It wasn’t even 24 hours ago that federal health minister Greg Hunt was celebrating another zero day across Australia – but in case you missed the news late last night, a hotel quarantine worker in Melbourne has tested positive.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews held a press conference just before 11pm to announce the positive case. So far, there is no lockdown, but restrictions have increased:
The new state-wide restrictions mean that from Thursday the number of visitors allowed in a private home decreased from 30 to 15 and face masks were once again mandatory indoors. Those are the same rules that were in place at the start of January in response to the Black Rock cluster.
A plan to allow more public and private-sector workers to return to the office from Monday – increasing office capacity to 75% – was also put on hold.
Andrews said the restrictions were introduced “through an abundance of caution” and he said there was “no need to panic”.
After people in the room across from a family who had been diagnosed with the more contagious UK strain came down with the same Covid virus, authorities thought the “viral load” had been so high, it had crossed the corridor through the air.
Now a 26-year-old resident support worker has tested positive, everyone is operating under the assumption they too have the more contagious strain.
Victoria tests its workers every day now, and has proven it has a contact-and-trace system which works, which is why there has been no jump to lockdown. But still, it is a watch and wait situation and everyone is hoping it doesn’t go much further. Health workers and those in the hotel quarantine system should begin getting vaccinations within a few weeks, which will hopefully minimise these scares even further.
Victoria will be one of the main focuses of today, along with the fire situation in Western Australia, (which is also facing a cyclone developing in the north, as well as the fourth day of a Covid lockdown) but parliament sits for the final day of this first sitting, and of course, the spotlight remains on Craig Kelly.
As Katharine Murphy reports, Labor wants Facebook to watch Kelly’s page:
“Labor has written to Facebook to urge the social media platform to continue to monitor Craig Kelly’s page for harmful content, demanding “appropriate action to protect public health”.
On the day Scott Morrison finally distanced himself from the outspoken MP after Kelly signalled he might not get the Covid vaccine, and confronted the Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek in front of television cameras, the shadow health minister, Mark Butler, wrote to Facebook’s Australian managing director asking the platform to exercise editorial responsibility.
Butler says in the letter that Facebook will be aware the government is conducting public information campaigns about the vaccine rollout – “a crucial public health campaign and one that will be vital in our battle against Covid-19 and the ongoing recovery efforts”.
Labor is also pursuing Kelly over his comments following the US Capitol insurrection, given his position as chair of the joint parliamentary committee on law enforcement.
We’ll be covering all of that and more as 2020 continues to bleed into 2021 because it is just that sort of decade. Who would have thought living through historical events could be so tiring! (I’m being sarcastic, in case you can’t tell.)
It being a sitting day, you have Amy Remeikis with you, with Mike Bowers and his cameras walking the parliament corridors. Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst are all ready to report on the policy and politics and the rest of the Guardian crew have their eyes on what is happening outside of Canberra, so you’re all covered. As always, you can get me here and here if you have a question – I don’t always have time to make it through all the comments, but I try to reply to as many messages as I can, to get your questions answered.
(To answer the first one I have received this morning – I am on my third coffee. It is, after all, parliament Friday.)