Wednesday 22nd of September 2021



















It's one of Sydney's trendiest high streets, home to pubs, restaurants and vintage clothes shops — and it's been split in two by the city's COVID lockdown.

On one side of King Street in Newtown in Sydney's inner west, businesses have been forced to shut their doors during the week-long lockdown which came into effect early this morning.

On the other, stores are allowed to remain open due to a geographical quirk.

King Street sits right in between the City of Sydney and Inner West local government areas (LGAs) and in some places the boundary runs straight down the middle of the bustling thoroughfare.

Businesses on the City of Sydney side were put into lockdown from 11:59pm yesterday — along with Waverley, Randwick and Woolahra LGAs.

People living and working in these areas cannot leave their home unless they are shopping for essential goods and services, receiving medical care, exercising or conducting essential work or education. Non-essential businesses must also close.

The Inner West remains unaffected by stay-at-home orders, with businesses on that side of the road allowed to remain open as long as they adhere to the four-square-metre rule, with bar and restaurant patrons remaining seated.

The rules have created a divide on King Street and led to widespread confusion, with some businesses shutting just because they aren’t sure what public health orders apply.

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insuring losses...

Australia's insurance industry has lost the latest battle in an ongoing "war of attrition" between insurers and businesses that want compensation for COVID losses.

Key points:
  • The insurance industry has been denying small business claims for payouts for COVID losses
  • It lost a test case into the issue last year
  • It was seeking to challenge that ruling with an appeal but the High Court has knocked back that option

Many Australian businesses had a type of insurance when the pandemic hit that could cover them for losses linked to an interruption to trade.

It is estimated there were roughly 250,000 policies of this ilk in Australia when the pandemic struck with a total potential liability of $10 billion. 

However, the insurance industry claims these policies were never designed to cover business losses due to pandemics.

Last year its lobby group, the Insurance Council of Australia, took a test case to court to clarify that its members' policies did not cover pandemics.

But it lost the case, in a surprise judgement that came down to just a few technical words related to the repeal of the Quarantine Act and its replacement with a new Biosecurity Act.


The industry was seeking an appeal of that ruling in the High Court.

Today, its application for that appeal was denied.

The ICA's chief executive Andrew Hall acknowledged that today's ruling was a disappointment.

"While we are disappointed, this decision on the first test case provides us with certainty," Mr Hall said.

Will businesses be paid out?

ABC News understands that less than 10 businesses will now be paid out directly because of today's ruling.

That is because the insurance industry has lodged another test case.

That case is seeking to clarify, among many issues, whether businesses actually needed a confirmed case of COVID-19 within close proximity to their business to be paid out for losses related to the pandemic.

Many businesses would not be able to prove this and instead would argue their losses are more broadly linked to state-ordered lockdowns or closed borders.

The ICA's Mr Hall said the insurance industry will now focus on this second test case.

That case was only filed in March and it has not been heard yet.


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"the" word...


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian won’t say that word ["lockdown"]. Some in Melbourne are sneering at it. And epidemiologists say the government’s approach is a gamble.

On Friday, New South Wales implemented stay-at-home orders for anyone who lives and works in four of Sydney’s inner-city council areas.


For the rest of the city, the restrictions are lighter – you can still go to gyms, have five people over for dinner or attend a sporting match (at 50 per cent capacity).

The state’s targeted approach to lockdown, with fewer restrictions and strong reluctance to send the whole city into isolation, makes a stark contrast with the snap lockdowns we’ve seen in other cities such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

‘Lockdown light’ approach

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws, a member of the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 response team, told The New Daily the NSW government had gone for a ‘lockdown light’ approach.

“This lockdown of greater Sydney is light. I think we should have all felt the pain together and went for a lockdown over the weekend in particular,” Professor McLaws said.

“It will certainly slow down any additional transmission outside those areas – but there’s a big assumption that there are no cases currently outside them.”

Australia is dealing with a new coronavirus variant – Delta – that moves quicker than anything we’ve seen before.

At the start of the pandemic, health authorities thought it took about 15 minutes of close contact for someone to become infected with COVID-19. Now they know it can happen almost instantaneously.

It took just seconds for one person to infect a stranger as they walked past each other while shopping at Bondi Junction Westfield.


NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant described the Westfield case as a “scarily fleeting” encounter.

“They are clearly facing each other but it is literally someone moving across from each other for a moment. Close, but momentary,” Dr Chant said of the CCTV footage which showed the strangers passing.

Sydney’s three-week northern beaches lockdown in January worked, but that was before the Delta variant emerged.

To try a targeted lockdown again is a gamble, Professor McLaws said.

“With a variant of concern, they need to rejig things … I thought [a lockdown] should have come last week,” she said.

“One of the big problems is, we Sydneysiders travel long distances, we travel to shop and for work.”

Professor McLaws said she understood what a difficult decision lockdowns were, but in some cases they were needed to break the transmission.

“Just locking down a few of the perceived hot spots may do a lot, but it may not be perfect,” she said.

Sydney’s suburb-by-suburb lockdown has created chaos – with reports that pubs on one side of Newtown’s famous King Street strip were closed on Friday afternoon while those on other side were open.

Infectious disease expert Bill Bowtell, an adjunct professor at the University of NSW, said it was concerning the virus had already spread out of the state.

“Locking down four government areas is a good idea, but the virus does not understand suburbs,” Adjunct Professor Bowtell said.

“So, they’ve taken a punt.”

Sydney has long been being dubbed Australia’s COVID success story.

The state had very good outbreak response teams from the start and it has a long history of investing in public health.

NSW’s ‘gold standard’ contact tracing team is staffed by hundreds of people and receives extra help from ADF personnel.

But on Thursday, Premier Berejiklian said the state was experiencing its “scariest moment” since the pandemic started.

Go hard or go home (possibly for a long time)

Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy told The New Daily that Sydney’s restrictions may not be enough.

“There’s no way the tracing team are not under stress. Even though they are doing a really good job, the bottom line is they’re dealing with a much more infectious variant than they’ve dealt with before,” Dr Moy said.

Without a vaccinated population Australia has three levers it can pull in terms of fending off COVID.

The first lever is hotel quarantine, the second is contact tracing, and the third is lockdowns.

“I think the next 48-72 hours are the critical point,” Dr Moy said.

“It’s hard to know which way it will go. I have great sympathy for decision-makers.”


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weddings, funerals...

Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong will enter a lockdown from 6:00pm today until 11.59pm on Friday July 9.

Key points:
  • The chief health officer says a wider lockdown is the only way the state can get back to zero community transmission
  • Social distancing restrictions have been introduced for parts of regional NSW not covered by the new lockdown
  • Anyone who has been in the Greater Sydney region on or after June 21 must stay at home for 14 days since they left

It comes as NSW recorded 12 new locally acquired cases, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian warning the state to "brace ourselves" for more cases in the coming days.

Under the new restrictions, people in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong can only leave home for the following four reasons:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (including to get a COVID-19 vaccine)
  • Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer
  • Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home

Ms Berejikian said weddings would be permitted to take place today and tomorrow on compassionate grounds.

However, from Monday they would not be allowed until at least July 9.

Funerals will be permitted with a maximum 100 guests (subject to the four-square-metre rule) for the duration of the lockdown.


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