* Victoria recorded two new coronavirus cases on Friday and no deaths – the state’s lowest figures since June 9.
* Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria is well placed to ease restrictions on Sunday, albeit in a steady, safe way.
* Mr Andrews confirmed the easing of rules will be “much more in the social space than in the economic space”, dashing the hopes of the retail and hospitality industries, and prompting widespread calls for relief from the business community.
* Small Business Council CEO Peter Strong has accused Victoria’s government of a lack of consultation.
* Vulnerable Australians stranded overseas will be given priority tickets on special Qantas flights as the nation boosts its quarantine capacity. The federal government has made a deal with the Northern Territory to use a mining camp south of Darwin for returned travellers to isolate.
* At the same time, the federal government is pressuring the NT to allow Pacific mango pickers to quarantine on farms rather than at the mining camp. But the territory government is sticking to health guidelines and insisting the isolation periods are completed there.
* NSW has recorded five new COVID-19 cases overnight, including one case of community transmission linked to a Lakemba cluster which now totals 16 people.
* NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said a child and worker at the Great Beginnings childcare centre at Oran Park have also recently tested positive and would be included in Saturday’s figures.
* In NSW, up to 500 people are now allowed to attend open-air concerts, as long as they stay seated and remain four metres apart. Restrictions for outdoor dining venues have also been relaxed, allowing one patron per two square metres, as long as venues use an electronic QR code to record patrons’ contact details.
* Two new cases were diagnosed in Queensland overnight. Four remain active.
* Queensland has eased health restrictions allowing excursions for nursing home residents and dancing by groups of up to 40 people. It permits the capacity at gatherings at homes and in public places to be increased from a maximum of 30 to 40 people.
* Travellers from New Zealand have touched down in NSW on the opening day of a one-way quarantine-free pathway into the state. The three flights on Friday mark the first time in seven months international passengers arriving in Australia have not needed to enter mandatory isolation.
* More than one in five Australian families are jobless, as the coronavirus pandemic slugs the economy, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found.
* October 19 – Some restrictions in Melbourne to be eased.
* October 26 – Tasmania’s state of emergency due to expire.
* November 1 – Queensland border reopened to NSW visitors subject to conditions being met.
* November 2 – Regional Victoria residents allowed to travel to the Northern Territory if case numbers remain low.
* November 6 – Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry report due.
AUSTRALIAN CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
* There were nine new cases in Australia, including five in NSW, two in Victoria and two in Queensland.
* The national death toll is 904: Victoria 816, NSW 55, 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 39,176,103
* Deaths: at least 1,102,946
* Recovered: at least 29,379,089
Data current as of 1700 AEDT October 16, taking in federal and state/territory government updates and Worldometer.
Australian Associated Press