Here are this week’s key developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Elias Visontay and it’s Friday 25 September.
Daniel Andrews sorry over hotel quarantine
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has unreservedly apologised to Victorians over the handling of hotel quarantine in his state.
On Friday, he appeared before the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry, where he said he did not know who made the decision to use private security in the quarantine program.
Earlier in the week, the Victorian health minister, Jenny Mikakos, told the inquiry she was not involved in the decision to use private security contractors to enforce hotel quarantine in Melbourne because it was a “multi-agency response”.
Victorian cases drop
Victoria recorded its lowest daily numbers since June, with new cases under 20 on four days this week. On Monday, just 11 new Covid-19 cases were announced.
Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average is now 25.1, and regional Victoria’s is 0.8. However, it appears there will not be any major steps taken to ease lockdowns ahead of the dates outlined in the previously announced roadmap out of restrictions.
On Friday, New South Wales recorded a new locally-acquired Covid-19 case, breaking a three-day streak without community transmission.
Globally, the United States recorded its 200,000th Covid-19 death this week, as the global death toll nears 1 million.
State borders reopen
This week the Queensland government announced it would expand the border zone further into New South Wales, to include councils taking in Byron Bay and other northern communities.
On Tuesday, the South Australian premier, Stephen Marshall, also announced he would open his state’s borders to NSW from Thursday.
However, anyone who entered South Australia from NSW before midnight on Thursday morning and entered quarantine would have to remain in isolation until the end of their two-week period.
Lending rules relaxed
As part of an attempt to revive the economy, the Morrison government has unveiled significant changes to lending rules. The changes allow credit providers to rely on less information – what is provided by borrowers – to approve loans.
The government will also introduce legislation to make it easier for small businesses experiencing pandemic-related financial distress to avoid administration. Enterprises with liabilities under $1m will be eligible for a new debt restructuring process
Focus on jobs
In a speech ahead of the rescheduled federal budget, now set for 6 October, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on Thursday said the government would focus on job creation and minimising unemployment over reducing debt, marking a change in the Coalition’s fiscal strategy that has dominated recent years.
On Friday, changes to jobseeker kicked in, including cutting the payment by $300 a fortnight, as well as eligibility test changes that the government predicts will cut 30,000 people off from the supplement.