All schools reopening straight after lockdown ‘not going to happen’ – Education Minister

Do not expect school to immediately go back to normal after the alert Level 4 lockdown lifts, Education Minister warned parents today.

1 NEWS
Students in a classroom. Source: istock.com

Presenting to the epidemic select committee, Chris Hipkins said parents should be preparing for a variety of different scenarios for potentially keeping children at home for longer than the end of the lockdown.

“It would be wrong to assume all schools and early learning services would simply reopen as we move out of Level 4 lockdown. That’s not going to happen frankly.

“I’m not saying they won’t reopen at all, but simply saying they’ll all be open from day one isn’t a realistic option.”

He anticipated there would be greater clarity of what would happen “hopefully in the next week and a half”.

“It’s likely to be a progressive warming up of the system again, rather than a big bang all at once.”

When asked by National MP Nikki Kaye if there would be a package on the way around extra childcare support, Mr Hipkins said they were “planning for a whole variety of scenarios”.

He said that included those high-risk teachers and students who live in a household with people deemed at high risk.

The Covid-19 pandemic had also showed the “significant role” many grandparents played in childcare, with Mr Hipkins saying the Government needed “to look really closely at what other support can be available”.

Mr Hipkins said the Government was working on safety issues such as social distancing in schools and workforce challenges due to the level of teachers deemed at high risk to Covid-19.

When the country moved to alert Level 3, only children of essential workers were able to attend school.

But Mr Hipkins said it was likely the “stepping down” criteria of moving back to Level 3 would be different from when the country moved up to Level 4.

“Don’t assume when we move from 4 to 3, whenever that may be, that everything will go back at once.”

Yesterday, an $87.7 million emergency funding boost was announced including 17,000 laptops, 10,000 internet connections and two new television channels for education-related content.

One of the channels will be provided by TVNZ, taking the place of TVNZ2 +1 on Freeview 7 and Sky 502, with beloved children’s TV star Suzy Cato confirmed to be involved.

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

 

(ANNA WHYTE, 1 NEWS POLITICS REPORTER  ) Retrieved from: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/all-schools-reopening-straight-after-lockdown-not-going-happen-education-minister

Good news for Australia, as new coronavirus infections drop below 100 for first time in weeks

Australians are being urged to keep following strict coronavirus measures as the nation records fewer than 100 infections for the first time in three weeks.

Australia continuing gradual move towards full shutdown
With new restrictions coming into effect later tonight including rules limiting public gatherings to two people. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 6000 Australians now have coronavirus and 51 people have died, but Health Minister Greg Hunt said the low rate of new cases was an important milestone.

But he says Australia still has a long way to go, with concerns remaining with the 10 per cent of cases from an unknown source.

“The virus does not take a holiday. Therefore none of us can relax in what we do,” Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

“This, in many ways is the most important weekend we may face in the whole course of the virus.”

Australia introducing new lockdown measures to try and bring coronavirus under control
All public spaces will be closed by midday on March 30 and people can’t go outside with more than one other person. Source: Breakfast

The federal government has announced three rescue flights from Peru, Argentina and South Africa for Australians stranded because of the pandemic.

Those flights are expected next week, while a separate government rescue returned about 280 Australians from Peru today.

The government has inked a $31.3 million deal with an Australian company to produce thousands of extra ventilators onshore to ensure adequate supply.

In the ACT, the tables turned on Thursday with more coronavirus-affected people listed as having recovered than were in isolation or hospital.

Out of 100 cases, 54 had recovered and 43 were isolated at home, with three in hospital.

 

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Retrieved from: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/good-news-australia-new-coronavirus-infections-drop-below-100-first-time-in-weeks

‘This is my beach’: Fence doesn’t deter Sydney swimmers

The man heads towards the photographer after climbing the fence.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
The man heads towards the photographer after climbing the fence.

A fence spanning the length of Sydney’s Bronte Beach wasn’t enough to deter everyone from the water, with handfuls of beachgoers still spotted on Wednesday morning.

The extreme measures come after viral photos of Bondi Beach last weekend amplified concerns that Australians were not taking social distancing laws seriously enough.

In response, Waverley Council temporarily closed Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches – but some would not be deterred from their morning swim despite health warnings and physical barriers presented to them.

A Sydney photographer said he was on the end of a barrage of abuse from a swimmer at Bronte after taking photos of the man and others ignoring warnings to stay off the beach.

Bondi Beach closes after crowds defy virus rules

Australian officials closed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there in recent days, defying social distancing orders. Ciara Lee reports

A man jumps the fence at Bronte beach to confront a photographer.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
A man jumps the fence at Bronte beach to confront a photographer.

“So I was at the beach taking pictures of the fence that’s been newly-erected, and I saw some people going under and over it – this gentleman was running out of the beach and saw me and started hurling some pretty choice words,” the photographer told the Herald.

“I think he just realised he was being photographed doing the wrong thing, I suppose. He sprinted towards me.”

The photographer said a few other beachgoers joined in, saying that the government was overreaching. “It wasn’t very pleasant,” he said.

“The whole gist of it was that it was his beach and he can do what he wants and that the problem was elsewhere, in south-east Asia.”

“He kept saying, ‘This is my beach’.”

The photographer said his top priority was to avoid being spat on. “He was practically foaming at the mouth,” he said.

“I guess the professional thing to do would have been to do nothing but I just told him that there wasn’t two sets of rules for him and for other people.”

Many public spaces have been closed in the latest measures to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections, including gyms, swimming pools and almost all sporting activities.

The NSW Teachers Federation has demanded that school operations end from Monday with staff being allowed to work from home.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called on everyone to do their part.

David Elliott has announced the control of crowds exceeding 500 people on Bondi Beach, after hundreds flocked to the iconic waterfront despite new social distancing restrictions being put in place.

“I want to stress again that this is a time that we all need to step up,” Berejiklian said.

Warnings have been ignored by so many people that NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Wednesday announced a raft of new powers granted to police including on the spot fines of A$1000 for individuals and A$5000 for corporations who flout social gathering laws.

 

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Retrieved from: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/themes/beaches/120577994/this-is-my-beach-fence-doesnt-deter-sydney-swimmers

 

 

Coronavirus: we’re in foreign territory – life in lockdown begins

OPINION: Four, three, two, one – lockdown.

As of 11.59pm on Wednesday, life for most New Zealanders has changed dramatically. Many of the routines of daily life that make it easier, richer and quicker just fell away.

The overarching theme of the time is to stay at home, unless you have got a good reason for going out, such as essential work, getting groceries or seeking medical help.

Home will be centre of most people’s universe in the next four weeks and staying there will be the most useful thing people can do to stop Covid-19 spreading. The mantra of the hour is “Act like you have it”.

An almost deserted Willis Street in Wellington in the lead-up to lockdown.
ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
An almost deserted Willis Street in Wellington in the lead-up to lockdown.

Overseas countries like the United Kingdom, Italy, China and Spain are days or weeks into lockdown, without chaos erupting or a national revolt. People have worked through shock, panic and acceptance.

Key information:Sign up to get Stuff’s daily coronavirus situation report email newsletter. It’s a quick summary of the essential updates from New Zealand and around the world on Covid-19.

The good news is that many normal activities can carry on, but they will be different in ways that make them seem abnormal.

A trip to the corner dairy is still allowed but only one customer is permitted in the dairy at one time.

You can still go to the supermarket but expect workers to treat you like a hideous virus and potential threat. In the aisles or when queuing at the till, you will need to keep a distance of 1.5m from the next person. If you are a huggy-type person, forget it.

New Zealand is in lockdown, joining other countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, China and Spain.
LAWRENCE SMITH
New Zealand is in lockdown, joining other countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, China and Spain.

Whether your local butcher or green grocer will have to shut their doors is still unclear. Many firewood suppliers have switched to delivery only.

Work around the home and on your property can continue but if you haven’t got your DIY supplies by now, you might have to be resourceful. DIY outlets have been told not to serve general customers but they can sell to tradies.

If an elderly relative or friend needs groceries you can drop them off but again distance is required.

Driving is still permitted and some garages will still be open to do Warrant of Fitness checks and repairs. Destinations have dwindled. The Department of Conservation has closed huts, campsites and information centres.

“Hunting and tramping in the backcountry means people will not be following the government’s directive to stay at home and only travel or leave your home when it is necessary,” DOC’s website says.

Public transport will be free but available only to either workers in essential sectors, or those making essential trips, such as to a supermarket or health services.

A novelty for some people will be the need to cook their own food. Takeaway outlets and uber eats are off the menu and cafes, bars and restaurants must shut down. Meals-on-Wheels will carry on.

The streets will be quiet which should be good for essential workers still commuting and emergency vehicles. Police will be out looking for rule breakers so prepare to be quizzed. As they say in Spain – no hay excusas cabellero. You might be fined or arrested and have to appear in court. Courts are still running, by the way.

With everyone at home, residential burglaries should see a big drop but commercial properties will be at risk.

Domestic appliances won’t take a holiday from breaking down but getting them fixed could be difficult. Fortunately laundromats are allowed to say open.

Your town or city will feel dead. Home will be a different story. With the schools closed and only so many able to provide virtual learning, it will be like the school holidays although more intense. Young people who have left home and are flatting may have moved home to keep their costs down and, of course, to support their parents. Fuller houses could mean greater tensions but things will settle down in most households.

Fortunately it’s autumn and the weather invites outdoor activities. People can still go for a walk or run as long as its solitary and a distance of 2m is kept from others.

As you wait out the lockdown, more Covid-19 cases will be notified. It will get worse before its gets better. We will soon know if lockdown is working.

You will be getting a lot of advice about how to survive lockdown. It will be along the lines of don’t panic because you will have food, warmth, security and medical help if you need it.

Most of the advice will be obvious and common sense. Like being kind and tolerant. But you’d do that anyway, right?

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Retrieved from: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120563263/its-midnight-and-were-in-foreign-territory–life-in-lockdown-begins

New Zealand’s swimming with Bay of Islands dolphins axed

Authorities have been forced to step in to protect a group of bottlenose dolphins after figures revealed a tragic toll.

New Zealand has made the drastic decision to shut down a popular swimming with dolphins attraction over concerns tourists are “loving” the animals “too much”.

The Bay of Islands off the west coast on the North Island has been a popular place for visitors to swim with bottleneck dolphins.

But New Zealand’s Department of Conservation says the region has suffered a 66 per cent decline in their bottlenose dolphin population since 1990, and a 75 per cent calf mortality rate, which is the highest internationally.

Dolphins swim off the coast in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Dolphins swim off the coast in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.Source:News Limited

Now, only 19 bottlenose dolphins are regularly visiting the area.

On the back of these worrying numbers, environmental authorities said they were shutting down all dolphin swimming operations for three years. They have also started restricting boat tours for dolphin watching to just morning and early afternoon sessions, and cutting those tours from 30 to 20 minutes.

The Bay of Islands.

The Bay of Islands.Source:Supplied

“Research shows that interactions with the bottlenose dolphins is having a significant impact on the populations resting and feeding behaviour and that people are ‘loving the dolphins too much’,” a Department of Conservation (DoC) spokesperson said in a statement.

“There are no specific plans to restrict the activity anywhere else, but if research and evidence indicated, then we would consider it.

The DoC is looking into the possibility of creating a mammal sanctuary in the Bay of Islands, Stuff.co.nz reported.

Environmental authorities are concerned about the impact of tourism on the local bottlenose dolphin population.

Environmental authorities are concerned about the impact of tourism on the local bottlenose dolphin population.Source:Supplied

A DoC spokeswoman said interaction with boats was disruptive to the dolphins.

“It means they spend far less time feeding, nursing their young and sleeping,” the spokeswoman said, according to Stuff.co.nz.

“We know people love dolphins. People are simply loving them too much.”

Hawaii has also considered plans to ban swimming with dolphins over concerns for the rare spinner dolphin population and blame tourists for interrupting their mating patterns, the New York Post reported.

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Retrieved from: https://www.news.com.au/travel/destinations/new-zealand/new-zealands-swimming-with-bay-of-islands-dolphins-axed/news-story/28e234bc4e74a1469801783eaa40f5de 

All Australian Apple Stores shut to halt coronavirus spread, but Samsung offers to clean iPhones

Don’t drop your iPhone: Apple has shut all its Australian stores for two weeks in an unprecedented move to fight coronavirus but Samsung has a very different offer.

DO NOT drop your iPhone or wash one of your AirPods for the next two weeks.

Tech giant Apple closed all of its 22 Australian stores today (Sunday) in an unprecedented worldwide shutdown of outlets outside Greater China in a bid to stem the spread of novel coronavirus.

The two-week closure, announced by chief executive Tim Cook on Twitter, even surprised local Apple employees who reportedly learned about the scheme on social media and initially questioned whether it applied to them.

But, in a surprise countermove, rival Samsung took a different tact, revealing plans to clean germs from all brands of smartphones in its stores, starting in 19 countries and later expanding to Australia.

People walk past the Apple store at a Mall in Dubai after the company revealed plansn to close all stores outside China due to COVID-19. Picture: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

People walk past the Apple store at a Mall in Dubai after the company revealed plansn to close all stores outside China due to COVID-19. Picture: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFPSource:AFP

Apple’s surprise announcement came after it closed all 42 Apple Stores in China on February 1 after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

Mr Cook said those stores had reopened by Saturday after a downturn in infections, and the company was now seeking to “reduce density and increase social distance” in more stores to cut the spread of the disease in other countries.

“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Cook said in a tweet.

“Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15 million to help with worldwide recovery.”

Apple’s online store would remain open for business, he said, but the closures will mean no customers can have products repaired or assessed until they reopen.

Mr Cook stressed the company’s casual workforce would “continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations,” leave policies would be extended, and office workers would be encouraged to work from home if possible.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, pictured on a visit to Beijing, said the company’s Chinese stores reopened after coronavirus infections fell. Picture: CAI YANG/XINHUA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, pictured on a visit to Beijing, said the company’s Chinese stores reopened after coronavirus infections fell. Picture: CAI YANG/XINHUA/ASSOCIATED PRESSSource:Supplied

The move was well received within the industry, with Creative Strategies principal analyst Carolina Milanesi calling it a move to put “people first” and “the right thing to do,” and came just a day after Apple revealed its annual Worldwide Developers Conference would be held as an online event in June this year.

Apple’s biggest rival Samsung is taking a totally different approach to fighting the virus, however, revealing plans to disinfect smartphones of all brands, including iPhones, for free in its stores.

The ‘Galaxy Sanitizing Service’ cleans bacteria from smartphones using UV-C ultraviolet light that has been lauded as a “promising, safe and inexpensive tool to reduce the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases,” according to a study published in Nature.

The service will initially be available in Samsung Experience Stores in 19 countries including the United States, New Zealand, Japan and Spain, though the company is said to be planning to expand the offer to countries including Australia, Canada, France, Italy and the UK “soon”.

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson(MARCH 15, 2020) News Corp Australia Network Retrieved from: https://www.news.com.au/technology/all-australian-apple-stores-shut-to-halt-coronavirus-spread-but-samsung-offers-to-clean-iphones/news-story/783f2ed3484daa25b1cc1b2e57fb67c3