Qantas international travel to resume in November, Victoria COVID cases grow, NSW COVID cases grow, NSW regional travel pushed until November 1, Daniel Andrews to stick to Victoria roadmap, ACT COVID cases grow, Anthony Byrne quits intelligence committe after IBAC inquiry


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed NSW’s plan to scrap home and hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated overseas arrivals from November 1 but said this is “about Australian residents and citizens first”, not tourists.

“I’m very pleased that the NSW government has advised …that they will be in a position to move to a no quarantine arrangement for people arriving back in Australia from the 1st of November,” Mr Morrison said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday.Credit:James Brickwood

The change “enables us to be in a position to ensure that we can lift the caps for returning Australian citizens, residents and their families from the 1st of November into NSW”, Mr Morrison said.

“What this also means is we will be allowing Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families, to leave Australia from wherever they live in Australia and return, but obviously the capped arrangements in other states will continue because of the vaccination levels in those states and territories.”

“The federal government is not opening … up to anything other than Australian citizens and residents and their immediate families. That is what will happen from the 1st of November in NSW, and indeed all around the country for Australians departing. To return to Australia, obviously they’d have to do that through Sydney or under the capped arrangements in other states and territories.”

Mr Morrison said “the Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors … to come to Australia under these arrangements”.

“They are decisions for the Commonwealth government and when we are in a position to make that decision down the track, obviously in NSW, they will be able to do so if they are vaccinated without having to quarantine.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said earlier this morning that hotel quarantine would be a “thing of the past” from November 1 for fully vaccinated returning Australians as well as tourists. He said NSW would get tourists back as quickly as possible but “returning Australians will naturally be the first cab off the rank”.

Under the NSW plan, people will be required to take a COVID-19 test before boarding a flight and show proof of full vaccination. The state government said in a press release that “further advice about testing requirements for arrivals will be provided in the coming days”.

Asked if Mr Perrottet had consulted him about NSW’s changes, Mr Morrison said “the premier and I, and indeed prior to him becoming Premier in earlier discussions with ministers in the NSW government, this has been a topic of discussion for some time.”

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“I welcome the announcement today that is consistent with the advice I have had from my own Chief Medical Officer and we’re looking forward to those arrangements coming into place.”

Mr Morrison said NSW had confirmed 210 unvaccinated people will be allowed in each week.

“Earlier this week, I wrote to all the premiers and chief ministers and asked them to advise me of where they are up to when it came to home quarantine, which would enable Australia to move to the next phase, more broadly, that would allow Australians to travel overseas and return if they are vaccinated, and to return, to return vaccinated, with no caps on their return,” he said.

He said it won’t be open slather for everyone in the world to come to Australia and the Commonwealth would stick to its plan of allowing travel only by Australian residents and their families first.

“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that,” he said.

“In the first instance, it will be for Australian residents and their families. We will see how that goes and then we will [look] to other priorities set out as being skilled migration as well as [getting international] students to Australia and then we will move on to the challenge of dealing with international visitors to Australia.”

The federal national security committee tweaked the rules earlier this week to classify overseas parents of Australians as “immediate family”, meaning they will qualify for travel exemptions under the restrictions.

This comes after a long community campaign for the change.

The decision to classify parents overseas as immediate family has been made, but it won’t come into effect until November 1 when the other travel changes take place.



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NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


The NBL have delayed the start of the season until December 3 and ensured the Perth Wildcats will avoid the nation’s major COVID hotspots until January 30.

And all Wildcats players will be vaccinated for the start of the season, avoiding any potential issues with changing laws.

The league has today released a fixture heavily designed around playing at venues with fans in attendance while avoiding border closures.

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL FIXTURE

Matches were initially scheduled to start on November 18 but the later tip-off has eased the COVID-19 pressures on the NBL.

The fixture will see the Wildcats playing seven of their first nine games at home, with their only travel to Adelaide and Brisbane during that time.

The 36ers, Brisbane and New Zealand will all play in Perth twice in the early rounds.

Perth won’t play in NSW until January 30 and their first match in Victoria isn’t until February 26.

“It’s a credit to the league that they have been able to put together a fixture that presents the least amount if interruptions that seems possible,” Wildcats CEO Troy Georgiu said.

“Our priority was for our members to be able to attend games. The fact that we have a lot of home games during school holidays is great. People can watch summer hoops at night and we have some mouthwatering games during that time.

“We’ve got early games like Vic Law playing against his former team and a new JackJumpers team that is filled with former Wildcats.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

With 28 games scheduled across a 10-team competition, the Wildcats will play Adelaide four times and the remaining teams on three occasions. They won’t play any of the Victorian or NSW teams more than once at RAC Arena.

While that will require them to spend time in the nation’s most COVID-impacted states, Georgiu said the entire squad would be vaccinated.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“We didn’t mandate it so we are pleased that our players put themselves into a position where they can play even if laws come into place at some point during the season,” Georgiu said.

The NBL has planned for all teams to have four practice matches but an NBL Cup has not been announced.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the fixture could change if required, but everyone was looking forward to a more normal season.

“We are confident that as the country opens back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to,” he said.

PERTH WILDCATS 2021/22 SCHEDULE

(Home games in bold)

Fri Dec 3 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sun Dec 12 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Fri Dec 17 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Thurs Dec 23 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sat Jan 1 v Brisbane Bullets at Nissan Arena

Sat Jan 8 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 14 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Thurs Jan 20 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 28 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Sun Jan 30 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Fri Feb 4 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 6 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Sun Feb 13 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Feb 18 v Melbourne United at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 20 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Thurs Feb 24 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Sat Feb 26 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Sat Mar 5 v Tasmania JackJumpers at venue TBA

Sat Mar 12 v Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 20 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Thurs Mar 24 v Sydney Kings at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 27 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Sat Apr 2 v Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre

Tues Apr 5 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Apr 8 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Thurs Apr 14 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 16 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 23 v New Zealand Breakers at venue TBA



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NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


The NBL have delayed the start of the season until December 3 and ensured the Perth Wildcats will avoid the nation’s major COVID hotspots until January 30.

And all Wildcats players will be vaccinated for the start of the season, avoiding any potential issues with changing laws.

The league has today released a fixture heavily designed around playing at venues with fans in attendance while avoiding border closures.

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL FIXTURE

Matches were initially scheduled to start on November 18 but the later tip-off has eased the COVID-19 pressures on the NBL.

The fixture will see the Wildcats playing seven of their first nine games at home, with their only travel to Adelaide and Brisbane during that time.

The 36ers, Brisbane and New Zealand will all play in Perth twice in the early rounds.

Perth won’t play in NSW until January 30 and their first match in Victoria isn’t until February 26.

“It’s a credit to the league that they have been able to put together a fixture that presents the least amount if interruptions that seems possible,” Wildcats CEO Troy Georgiu said.

“Our priority was for our members to be able to attend games. The fact that we have a lot of home games during school holidays is great. People can watch summer hoops at night and we have some mouthwatering games during that time.

“We’ve got early games like Vic Law playing against his former team and a new JackJumpers team that is filled with former Wildcats.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

With 28 games scheduled across a 10-team competition, the Wildcats will play Adelaide four times and the remaining teams on three occasions. They won’t play any of the Victorian or NSW teams more than once at RAC Arena.

While that will require them to spend time in the nation’s most COVID-impacted states, Georgiu said the entire squad would be vaccinated.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“We didn’t mandate it so we are pleased that our players put themselves into a position where they can play even if laws come into place at some point during the season,” Georgiu said.

The NBL has planned for all teams to have four practice matches but an NBL Cup has not been announced.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the fixture could change if required, but everyone was looking forward to a more normal season.

“We are confident that as the country opens back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to,” he said.

PERTH WILDCATS 2021/22 SCHEDULE

(Home games in bold)

Fri Dec 3 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sun Dec 12 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Fri Dec 17 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Thurs Dec 23 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sat Jan 1 v Brisbane Bullets at Nissan Arena

Sat Jan 8 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 14 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Thurs Jan 20 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 28 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Sun Jan 30 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Fri Feb 4 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 6 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Sun Feb 13 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Feb 18 v Melbourne United at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 20 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Thurs Feb 24 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Sat Feb 26 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Sat Mar 5 v Tasmania JackJumpers at venue TBA

Sat Mar 12 v Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 20 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Thurs Mar 24 v Sydney Kings at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 27 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Sat Apr 2 v Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre

Tues Apr 5 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Apr 8 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Thurs Apr 14 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 16 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 23 v New Zealand Breakers at venue TBA



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Deadline for Real ID for air travel pushed back due to Covid pandemic


The Department of Homeland Security will delay the requirement for air travelers to have a Real ID-compliant form of identification, according to two senior officials with knowledge of the plans.

The deadline was supposed to be October 1. Similar delays in the past have been the result of a lack of full state compliance with the requirements for issuing the more secure driver’s licenses. But this time, it’s due to the pandemic, these officials say, which made it harder for people to get into state motor vehicle departments and get the new IDs.

Real ID compliant cards are issued after a more thorough check of an applicant’s identification and incorporate new security features that make them harder to counterfeit. Under the Real ID Act, passed by Congress after the 9/11 terror hijackings of 2001, travelers 18 or older wanting to board an airplane by using a driver’s license for identification must have one that conforms with the law’s stricter requirements.

The new licenses have a star on the upper right-hand corner.

The requirement was delayed repeatedly over the past decade, at first because states said they were not prepared for the new rules. It was set to kick in last year.

But the Department of Homeland Security postponed the effective date when the Covid pandemic made it harder for drivers to get to local motor vehicle departments. Now it is being delayed again for the same reason.

Former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said before leaving office that 114 million Americans had a compliant license and that all 50 states were issuing them. But while some states had issued Real IDs to 90 percent of their residents, others managed to get them to less than 25 percent of drivers, he said.

The Department of Homeland Security will shortly announce the new deadline, the officials said.





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Lady Bears road trip to Oklahoma pushed to Sunday | Baylor


The Baylor Lady Bears’ basketball game against Oklahoma has been moved from Saturday to Sunday because of icy weather conditions the Big 12 announced on Wednesday.

Baylor was scheduled to play the Sooners at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Normal. Instead, the game will tip off at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Earlier this week, Baylor’s home game versus West Virginia was postponed due to the winter storm that has hit Texas. Last week, the Big 12 rescheduled two games that were previously postponed because of Baylor’s COVID-19 interruption. The Lady Bears will now play Kansas State on Feb. 27 at the Ferrell Center and travel to play Kansas on March 6.

The Lady Bears (16-2, 11-1 Big 12) are leading the conference by 1.5 games over West Virginia and Oklahoma State in second place. Baylor is pursuing its 11th consecutive Big 12 regular season championship.



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The Day – Air travel recovery likely pushed back to 2022



As coronavirus vaccines started rolling out late last year, there was a palpable sense of excitement. People began browsing travel websites and airlines grew optimistic about flying again. Ryanair Holdings even launched a “Jab & Go” campaign alongside images of 20-somethings on holiday, drinks in hand.

It’s not working out that way.

For a start, it isn’t clear the vaccines actually stop travelers spreading the disease, even if they’re less likely to catch it themselves. Neither are the shots proven against the more-infectious mutant strains that have startled governments from Australia to the U.K. into closing, rather than opening, borders. An ambitious push by carriers for digital health passports to replace the mandatory quarantines killing travel demand is also fraught with challenges and has yet to win over the World Health Organization.

This bleak reality has pushed back expectations of any meaningful recovery in global travel to 2022. That may be too late to save the many airlines with only a few months of cash remaining. And the delay threatens to kill the careers of hundreds of thousands of pilots, flight crew and airport workers who’ve already been out of work for close to a year. Rather than a return to worldwide connectivity — one of the economic miracles of the jet era — prolonged international isolation appears unavoidable.

“It’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease,” said Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva. “We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”

To be sure, it’s possible a travel rebound will happen on its own — without the need for vaccine passports. Should jabs start to drive down infection and death rates, governments might gain enough confidence to roll back quarantines and other border curbs, and rely more on passengers’ pre-flight Covid-19 tests.

The United Arab Emirates, for example, has largely done away with entry restrictions, other than the need for a negative test. While U.K. regulators banned Ryanair’s “Jab & Go” ad as misleading, the discount airline’s chief Michael O’Leary still expects almost the entire population of Europe to be inoculated by the end of September. “That’s the point where we are released from these restrictions,” he said. “Short-haul travel will recover strongly and quickly.”

For now though, governments broadly remain skittish about welcoming international visitors and rules change at the slightest hint of trouble. Witness Australia, which slammed shut its borders with New Zealand last month after New Zealand reported one Covid-19 case in the community.

New Zealand and Australia, which have pursued a successful approach aimed at eliminating the virus, have both said their borders won’t fully open this year. Travel bubbles, meanwhile, such as one proposed between the Asian financial hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong, have yet to take hold. France on Sunday tightened rules on international travel while Canada is preparing to impose tougher quarantine measures.

“Air traffic and aviation is really way down the priority list for governments,” said Phil Seymour, president and head of advisory at U.K-based aviation services firm IBA Group Ltd. “It’s going to be a long haul out of this.”

The pace of vaccine rollouts is another sticking point.

While the rate of vaccinations has improved in the U.S. — the world’s largest air-travel market before the virus struck — inoculation programs have been far from aviation’s panacea. In some places, they’re just one more thing for people to squabble about. Vaccine nationalism in Europe has dissolved into a rows over supply and who should be protected first. The region is also fractured over whether a jab should be a ticket to unrestricted travel.

It all means a rebound in passenger air traffic “is probably a 2022 thing,” according to Joshua Ng, Singapore-based director at Alton Aviation Consultancy. Long-haul travel may not properly resume until 2023 or 2024, he predicts. The International Air Transport Association said this week that in a worst-case scenario, passenger traffic may only improve by 13% this year. Its official forecast for a 50% rebound was issued in December.

American Airlines on Wednesday warned 13,000 employees they could be laid off, many of them for the second time in six months.

At the end of 2020 “we fully believed that we would be looking at a summer schedule where we’d fly all of our airplanes and need the full strength of our team,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker and President Robert Isom told workers. “Regrettably, that is no longer the case.”

The lack of progress is clear in the skies. Commercial flights worldwide as of Feb. 1 wallowed at less than half pre-pandemic levels, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide. Scheduled services in major markets including the U.K., Brazil, Spain are still falling, the data show.

Quarantines that lock up passengers upon arrival for weeks on end remain the great enemy of a real travel rebound. A better alternative, according to IATA, is a digital Travel Pass to store passengers’ vaccine and testing histories, allowing restrictions to be lifted. Many of the world’s largest airlines have rolled out apps from IATA and others, including Singapore Airlines Ltd., Emirates and British Airways.

“We need to be working on as many options as possible,” said Richard Treeves, British Airways’ head of business resilience. “We’re hopeful for integration on those apps and common standards.”

But even IATA recognizes there’s no guarantee every state will adopt its Travel Pass right away, if at all. There’s currently no consensus on vaccine passports within the 27-member European Union, with tourism-dependent countries like Greece and Portugal backing the idea and bigger members including France pushing back.

“We’re going to have a lack of harmony at the beginning,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for passenger matters, said at a briefing last month. “None of it is ideal.”

The airline group has called on the WHO to determine that it is safe for inoculated people to fly without quarantining, in a bid to bolster the case for Travel Pass. But the global health body remains unmoved.

“At this point, all we can do is say, yes, you were vaccinated on this date with this vaccine and you had your booster — if it’s a two-course vaccine — on this date,” the WHO’s Harris said. “We’re working very hard to get a secure electronic system so people have that information. But at this point, that’s all it is. It’s a record.”

A vaccine passport wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the quality or durability of any protective immunity gleaned from being inoculated, or from being infected with virus naturally, either, Harris said.

“The idea that your natural immunity should be protective and that you could somehow use this as a way of saying ‘I’m good to travel’ is out completely.”

Doubts around vaccines mean aviation’s top priority should be a standardized testing regime, said IBA’s Seymour. This might involve a coronavirus test 72 hours before departure, 24 hours of isolation on arrival, and then another test before being released.

“If this was the world standard, then I think we would all be prepared to start picking holidays and fly away,” he said.

 





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FAU basketball vs. Western Kentucky pushed back due to pandemic


Phillip Suitts
 
| Palm Beach Post

The coronavirus pandemic has once again altered the schedule of the Florida Atlantic men’s basketball program.

The Owls’ two home games against Western Kentucky have been pushed back two days to Sunday and Monday, respectively, after multiple members of the Western Kentucky travel party demonstrated COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, according to an FAU release.

While those people later tested negative on Thursday, the Hilltoppers remain in Kentucky and will undergo another round of PCR swab tests for COVID-19 on Friday. If those tests are negative, Western Kentucky will travel to Florida on Saturday.

Everyone in the Western Kentucky travel party had tested negative for COVID-19 on PCR swab tests Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the release.

More: COVID-19 issues force FAU men’s basketball to postpone games at Marshall

FAU football: Distinct South Florida flavor on National Signing Day for Owls

More FAU football: Mike Stoops named Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator

Tip-off is now set for noon Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday at FAU Arena. Both games will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Already, FAU (8-7 overall, 3-3 Conference USA) has had four Conference USA games postponed due to COVID-19, two at Middle Tennessee and two at Marshall. Head coach Dusty May also missed FAU’s last two games, against Charlotte on Jan. 22-23, due to COVID protocols after a member of his family tested positive for the coronavirus. 



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