10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning, all.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed that coronavirus restrictions will ease next week, despite high case numbers. The state recorded 2297 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday, which is a national record. It’s expected the state will hit its 70% double-dose target at the end of next week, at which point the 9pm curfew will end and hospitality venues will be able to welcome up to 50 patrons sitting outdoors. All essential workers in Victoria need to have received at least one shot by today.

Sydneysiders won’t be able to travel to the regions until at least October 25. Regional travel was supposed to be allowed when the state hits 80% double-vax target — which is set to happen over the weekend — but has been pushed back due to fears of low vaccination rates in some communities. “Obviously we’ve made commitments in relation to the 80 per cent double dose, and it looks like, based on the efforts everyone has made across the state, we will hit that target over the weekend,” said Premier Dominic Perrottet. “It’s incredibly positive, but there have been concerns about the different pace of the vaccine rollout, particularly in regional NSW.”

Queensland’s militant approach to state borders might be easing. Now that there is are signs of a fast-tracked approval process for Pfizer to offer its vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is signalling a change in rhetoric. The below post has been much discussed, as it suggests a reopening in time for Christmas.

The first COVID-19 self-testing kits have been approved for use in Australia by the medical regulator. Three rapid antigen test kits will be able to be supplied around the country from November 1. “We expect that more rapid antigen tests for self-testing will be approved over the coming weeks,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt.

The ACT’s lockdown is over. But there are still restrictions in place — masks are still mandatory both indoors and outdoors, for example. Licensed venues, cafes and restaurants can now serve seated customers, and five people are allowed to visit another home.

Australia’s unemployment rate rose 0.1% over September to 4.6%, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. The nation lost 138,000 jobs over the month as lockdown restrictions constrained NSW and Victoria. The topline unemployment rate does not tell the full story of Australia’s labour market, with workforce participation falling.

Human resources firm Employsure faced a 297% increase in calls regarding vaccine mandates in September, and call volumes have not fallen in October. Businesses are seeking clarity over how to approach unvaccinated workers covered by vaccine mandates and public health orders. Communication with the workforce remains key for businesses, Employsure business partner Emma Dawson said.

eBay and Amazon have seen far bigger consumer spending increases than their brick-and-mortar competitors, illion and Accenture state. New data shows online auction site eBay has seen spending peak 310% over pre-COVID levels in recent months. Big W, Kmart, Target, and David Jones have not seen similar increases in recent months, the data shows.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has grown a new audience on Instagram using a campaign of live videos with anti-vax wellness influencers. Roberts has grown his audience to a following of 29,600 over six months. The move spotlights how anti-vaxxer content is being used as a growth and engagement tool by influencers and politicians.

Facebook is working on tech that will monitor human life, the company said in a new blog post. The idea is to build AI that sees the world as humans do, from a first-person perspective. “Next-generation AI will need to learn from videos that show the world from the center of action,” the blog post said. This AI could be used for what Facebook envisions as the future of smartglasses.

BONUS ITEM

A good read on the Chinese real estate market. One-fifth of the homes in China –—at least 65 million units — are empty. That means there’s enough empty real estate in the country to house the entire population of France. China’s ghost cities are a sprawling testament to its reliance on real estate as a driver of economic growth, and in its belief in the sector as a safe investment.