Families to reunite, border openings cause political debate
The South Australian border has been flung open as NSW recorded a second consecutive day with no new locally-acquired coronavirus cases.
After our state recorded 14 days without a mystery case, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall confirmed an easing of restrictions which came into effect from midnight. Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant declared the last mystery case was recorded on September 7.
"Whilst we have had cases reported recently, we have been able to identify the source of those," she said.
If NSW continues to record no mystery cases for another two weeks, the border to Queensland could also be opened.
According to Queensland health authorities, the border to NSW could be opened if we record no cases "where the contact tracing and testing is unable to identify how the person was infected" for 28 days.
That state's Deputy Premier yesterday attacked Scott Morrison following talks about Australian Defence Force troops pulling out of the Queensland border patrol operation.
"There's no secret that the Prime Minister doesn't like our strong border protections, but they have kept us safe," Steven Miles said.
Mr Miles said Queensland is under ongoing political attack from Canberra.
"Our policies have worked and they should back off."
It came as Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall hit out at the Queensland government's exclusion of some NSW regions from the border bubble as "extraordinary and illogical", warning that it could put farmers' livelihood at risk.
Mr Marshall said it was "a crying shame" some regions surrounding Byron Bay, such as Inverell and Warialda, were not included in the latest border bubble exemptions. He also hit out at the Sunshine State's refusal to sign up to a new agricultural code that will allow farmers to move freely through borders for the spring harvest as "bitterly disappointing".
"My obvious question is: What health risk is presented by people who live in Inverell, Warialda and Baringa that is not presented by people that live in Ballina and Byron. The inconsistencies in the approach of the Queensland Government is extraordinary and illogical."
There were six new COVID cases reported by NSW Health on Wednesday, and all were returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Dr Chant said "levels of transmission in the community appear to be extremely low" but urged for more people to get tested ahead of the school holidays.
The next two weeks are critical in keeping community transmission low, with school holidays leading to more movement and interaction in the community.
"Our population will be more mobile than we've been since probably February in the next fortnight," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
"And that poses some risk as well."
ANDREWS RESISTED REQUESTS FROM PM
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had to be convinced to accept Prime Minister Scott Morrison's offer of 1000 extra Australian Defence Force troops to help the state fight the deadly second wave of COVID-19, according to a series of letters released through Freedom of Information laws.
The letters, obtained by Sky News Australia, were sent from Mr Morrison directly to the Victorian Premier and detail the pressure the PM had to place on Mr Andrews to accept any outside assistance, and came after the Victorian government rescinded a previous request for assistance.
In one letter, sent on July 11, Mr Morrison said the help might include "an estimated 1000 ADF (personnel)".
In an earlier letter dated July 4, Mr Morrison wrote that he was worried the state might need assistance as the number of cases, writing: "I note with concern that the Victorian COVID-19 case numbers have escalated to 108 cases today, as part of an increased trend of cases during the past week."
On June 26, before these letters were written, the Prime Minister revealed in a press conference that a request for 850 ADF officers made by the Victorians as the state's second wave gathered steam had been rescinded.
The Commonwealth submission to the Victorian government's hotel quarantine inquiry tabled this month said that on June 24 Victoria's emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp sent an email to Emergency Management Australia and the ADF attaching three requests for assistance, one of which sought up to 850 ADF personnel.
The next day, June 25, Mr Crisp sent an email withdrawing the request "based on changing operational and resourcing requirements".
Originally published as Families set to reunite as border reopenings cause political debate