Victorian health authorities have revealed a waste management facility in Melbourne’s west went into lockdown last week after staff tested positive to coronavirus.
Global Resource Recovery in Laverton closed on May 29, after two employees linked to the Keilor Downs family outbreak were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The facility was closed as a precaution and was given a deep clean.
“Close contacts have been identified and will be quarantined for 14 days,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said.
“All relevant staff are being tested, so far the majority of tests have come back negative.”
The facility is expected to reopen once all staff are cleared to return to work.
Earlier, Premier Daniel Andrews said eight more people were diagnosed with coronavirus overnight, taking the state’s total cases on Thursday to 1678.
Six were in returned travellers.
One case is the result of routine testing and another is a household contact of an existing case.
Mr Andrews has urged people to stay away from a planned protest for Saturday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thousands are expected to attend the protest, which has been organised by members of Victoria’s Aboriginal communities in response to the alleged murder of African-American George Floyd by a police officer in the US.
NSW hits the road
NSW residents gearing up for the long weekend have been urged to be cautious as they hit the road for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Restrictions on travel throughout the state lifted last Monday, and the state government has encouraged residents to make the most of the coming holiday weekend – the first opportunity for many to leave their home towns since February.
But, holiday makers must maintain social distancing measures, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday.
“We’re probably doing better than we anticipated at this stage of the pandemic,” she said.
“However we have to be cautious, we have to be vigilant, we have to be safe to make sure that even the mildest symptom means we get tested.”
NSW had no cases of community-transmitted COVID-19 to report on Thursday – for the eighth consecutive day.
The state’s two new coronavirus infections confirmed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday were in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
This coming long weekend is expected to provide a vital boost to the state’s economy, which has taken a 20-year hit from coronavirus lockdowns and the summer’s deadly bushfires.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said NSW economic demand fell 1.5 per cent in the March quarter. Steeper declines are certain for the June quarter.
Household consumption in NSW had also fallen 1.6 per cent.
The figures were released as the government struggles to secure its proposed 12-month pay freeze for public sector workers, which would save $3 billion for public project investment.
The policy was blocked in state Parliament on Tuesday when Labor and crossbench MPs united to pass a disallowance motion in the upper house.
It was due before the Industrial Relations Commission for conciliation on Thursday.
Ms Berejiklian acknowledged her state had been hit harder by COVID-19 restrictions than other Australian states. NSW has by far the highest number of confirmed cases and 48 of Australia’s 103 virus-related deaths.
But Ms Berejiklian insisted NSW had found the right balance between health and economic activity.
“We’ve suffered the greatest economic consequences because of the way our economy is structured,” she said, referring to the state’s large service sector.
“We did come off a higher base but it also shows NSW has been most severely impacted by those restrictions.”
With the number of new daily coronavirus cases remaining low, the NSW government has said gyms, dance studios and fitness centres can reopen later in June.
Up to 10 people will be allowed in dance, yoga and Pilates classes from June 13, while up to 100 people will be permitted inside an indoor venue such as a gym.
Children’s community sport can resume from July 1.
‘Ready to go’ in WA tourist spots
Tourist hotspots in Western Australia’s north are ready to welcome back visitors with the lifting of coronavirus-related biosecurity restrictions.
The Commonwealth has agreed to the WA government’s request to remove the restrictions for the Kimberley, Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku and parts of the East Pilbara on Friday.
That means destinations such as Broome and Kununurra will reopen to visitors, although access to 274 remote indigenous communities will remain off-limits.
There are no active cases in WA’s regional areas and no positive cases in remote communities.
But as of Thursday there were still 26 active cases in WA, including 20 crew members from the Al Kuwait livestock ship.
Broome Chamber of Commerce president Peter Taylor said the reopening of the Kimberley region was fantastic news after months of uncertainty.
“Everyone’s ready to go. We’re absolutely certain we’ll be able to salvage the season,” he told 6PR radio.
A host of COVID-19 restrictions will ease in WA on Saturday, including raising the limit on gatherings to 100 people, with 300 allowed in venues with multiple divided spaces.
Many businesses will resume trading, including beauty parlours, cinemas and gyms. Perth Zoo will again be open to the public after closing for the first time in its 122-year history.
Booze buses will also return, ending a hiatus that has lasted throughout the pandemic.
“The return to normal roadside breath and drug testing will coincide with the broader lessening of COVID-10 restrictions in WA, which will likely see increased patronage of pubs, hotels and other licensed venues,” WA police said in a statement.