cars queue next for sign reading "covid testing crossroads hotel"
(Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

NSW confirms more cases linked to a pub in Sydney’s south-west. Victorian students return to learning at home. And South Africa bans alcohol sales and introduces a curfew as case numbers increase.

At a Crossroads 

The number of coronavirus cases linked to a pub in south-west Sydney is now 13 cases. NSW Health confirmed this morning another eight cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel at Casula, some of which had already been reported to the media.

NSW confirmed 14 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night — four were returned international travellers and two were NSW residents who picked the virus up in Victoria and were self-isolating at home.

Anyone who attended the Crossroads between July 3 and 10 has been asked to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.

More than 1000 people are expected to quarantine themselves, including Federal Labor MP Anne Stanley who dined at the pub. 

There is no apparent link with Melbourne’s infections. 

While the venue has COVID Safe plan in place, patrons allege the hotel did not collect contact details of everyone entering the venue, as is required. NSW Health has not confirmed whether social distancing was in place, or if the venue collected patrons’ contact details. 

An Australian Defence Force (ADF) base in Wagga Wagga, and a gym close to the pub, have also been shut down after ADF and gym members visited the venue.  

Aussies stranded

Australians stuck abroad say their trips home have been cancelled, as caps are introduced on international arrivals. After the national cabinet decided to cut weekly arrivals from 6500 to 4000, Aussies trying to get home have reported that business and first-class ticket holders have been prioritised.

The cap on arrivals is designed to ease pressure on hotel quarantine, with flights into Victoria redirected or cancelled. In NSW, overseas arrivals will be capped at 450 passengers a day, with a maximum of 50 passengers allowed per incoming flight.

From Saturday, travellers returning to NSW will have to pay for their own hotel quarantine. The two-week stay costs $3000, with $1000 for each additional family member and $500 for children over three. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said travellers had had “ample time” to return home. By last month, the state had spent more than $50 million on quarantine accommodation. 

Return of homeschooling

In Victoria, remote learning will return for state schools in Melbourne from July 20. Students from prep to year 10 in lockdown zones will spend at least a month learning from home this time, affecting around 700,000 students. 

Specialist schools will remain open and year 11 and 12 students — along with year 10 students completing Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) subjects — will still be given face-to-face classes. There are concerns, though, that during coronavirus lockdowns, students living in high-risk homes have been turned away from their schools.

Yesterday Victoria recorded 273 new cases, and today 177 new cases, making eight straight days of triple-digit increases. New clusters have emerged across Melbourne’s hospitals, abattoirs, public housing estates. Police have issued $219,700 worth of fines to Victorians breaching lockdown restrictions in the past 24 hours.

A “data entry error” saw some Victorians in self-quarantine mistakenly sent a text message saying they could leave isolation before the 14-day period had ended. It’s not known how many received the message.

South Africa’s curfew

The South African government has reinstated a night-time curfew and banned alcohol sales to limit trauma cases and alcohol-related presentations at hospitals. 

The curfew will last from 9pm to 4am and will take effect from today. The country has the highest number of known coronavirus cases in Africa, with more than 276,000 confirmed cases and more than 4000 deaths. 

But not every country is being so proactive in the face of a second wave: while Hong Kong, some Indian states and European nations are reimposing local lockdowns, US businesses continue to defy the surge. 

Disney World in Florida reopened over the weekend despite the state recording the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases. On Sunday, Florida reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci said he hadn’t briefed US President Donald Trump in almost six weeks.

Peter Fray

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