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How Australia can ban Australians from returning home

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On the surface, it doesn’t make any sense. Australians are often surprised to hear we are one of the only countries banning people from leaving the country.

But now, given the situation unfolding in India, and what we know about the consequences, the Health minister Greg Hunt has taken the unusual step of blocking all travellers from India.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re an Australian citizen.

Emergency powers

The government will invoke emergency powers, amid concerns that transiting passengers may still enter Australia via other countries.

It’s also politically savvy. Look at the success local state governments have had at elections following draconian measures to ban other Australians enter their states. And now the Federal government, which had been critical of the states, in jumping on board, trading Australia as one giant WA.

Variants of the virus emerge typically in places where it’s spreading rapidly, and can prove more contagious, more harmful and more deadly as a result.

Mr Hunt made the determination under the Biosecurity Act to stop people who have been in India during the past fortnight from arriving in Australia,.

It follows advice from the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

“The risk assessment that informed the decision was based on the proportion of overseas travellers in quarantine in Australia who have acquired a COVID-19 infection in India.”

Greg Hunt, AUSTRALIAN HEALTH MINISTER

There are about 9000 stranded Australians in India wanting to come home, 650 of whom are considered vulnerable.

And despite the PM confirming on Wednesday that travellers returning from India via Doha had been closed off, the government discovered there was still another way.

Flights from India to Australia have been paused until May 15 but Mr Hunt said national cabinet wanted them restarted “as soon as possible”.

“India has been reporting more than 300,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day for the past week. The total number of cases in India is now close to 19 million and more than 200,000 people have died.”

GREG HUNT, AUSTRALIAN HEALTH MINISTER

“The government does not make these decisions lightly.”

India recorded 387,000 new infections on Thursday, a record high, and nearly 3,500 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Gayle Smith, the State Department’s coordinator for global Covid response and health security, told reporters in a conference call Friday that the surge in India is “very, very serious.”

United Airlines Holdings Inc., the only U.S. carrier with nonstop service to India, said in a statement that it would “comply with all government regulations and travel orders.”

“United is proud of the essential air service we provide to connect our two countries and we’ll continue to support India during this time of need,” it said.

Global Politics

Organisers reveal how many spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics

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Up to 10,000 domestic spectators will be allowed to attend events at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games

The decision comes just weeks before the opening ceremony and ends months of speculation about whether spectators will be allowed at the pandemic-postponed Games.

Medical officials have raised concerns that allowing spectators could worsen the spread of infections.

Despite that – a spectator limit will be set at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues.

Foreign spectators has been banned in March.


The decision was announced – following talks between event organisers and government officials.
The Governor of Tokyo says if there is a “dramatic change in the infection situation”, having no spectators in venues is on the cards.

“In light of the government’s restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues,”

organisers said in a statement.

A decision on spectators at the Paralympics will be delayed until July 16, a week before the Olympics open.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on July 23.

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Global Politics

Insider reveals death day of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper

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Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities froze the company’s assets under a national security law, an adviser to jailed owner Jimmy Lai says.

According to reports, Friday will be the last day for the 26-year-old newspaper.

Media advocacy groups say that the closure of Apple Daily would undermine the former British colony’s reputation as an open and free society and send a warning to other companies that could be accused of colluding with a foreign country.

The publisher’s head company Next Digital will hold a board meeting on Monday to
discuss how to move forward after its lines of credit were frozen.

“We must press on”: news raid sends “shockwaves” through Hong-Kong

Following raids on a Hong Kong newsroom last week, a journalist based in the city-state says it has sent “shockwaves” through the entire industry.

500 Hong Kong police offices raided Apple Daily to arrest a number of top executives and seize documents over allegations the publisher breached national security laws.

Elaine Yu from the Wall Street Journal says the incident “raises important new questions about how media outlets can report on topics that are now considered highly sensitive.”

Apple Daily says the company’s CEO, COO and three editors were all arrested during the raids.

The behaviour of the individuals is said to have breached legislation that prohibits sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing.

The assistant to Apple Daily’s chairman says operations at the newsroom are limited because Hong Kong authorities have seized many of the company’s accounts.

He also says “it’ll get harder for reporters to get people to talk to them because the police can now potentially seize reporter’s files and devices through a court warrant.”

Sold out news stands with “we must press on” printed on front page

“We must press on”… that was the message on the front page of Apple Daily, that people in hong kong queued up for.

Many Hong Kong locals have have queued up to buy copies of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily… a day after its newsroom was raided by police.

The paper typically prints about 80,000 copies but increased that to 500,000 to meet demand.. and some news stands sold out.

A total of five executives were arrested including the Editor-in-chief and chief executive officer.

Police made the arrests on suspicion of collusion with a “foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”.

200 Hong Kong police officers arrested five senior executives. Image: Apple Daily.

Meanwhile, this is the second time that police have searched the building.

The company’s founder Jimmy Lai, was recently arrested for national security violations.

Mr Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence.

The raid follows arrests made at the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre last month.

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Global Politics

Why Olympic spectators are likely despite widespread opposition

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Olympic Games organisers and government officials are meeting today and it’s expected that a final decision will be made – on how many – if any – domestic spectators will be able to attend events at the Summer Olympics, which commence in a month.


Concerns have been raised by medical experts that allowing spectators could worsen the spread of infections

Foreign spectators are banned from attending the games due to health concerns.

The Olympic Organising Comittee will update the general public today on exactly how many local fans will be allowed in the stands

Local media have reported that a 10,000 spectator cap will be set. 

On the weekend, in a move to reduce the risk of COVID spreading, Tokyo’s Governor announced six viewing sites have been scrapped

Members of the public would have been able to watch live broadcasts of events at these locations. 
That will no longer be happening with some instead set to serve as vaccination sites.

There is still considerable opposition in Japan for the Olympic Games going ahead. A new poll shows almost two-thirds of Japan’s public want the event postponed again or cancelled altogether. 

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