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Airbnb owner SUES holidaymaker for defamation after guest launched foul-mouthed tirade online

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airbnb owner sues holidaymaker for defamation after guest launched foul mouthed tirade online

A bitter feud has broken out between the owners of a luxury Airbnb and an angry customer who had her stay cancelled due to COVID-19.

Dave Penman is suing Kaleen Dalliston for defamation after she slammed his Clifftop at Hepburn holiday rental in a series of posts on Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Clifftop at Hepburn in Victoria’s spa country was crowned Australia’s number one holiday home in 2020 according to their Airbnb page.

Dave Penman is suing Kaleen Dalliston after she slammed his Clifftop at Hepburn holiday rental in Victoria (pictured)

Dave Penman is suing Kaleen Dalliston after she slammed his Clifftop at Hepburn holiday rental in Victoria (pictured)

Dave Penman is suing Kaleen Dalliston after she slammed his Clifftop at Hepburn holiday rental in Victoria (pictured)

Ms Dalliston was due to stay at the $495/night luxury location (pictured) in August but her holiday was cancelled amid COVID-19

Ms Dalliston was due to stay at the $495/night luxury location (pictured) in August but her holiday was cancelled amid COVID-19

Ms Dalliston was due to stay at the $495/night luxury location (pictured) in August but her holiday was cancelled amid COVID-19

The luxurious accommodation costs $495 per night and was designed by Daylesford architect Robin Larsen for ‘sophisticated travellers who value high design, natural beauty and wellness with an indulgent twist’.

Ms Dalliston was due to stay at Clifftop at Hepburn in August and when she was not refunded she went online to warn other travellers of her experience.

Ms Dalliston also took to the business’ Facebook to warn their followers. 

Mr Penman is suing for defamation after claiming his business's reputation was damaged by Ms Dalliston's posts on social media

Mr Penman is suing for defamation after claiming his business's reputation was damaged by Ms Dalliston's posts on social media

Mr Penman is suing for defamation after claiming his business’s reputation was damaged by Ms Dalliston’s posts on social media

Ms Dalliston took to TripAdvisor and Facebook to warn readers of her experience trying to have her trip refunded by Mr Penman

Ms Dalliston took to TripAdvisor and Facebook to warn readers of her experience trying to have her trip refunded by Mr Penman

Ms Dalliston took to TripAdvisor and Facebook to warn readers of her experience trying to have her trip refunded by Mr Penman

‘Is this how you conduct your business. All nice an (sic) professional when your getting our money. But the minute things don’t go your way and you have to refund my money. You disappear,’ she wrote.

Ms Dalliston also posted ‘whatever you do, don’t stay here’ on her personal account.

Documents filed in County Court of Victoria and seen by Herald Sun read Mr Penman is seeking aggravated damages after claiming the reputation of his business was damaged by Ms Dalliston’s posts.

Mr Penman believes the accommodation has been held to contempt and ridicule after claiming Ms Dalliston urged readers to share her posts to spread the damage.

He also claims Ms Dalliston did not disclose that she was offered a full refund and had agreed to wait before until being contacted by the business. 

Mr Penman has sought a permanent injunction from the court to stop Ms Dalliston from posting further statements of a similar nature.

Clifftop at Hepburn in Victoria's spa country was crowned Australia's number one holiday home in 2020 according to their Airbnb page

Clifftop at Hepburn in Victoria's spa country was crowned Australia's number one holiday home in 2020 according to their Airbnb page

Clifftop at Hepburn in Victoria’s spa country was crowned Australia’s number one holiday home in 2020 according to their Airbnb page

The luxurious setup was created for 'sophisticated travellers who value high design, natural beauty and wellness with an indulgent twist'

The luxurious setup was created for 'sophisticated travellers who value high design, natural beauty and wellness with an indulgent twist'

The luxurious setup was created for ‘sophisticated travellers who value high design, natural beauty and wellness with an indulgent twist’

The two-bedroom guest house boasts a unique fireplace, infinity daybed, kitchen, amenities, spa and shower for two and heating and cooling systems. 

‘From the moment you step into Clifftop at Hepburn, you’re in another world,’ the Airbnb description reads.

‘A world where flickering flames and floor-to-ceiling windows frame breathtaking panoramic views that plunge from the site of an old pine forest down a sheer cliff face, unrolling onto native bushland below.

‘Imagine a leisurely evening in your private spa, sipping champagne to the backdrop of surround sound and a crackling fireplace.

‘Imagine each night falling asleep to a towering wall of stars and waking each morning to sunbeams welcoming dramatic views.

‘Imagine a retreat where you leave real life at the door, choosing instead to lounge in the lap of luxury.’

The site was designed by Daylesford architect Robin Larsen and boasts a unique fireplace, infinity daybed, kitchen, spa and shower for two and heating and cooling systems

The site was designed by Daylesford architect Robin Larsen and boasts a unique fireplace, infinity daybed, kitchen, spa and shower for two and heating and cooling systems

The site was designed by Daylesford architect Robin Larsen and boasts a unique fireplace, infinity daybed, kitchen, spa and shower for two and heating and cooling systems

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Australia

U.S. citizen, 27, kidnapped in Niger is rescued by SEAL team 6 in a high-risk raid

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u s citizen 27 kidnapped in niger is rescued by seal team 6 in a high risk raid

A U.S. citizen kidnapped at gunpoint in the West African nation of Niger this past week has been rescued in a dramatic U.S. military operation in neighboring Nigeria, the defense department confirmed.

Philip Walton, 27, was taken from his farm in Massalata in southern Niger early Tuesday morning by kidnappers armed with AK-47 assault rifles who demanded a $1million ransom from the man’s father.

The Defense Department confirmed on Saturday that the successful operation was undertaken by elite commandos from SEAL Team 6 in a daring early-morning raid after they tracked the kidnappers phones. 

According to ABC, all but one of the seven captors was killed in the mission, described as a ‘precision’ hostage rescue. 

‘They were all dead before they knew what happened,’ a source told the network.

President Trump tweeted out his praise as the news of the rescue broke. ‘Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!’ he wrote.   

The Defense Department confirmed on Saturday that the successful operation was undertaken by elite commandos from SEAL Team 6, pictured, in a daring early-morning raid

The Defense Department confirmed on Saturday that the successful operation was undertaken by elite commandos from SEAL Team 6, pictured, in a daring early-morning raid

 The Defense Department confirmed on Saturday that the successful operation was undertaken by elite commandos from SEAL Team 6, pictured, in a daring early-morning raid

The village of Massalata in the Birnin Konni region is 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the country's capital Niamey, and close to the Niger-Nigeria border to the south

The village of Massalata in the Birnin Konni region is 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the country's capital Niamey, and close to the Niger-Nigeria border to the south

The village of Massalata in the Birnin Konni region is 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the country’s capital Niamey, and close to the Niger-Nigeria border to the south

President Trump tweeted out his praise as the news of the rescue broke Saturday morning

President Trump tweeted out his praise as the news of the rescue broke Saturday morning

President Trump tweeted out his praise as the news of the rescue broke Saturday morning

The Defense Department added that no military personnel were injured in the operation and that it had been conducted with the aid of the Niger and Nigerian governments, in an effort to rescue Walton quickly before he could be moved. 

‘We had to get him before any potential trade or sale,’ one U.S. official told Fox News

The CIA provided intelligence leading to Walton’s whereabouts while the Marine Special Operations elements in Africa helped locate him. 

The New York Times reports that about 30 Navy commandos parachuted into the remote area where the kidnappers had taken Walton early Saturday morning. They hiked about three miles until they came upon the captors’ small encampment.

An intense but brief gunfight followed in which one captor escaped. 

Walton was not harmed and whisked from the camp to a makeshift landing zone where a U.S. helicopter brought him to safety.  

‘This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation,’ the Defense department said in a statement, not naming Walton. 

‘We will never abandon any American taken hostage,’ added Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

‘Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family.’ 

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the rescue and spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were no solid indications that Walton’s kidnapping was terrorism-related and that it was instead ‘trending toward a kidnapping for ransom’. 

Reuters has reported that the perpetrators appeared to be from the Fulani ethnic group, and that they spoke Hausa and some English. 

But the official said the U.S. government said it was concerned that the hostage could be passed to another terrorist group, or that the kidnapping could become a prolonged hostage-taking.

The U.S. decided to act quickly before he could be taken by or sold to a group of Islamist militants aligned with either al Qaeda or ISIS.  

‘These types of operations are some of the most difficult to execute,’ retired CIA officer Mick Mulroy told ABC. 

‘Any mistake could easily lead to the death of the hostage. The men and women of JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command], and the CIA should be proud of what they did here. And all Americans should be proud of them.’

Walton is now back in Niger and staying at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Niamey, according to the official, who said no ransom was paid. 

The increasing number of attacks in Niger and other West African countries come despite help from French and U.S. forces. Pictured: A US army instructor walks next to Malian soldiers during an anti-terrorism exercise at the Kamboinse in 2018 (file photo)

The increasing number of attacks in Niger and other West African countries come despite help from French and U.S. forces. Pictured: A US army instructor walks next to Malian soldiers during an anti-terrorism exercise at the Kamboinse in 2018 (file photo)

The increasing number of attacks in Niger and other West African countries come despite help from French and U.S. forces. Pictured: A US army instructor walks next to Malian soldiers during an anti-terrorism exercise at the Kamboinse in 2018 (file photo)

Niger’s defense minister also confirmed the release to AFP. 

‘I confirm the American hostage was released last night,’ minister Issoufou Katambe said, without giving details of the circumstances of the release or the hostage’s whereabouts.

Six gunmen riding motorcycles and armed with AK-47 assault rifles kidnapped Walton, described as the son of a missionary, from his home on the edge of a rural village in neighboring southern Niger on October 26. 

According to U.S. and Nigerian officials, the assailants had come across Walton in his backyard and pressured him for money. When he only offered them $40 USD, the took him by force. 

The kidnappers tied up the rest of Walton’s family so they could not inform authorities, meaning police were not aware that the kidnapping had taken place for about four hours.  

Authorities said that the armed men left on three motorcycles and took the 27-year-old over the nearby southern border into Nigeria, leaving his wife, young daughter and brother behind unhurt. 

Local officials had said the kidnappers had called the man’s father who lives a half mile away to demand a ransom, though the family did not confirm this.

Walton had been living in Massalata with his wife and child for two years, according to his father, who himself has been in Niger for nearly 30 years.

They raise camels on the land and often walk them into the surrounding bush.  

‘They were so exposed that he was abducted without anyone knowing,’ Prefect Lele told Reuters news agency, saying the man had been abducted ‘in a garden on the outskirts of Massalata’ at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning. 

Niger lies in the heart of the vast Sahel region, which is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.   

The country has faced a growing number of attacks by extremists linked to both the Islamic State group and to al-Qaida. 

The kidnapping comes two months after IS-linked militants killed six French aid workers and their Niger guide while they were visiting a wildlife park east of the capital.

Kidnappings in the region are infrequent but not rare. At least six foreign hostages are being held by Islamist insurgents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Two of these were taken in Niger, including U.S. aid worker Jeffery Woodke, who has been missing since October 2016, and Joerg Lange, a German aid worker who was taken in April 2018 from a town near the Malian border. 

The president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, said in September last year that he had information that Woodke was alive and in good health.

Three Europeans, including 75-year-old French NGO worker Sophie Petronin, were released by their captors in Mali earlier this month under a prisoner swap arranged by the Malian government. 

Islamists have collected millions of dollars in ransom payments as a result of kidnappings in recent years. The U.S. government has frequently criticized other countries for paying. 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly promoted his administration´s focus on securing the release of American hostages held by militant groups abroad as well as others being detained. 

Earlier this month, two Americans held captive by Iranian-backed militants in Yemen were released, along with a third person, in exchange for the return of about 250 of the Houthi rebels from Oman.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News on Saturday morning that the Trump administration had over the years rescued 55 hostages in 24 countries. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Queensland election: why Annastacia Palaszczuk’s election victory is bad news if you want a holiday

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queensland election why annastacia palaszczuks election victory is bad news if you want a holiday

Annastacia Palaszczuk has cemented her place as Australia’s most successful female leader thanks to her uncompromising coronavirus border closure.

When she came to power in February 2015, Queensland’s Labor leader was regarded as an accidental premier.

Just three year earlier, she led a team of just seven Labor MPs and was regarded as a temporary, stop-gap leader with the ALP expected to remain in opposition for a generation.

But the Liberal National Party under Campbell Newman soon slashed 14,000 public service jobs, propelling Labor back into power after just one term in the political wilderness. 

Saturday’s Queensland election result has showed that while voters hate service cuts to rein in government debt, they are more than happy to suffer the inconvenience and heartache of border closures during a pandemic.

The resounding victory for Labor also indicates other state elections could sway in the favour of coronavirus-cautious politicians – including Victoria’s Daniel Andrews and Western Australia’s Mark McGowan.  

Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured, on Saturday after her victory) cemented her place as Australia's most successful female leader thanks to her uncompromising border closure

Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured, on Saturday after her victory) cemented her place as Australia's most successful female leader thanks to her uncompromising border closure

Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured, on Saturday after her victory) cemented her place as Australia’s most successful female leader thanks to her uncompromising border closure

Ms Palaszczuk now has a political mandate to shut Queensland again should there be another COVID-19 flare up in another part of Australia, and made that very clear when she claimed victory on Saturday night.

‘We stood strong Queensland. We stood together. We stared down our critics,’ she said.

This could be bad news for Australians outside Queensland who want a beach holiday from the Gold Coast to the Whitsundays and Cairns, as the federal government stops most of us from going overseas. 

Those who book a holiday should take out travel insurance in case they are banned from getting to their hotel resort at the last minute, throwing plans into chaos. 

The once-in-a-century crisis has demonstrated voters, in Queensland at least, prioritise health over the economy, with lives considered more important than livelihoods. 

When she came to power in February 2015, Queensland's Labor leader was regarded as an accidental premier. Just three year earlier, she led a team of just seven Labor MPs and was regarded as a temporary, stop-gap leader with the ALP expected to remain in opposition for a generation

When she came to power in February 2015, Queensland's Labor leader was regarded as an accidental premier. Just three year earlier, she led a team of just seven Labor MPs and was regarded as a temporary, stop-gap leader with the ALP expected to remain in opposition for a generation

When she came to power in February 2015, Queensland’s Labor leader was regarded as an accidental premier. Just three year earlier, she led a team of just seven Labor MPs and was regarded as a temporary, stop-gap leader with the ALP expected to remain in opposition for a generation

With the Halloween election over, Ms Palaszczuk is likely to keep shutting Queensland again whenever a small outbreak flares up against in Sydney or Melbourne, even if exceptions are made for Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks. The premier is pictured with her parents Laurel and her father Henry Palaszczuk, a former Queensland Labor government minister

With the Halloween election over, Ms Palaszczuk is likely to keep shutting Queensland again whenever a small outbreak flares up against in Sydney or Melbourne, even if exceptions are made for Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks. The premier is pictured with her parents Laurel and her father Henry Palaszczuk, a former Queensland Labor government minister

With the Halloween election over, Ms Palaszczuk is likely to keep shutting Queensland again whenever a small outbreak flares up against in Sydney or Melbourne, even if exceptions are made for Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks. The premier is pictured with her parents Laurel and her father Henry Palaszczuk, a former Queensland Labor government minister

As Queenslanders went to the polls on Saturday, New South Wales recorded just one new locally-acquired coronavirus case.

On Friday, when NSW recorded four new COVID-19 infections, the Queensland premier declared Sydney’s five million-plus residents would be banned from the Sunshine State.

On election eve, Ms Palaszczuk and her deputy Steven Miles deferred to the chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young to argue they were simply following the health advice. 

Having now won four more years in power, under new fixed term rules, Labor was more likely just following the political advice. 

With the Halloween election over, Ms Palaszczuk is likely to keep shutting Queensland again whenever a small outbreak flared up against in Sydney or Melbourne, even if exceptions were made for Hollywood stars such as Tom Hanks. 

Queensland on August 1 banned anyone who had been in Sydney from entering the state, just three weeks after the border was reopened to everyone else in Australia except Victorians.

Even in the tourism-dependent Sunshine State, Ms Palaszczuk's strongest support for closing the border, whenever a flare-up occurred, came from coastal areas economically on visitors. This saw the Liberal National Party led by Deb Frecklington (pictured) lose Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and neighbouring Pumicestone

Even in the tourism-dependent Sunshine State, Ms Palaszczuk's strongest support for closing the border, whenever a flare-up occurred, came from coastal areas economically on visitors. This saw the Liberal National Party led by Deb Frecklington (pictured) lose Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and neighbouring Pumicestone

Even in the tourism-dependent Sunshine State, Ms Palaszczuk’s strongest support for closing the border, whenever a flare-up occurred, came from coastal areas economically on visitors. This saw the Liberal National Party led by Deb Frecklington (pictured) lose Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and neighbouring Pumicestone

Labor’s third consecutive election victory means Daniel Andrews in Victoria could also easily win a third straight election in November 2022 if voters forgive him for keeping them locked up for almost three months, with an 8pm to 5am curfew, and a 5km limit on leaving home. 

Even in the tourism-dependent Sunshine State, Ms Palaszczuk’s strongest support for closing the border, whenever a flare-up occurred, came from coastal areas economically dependent on visitors. 

Ms Palaszczuk is also the first Queensland premier to win a third consecutive term since Peter Beattie triumphed in 2004. Ironically Mr Beattie, a former Labor leader once dubbed a 'media tart', was Ms Palaszczuk's fiercest border closure critic, just days before the election.

Ms Palaszczuk is also the first Queensland premier to win a third consecutive term since Peter Beattie triumphed in 2004. Ironically Mr Beattie, a former Labor leader once dubbed a 'media tart', was Ms Palaszczuk's fiercest border closure critic, just days before the election.

Ms Palaszczuk is also the first Queensland premier to win a third consecutive term since Peter Beattie triumphed in 2004. Ironically Mr Beattie, a former Labor leader once dubbed a ‘media tart’, was Ms Palaszczuk’s fiercest border closure critic, just days before the election.

Retirees, worried about getting the virus, helped Labor pick up the Sunshine Coast seat of Caloundra, an electorate it has never held before.

Labor had a huge 11 per cent primary vote swing to it in the neighbouring seat of Pumicestone, covering Bribie Island.

The Palaszczuk government stands a strong chance of picking up Hervey Bay near Fraser Island, an electorate it hasn’t held since 2009, and Currumbin on the Gold Coast, a seat it lost in 2004.

Ms Palaszczuk is also the first Queensland premier to win a third consecutive term since Peter Beattie triumphed in 2004.

Ironically Mr Beattie, a former Labor leader once dubbed a ‘media tart’, was Ms Palaszczuk’s fiercest border closure critic, just four days before the election.

The man who ruled Queensland from 1998 to 2007 said that as a lifelong Labor Party member, it ‘pained’ him to see Ms Palaszczuk, an MP in his government, imposing policies that were ‘just killing the economy, killing jobs and the economic devastation will be with us for years’.

The voters simply preferred the health advice to the economic advice. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Hotel security boss makes explosive revelations about Victoria’s bungled coronavirus quarantine

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hotel security boss makes explosive revelations about victorias bungled coronavirus quarantine

The head of security at one of Victoria’s quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program. 

Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria.

Owner Andy McLean said the program started on bad footing during a 500-paqe submission to the inquiry investigating how the deadly coronavirus seeped out of the hotel. 

The hotel quarantine failings are understood to be responsible for the vast majority of Victoria’s second wave, with 819 dead in the state to date. 

He has revealed a series of explosive allegations about security breaches, communication breakdowns and protocols.

The head of security at one of Victoria's quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program (pictured, Andy McLean of Elite Protection Services)

The head of security at one of Victoria's quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program (pictured, Andy McLean of Elite Protection Services)

 The head of security at one of Victoria’s quarantine hotels has revealed the shambolic scenes during the early days of the program (pictured, Andy McLean of Elite Protection Services)

Mr McLean penned his concerns into a mammoth document which he submitted to the state government’s Inquiry into the Hotel Quarantine program. 

But he said he was never called to make a submission on the day despite providing evidence of the bungled rollout, reported the Herald Sun. 

Among his documentation was a series of incident reports recorded during the early days of the program on the company letterhead. 

On April 19 an incident report was written about a security breach involving a guest bowling in the hallway. 

‘At 10:05 I received a message from a guard that a guest had opened her door, walked into the hallway and arranged some bottles,’ a document obtained by the newspaper read.

Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston (pictured) when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria

Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston (pictured) when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria

Elite Protection Services ran security at Rydges Hotel Swanston (pictured) when the state government first rolled out mandatory quarantine in Victoria

‘She walked back to her room then rolled some oranges back at the bottles.

Another report from the same day involved a ‘misunderstanding’ between nurses which allowed a guest with coronavirus into another part of the hotel for a walk.

Mr McLean told Sky News it was clear the people involved were oblivious to the consequences of a potential security breach. 

‘I don’t think any of us really knew how important this was, from a perspective of how dangerous the whole COVID situation was going to be,’ he said.

He said the panicked rolling out of the program at such a fast pace meant there was a serious lack of direction or cohesion in the chain of command.

‘It was red hot. When I say it was hot, it was a high-pressure environment. You had multiple departments having different ideas about the way things should be run,’ he added.

Recently arrived overseas travellers arrive at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne as part of Victoria's hotel quarantine program (pictured on March 29)

Recently arrived overseas travellers arrive at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne as part of Victoria's hotel quarantine program (pictured on March 29)

Recently arrived overseas travellers arrive at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne as part of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program (pictured on March 29)

Images emerged in September showing guests who were ordered to isolate inside their rooms during hotel quarantine walking to a nearby convenience store

Images emerged in September showing guests who were ordered to isolate inside their rooms during hotel quarantine walking to a nearby convenience store

Images emerged in September showing guests who were ordered to isolate inside their rooms during hotel quarantine walking to a nearby convenience store

‘It was just an ongoing conversation and obviously, we were trying to manage all of the things that needed to be managed.’ 

He also revealed there were ‘conflicts’ about whether travellers could order UberEats to their bedrooms and whether they could drink alcohol.  

The company was subcontracted by Unified Security who had won the majority of a $30million government contract to deliver the program. 

But EPS were dismissed after allegations of sexual harassment by a member of staff.

Mr McLean has denied the allegations. 

The bungled hotel quarantine program eventually led to a State of Disaster being declared in Victoria and the state plunged into lockdown.

Damning emails reveal Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (pictured) was told months ago private security would be used in the bungled hotel quarantine program

Damning emails reveal Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (pictured) was told months ago private security would be used in the bungled hotel quarantine program

Damning emails reveal Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (pictured) was told months ago private security would be used in the bungled hotel quarantine program

Private security guards were pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police in September (pictured, cleaning staff at a Melbourne CBD quarantine hotel on October 1)

Private security guards were pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police in September (pictured, cleaning staff at a Melbourne CBD quarantine hotel on October 1)

Private security guards were pulled from a Melbourne quarantine hotel and replaced by police in September (pictured, cleaning staff at a Melbourne CBD quarantine hotel on October 1)

Melbourne has only just emerged from three months in Stage Four lockdown, confining millions to their homes to stop the respiratory virus spreading.

Of the 907 deaths across Australia related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 819 have been in Victoria.  

The issue of who gave the green light to hire private security guards to run the program has become a political football. 

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told an inquiry that he had no idea contractors were being used until May.

But leaked emails published by the Age newspaper between him and staff from late March contradict these claims. 

During the inquiry into the program he said he wasn’t aware of this fact under after the outbreak at Rydges on Swanston. 

MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:

Step one: Came into effect on September 14 

Step two: Came into effect on September 28 

Step three: When there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The original aim was for October 26, brought forward to October 19 after the 14-day average of new cases fell below initial expectations, but again put on hold after new case numbers plateaued.

This has now been revamped to be a series of ‘mini-steps’ and more gradual easings as the numbers proved difficult to shift.

Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23 

COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal. 

FREEDOMS YOU GET AT EACH STEP OF EASING 

Step one – came into effect September 14 

Curfew has been eased to 9pm-5am

People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)

Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours

 Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’ 

Childcare and early educators to remain closed

Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions

 Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption

 Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry 

– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only

– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect

– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping 

Step two – came into effect September 28

 Melbourne’s curfew lifted

– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households

Childcare and early educators can re-open

Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4 

 There will be an increase to permitted workplaces

Step three – originally expected October 26, brought forward to October 19 

There are no restrictions on leaving home

Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors

 A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another 

Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class

– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite 

 Work from home is encouraged

– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor

– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed

– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment

– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked 

Step four – expected in November, dependent on new case numbers:

Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors

 Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time

 All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place

– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue

– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants

Step five – COVID normal:

Public gatherings have no restriction

 There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes

– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers

  Schools to reopen as normal

– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records 

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