News Coronavirus COVID recovery chief charged over alleged ‘border breach’
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COVID recovery chief charged over alleged ‘border breach’

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The man handpicked by Scott Morrison to chair the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board has been charged with breaching coronavirus border rules.

Neville Power had been leading Australia’s plans for post-COVID economic recovery. Now he is facing court – and the prospect of jail – after allegedly flying in a private helicopter from Queensland to Perth via Exmouth, Carnarvon and Geraldton.

Police will allege Mr Power and another man failed to complete border paperwork, The West Australian revealed.

Mr Power, 63, a former Fortescue Metals chief executive, spearheaded the the NCCC for six months – a job which came with a $267,345 salary.

He is also chairman of Perth Airport and the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

Mr Power and another man have been charged by WA Police and are due to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on November 15.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with an instruction under the WA Emergency Management Act is a fine of $ 50,000 or one year in prison.

That is one Australian facing fewer freedoms in coming weeks. The rest of us can be assured we’re returning to some kind of normal life – if we get vaccinated and follow all the remaining rules.

Here’s the latest on all the ways life is changing for the most locked-down residents.

Victoria

Victorians have been given a glimpse of life when nine out of 10 people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as city and regional residents prepare to reunite.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced major changes to Victoria’s roadmap when the state reaches its next two major vaccination milestones.

With Victoria set to hit its 80 per cent full vaccination target ahead of schedule sometime next weekend, restrictions will ease further and align across the state from 6pm on Friday.

The ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be scrapped, reconnecting the state for the first time since the city’s 77-day lockdown lifted.

People will not have to wear masks outside for the first time in months.

Entertainment venues, gyms and retail stores can reopen indoors for fully vaccinated patrons, and capacity limits will increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Customers flock to the Queen Victoria Market on Sunday as Melbourne slowly emerges from lockdown. Photo: AAP

Students from every year level across the state also return to full-time, face-to-face learning on November 1 before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday.

Longer term, Mr Andrews laid out a plan for the state once 90 per cent of the 12-plus population are fully vaccinated, forecast on or around November 24.

“There will be a fundamental change, a massive change, in many respects, to the rules that we have all been living under,” he said.

All venue caps and density quotients will be scrapped at that point, along with mandatory indoor mask rules except in high-risk or low-vaccinated settings such as hospitals and schools.

Limits on home and outdoor gatherings will be shelved, paving the way for families to come together en masse at Christmas, while vaccine passport requirements expand to staff and patrons of non-essential retail stores.

Mr Andrews warned Victoria’s “vaccinated economy” would remain into 2022, with those who refuse to get the jab excluded from workplaces, venues and major events.

Victoria reported 1935 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Sunday, taking the toll from its current outbreak to 223.

NSW

In New South Wales, children who have continued learning from home as the state reopens are going to be heading back to the classroom.

Kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students went back to school in NSW last week and remaining students return to classrooms on Monday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says there will be challenges in school resuming but he is “very confident” it will go well.

“We’ve had a number of schools close but the alternative is to keep all schools closed,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We’re not doing that.”

On Sunday night, NSW Education announced a further 16 schools were closed for cleaning and contact tracing after positive COVID-19 tests in their communities.

It follows the closure of two schools on Saturday and seven on Friday, some of which are reopening on Monday.

Asked about reports up to 160 schools throughout NSW had staffing issues as students returned, Mr Perrottet said he was aware there would be some shortages.

“There will always be teachers and people across our state who just decide not to get vaccinated,” he said.

“That’s their choice. We believe it’s a bad choice but ultimately, that success rate of 95 per cent has helped us get our kids back in the classroom.”

The state added 296 locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload on Sunday along with four deaths: two men in their 60s, one in his 70s and one in his 80s.

Three of the men who were counted in Sunday’s COVID-19 death toll were unvaccinated while one was fully vaccinated.

There have been 498 COVID-related deaths in NSW since June 16 and 554 in total since the start of the pandemic.

Some 480 people with the virus remain in NSW hospitals, 119 of them in intensive care and 67 of those requiring ventilation.

More than 93 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or over have now received at least one vaccine dose, while 84.4 per cent have had both jabs.

Meanwhile, the NSW government has launched a $10 million tourism campaign ahead of international travel restrictions easing in November.

“The reality is when people think of Australia, they think of New South Wales, they think of Sydney,” Mr Perrottet said.

ACT

The ACT is now Australia’s most vaccinated jurisdiction with more than 87 per cent of all Canberrans aged 12 or over double jabbed.

The territory’s latest new case count also dipped to single figures for the first time in a month on Sunday, with nine COVID-19 infections reported.

However the result coincides with testing numbers falling away, with just 991 samples processed in the 24 hours to Saturday evening.

It was the first time less than a thousand tests have been conducted in the ACT since the start of the outbreak.

Two weeks ago, more than 3500 tests were being conducted on a Saturday.

The drop-off is likely due to changes in exposure location reporting since the territory began easing restrictions.

As of Sunday evening, the ACT had 390 active cases from the 1586 infections reported for this current outbreak.

There were 20 virus patients in Canberra hospitals, including 11 in intensive care units and four requiring ventilation.

ACT Health is expected to provide full epidemiological update on the COVID-19 situation on Tuesday.

-with AAP