Good evening, here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Luke Henriques-Gomes and it’s Friday 5 June.
NSW police take court action to stop Black Lives Matter protest
As the prime minister, Scott Morrison, urged people to stay away from Black Lives Matter protests planned for capital cities on Saturday due to social distancing rules, the NSW supreme court ruled in favour of police, making Sydney’s event illegal.
In Victoria, the government also urged protesters to stay away, and said the organisers would be fined if more than 20 people turned up. Thousands are expected. But in South Australia an exemption to crowd limits was granted, which will allow the protest to go ahead.
Backlash against homebuilder scheme spreads to government backbench
The government’s $688m pledge on Thursday to offer grants for home improvements and building projects was panned by the IPA, as well as some Coalition MPs, who warned it was a waste of money.
It followed a frosty reception on Thursday from most experts about the design of the scheme, which requires a single person to earn less than $125,000 a year or a couple to make less than $200,000. Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce were among the MPs who raised concerns on Friday.
While the PM has said the scheme is not negotiable, backbenchers are lobbying the assistant treasurer, Michael Sukkar, to make sure the program does not extend beyond December.
Covid scheme providing food to older Australians fails to deliver
A government scheme to deliver a predicted 36,000 Covid food boxes to older people has fallen well short of that target. The fact that only 38 boxes were delivered, as revealed to the Covid Senate committee, was evidence that the elderly had been left to “fall through the cracks”, according to Labor.
Although the Department of Health said “demand was low” for the $9m program, seniors groups said the leftover money should be used on other programs that would assist older Australians, such home care packages.
WA further loosens Covid restrictions
The Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, said full-contact competitive sport would be allowed again from tomorrow, while gyms were also given the green light to reopen. Restrictions will also be eased to allow galleries, museums, the TAB and zoos to begin operating again, while Rottnest Island will be able to welcome visitors. The state has a total of 30 active cases.
Ebola drug endorsed as coronavirus treatment
A national Covid taskforce has recommended the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir on coronavirus patients. The National Covid-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce said clinicians could start using the drug to treat adults who had moderate, severe or critical cases of Covid-19. It would help aid recovery times. The drug, which was first developed to treat Ebola, is now the first medication to be recommended for hospitalised patients who contract coronavirus.
Australian Associated Press to live on
Although not linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the news in March that the national newswire AAP would close came just as the country entered lockdown. But following interest from several investors, plans to shutter the newswire were placed on hold.
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