Australia news LIVE: Further restrictions in NSW, Victoria as COVID-19 cases continue to rise; Novak Djokovic to stay in the country until at least Monday

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Key posts

  • Nightclubs to close, surgery restricted as ‘safety measures’ return to NSW
  • New testing rules, density limits now in effect in Victoria
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Nightclubs to close, surgery restricted as ‘safety measures’ return to NSW

The NSW government is preparing to announce a major reversal of COVID-19 restrictions by shutting nightclubs, banning singing and dancing in pubs, and pausing major events and some elective surgery in response to the state’s surging Omicron caseload.

The changes were expected to be finalised today after NSW recorded 70,000 coronavirus cases in two days and a significant increase in the number of hospitalised patients, state government sources not authorised to speak publicly said last night.

Premier Dominic Perrottet is today expected to announce the return of restrictions for hospitality.Credit:Anna Kucera

Venues would also be discouraged from allowing “vertical consumption”, or standing up while drinking at bars, under the proposed changes, the sources said.

Major events would be risk-assessed by NSW Health and postponed where necessary. Restrictions will be branded as “safety measures” rather than a lockdown, according to the sources.

Read the full story here.

New testing rules, density limits now in effect in Victoria

A couple of important changes came into effect in Victoria from 11.59pm last night.

People who test positive on a rapid antigen test (RAT) are now considered “probable cases” and are subject to the same requirements as those who test positive via a PCR test. That means you must isolate and notify your close contacts.

The state government says people must report their positive RAT result to the Victorian Department of Health either via an online form or by phone, so people can access care, information and financial support during their period of isolation.

Changes to density limits are also in effect from this morning. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, nightclubs and other entertainment venues must operate at a quota of one person per two square metres. Similar rules are already in place in NSW due to the wave of Omicron infections.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, January 7. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • NSW is expected to today announce that nightclubs will close their doors in a bid to slow the latest wave of Omicron infections. As Michael Koziol and Mary Ward report, there is also expected to be a ban on singing and dancing in pubs as well as a pause to some elective surgery. Yesterday, NSW reported 34,994 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths.
  • New density limits are now in place in Victoria. Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs must operate at a quota of one person per two square metres. As of today, people who test positive in Victoria to a rapid antigen test (RAT) must isolate and notify their close contacts (as though they tested positive via a PCR test) and must tell the Victorian Department of Health. In effect, positive RAT cases are now being treated like positive PCR cases (without the need to confirm the result via PCR). Yesterday, Victoria reported 21,997 cases and six deaths.
  • Novak Djokovic’s father has appealed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to release the tennis star from immigration detention. The world No. 1 will stay in Melbourne until at least Monday as part of a bid to overturn his visa cancellation in the Australian courts. Djokovic is due to play at the Australian Open later this month.
  • Queensland has flagged that elective surgeries in its state will be pulled back in the coming weeks due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and expected hospitalisations. The state has also called on the Morrison government to introduce a national reporting system for positive rapid antigen tests. There were 10,332 cases and one death reported in Queensland yesterday.
  • Elsewhere in Australia, and there were 992 official cases in the ACT yesterday. There were 751 in Tasmania, 3070 in South Australia, 256 in the Northern Territory and just one community case in Western Australia.
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