected to play in the third, having recently quarantined for 14 days to join the squad late after injury.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/55514593

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Covid: Sydney announces new restrictions ahead of New Year

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Australia has announced new restrictions for Sydney ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The city is battling a worsening outbreak after months of next to no local cases. Officials reported it had grown to 147 cases on Wednesday.

The news comes amid anger over footage of young revellers seen on Sydney’s Bronte Beach on Christmas Day.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke said tourists caught flouting public health restrictions could be deported.

The virus’s re-appearance in Sydney a week before Christmas sparked a swift re-introduction of restrictions in the city, including clampdowns on holiday gatherings and a lockdown of the worst-affected region, the Northern Beaches.

On Wednesday, the New South Wales (NSW) state government announced further restrictions for New Year’s Eve following the discovery of a new cluster in a separate part of the city – believed to have spread during Christmas gatherings.

“We don’t want New Year’s Eve to be the cause of a super-spreader [event],” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Households will now be restricted to only five guests from Thursday, down from the previous 10-person limit. Outdoor gathering numbers have also been cut to 30 from 50.

Every other state and territory in Australia maintains a travel ban on people from Sydney.

Sydney’s traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations will still go ahead but authorities have already banned group gatherings at vantage points around the harbour.

Australia has recorded 909 deaths and about 28,300 cases since the pandemic began – a number far lower than many other rich nations.

 

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55481851

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