Good morning, folks.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce a roadmap out of the state’s prolonged Delta lockdowns today. It’s expected that fully vaccinated Sydneysiders will be able to have a beer in a pub by the end of October, and some parts of NSW will be released from lockdown within days. Gyms, hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and pubs will reopen (with reduced capacities) when the state hits 70% double vaccine doses, which is expected to happen in less than six weeks.
The state recorded 1,480 cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Of particular concern to health authorities is a jump in infections in the inner-Sydney suburbs of Glebe, Waterloo, Redfern and Marrickville. There were 31,064 vaccine doses administered by NSW Health yesterday.
Victoria recorded 324 new cases of COVID-19 today. 37,604 vaccine doses were administered. Stay-at-home orders will ease for most regional areas from tonight. Small weddings and funerals will resume, apart from in Shepparton. Masks will remain mandatory indoors and out.
The federal government is reportedly sticking with a plan to introduce international COVID-19 vaccination passports as early as October. Such a plan could potentially allow Australians to leave the nation and for travellers to return without undergoing two weeks of hotel quarantine. Any vaccine passport system would be contingent on home quarantine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
It was reported yesterday that Health Minister Greg Hunt did not accept an invitation for a detailed formal meeting with Pfizer’s top executives about progress on a coronavirus vaccine in early July last year. It gives the impression the government was slow to act on acquiring vaccines. Hunt is out in the media today rejecting this interpretation. “[Our] Pfizer … arrived at the same time as New Zealand, the same shipment in February [this year],” he said. “There were no earlier doses available. That’s a myth being put out by Labor.”
Woolworths and Coles have topped research firm Roy Morgan’s new June quarter list of Australia’s most-trusted brands. Department stores also fill out the top ten list, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said. The massively profitable Harvey Norman was an outlier, following its now-reversed decision not to repay the JobKeeper subsidies it accrued.
Afterpay is advocating for an Australian ‘stablecoin’, claiming crypto could transform how we pay. In a submission ahead of an appearance at a Senate select committee, the company calls on the government to collaborate with industry and “actively consider what framework an optimal environment for an Australian dollar-backed stablecoin should look like”. Such an arrangement would help companies like Afterpay avoid transaction and infrastructure costs.
NSW will trial a digital ‘education passport’ from early next year, Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello has announced. The initiative will provide the state’s residents with a register of education, skills and qualifications on the Service NSW app. The NSW government said it wants the passport to better connect the dots between how qualifications are translating to the job market and education providers.
Linktree says its new gender-neutral parental leave policy is part of a push to promote gender equity through workplace policies. It follows a report from the Grattan Institute that found Australia currently has one of the least generous parental leave schemes in the developed world. “Paid parental leave should be substantially boosted for fathers and partners,” the report concluded.
TikTok reportedly recommends explicit videos about drugs and sex to its youngest users. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found hundreds of adult videos on For You Pages for users aged 13-15. A TikTok spokesperson said the app doesn’t differentiate between the videos it recommends to adults versus minors.
Sorry to be a downer.