* Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has urged states to take more Australians returning from overseas through expanded hotel quarantine programs. The federal transport minister wants the national weekly cap to rise from 4000 to 6000 in a bid to get more of the 26,000 people stranded abroad home.
* South Australia has advised the Commonwealth that it will double its hotel quarantine capacity for returned overseas travellers to 600 in coming weeks.
* The change comes after SA also lifted its border restrictions with the ACT on Wednesday, providing a boost to Australia’s domestic aviation sector.
* Western Australia is considering again using Rottnest Island to house returned travellers to comply with the Commonwealth’s request. WA has a cap of 525 returned overseas passengers a week – second only to NSW.
* Under Mr McCormack’s plan, NSW, Queensland and WA would lift state caps by 500 people a week. Tasmania, the ACT and Northern Territory are also in discussions about chipping in.
* NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state would accept an extra 500 returning Australians each week, provided other states double their intake.
* Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is keen for Australians trapped overseas to return home, saying her state will be happy to take in as many travellers as it can.
* Queensland is reportedly considering reopening to ACT visitors by the end of the month, and changing a rule that would require NSW to go just 14 days without community transmission of COVID-19, instead of 28 days, before reopening the border.
* Melbourne has reached a positive pandemic milestone, with the city’s 14-day new case average dipping below 50, to 49.6. The average must be between 30 and 50 for some Melbourne restrictions to be eased as planned on September 28.
* Victoria had 42 new cases on Wednesday, and eight more deaths, taking the state toll to 737 and the national figure to 824.
* It comes as a hefty new fine is introduced to help Victoria Police enforce the so-called “ring of steel” around Melbourne. The $ 4957 penalty is being introduced for any Melbourne residents who try to head out to regional Victoria without a lawful excuse as regional Victoria restrictions will ease from midnight.
* September 14 to September 27 – stage four lockdown for Melbourne with some changes, including curfew moving back an hour to 9pm.
* September 17 – Regional Victoria moves to its ‘third step’ rules allowing people to leave their homes without restriction, increasing outdoor gathering limits and re-opening shops.
* From September 28 – if average daily cases are 30-50 in metro Melbourne over the previous 14 days the city will move to the ‘second step’, including increased limits for public gatherings and a staged return to school for some students.
* October 26 – Tasmania’s state of emergency due to expire. In Melbourne, the overnight curfew will be dropped if over the previous fortnight the average number of new cases falls below five and there are fewer than five cases from an unknown source.
* November – Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry report due.
* From November 23 – If there are no new cases for 14 days in Melbourne the city will move to the ‘last step’. That includes all retail shops opening, public gatherings of up to 50 people allowed outdoors, and up to 20 visitors at a time allowed into a home.
* December 1 – Tasmania’s borders will remain shut until at least the last month of 2020.
AUSTRALIAN CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
* There were 53 new cases in Australia – 42 in Victoria, 10 in NSW and one in Western Australia. Victoria announced another eight deaths.
* The national death toll is 824: Victoria 737, NSW 54, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states).
GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
* Cases: at least 29,734,000
* Deaths: at least 939,000
* Recovered: at least 21,546,000
Data current as of 1815 AEST September 16, taking in federal government and state/territory government updates, Worldometer and Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.
Australian Associated Press