17 October 2021

UPDATED: 33 COVID-19 cases recorded as calls for easing of retail restrictions increase

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra Centre during lockdown

Even though lockdown has been lifted, restrictions on many retail businesses remain strict. Photo: David Murtagh.

UPDATED NOON: There have been 33 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the ACT in the 24 hours to 8 pm yesterday. This brings the total number of cases for this outbreak to 1447.

Of these cases, 24 are linked to known cases or ongoing clusters.

There were 16 patients in ACT hospitals, including nine in intensive care.

Canberrans are asked to keep up to date on new exposure locations on the ACT COVID-19 website or through the Check In CBR app.

ACT Health is advising that there has been a noticeable drop in the number of people getting tested.

Last weekend, on Saturday 9 October, there were more than 3500 tests undertaken, compared with only 1508 tests collected yesterday, Saturday 16 October.

A part of the drop in numbers is because of the recent changes to the way exposure locations are now classified. However, ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said it was still an important reminder to Canberrans to continue coming forward for testing.

“Testing remains a vital step in the way we manage COVID-19, especially now that we have eased restrictions,” Dr Coleman said.

“We are strongly urging Canberrans to continue to get tested with the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms and as soon as symptoms start.

“While the risk is lower, it is important everyone remembers that even if fully vaccinated, you can still contract COVID-19 and pass it on to others, especially to those who are unvaccinated.”

The Gold Creek COVID-19 testing site will permanently close this afternoon after 4 pm. It’s being done in order to allow the school to prepare for the return of students in the coming weeks.

From Monday, COVID-19 testing will be available at EPIC as well as Capital Pathology at O’Connor and Holt in Canberra’s North.

NSW has 301 new locally acquired infections, a day after reaching 80 per cent double-dose vaccination of eligible residents.

There are currently 619 virus patients in the state’s hospitals, 137 of them in intensive care.

Health officials say NSW conducted more than 69,000 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours to Saturday night.

Some 91.9 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had one dose of a vaccine and 80 per cent both.

Victoria has recorded 1838 new coronavirus cases. Sadly, seven people with COVID-19 died.

9 am: Following yesterday’s announcement of an expansion of the ACT’s border bubble to the South Coast and more areas in regional NSW, the Opposition has called for the ACT Government to remove its restrictions on Canberra businesses.

The cross-border travel arrangements now allow Canberrans to move around certain parts of NSW, where many public health directions are significantly less strict than those currently in place in the ACT.

In particular, most retail businesses in Canberra are currently restricted to click and collect only, contactless delivery or shopping by appointment only.

In NSW, fully vaccinated people can freely visit the shops.

READ ALSO What the first day out of lockdown looked like for Canberra businesses

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee is calling on the Government to review the current restrictions.

“How is it fair that Canberrans can now cross the border into Queanbeyan to do their shopping freely but our local businesses are forced to trade under stricter restrictions?” she said.

Ms Lee said the ACT’s local businesses have already borne the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, and the Government announcing border changes without amending certain restrictions imposed on local businesses is “another slap in the face to the business community from a government that simply does not care about them”.

Elizabeth Lee

Leader of the Opposition Elizabeth Lee has called yesterday’s announcement a slap in the face for Canberra businesses. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

As of Monday, NSW will significantly ease restrictions again given the state hit its 80 per cent double vaccination target yesterday.

The number of people allowed into a household and at outdoor gatherings will increase, masks will no longer have to be worn in offices, community sports can resume and nightclubs can reopen (although you’re not allowed to dance).

Vertical consumption – standing up with a drink – will be allowed once more in pubs.

The NSW Government has confirmed that on 1 November the caps on patron numbers will also be lifted, and Greater Sydney will be reopened.

Currently, the ACT’s advice to residents is that interstate travel should only be undertaken to visit family and friends or other permitted reasons, and not just for a holiday.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said “the ACT and NSW are just a few weeks away from very high levels of full vaccination. But we’re not quite there yet, and our public health officials remain concerned about increasing case numbers in some parts of NSW”.

“If Canberrans decide to visit family and friends in the surrounding region, we ask that they be vigilant in observing COVID safe behaviours,” she said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has repeatedly called for patience and a common-sense approach to the next few weeks as the ACT gradually emerges from its nine-week hard lockdown.

Anyone who travels beyond the current approved list of postcodes will still be required to seek an exemption and quarantine upon their return.

READ ALSO Wet winter brings big spring growth, ACT Government ramping up mowing program

Two new exposure sites were added yesterday. Both are casual contact locations.

The first is Woolworths Majura Park which is a venue of concern on Monday, 11 October between 1:30 pm and 4:50 pm and the second is the Belconnen Physiotherapy Clinic, on the same day between 4:20 pm and 5:30 pm.

See the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website for more details and instructions to follow as a casual contact.

There are now 116 active exposure locations across the Territory.

Yesterday, it recorded 20 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8 pm on Friday.

Case numbers will be announced later this morning in an update from ACT Health.


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That wasn’t terribly hard to predict. The moment NSW decided (or, perhaps, the NSW premier decided) to further loosen their public health restrictions there was only going to be the smallest delay before the Liberals here started calling for us to follow suit.

The most vaccinated city on Earth, but the lockdown continues. Remind me why were we encouraged to get vaccinated

Cameron Fischer3:34 pm 17 Oct 21

Because you are a guinea pig. Grog shops and cafe’s/restaurants are open, supermarket, and even your friendly brothel in fyshwick are open for trade (dont believe me give’em a call or go look for yourselves. But you cannot buy essentials like new shoes for kids underware ect… Ludicrous

Someone poor the Ministers a round of Claytons, the lifting you have when you’re not having a lifting.

As a small business owner, it has been great to be up and trading for the past couple of days, even with this ridiculous booking system in place. Elizabeth Lee is totally on point with her comments.
Non essential retail are capable of monitoring numbers in their stores just as aptly as a cafe.
Hopefully this “booking system” is lifted come Monday. So we have parity with NSW.

It’s not fair, but really the speed at which things are changing, especially with NSW annoying things without telling the PM let alone other state leaders what would you expect and how could you realistically counter it without being criticised by other (self interest) groups?

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