News Lockdown ‘light’ and a supermarket vaccine plan

Lockdown ‘light’ and a supermarket vaccine plan

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Two more people have died in Sydney due to the coronavirus and, with the state still deep in crisis, it’s possible the NSW government will target some at-risk areas with tighter lockdown rules.

In other parts of the nation, the news is more positive. Victorians are expected to hear by lunchtime that their lockdown will ease – though they have been warned strict rules will remain.

South Australian authorities are also confident they can lift restrictions this week.

Here’s what we know so far on Tuesday about the outbreaks and rule changes across NSW, Victoria and SA.

Victoria on track to ease restrictions

Victoria’s lockdown is expected to be lifted but the state government will take a cautious approach to prevent another outbreak of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.

Premier Daniel Andrews, senior government ministers and the state’s public health team met on Monday night to make a final decision on the strength of new restrictions.

Report from the ABC, The Age and Herald Sun have all confirmed students will return to face-to-face school.

Other likely changes:

  • Cafes, gyms and hairdressers to reopen, with density limits;
  • Office work to return, with 25 per cent capacity;
  • The five-kilometre travel limit will be scrapped.

Victorians will not be able to have people over at their houses, but small groups – of up to 10, according to the Herald Sun – will be able to meet outside. Masks will remain mandatory.

Expect mask rules to remain even after lockdown eases. Photo: Getty

When Victoria emerged from June’s lockdown, the state government kept some strict restrictions in place for two weeks, including a 25-kilometre travel rule.

Both major Melbourne newspapers report that the 25-kilometre rule will not apply this time.

Expect the government to confirm the exact changes at a lunchtime update.

Victoria had 11 more local COVID-19 cases on Monday, all linked to outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta strain. All were in isolation for their entire infectious period and no new exposure sites were listed.

New exposure sites in NSW

It was revealed on Monday night that two more people have died from COVID-19 in NSW. The deaths took the the toll from NSW’s latest outbreak to 10.

One was a woman in her 80s who had died at her home in Pendle Hill on Monday afternoon.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the woman contracted COVID-19 after a funeral was held at her property for another family member on July 19. About 30 of the 50 people at the funeral have since tested positive to the virus.

It was previously reported that the other fatality was a man in his 80s. NSW Health has since clarified it was a woman. She died at Campbelltown Hospital.

The ABC reported that neither woman was vaccinated.

They bring the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 66 and come a day after Sydney-based Brazilian student Adriana Midori Takara became the youngest woman to die of COVID-19 in Australia.

NSW had 145 more local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, of which 51 were in the community for the entirety of their infectious period and 25 for part of their infectious period.

On Monday night, NSW Health named Campsie Centre Shopping Mall as a new venue of “key concern”. Anyone who visited the shopping centre over the 10 days between July 14-24 must go into quarantine.

Other new exposure sites are mostly in Campsie, at various times in the past week:

  • Campsie Growers Market
  • The World of Fruit
  • Man Hing Chinese Takeaway
  • and Produce Pet and Garden Supplies in Enfield

On Tuesday morning, it emerged a five-storey apartment in Sydney’s west was being guarded by police after cases of COVID-19 in several residents.

Police said officers were guarding the Blacktown apartment after being called by NSW Health to provide support after multiple cases were diagnosed in people in the complex, which is in the area where the virus is rapidly spreading.

It’s understood that all residents are being tested.

Supermarket workers to get Pfizer vaccine

The NSW crisis cabinet met on Monday to work out how to deal with the evolving crisis and to begin workshopping restrictions for Sydney in coming months.

Greater Sydney’s lockdown is due to end on Friday, though Premier Gladys Berejiklian flagged NSW “might need to go harder in some areas” while easing measures in places less at risk.

“Our mission is to allow our citizens to live as safely and as freely as possible,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Meanwhile, leaders hope changes to the vaccine rollout – including prioritising essential workers – will help the state out of the crisis.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the government would allow walk-up AstraZeneca vaccines at some locations from Tuesday.

She echoed updated expert immunisation advice that locked-down residents should “strongly consider” taking the AstraZeneca jab.

Dr Chant also suggested NSW Health could administer more than 350,000 vaccines a week if it could get more Pfizer shots. This is separate from the federal government’s vaccine rollout.

“We have to make really hard choices and what we’re doing is looking at the best evidence [on] available supply,” she said.

“Ultimately, if we had more vaccine, we could do more … but we do have a good vaccine, which is AstraZeneca.”

On Monday, Western Sydney Local Health District said pop-up clinics would be set up across the Merrylands and Guildford area for AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Anyone over 40 will be able to receive the jab without a GP referral.

NSW Health is looking at options to lower the age limit.

Meanwhile, frontline workers at Woolworths, Aldi, Coles and Metcash in Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland and Blacktown will gain priority access to the Pfizer vaccine.

This includes staff in supermarkets, warehouses and online retail centres who cannot work from home.

The jab will be available to them at the Sydney Olympic Park hub.

Lockdown will ease for South Australia

South Australian officials are finalising plans to bring the state out of its week-long COVID-19 lockdown amid growing confidence a cluster of virus cases has been contained.

Premier Steven Marshall said the shutdown would end at one minute past midnight on Wednesday, provided there were no further “unlinked” coronavirus cases.

The rules will also be contingent on final health advice on Tuesday when transition arrangements for sporting fixtures are also expected to be detailed.

“We’re absolutely delighted with how the people of South Australia have worked with the restrictions. Everyone has made extraordinary sacrifices this week,” Mr Marshall said.

“We said we wanted to go hard, we wanted to go early and we wanted to knock this off.”

SA will still keep a range of restrictions, including a general density requirement of one person to every four square metres.

Masks will be required in high-risk settings, such as aged-care centres, in medical services and on public transport.

All food and drink consumption must be while seated and dancing and singing would remain banned.

Family gatherings will be limited to 10 people although weddings and funerals can have up to 50.

Schools will also reopen on Wednesday.

These restrictions will remain for at least a week.

-with AAP