Australia

‘AS TOXIC AS THE VIRUS’: Fury over Dan Andrews’ big ‘double standard’

Alexis Carey

Police are bracing for more anti-lockdown protesters to hit Melbourne today, with exact locations kept secret by organisers in a bid to evade authorities.

While details of the rallies remain a mystery this morning, organisers have boasted today's protests will be the biggest yet.

The location is set to be announced just half an hour before the protests are set to begin, with participants hoping to outwit officers.

It is understood around 700 people have signed up to today's action.

It's the third consecutive weekend of anti-lockdown protests in the Victorian capital, with police arresting 16 people and issuing 21 fines for those who gathered in the Elsternwick area yesterday.

Another mystery protest is planned for today.

Alexis Carey

A popular Korean BBQ restaurant has been slapped with a hefty fine for a string of coronavirus breaches.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the Butchers Buffet in Strathfield was caught by SafeWork inspectors on September 11, who discovered patrons were sharing cutlery and plates at an open buffet.

Diners were also sharing condiments and utensils and were not physically dancing while serving themselves.

The restaurant received a $5000 penalty, but was just one of 23 eateries in the city to receive a fine during the recent blitz.

Authorities are now urging customers to report restaurants that breached COVID-19 safety protocols.

Alexis Carey

Coronavirus cases continue to spike in nations across the globe, with France, Poland and Indonesia all hitting new records in daily cases yesterday.

The UK is also in the grip of a second wave with the government imposing a number of new restrictions, including £10,000 ($A17,722) fines for those who refuse to self-isolated when instructed.

Israel has entered a second nationwide lockdown while Iran’s COVID-19 death toll has jumped to 24,118.

Alexis Carey

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is facing mounting pressure over the decision to let those behind an alarming coronavirus cluster off the hook.

The outbreak in the Casey LGA in Melbourne's south-east is believed to have spread as families ignored restrictions and visited each other.

Five families are believed to be behind the outbreak, with three people now in hospital.

But during yesterday's media conference, Mr Andrews defended the decision not to fine the individuals involved, despite the fact they had broken the rules.

"I think that if you start (issuing fines), you run the very real risk that people are not full and frank in the interviews. Or indeed some people may not come forward and get tested, if they fear that they can't do that in an open process, if we were to try and do a kind of retro analysis of every one of the now close to 20,000 interviews that we have done, through the course of those interviews, many, many people in many different ways will have essentially admitted to doing certain things, and it is about trying to balance up," he said.

"We might all feel better if those five families got a fine, but ultimately the value of the fine is nothing compared to the value of the information that they give us.

"Because that is how you pull it up. That is how you drive the numbers down. That is how we get to a point where these rules would need to be in place."

Speaking to the Herald Sun, Opposition Leader ­Michael O’Brien said it was "hypocrisy" to charge anti-lockdown protesters with COVID breaches while those behind the Casey cluster escaped punishment. 

“Andrews shouldn’t be protecting those who spread the virus while fining others … Labor’s double standards are as toxic as this virus,” he told the publication.

“It’s a disgrace that Labor has locked up innocent Victorians under a curfew while those who break the law and spread the virus get off scot- free."

Victoria Police arrested 16 people and issued 21 fines for those who gathered in the Elsternwick area as part of a day of anti-lockdown pop-up protests.

Mr O'Brien has accused the government of "hypocrisy".

Rebekah Scanlan

A taxi driver in Sydney is the latest confirmed coronavirus case in NSW.

NSW Health are warning anyone who who took a taxi in Western and South Western Sydney to be alert for symptoms.

It's suspected the driver "drove a taxi for a number of days while potentially infectious".

People who caught a taxi on September 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 in the following suburbs must monitor for symptoms and if any develop immediately get tested:

Passengers who rode in the 13CABS car affected are being traced.

The person affected also attended the following venues with NSW Health warning anyone who visited for a least one hour during the following times is considered to be a close contact and is directed to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

Early investigations into the source of infection indicate the case may have acquired the virus at Liverpool Hospital. Contact tracing is underway. The person reports having the COVIDSafe App, which is being used to help identify contacts.

There's also a casual contact risk for people who visited the below venues at the specified times. Casual contacts must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop. After testing, they must remain in isolation until a negative test result is received.

Rebekah Scanlan

Dramatic photos from the 16 arrests made at Melbourne's anti-lockdown protest on Saturday have emerged as police warn those planning to attend tomorrow's rally will face the same "swift and firm action against" them.

Details of when and where Sunday's planned event will be have yet to be confirmed, but Victorian police appear to be gearing up for another day of heavy police presence.

16 people were arrested and 21 were issued with fines at a demonstration against the city's strict lockdown rules.

Sarah McPhee

Police have arrested 16 people and issued 21 fines after a protest in Melbourne's Elsternwick area in "blatant breach" of the chief health officer's COVID-19 directions.

Victoria Police said the majority of the arrests were for breaching directions and refusing to provide a name and address.

The anti-lockdown protesters were chased out of the inner-city park by mounted police and others on foot and fled towards Elwood.

Some could be seen in footage from the scene scrambling across the road as police cars pulled up and officers jumped out of their vehicles.

"We are frustrated that these people continue to put the lives of Victorians at risk," police said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

"Police are playing an important role by enforcing the directions of the Chief Health Officer so we can limit the spread of coronavirus.

"While we know the majority of the community are doing the right thing, the behaviour of these selfish few who choose to blatantly ignore the directions will not be tolerated.

"We will continue to take the same swift and firm action against those who choose to blatantly ignore the directions, and our investigations will continue."

Pictures: 7 News

Individuals who fail to adhere to COVID-19 directives in Victoria face a $1652 fine.

Police this week revealed Melburnians who try to sneak out of metropolitan Melbourne into regional Victoria – where stay-at-home restrictions have now been eased – will face a $4957 fine.

Sarah McPhee

South Australia has recorded no new cases of COVID-19.

There are no active cases in the state.

The state could open its border to New South Wales as early as Tuesday.

“We now have gone well over one week in terms of no worrying community transmission or locally acquired cases and this paves the way for a decision next week to open the NSW border,” SA Premier Steven Marshall said on Friday after the Transition Committee Meeting.

“If it continues, and that’s a caveat, we will be in a position next week to lift that restriction. I know that will be warmly welcomed by people from the business community but people in particular who’ve had family dislocation.

“We have two meetings next week. It could be Friday or as early as Tuesday next week when the NSW border is completely removed.”

Western Australia, Queensland and the ACT have also confirmed no new infections today.

There were 21 new cases reported in Victoria on Saturday and three in New South Wales.

Two of those are in hotel quarantine and one was locally acquired with no known source.

The mystery case worked at Concord Hospital while potentially infectious, NSW deputy chief health officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.

Sarah McPhee

The number of babies born in Australia will "temporarily dip" next year due to COVID-19.

That's according to the first research report commissioned by the Federal Government's Centre for Population.

The "post-COVID-19 years" projection forecasts a drop in the fertility rate to 1.59 babies per woman in 2021, compared to 1.7 babies in 2018.

“Our population growth will be the lowest since World War 1 as a result of COVID,” Population Minister Alan Tudge said in a statement on Saturday.

“Stopping migration has been the main contributor to this but the fertility rate has also dropped which tends to happen in times of economic uncertainty.

"These projections outlined in this report will inform our population planning into the future at both a federal and state level.”

The current economic climate is reported as the reason families are "likely to defer having their first, or next, baby".

The fertility rate is expected to climb back to 1.69 over the period to 2024 as women who delayed having a baby "resume their plans".

Professor of Demography Peter McDonald, who headed the analysis, projects that Australian families will have fewer children in the next two years.

Sarah McPhee

In some lighter news, a cat found in rural Victoria eight months after it went missing has safely returned to Adelaide.

Master Sox vanished from Glenelg South in January.

Sophie McInnes and her parents, Carol and Jamie, had all but given up hope when the Mildura vet called last week to say the seven-year-old cat had been found in someone's yard.

After weighing up their options amid border closures, the family paid for him to be couriered over the border and picked him up from Berri in SA this week.

Master Sox on his way home. Picture: Supplied

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