Everything you need to know about Australia’s current COVID crisis

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There are not too many parts of Australia unaffected by COVID-19 right now.

Four Australian states – Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales – are dealing with significant outbreaks, while other states and territories have shifted their border policies and COVID restrictions.

In each state, ever-growing lists of COVID exposure sites have people scrambling to figure out if they need to get tested.

Millions of Australians are either going into lockdown, in the middle of lockdown, or awaiting news of an imminent lockdown.

Here’s an overview of what’s going on across Australia.


On Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Victoria is heading back into lockdown for the fifth time.

The five-day shutdown kicks in at midnight Thursday, in a bid to nip a cluster of COVID outbreaks in the bud.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne on a cold Thursday night to voice their displeasure with another lockdown – but it won’t have any effect.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says there is no choice but to enter a new COVID-19 lockdown. Credit: AAP

Andrews said earlier on Thursday that the lockdown was needed to get on top of the fast-moving Delta strain.

“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast,” he said.

“If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier.

“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now, only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown.”

New South Wales

In Sydney, positive cases dipped, with 65 cases recorded to 8pm Wednesday night – a significant improvement on the three-digit number recorded earlier in the week.

But with 35 people confirmed to have been infectious in the community, that number is predicted to rise again on Friday.

A COVID-19 patient in the ICU of St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney
Nineteen COVID-19 positive patients are in NSW intensive care units, with five being ventilated. Credit: AAP

Five million NSW residents will endure at least another fortnight of lockdown after a run of high daily coronavirus numbers forced the state government to extend stay-at-home measures at least until July 30.

Berejiklian says movement around Greater Sydney needs to drop even further and again implored people to stay home unless essential.

Western Australia

In WA, fences and security guards ensured Geelong players, officials and family members didn’t stray from the quarantine zone at training ahead of Thursday night’s clash with the Dockers at Optus Stadium.

Punters have been warned not to catch the ball if it gets kicked into the crowd. If they do, the ball will have to be disinfected.

The state has held off on closing its border against Victoria, but arrivals from that state must get tested and isolate for 14 days after arrival.

People arriving from Melbourne on Wednesday learned they will need to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.
People arriving from Melbourne on Wednesday learned they will need to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days. Credit: 7NEWS

NSW and Queensland are already classified as medium-risk states, effectively locking out any non-exempt travellers.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson has warned Victoria could be placed in the same category if there is an escalation of its outbreak.

“It will really depend over the next 24, 48 hours as to whether the spread has been contained or whether it is more widespread,” he told reporters on Wednesday.


In Queensland, a vaccinated airport worker is the most alarming of three new COVID cases, prompting the planned easing of restrictions in the southeast to be put on hold.

The three new cases on Thursday are a 12-year-old Moreton Bay boy, his father and a woman in her 40s who works at the Brisbane International Airport.

A Brisbane International Airport worker is at the centre of a new COVID scare in Queensland.
A Brisbane International Airport worker is at the centre of a new COVID scare in Queensland. Credit: AAP

The 12-year-old boy had arrived in Sydney on June 21 after spending three months in the United States with his mother.

“We are talking to all three at the moment to see where else they might have been,” Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Thursday.

South Australia

In South Australia, restrictions have been reintroduced in response to the evolving COVID crisis across Australia.

Premier Steven Marshall has announced that from midnight on Thursday venues will be limited to 50 per cent capacity and masks will be needed in high-risk settings, such as aged care and correctional facilities.

Private gatherings will be capped at 150 people.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall (file image)
SA Premier Steven Marshall. Credit: AAP

“We don’t want lockdowns in South Australia so we are taking pre-emptive action,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.

The restrictions come after three exposure sites were identified, linked to infected removalists who came into the state from Sydney.

Northern Territory and Tasmania

Tasmania is closing its border with Victoria in response to the emerging coronavirus outbreak on the mainland.

Anyone who has been in Victoria since July 8 won’t be allowed to enter Tasmania unless they receive permission from the deputy state controller as an essential traveller.

The directive will be in force from midnight on Thursday and reviewed daily.

“We’re responding to where the risk is,” Tasmania’s Deputy Director of Public Health, Scott McKeown, told reporters.

“Victoria is concerned about the risk and the need for their contact tracers to catch up.

“We need to see what risks and cases emerge over coming days.”

Road signage in Hobart (file image)
Anyone who has been in Victoria since July 8 won’t be allowed into Tasmania, with few exceptions. Credit: AAP

The Northern Territory has declared Greater Melbourne, Geelong and the Shire of Moorabool as COVID hotspots.

Anyone who enters NT from these areas must get tested and isolate for 14 days.

The same advice applies to anyone who has been to an exposure site at Tailem Bend, southeast of Adelaide.

COVID support packages

After weeks of confusing lockdown support measures, the federal government has proposed a new streamlined system of COVID support.

Payments will start following the first week of lockdown in what’s being described as a permanent replacement for JobKeeper.

Under a new proposal, Australians who lose work due to COVID lockdowns will be able to access cash payments for the entirety of the stay-at-home period.

Currently, only people in lockdown for at least seven days can apply for the payments.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. File image.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. File image. Credit: AAP

Also under the proposal, initial payments of up to $500 for those who lose more than 20 hours a week will increase to $600.

Payments of $375 – up from $325 – will be made available to those who lose fewer than 20 hours a week.

“Payments for a COVID support payment would still be paid in the second week of a pandemic. They would be paid basically on an arrears basis on that first seven days,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

It follows an announcement this week by Morrison that $600 and $375 payments will be made available to Sydney residents in lockdown.

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