Tuesday, April 28, 2020

New rules for pubs and clubs

Widespread social distancing measures will have to be implemented at pubs, public transport, cinemas and local sporting ovals before they can re-open once Australia begins to ease its coronavirus lockdown measures.

Pub bosses are discussing a raft of rules to minimise social contact - including bans on communal items like pub buzzers, water jugs and plastic laminated menus.

A leading tourist board has also warned hotel buffets will not be open for service - with guests turning to in-room dining during the first phase of restriction easing.

'I think there will be a lot more in-room dining. People won’t be as keen to eat in the restaurant,' Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson told the Sunday Telegraph.

It comes as the federal government, health experts and state leaders work on plans to restart sport and get Australians back to work ahead of a review of coronavirus restrictions on May 11.

With a vaccine yet to be developed, the Australian Hotels Association said a 'new world order' should be expected when pubs open their doors again.

'They [pub owners] are thinking about anything that people touch – water jars at the end of the bar, those laminated menus, the buzzer,' the association's NSW chief executive officer John Whelan said.

'Live music is a real difficult one. Possibly seated. A lot of hotels are giving real consideration to everything. They all accept social distancing is here to stay for a while.'

Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon last week told Daily Mail Australia pubs and hotels may not return to normal until September - although they could re-open under strict conditions in July.

Sign-in and sign-out procedures to maintain contact tracing and a 50 per cent capacity limit at venues are among those measures being discussed by hospitality industry leaders.

The implementation of a staggered return to work could also reduce the risk of transmission on buses - accompanied by a ban on standing and preventing passengers from sitting next to each other.

Temperature checks of customers and staff may also become the norm in leagues clubs and cinemas. ClubsNSW, which represents 1,200 member venues, said patrons could be tested on arrival under a plan set to be reviewed by an infectious disease expert and then submitted to the state government for approval.

Spectators at community sports games may also have to socially-distance and keep a safe distance away from each other.

Hoyts CEO Damian Keogh is meanwhile overseeing the creation of a checklist ahead of a tentative plan to return to business for July. The 20-point checklist features a chequerboard-based seating plan in the chain's theatres and online payment being the only way to buy a ticket.


New school rules

Strict new rules have been introduced as children return to classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Students in New South Wales will be banned from using playground equipment and bubblers when they return to their classrooms for term two next month.

They will also be banned from sharing food or pens, according to Department of Education rules.

Schools will also have to post any new COVID-19 cases that affect their school to their Facebook page to keep parents and caregivers informed, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Teachers will have to watch young students wash their hands to ensure they are doing it properly.

Hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms and provisions are in place for at-risk teachers to work from home.

Drop off, pick up, recess and lunchtimes will also be staggered to ensure social distancing.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced this week the plan for children to gradually return to schools from May 11.

The plan will see students return for one day a week to ensure they comply with social distancing measures.

The education department plans to increase the number of days students are at school in a staged way and hope to have all children back at school full-time by Term 3.

During the first stage of on-campus learning, parents will be encouraged to keep their children home except on their allocated day of face-to-face learning. Initially, about a quarter of a school’s students are expected to be on site at any one time. 

Classes will be split across schools, allowing schools to appropriately social distance students and teachers.

'We are grateful to all families who kept their children home from school at the end of Term 1 and to teachers who worked tirelessly to deliver education online,' Ms Berejiklian said.

'This allowed us critical time to prepare our schools to develop better online learning options and for considering additional hygiene measures to allow schools to return.

'We know that nothing is more important than a child’s education, and we must begin to return our students to their classrooms in a considered way.'

Most students began remote learning in March after the Premier asked parents to keep their children at home.


UBI still an unbelievably bad idea

Opportunists across the political spectrum have been emboldened by the current crisis to propose all manner of terrible ideas.

And among the worst is the universal basic income (UBI) —  a payment to all citizens, unconditional on income or wealth, without any obligation to be in work or study.

Supporters have seized on the government’s pandemic JobKeeper scheme as evidence we’re finally ready to embrace a UBI.

Of course, fans see it as panacea in good and bad times alike.

In good times, it’s the supposed solution to virtually all economic, ecological, and social ills. And in the current crisis, they argue a UBI is uniquely suited to deal with the surge of unemployed, the strain on the welfare system, and the apparent fiscal willingness to spend.

But not only are they wrong to equate JobKeeper with a UBI, they’re also mistaken that the coronanomics support their case anyway.

The JobKeeper payment imposes an effective wage floor for those employed in businesses facing an immediate, massive fall in revenue. These extraordinary circumstances are expected to be temporary, and when the crisis eventually ends, so does the payment. The worker is expected to go back to work, or to seek work on Newstart.

That’s a far cry from the UBI, which is not only permanent, but also is designed to remove the obligation to seek work.

Moreover, UBI proponents fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the economic conditions and today’s world of work.

Rather than a permanent reduction in the demand for labour, the present shutdown is a temporary contraction in labour demand due to forced closures and social distancing (with related reductions in short run supply).

Moreover, if economic life under social distancing has taught us anything, it’s that work has been supported, not threatened, by technology (exactly the opposite of what UBI supporters have been claiming). Indeed, technological integration into work — and study for that matter — has been a lifeline, saving jobs and livelihoods for many.

The other claim is that the government’s unprecedented spending allegedly reflects a willingness for meeting a UBI’s exorbitant price tag. But the government’s big-spending economic rescue package has been forced by a temporary crisis; there is no evidence of a commitment to permanently bigger government.

Moreover, when the costs are being counted, there’ll surely be little left in the piggy bank to fund a UBI.

Good policy options in this crisis are hard to come by and there’s no shortage of terrible ones being prosecuted. Despite what the economic illiterates say, a UBI remains an unbelievably bad idea.


'Ready to go': Drought's end in sight after rains and more to come

Garry Hall, a cattle breeder, has had more rain since February than for all of 2018 and 2019, and the Macquarie River is flowing past his property at the rate of a billion litres a day.

And yet, as welcoming as the rains have been, they are well short of drought-breaking for his farm in northern NSW and the nearby Ramsar-listed wetlands. Both have struggled through a once-in-a-century dry spell.

"A large area of the Macquarie Marshes hasn't seen water yet," Mr Hall said. "It's pretty important to get it in there to start the long journey back".

That journey, though, has begun after widespread rain over NSW and other eastern states this year. Catchments have become wetter so follow-up falls will be more likely to create run-off and reach dams across the Murray Darling Basin. Odds for such rainfall have also improved for coming months.

Bureau of Meteorology charts show moisture level in the top 100 centimetres of soil improved sharply between last December and last month. NSW shows some of the biggest changes.

Still, Matthew Coulton, the bureau's acting general manager for water, said "drought means something different to everyone you talk to ... I don't think it's over for anyone yet". "It's important to remember that long droughts can have periods of green. It was 36 months of very hot and dry weather that led to the conditions we saw at Christmas," he said.

"It will take a lot more than two or three wet months to fill dams and get regional communities back on their feet."

Little of the rain has reached the big dams on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Burrendong Dam, which supplies much of the water for the Macquarie River, remains at 16.4 per cent full, while Keepit Dam on the Namoi is at just 13.7 per cent.

WaterNSW data shows catchment inflows of major rivers so far lag the most big flows in 2016-17.

Those dams and rivers, though, could be in for a relative wet winter and even into spring, as climatic conditions favouring above-average rains set in, according to the latest bureau outlook.

Waters in the Indian Ocean off north-western Western Australia are warmer than usual, a set-up that typically produces clouds that deliver moisture across Australia's centre and south-east, said Andrew Watkins, head of the bureau's long-range forecasting.

"If one of those north-west cloudbands interacts with a cold front or a cut-off low − that's when we get some big rainfall totals over a large area," Dr Watkins said.

With higher soil moisture levels and more cloud cover, overnight temperatures across most of Australia will also likely be milder than normal, he said. Days will be closer to average warmth.

"The drought's broken when Burrendong is full," said Mr Hall, adding the outlook for the Macquarie catchment is promising.

"Orange and Bathurst haven't had much rain − you wouldn't say it's oozing water," he said. Still, "it's primed, it's wet and ready to go".


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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