Coronavirus: Full reopening of pubs could be scuppered

Public health team fear virus may accelerate if extra congregated settings are available

Australian scientists have begun human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed at the University of Queensland. Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be released by the end of September. Video: Reuters

 

Serious concerns raised at a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team could endanger plans to reopen the remainder of the State’s pubs on Monday.

It is understood concerns were raised at the emergency team by multiple participants regarding the current trends in infection rates in the country, as well as uncertainty over how the virus will behave.

There is significant concern among the team over how these trends could interact with an increase in congregated settings reopening. It is thought that some recent clusters of the virus have been linked to congregated settings already permitted to be open under earlier relaxations of restrictions.

Travel restrictions

The Government will now consider these matters at a key Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening at which moving to the next phase of reopening the economy will be discussed. There are also ongoing concerns on the emergency team over the incidence of the virus linked to travel, which will play into the Government’s upcoming decisions on travel restrictions.

It comes as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed that more than 300,000 public servants will have to take leave – including unpaid leave – to self-isolate if they go out of the country on non-essential business under new guidelines for the public sector.

Public servants

The guidelines, which will be published on Wednesday by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, state that when there is an intention to undertake non-essential travel overseas, “all employees must make provision by way of an annual leave or unpaid leave application for the additional period of self-isolation”.

The rules will effectively rule out any foreign holidays planned by hundreds of thousands of public servants. There is also a requirement that employees advise their employer of travel abroad, which the department guidance states “is necessary for the protection of public health”.

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