Victorian businesses are set to reopen

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Victorian business to start reopening this week

Good Morning and welcome to our coverage of breaking news for Monday September 14.

Here’s what you need to know so far today.

Victoria is expected to see the first significant business reopenings from the second wave lockdown in the middle of this week, as continued low COVID-19 caseloads pave the way for a fast-tracking of the restart of the $45 billion regional economy.

The business package was widely welcomed by business groups, but with reservations that it did little to help businesses with debt. 

The first business reopenings come after the government announced about $3 billion of business cash flow support for beleaguered small and medium-sized businesses on Sunday. Most have not traded without major constraints for nearly six months.

The number of new cases continued to fall with 35 cases announced on Sunday, and the Premier confirming regional caseloads were now at a level to enable businesses to reopen “around the middle of the week”.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also confirmed Melbourne’s 14-day average was on track to reach the 50-case threshold this week, ahead of the first tentative metro business reopenings for 100,000 workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors slated for September 28.

VECCI backs business package

Victorian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Guerra said the $3 billion package announced by the state yesterday will help business get through the lockdown.

“The conversations over the last week have continued in earnest,” he told the ABC this morning.

Mr Guerra disagreed with the slow reopening and again called for Premier Daniel Andrews to allow business to reopen once case numbers reached the same level as NSW.

“If NSW has been able to do that successfully, so why can’t Victoria do the same thing.”

Victoria’s 14-day average is 65 cases while NSW has reported an average of 9 cases over the past two weeks.

Mr Guerra said he hoped the federal government would not be reducing JobKeeper on September 28 for Victorian employers.

Pfizer CEO promises Americans a vaccine before the end of the year

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said it’s “likely” the US will deploy a COVID-19 vaccine to the public before year end and that the company is prepared for that scenario, pushing back against more tepid expectations shared by health authorities.

Mr Bourla said he’s “quite comfortable” that the vaccine the company is developing in partnership with BioNTech SE is safe and that it could be available to Americans before 2021, contingent on an approval from US regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I cannot say what the FDA will do,” Mr Bourla said. “But I think it’s a likely scenario, and we are preparing for it.”

New York-based Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech are seen as frontrunners in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, alongside Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Mr Bourla said Pfizer and its partner have a 60 per cent chance of knowing the efficacy of its still experimental vaccine by the end of October.

“Of course that doesn’t mean that it works; that means that we’ll know if it works,” Mr Bourla said.

The timing of clinical trial results depends on enough people in the study getting COVID-19 to make a calculation. But positive results could clear the way for approval, he said.

Israel to impose second national lockdown

Israel’s cabinet voted to impose a second nationwide lockdown starting Friday to try to tamp down a raging coronavirus outbreak, brushing aside appeals from a business world warning of economic strangulation and the powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Ministers voted Sunday to strictly limit movement, gatherings and economic activity for at least three weeks coinciding with a major Jewish holiday season.

Health experts “raised a red flag,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose emergency coalition government was formed in May expressly to tackle the health emergency. “Senior Health Ministry officials warned us that the morbidity situation requires immediate steps.”

Israel is struggling to contain an outbreak that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and remains at record levels of new infections.  AP

Record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases

Reuters

The World Health Organisation reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from India, the United States and Brazil, according to the agency’s website. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.

India reported 94,372 new cases, followed by the United States with 45,523 new infections and Brazil with 43,718.

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in Hyderabad, India. AP

Both the United States and India each reported over 1,000 new deaths and Brazil reported 874 lives lost in the past 24 hours.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 306,857 on Sept. 6. The agency reported a record 12,430 deaths on April 17.

India leads the world in new cases reported each day and set a global record last week with 97,570 cases reported in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.

In some parts of India, medical oxygen is becoming hard to find as total cases exceed 4.75 million. Only the United States has recorded more cases at 6.5 million.

COVID-19 infections are still rising in 58 countries, including surges in Argentina, Indonesia, Morocco, Spain and Ukraine, according to a Reuters analysis.

New cases are falling in the United States and are down about 44% from a peak of more than 77,000 new cases reported on July 16. Cases in Brazil are also trending downward.

The Zhenhua Data files

National correspondent Angus Grigg has today’s biggest story about a massive database complied by a Chinese military contractor that boasts of “promoting conflict” and waging “hybrid warfare”.

The leaked database, revealed by The Australian Financial Review, was compiled by Shenzhen firm Zhenhua Data, which lists the People’s Liberation Army and Communist Party among its main clients.

The company talks of waging “hybrid warfare” and manipulating reality via social media and views its mission as using big data for the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

The Australian segment of the list is heavy with high profile figures from politics, law and the military, but also includes lesser known technology entrepreneurs, academics, business people and religious leaders. Those with criminal records or sanctioned by the corporate regulator also appear.

You can read the full story here.

Sydney house market stabilises as Melbourne freezes

Signs of stability are emerging in Sydney’s housing market with auction clearance rates holding up even as the number of listings in locked-down Melbourne fell to a record low.

The preliminary rate in Sydney hit 70.4 per cent on CoreLogic figures, with 507 results collected from the 606 auctions listed. The final rate can be expected to drop as more results are tallied.

It is a stark contrast to Melbourne where strict lockdown rules and a lengthy road map out will prevent onsite auctions and inspections taking place until late October under the current timetable.

The city recorded a preliminary clearance rate of 27.3 per cent with just 14 homes listed for auction.

Read the full story here.

London struggles to regain its cosmopolitan buzz

Europe correspondent Hans van Leeuwen reports London’s white-collar workforce has been reluctant to come back to the office, leaving one of the world’s great cities a shadow of its usual self.

Sandwich shops are open, but there aren’t the usual queues. Rows of black cabs sit unwanted at taxi ranks, the drivers gossiping morosely. Pavements have been widened and painted with one-way arrows to ensure social distancing; but the main way distancing is ensured is that there’s barely a pedestrian to be seen.

In the evenings, sure, there are crowded restaurants along the King’s Road in Chelsea; and sometimes the pubs get busier in Soho. But overall, the unsettling feeling is that London’s hive-like vibe – such a cornerstone of its identity – is yet to recover from the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

London

London’s rush hour is nowadays marked by the unhurried pace of the few white-collar workers venturing to go to work. AP

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