10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Good morning. Hope you all had good weekends.

1. The big news over the weekend was nine high-rise public housing towers in Melbourne going into hard coronavirus lockdown. That means residents will not be allowed to leave their units under almost any circumstances for at least five days. They will receive two weeks of rent relief, deliveries of food and activities, and hardship payments for those out of work.

2. But it has obviously been controversial. First of all, there is a very heavy police presence – about 500 officers in total per shift, with a presence on most floors, which has amplified concerns about overly zealous policing of marginalised communities through the pandemic. The Victorian government has also admitted some of the blocks do not actually have any cases of COVID-19, and were locked down on “precautionary principle”.

3. Victoria recorded 74 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, down from a high of 108 on Saturday. Only one of the new cases is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, with 16 linked to known outbreaks and 53 under investigation. Total active cases in Victoria sit at 543. “Obviously 70 odd cases is better than 100, but we are going to see some big days, some big numbers in the days ahead,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.

4. One more on the Victorian outbreak. The AFR reports this morning that a wider lockdown of Melbourne, including the CBD, is a “live possibility”, with mayor Sally Capp saying preparations were well underway. This would obviously set back the reopening effort, and Scott Morrison’s roadmap, quite dramatically.

5. We spoke to a number of people who withdrew their super as part of the government’s early access scheme, and now worry the tax office will come after them. It’s pretty clear from the many and varied stories that Australians dipped into their retirement savings during the pandemic for all sorts of reasons – some of which didn’t perfectly align with the guidelines – and the ATO might have a fight on their hands trying to work through the particulars.

6. The ATO also revealed at the end of last week that it kicked 6,500 businesses off the JobKeeper after their claims were deemed fraudulent or ineligible. Some 8,000 people have been sent letters indicating they may need to repay wage subsidies they have already received.

7. There are plans afoot to haul TikTok before the Foreign Interference through Social Media senate inquiry. The Bytedance-owned app is often subject to allegations it feeds data back to the Chinese government. India banned TikTok at the end of last month following its own heightened tensions with China.

8. A new strain of the coronavirus is more infectious than its predecessor but is not making people any sicker than before, according to a new global study. You know, if you needed something else to worry about. Researchers call the new strain G614 and the previous strain D614. One of the researchers who worked on the study told CNN that the new mutation is “now the dominant form infecting people.”

9. How are things going with the coronavirus in the US? Not well. “I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview. On Friday, the US reported 51,842 new cases, making it the third consecutive day that the country reported more than 50,000 new infections. The country has reported a total of 2,795,437 cases and 129,438 deaths.

10. And to wrap us up… Kanye West announced on Twitter that he would run for president in 2020. One semi-major problem: the deadline to file as an independent has passed in six states and the deadline in seven others is approaching. Better hop to it.

BONUS ITEM

This 1951 bottle of Penfolds Grange sold to a Melbourne buyer for $103,000 – the highest price ever paid for an Australian wine.

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