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Victoria's 28 cases, NSW free of hot spots amid calls to open Qld border

Politics

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared NSW free of COVID-19 hotspots, with the state recording another 10 cases of the illness.

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Four of the state’s new virus cases detected in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday were community transmissions linked to existing cases or clusters, while six were returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

This led Berejiklian to declare on Wednesday that the Queensland border should no longer be closed.

“If you look at any proposed definition of hotspot, technically there aren’t any hotspots in NSW, so I’d be arguing there’s no reason to keep the border closed today,” she told reporters.

Queensland is reportedly considering a rule change that will require NSW to go just 14 days, rather than the current 28 days, without community transmission of COVID-19 before the northern state reopens its border.

“There’s really no basis to have the Queensland border shut. I would argue that even the 14-day limit is potentially unrealistic,” Berejiklian said.

Her move comes as Victoria announced eight more deaths, but just 28 new virus cases. the state’s lowest figure since 20 on June 24. The rolling 14-day new case averages have also fallen to 44.4 for Melbourne and 2.9 for regional Victoria.

There are 83 cases with an unknown source in Melbourne and one in regional areas.

Regional Victorians woke on Thursday to eased COVID-19 rules as locked-down Melburnians have to cope with their so-called “ring of steel”.

Victoria Police has tightened traffic checkpoints on Melbourne’s outskirts to crack down on regional travel, with rules for outside the city wound back overnight.

Under the regional travel crackdown, Melbourne adults who leave the city without a lawful excuse will be handed a $4957 fine.

The next step for regional Victoria means pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to serve people outside with strict density quotas, while outdoor gathering limits will be upped to 10.

Melbourne’s new case average must stay between 30 to 50 for some of the city’s restrictions to be eased as planned on September 28.

Berejiklian also announced NSW would accept an extra 500 Australians returning from overseas each week, provided Queensland and Western Australia double their intake.

“It would still only be about a third of what NSW is doing, but it certainly means they’d be sharing the load more,” she said.

She said she was prepared to accept almost 3000 returning citizens per week, with the daily cap to rise from 350 to about 420, after reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

Among the new cases announced on Wednesday are a student from Blue Mountains Grammar School who attended while infectious late last week, a household contact of the student and another close contact.

Contact tracing is underway and the school is closed to students in Years 10, 11, and 12 until after the school holidays.

Meanwhile, a man has been charged with breaching a COVID-19 public health order following an unauthorised protest at a university in Camperdown today.

Police will allege in court the 34-year-old man was given several warnings and directions to leave the area, before he was taken to Newtown station and charged.

He was granted conditional bail, but refused to acknowledge the conditions and spent the night in jail. He is due to appear at Newtown Local Court on Thursday.

-AAP

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