A bit more on Spotless:
Victorian health authorities have advised any worker who spent more than 30 minutes at the site since 6 July to get a test for Covid-19 and quarantine for 14 days. But the United Workers Union says employees do not know what entitlements they will receive.
United Workers Union executive director Godfrey Moase said:
Spotless Dandenong workers are low-wage migrant workers who have acted together and swiftly. They acted in the interests of the entire community and should be congratulated for their service.
We are calling on Spotless to pay all workers who now have to self-isolate as per the DHHS guidelines, including the labour hire staff contracted in from Excel Recruitment yesterday.
To beat Covid-19 we need to back in workers standing together, and we need everyone to have access to paid pandemic leave. Every single worker. No exemptions.
Spotless Laundry in Dandenong has been closed by the Victorian health department, because of Covid-19 cases, according to United Workers Union executive director Godfrey Moase.
Yesterday Spotless’s parent company, Ensign Services, dropped its case before the Fair Work Commission against 35 staff members, who failed to turn up to work on Wednesday. The staff stopped work because two staff members tested positive to Covid-19 within a week, the ABC reported.
Here’s a bit more on that discussion between Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews on possible further restrictions, from Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katharine Murphy.
We don’t have information about what those possible measures might be – expect we’ll hear more as the day goes on.
Kidd said people living outside of Victoria, where face masks or face coverings are already mandatory in greater Melbourne and the Mitchell shire and will be mandatory statewide from Monday, should “absolutely” consider wearing a face mask:
So what we’ve said is where we have particularly community transmission, and particularly when people are outside their homes and in areas where physical distancing may be difficult – and that, of course, includes when you go into the supermarket where there’s lots of people moving around and people may come closer to you than the 1.5 metres – that people should be considering wearing masks, and particularly people who are at increased risk if they were to be infected with Covid-19 …
We do have community transmission occurring in parts of New South Wales, particularly in suburbs in Sydney and as, we’ve seen, we have had community transmission just yesterday reported in suburbs in Brisbane. So, yes, I think people should be considering wearing masks, but particularly in those areas where we have community transmission.
Kidd said it was “really important” that other jurisdictions learn from what happened in aged care in Melbourne, “and we apply those learnings as we go along with other settings as well”:
Each residential aged care facility in Australia is required, as every business in Australia is required, to have its own Covid-safe plan to term what that business is doing to mitigate the risk to their staff and also to their customers, in this case the residents of aged care facilities and the family members, the visitors, who come into those facilities as well.
AHPPC gave Victoria ‘possible recommendations’ for further restrictions
Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews discussed the possibility of introducing further restrictions in Victoria overnight as case numbers continue to rise despite three weeks of stage three lockdown.
The state’s deputy chief medical officer, Michael Kidd, said the number of cases recorded in the state yesterday was “quite alarming”. He told ABC News Breakfast that the leaders had the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee had all discussed possible recommendations for additional measures:
Of course it does have to be looked at in the context of the figures over the past couple of weeks and the trend that we are seeing which, of course, is an increase in numbers despite the restrictions which have been in place. It is now only a week since the requirement that everybody wear a mask in Melbourne and the Mitchell shire was introduced but still the numbers have been going up.
Yesterday the AHPPC met and talked about possible recommendations for additional measures and as you’ve said, the prime minister and the premier have had further discussions overnight.
Kidd would not provide detail about what those additional measures might be, saying only that the AHPPC provided advice “looking at what’s worked well both in Australia, elsewhere in the country and earlier in the pandemic, and also what’s been working well in countries overseas”.
The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has extended the waiver of some regulations under the Corporations Act for six more months, meaning they can continue to hold annual general meetings online.
The temporary changes were introduced in March. In a statement, Frydenberg said:
The feedback that the Government has received from industry is that these temporary changes have provided certainty to business and helped them continue to operate through the coronavirus crisis. Under the social distancing measures that are currently in place, and the ongoing challenges in Victoria, it is difficult for shareholders to physically gather and for companies to execute documents in person.
It means that companies can provide notice of AGMs to shareholders via email, achieve a quorum with shareholders attending online, hold AGMs online, and sign documents electronically.
Frydenberg said meetings must “continue to provide shareholders with a reasonable opportunity to participate. Shareholders will continue to be able to put questions to board members and vote online.”
The extended arrangements will expire on 21 March.
Scott Morrison also had a message for everyone celebrating Eid al-Adha, which began yesterday and runs until Monday.
Jenny and I haven’t had the chance to be at our church since February, and I know faith is very important to people but even at times like this it’s really important that we don’t gather in those big groups … it’s just really important that people make those good decisions when they celebrate their faith in their community.
The Victorian chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, delivered the same message yesterday, subtitled in Arabic.
Morrison said he felt “confident” that the coronavirus outbreak in Sydney could be brought under control:
There are no cases that have an unknown source. None. Whereas in Victoria you have around 50 cases a day where there’s an unknown source, and that is a real concern… that is one of the key reasons that we feel more confident about NSW.
He said he had spoken in support of the NSW-Victorian border restrictions, and not the border decisions taken by Queensland and Western Australia, because the former was not a unilateral decision:
The difference with the NSW-Victorian border, the NSW-Victorian border was shut after there was a discussion between both premiers and myself and the health advice was shared between all those three jurisdictions …
There have been two ways in which borders have been set up. One has been directly by states and one has been, as shown with NSW and Victoria, in discussions with the commonwealth.
He said the all premiers and chief ministers were working well with each other and with him. They will hold a national security meeting today:
Everyone’s picking up the phone, everyone’s talking to each other, everyone’s asking the questions they need to ask of each other.
On Monday, he said, he had called the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, for assistance in staffing aged care homes in Melbourne:
I said, ‘Steven, mate, can we get some nurses?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, mate, sure.’
Scott Morrison was asked to comment on the case in Queensland of three young women who allegedly evaded border checks to get back into the state from a trip to Melbourne without having to self-isolate.
The three women, a a 19-year-old from Heritage Park and two 21-year-olds from Acacia Ridge and Algester, will face court in Brisbane today charged with fraud and providing false or misleading documents under the Public Health Act. They were discovered when two of them, and one of their sisters who was not involved in the alleged trip to Melbourne, tested positive for Covid-19.
The names and pictures of the two who tested positive have been splashed on the front page of the Courier Mail-and in many other media outlets, in a move criticised by the national chief medical officer, Paul Kelly. The Queensland human rights commissioner warned that the coverage could “create a second wave of Covid-related racial hostility”.
On 2GB, Ben Fordham said to Morrison: “This isn’t about race, though, it’s about responsibility.”
Of course it’s about responsibility and those actions are terribly regrettable, and I hope that is a real lesson to everyone else about how this virus transmits. Sometimes I think people think there’s a golden ticket for Australia and we are somehow immune to it, and we’re not.
He said the situation in aged care in Victoria showed how vulnerable some people with underlying health conditions, but particularly elderly people, were to the virus:
All of their lives depend on how all of us engage and do the responsible thing and support each other to do the responsible thing.
Aged care homes in Melbourne have ‘stabilised’, Scott Morrison says
Scott Morrison has just been on 2GB radio in Sydney talking to Ben Fordham. He played down the impact of the aged care outbreaks in the record case numbers seen in Victoria yesterday:
Yesterday was a very disheartening day for all Australians and particularly Victorians, with cases rising to those levels …
I’d stress there are over 430 aged care facilities across the Melbourne area and less than half a dozen of those have been in a very serious situation, and acute situation, it’s only less than half a dozen of those where we have had those very distressing outcomes and that’s where we’ve stepped in.
The prime minister said a few aged care facilities in Melbourne had been “overwhelmed” by having to furlough all of their staff as close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, and “there were some terrible events that followed from that”:
Those facilities have now stabilised, my advice is. I mean Epping Gardens, a lot of work was being done yesterday and overnight, I’ll get an update in that in about half an hour. But I understand that’s heading to stabilised now.
He said there was a “big difference between Newmarch House and Epping Gardens”, mainly because Newmarch did not have all of its staff placed in quarantine, and because NSW did not in April have the level of community transmission now seen in Melbourne:
There wasn’t a community outbreak around Newmarch. When you have the level of community outbreak that you have in Victoria it gets into every workplace.
Meanwhile, in Melbourne, this just happened.
The flag they’re holding is the Australian red ensign, which is the official flag for Australian registered merchant ships. But it was used by soldiers in both world wars.
According to the figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria yesterday, there are 159 active cases of Covid-19 across the six local government areas south-west of Melbourne that are now under stricter restrictions.
The biggest source is the outbreak at the Australian Lamb Company at Colac, which is now at 64 cases.
The borough of Queenscliffe has not recorded any cases throughout the entire pandemic but it is hemmed in by Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast.
There’s a sombre mood in Victoria today, waking up after the worst day of the pandemic so far. Yesterday 747 new cases were reported – 723 in Victoria alone – and 13 deaths, all in Victoria and 10 linked to residential aged care.
One of the worst-hit aged care homes is Epping Gardens, where 85 residents and 35 staff have tested positive for Covid-19. Family members of people living in that facility have told Guardian Australia it was “complete chaos”.
Another man died after that toll was announced. The man in his 50s, from Portland in south-west Victoria, 350km from Melbourne and only newly outside the South Australian border bubble, will be included in today’s death toll.
New restrictions in regional Victoria are in force from today. People living in the of Colac-Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, and the borough of Queenscliffe local government areas will not be able to have guests in their homes.
From Monday everyone in Victoria will be required to wear a face mask or face covering when they leave their house, unless they have a medical exemption. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said he will not guarantee against introducing further restrictions but, as the growth in cases continues to be driven by outbreaks in essential workplaces, a tighter city-wide lockdown may not have any effect.
People in NSW and the ACT who want to shop at a Woolworths supermarket will also be “strongly encouraged” to wear a face mask in-store from Monday. New rules requiring gyms to employ hygiene marshals will come into force in NSW from tomorrow. And three new venues – Harpoon and Hotel Harry in Surry Hills, Matinee Coffee in Marrickville and Tan Viet in Cabramatta – have been closed for cleaning after it was revealed they were frequented by someone who tested positive to Covid-19.
Let’s crack on. You can follow me on Twitter at @callapilla or email me at email@example.com.