Melbourne eases lockdown, schools, work resume

Police tape blocks an entrance at a public housing estate which is undergoing a forced lockdown in Melbourne on July 10, 2020, as the city records another 288 new cases in a fresh outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 September 2020

Melbourne eases lockdown, schools, work resume

  • Melbourne and surrounding parts of rural Victoria state were placed under strict “Level 4” lockdowns on Aug. 2
  • The restrictions were scheduled to be eased Sunday if the rolling 14-day average of new infections was between 30 and 50 cases

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has further eased lockdown restrictions imposed after a surge in coronavirus cases, allowing most children to return to school from next month and sending more than 125,000 people back to work.
Melbourne and surrounding parts of rural Victoria state were placed under strict “Level 4” lockdowns on Aug. 2, shuttering schools and non-essential businesses, imposing a nighttime curfew and prohibiting public gatherings.
The restrictions were scheduled to be eased Sunday if the rolling 14-day average of new infections was between 30 and 50 cases. With 12 new infections reported Saturday and 16 Sunday, the 14-day average has dropped to 22.1.
That allowed Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews to confirm the 9 p.m.- 5.a.m curfew will be lifted from 5 a.m. Monday, though residents still cannot travel more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from home. Public gatherings of up to five people from a maximum of two households will be allowed.
A further easing could take place on Oct. 19 if the average falls below five new cases per day. Masks remain mandatory.
Andrews said there are 399 active cases in Victoria, the first time that number has fallen below 400 since June 30.
“It’s one measure among many of the amazing performance of the Victorian community — staying apart but sticking together, making sure that we defeat this second wave,” Andrews said.


Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

Updated 20 min 29 sec ago

Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

  • Trump insists that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un
  • Trump calls India, China air ‘filthy’ as he hits Biden’s stance on climate change

NASHVILLE, USA: Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump for befriending North Korea’s “thug” leader, likening his diplomacy to working with Hitler.
In a sharp clash in their final presidential debate, Biden attacked Trump’s insistence that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un.
“He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said of the young North Korean leader.
“That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe — the rest of Europe. Come on.”
But Biden indicated he was also willing to meet with Kim, saying his condition would be that Pyongyang works to make the Korean peninsula “a nuclear-free zone.”
Trump said that former president Barack Obama had left him “a mess” on North Korea and had warned him of the risk of “nuclear war.”
After the summits, “we have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” said Trump, who also played down North Korea’s recent unveiling of a massive new long-range missile at a military parade.
“He didn’t like Obama,” Trump said of Kim not meeting the former president. “He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.”
Biden, who was vice president under Obama, hit back that Obama would not meet Kim because he was pushing stronger sanctions.
“President Obama said we’re going to talk about denuclearization. We’re not going to legitimize you.”
Trump first met in June 2018 with Kim in Singapore, the first-ever summit between the countries still technically at war, and later said that the two leaders “fell in love.”
The two leaders have met two more times and North Korea has since held off on nuclear and missile tests but analysts say Pyongyang has kept advancing its weapons programs.

Climate change
On climate change, Trump described the air in India and China as “filthy” as he denounced Biden’s plans to tackle the controversial issue.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Biden said that climate change is “an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it.”
“We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years,” he said.
The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.
Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Trump’s remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.
At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.