Coronavirus Australia updates live: Police to crack down on Sydney NYE’s revellers as source of COVID cluster remains mystery

Summary

  • NSW recorded five new locally acquired cases on Monday, from nearly 15,300 tests on to 8pm on Sunday
  • The Sydney harbour foreshore will be shut down for New Year’s Eve
  • David Jones city store, Coles supermarket in Edgecliff and Uniqlo in Pitt Street Mall are in a new list of places visited by COVID-19 cases
  • Health authorities are investigating a coronavirus case they believe predates the Avalon cluster
  • Police fined a dozen residents of the northern beaches who attended a wedding in Pyrmont on Sunday

Calls for royal commission into Australia's COVID response

Political leaders believe there is a strong case for an independent investigation into the handling of the pandemic that will leave the federal government with more than $1 trillion in gross debt, interest rates at near-zero for years and the states dealing with quarantine and health issues.

Peter Beattie, a former Queensland Labor premier, said mistakes had been made and an inquiry was a way to ensure future generations did not make the same ones.

He said it should not be a "blame game inquiry" but one that focused on the best way to respond to future pandemics.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the largest public expenditure since World War II. Former premiers and policy experts say a royal commission should be held into the federal and state response to the pandemic.Credit:Sam Moody

Tony Harris, a former NSW auditor-general, said that with so many government resources thrown at the pandemic, from health to economic stimulus, an investigation was warranted.

"It's the biggest economic and social event since the Vietnam War, so it deserves to be examined," he said. "I think people have sought to minimise the errors that have been made. People have forgotten or have wanted to forget those mistakes, but we need to learn from them."

But another former Victorian premier, Steve Bracks, said the suggestion of a royal commission was "nonsensical".

"In the years ahead, a future pandemic is likely, so we should learn from what happened in 2020 and be prepared for next time," he said.

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New Year's Eve restrictions in Sydney

For New Year’s Eve celebrations:

  • Hospitality venues will stay open but must adhere to the one person per four square metres rule
  • Council events will continue but must be controlled. People must be seated and not mingle. Strict record-keeping must also be followed
  • A short, seven-minute fireworks display will continue at midnight. The NSW Premier has urged people to watch that from home

Unless people have a New Year’s Eve pass, they will not be allowed to enter the designated zones around Circular Quay, North Sydney and the city.

For the north of the northern beaches peninsula zone (North of Narrabeen Bridge, and east of the Baha’i Temple), the current restrictions will remain in place until January 9:

  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to five visitors in total from within the zone (and includes at homes)
  • Current arrangements allowing five people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continue
  • No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve

For the southern zone of the northern beaches, the current restrictions will remain in place until January 2:

  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to 10 visitors in total from within the zone (and includes at homes)
  • Current arrangements allowing 10 people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continues
  • No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve

For Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong the following rules apply:

  • Gatherings in the home remain at 10 visitors in total (including children)
  • Outside gatherings (such as picnics) will be restricted to 50 people in total (down from 100)
  • People heading into the Sydney CBD will require a permit

For regional NSW there is no change to current arrangements.

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage

Good morning and welcome our live coronavirus coverage.

Here’s a look at the top COVID stories from the past 24 hours:

  • NSW reported five new coronavirus cases on Monday as testing numbers dropped to 15,364 during the 24-hour period prior after a number of days above 40,000 last week
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge will still light up for New Year's Eve but Sydneysiders will struggle to get near the action as health authorities investigate a coronavirus case they believe predates the Avalon cluster
  • Victoria's border to Sydney and the Central Coast will remain shut over New Year's Eve after the Victorian Health Minister warned NSW is "not out of the woods yet"
  • Australians have been urged not to panic about a mutant strain of the coronavirus detected in returned travellers from Britain. Experts say an "ironclad" hotel quarantine system remains key to containing all forms of the virus

In news around the world:

  • China has sentenced a former lawyer to four years in prison over her posts about the coronavirus response in Wuhan, the first known conviction of someone who chronicled authorities' early struggle to manage the outbreak
  • AstraZeneca's vaccine, developed at Oxford University, is widely expected to be approved for use in Britain this week after final data on its effectiveness against COVID-19 was submitted to government regulators last Monday
  • Japan plans to make coronavirus measures mandatory for the first time, punish rule violators and provide economic compensation as the government struggles to slow the ongoing virus upsurge

Stay with us as we cover these and other stories in more detail throughout the day.

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