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Out of lockdown, NSW case numbers plunge; Victoria's down again


A day after emerging from a 106-day lockdown, NSW has recorded 360 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, as well as five deaths.


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There was also positive news from Victoria which has recorded 1466 new COVID-19 infections and eight deaths as the state’s new caseload numbers dipped for the second straight day.

Victoria’s  health department confirmed there are 19,627 active cases in the state, after 68,509 tests.

More than 36,000 Victorians were vaccinated at state-run centres on Monday.

The eight deaths bring the toll from the current outbreak to 101.

NSW small- and medium-sized businesses have been given the green light to restock for Christmas after the state government released an economic recovery plan it hopes will lead “major summer trade”.

A day after the state began to emerge from a near four-month lockdown, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Treasurer Matt Kean on Tuesday announced a package to support business.

Shops, gyms, cafes and hair salons were on Monday overrun as fully-vaccinated patrons responded to weeks of pent-up demand, and as people ventured more than five kilometres from home.

While authorities and business owners were nervous about potential conflict because unvaccinated people are currently denied entry and in-venue service, most in NSW were on their best behaviour.

Perrottet said Tuesday’s announcement was “all about confidence”.

“Last year, as we came through the pandemic, business confidence was key – was crucial – to driving economic growth, to ensuring that businesses continued to employ and bring people on,” he said.

Eligible businesses with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million will be able to apply for a grant of up to $20,000 to compensate for loss of perishable stock, or claim $10,000 for reduced capacity to sell non-perishable items, if they are impacted by a lockdown.

“As we head into the summer months and Christmas trade … businesses can go out and invest in their businesses,” the premier said.

He insisted any future lockdown would be a last, not first, resort.

Victorian agriculture and farming industry groups are calling for the state government to “urgently clarify” employer and worker rights ahead of the vaccine mandate deadline.

The deadline for authorised workers to show proof they have received or booked their first vaccine or have a medical exemption is in three days.

The Victorian Farmers Federation, AUSVEG VIC, Fruit Growers Victoria and a number of other groups have issued a joint-call for clarity around unfair dismissal, privacy rights and employer and employee obligations ahead of October 15.

The groups have been speaking to Agriculture Victoria about their concerns, but they say “crucial” information on the vaccine mandate remains unclear.

Among their questions, the industry wants to know whether employers are at risk of being pursued by workers under industrial relations laws, and how employers can request for an employee’s vaccination status without breaching their privacy.

“We’re only days away from the vaccine mandate coming into force and many of our basic questions seem to have been placed in the too hard basket,” VFF president Emma Germano said.

“Industry groups have been talking to farmers non-stop since the announcement was made and all of us just want to be able to pass on accurate information and support our growers in a timely manner.

“The Victorian government must publicly release further information and they need to do it immediately.”

Meanwhile, more vaccine supply has allowed the state government to widen Pfizer and Moderna access to Victorians aged over 60 at state-run hubs.

As of Sunday, 85.8 per cent of Victorians over 16 had received their first vaccine, including 92.9 per cent of people over 50.

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