Showing posts with label pandemic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pandemic. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Cartoon of the Week

Cathy Wilcox

Quote of the Week


'“Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don’t lie,” Fauci said when asked during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta whether the U.S. had the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak. The U.S., which accounts for less than 5% of the world population, leads all other countries in global coronavirus infections and deaths.'  [Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, quoted by CNBC on 5 August 2020]

a woman who had told NSW Police at the Victorian border she would be self-isolating at Nimbin on the NSW North Coast was issued a $1000 fine after she was located 470 kilometres south in a vehicle at Nabiac. She was also directed to return to Victoria.” [WAtoday , 7 August 2020]

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Queensland locks down its borders once more


ABC News, 5 August 2020:

Queensland will close its border to all of New South Wales and the ACT from 1:00am on Saturday.

The 68-year-old Queensland woman was diagnosed with the virus in the past 24 hours and authorities are still investigating the source of the infection.

Two historic cases have also been added to the state's total of 1,088 cases.

The hotspot declaration means anyone travelling from NSW or the nation's capital will soon be banned from entering the Sunshine State.

Queenslanders who return after travelling there will be sent to mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.



Queensland COVID-19 snapshot:
Confirmed cases so far: 1,088
Deaths: 6
Tests conducted: 581,286

Latest information from Queensland Health......

New South Wales COVID-19 numbers as of a 5 August 2020 NSW Health update:

Confirmed cases (including interstate residents in NSW health care facilities) 3,631

Deaths (in NSW from confirmed cases) 52

Of the 12 new cases reported to 8pm last night:
  • one is a traveller in hotel quarantine
  • 10 were locally acquired linked to known cases including:
    • two cases linked to the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park
    • two cases linked to the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point
    • six cases associated with the funeral gatherings cluster
  • one is locally acquired with unknown source
There are now:
  • 105 cases associated with Thai Rock Wetherill Park cluster
  • 58 cases associated with the Crossroads Hotel cluster
  • 46 cases associated with the funeral events in Bankstown and surrounding suburbs, including 15 associated with Mounties in Mount Pritchard.
  • 30 cases associated with the Potts Point cluster, including 24 cases linked to the Apollo Restaurant cluster and 6 cases linked with the Thai Rock Restaurant Potts Point cluster (two cases attended both and are counted as Thai Rock cases).

This is the man Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison consults concerning the way forward in the current global pandemic


CNN Politics, 4 August 2020:

Washington (CNN) Jonathan Swan, a reporter for Axios, has revealed the magic words that expose President Donald Trump's lies for what they are. 


 Who? 
What? 
How? 
No. 

In an interview that aired Monday night on "Axios on HBO," Swan demolished some of Trump's most dishonest talking points with a powerful tactic that has rarely been used by the people Trump has allowed to interview him: 

Basic follow-up questions. 

Many of Trump's interviewers are right-wing sycophants who have no interest in challenging him. But Trump has defeated even his other interviewers by employing a strategy we can call the hit-and-run -- saying dishonest stuff, then darting ahead to other dishonest stuff before the interviewer reacts. 

Swan -- like Fox News' Chris Wallace, to a slightly lesser extent, in an interview that aired July 19 -- came armed with facts and prepared to use them, even if he had to interrupt Trump like Trump interrupts others. 

And Trump wasn't ready to respond. 

Take their exchange about coronavirus testing. Trump uttered a version of his now-familiar refrain about how testing is overrated -- attributing this nonsense to unnamed "those that say." Swan pressed for details. 

Trump: "You know, there are those that say you can test too much, you do know that." 
Swan: "Who says that?" 
Trump: "Oh, just read the manuals. Read the books." 
Swan: "Manuals? What manuals?" 
Trump: "Read the books. Read the books." 
Swan: "What books?" 

 Trump moved on without offering a direct answer. While Swan couldn't get the President to concede that he is making up these "manuals" and "books," he exposed him nonetheless. 

Swan had similar success when Trump returned to his laughably inaccurate claim that the virus is "under control," which he has now been making for more than six months. 

Trump: "Right now, I think it's under control. I'll tell you what --" 
Swan: "How? 1,000 Americans are dying a day." 
Trump: "They are dying. That's true. And you have -- it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it." 

Again, Trump didn't explicitly surrender. But Swan's basic follow-up -- a "how?" and a single key statistic -- forced Trump into a de facto surrender ("It's under control as much as you can control it") and another revealing remark, "It is what it is." 

Other false claims 

Trump made at least 17 additional false claims in the 35-minute interview. (We're still reviewing the transcript, so the final total might be higher.).....

Read the full article here.

The interview Trump participated in over the bodies of 4.7 million COVID-19 infected Americans and almost 157,000 dead:




Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Things you might have missed in the daily news


Financial Review, 3 August 2020:

Taiwanese lender Yuanta Securities Investment Trust has sold $27 million worth of bonds in Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland, joining a rapidly expanding list of Asian and global lenders that have shunned the controversial project.

Yuanta was once the second-biggest investor in one of the project's bond issuances, holding more than 5 per cent of a $US500 million issuance due to expire at the end of 2022….

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According to an ABC News artilce published on 31 July 2020, a senior federal Border Force officer allowed 2,700 people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship mistakenly believing passengers had tested negative to COVID-19, when they had instead tested negative for the common flu. 

Border Force command only realised the mistake more than 30 hours after passengers — including 13 who had been isolated in their cabins with fever — had left the ship.

The Ruby Princess COVID-19 cluster resulted in at least 662 infections and 21 deaths, the single biggest arrival of coronavirus on Australian shores.

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The Market Herald, 23 July 2020:
  • The Chinese navy has confronted Australian warships in the South China Sea en route to a military exercise with Japan and the U.S.
  • Five ships, lead by HMA Canberra, were travelling through disputed waterways when they encountered the Chinese military
  • The Joint Task Force was heading to the Philippine Sea at the time, where it planned to conduct military movements ahead of the biennial RIMPAC conference
  • The exercise aimed to increase interoperability between the Australian, American, and Japnese navies, but came amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and China over territory in the South China Sea
  • Speaking to the encounter, the Department of Defence said all "unplanned interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner"….
Next month, all three navies will head to the biannual Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in Hawaii — the biggest global maritime warfare activity.
However, in 2018, China invitation to RIMPAC was withdrawn based on its 'aggressive' territorial claims in the South China Sea.
It's understood China won't participate in this year's RIMPAC event either.

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The Daily Telegraph, 1 August 2020, p.27:

The crowd pleaser
With world-famous surf breaks, natural springs and coastal charm, Yamba is the beach break you never knew you needed.

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According to recently released Australian Taxation Office data, in the 2017-18 financial year the amount of tax paid in main urban areas went as followed in the NSW Northern Rivers region:
  • Grafton postcode 2460 – 14,500 individuals paid $117.32 million.
  • Kyogle postcode 2474 – 3,336 individuals paid $24.66 million
  • Ballina postcode 2478 – 15,690 individuals paid $186.06 million
  • Lismore postcode 2480 – 24,989 individuals paid $207.96 million
  • Byron Bay postcode 2481 – 9,050 individuals paid $114.50 million
  • Tweed Heads postcode 2485 – 7,709 individuals paid $66.43million
  • Tweed Heads postcode 2486 – 17,127 individuals paid $150.65 million.
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ABC News, 4 August 2020:

A growing group of anti-maskers have been "baiting" and antagonising Victorian police, and in one instance smashed the head of a female officer into concrete until she was concussed, authorities say. 

Police said two female police officers approached a 38-year-old woman, who was not wearing a face covering, in the Frankston area last night. 

After questioning the woman about why she was not wearing one, police allege she pushed one officer and struck the other in the head. "After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle," 

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said. "During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the [26-year-old] policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground." 

Police said the constable was taken to Frankston Hospital with "significant head injuries". 

The woman's alleged assault left the young police officer with a concussion and a missing clump of hair, Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said. 

"The offender had a clump of our member's hair in her hands and said to our member 'what's it like to have your hair in my hands' or words to that effect," he said. "That's just horrible conduct — it's not human-like to be quite honest." 

Police have charged the alleged attacker with nine offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of recklessly causing injury. 

She had no previous criminal history and was granted bail to appear before the Frankston Magistrates' Court on March 31, 2021.... 

Chief Commissioner Patton said in the past week police had seen a trend of people calling themselves "sovereign citizens" who "don't think the law applies to them". 

"We've seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address," he said. 

"On at least four occasions in the last week, we've had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren't adhering to the Chief Health Officer's guidelines, they weren't providing their name and address."

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Sunday, 2 August 2020

A conga line of #COVIDIOTS


Queensland Police News, 30-31 July 2020:

Woman fined for not declaring hot spot, Gold Coast 

myPolice on Jul 31, 2020 @ 3:06pm 

 Police have given a 25-year-old woman a $4003 fine this morning after she allegedly provided false information by failing to declare she had been to a hot spot in New South Wales. 

The woman was travelling with a man by car with Queensland registration plates when around 4am they attended the Miles Street checkpoint with a Queensland Declaration Border pass stating they had not visited a known hot spot. 

Police working at the checkpoint believed the man and the woman were acting suspiciously and questioned them further about their movements and it is alleged differing versions were given. 

It is alleged the woman eventually admitted to recently being in Campbelltown and the man from Fairfield. 

Police also established that the 53-year-old man was wanted for other criminal matters in New South Wales and was taken in to custody. 

The woman was given a $4003 fine and turned away from the border. 

Chief Superintendent Wheeler said this highlights that police are being very vigilant on our border checkpoints. 

“If you are coming into Queensland, even with a valid Border Declaration pass, you stand a very good chance of being intercepted and questioned by police. 

“We make no apologies for our vigilance and scrutiny as this is about keeping Queensland safe from the threat of COVID-19,” said Chief Superintendent Wheeler.  

BWC vision can be viewed here: https://d2haxmvzil2swt.cloudfront.net/uploads/2020/07/30/093525_COVID_Fine.mp4

Three women charged under the Public Health Act 
myPolice on Jul 30, 2020 @ 4:09pm 

Detectives from Task Force Sierra Linnet have charged three women for allegedly providing false information on their Queensland border declarations. 

Police will allege that all three women travelled to Victoria and deliberately provided misleading documents at the Queensland border. 

A 19-year-old Heritage Park woman, a 21-year-old Acacia Ridge woman and a 21-year-old Algester woman have all been charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents – Section 364 of the Public Health Act (maximum penalty – 100 penalty units or $13,345) and fraud (dishonestly gain benefit / advantage) – Section 408C(1)(d) of the criminal code (maximum penalty five years’ imprisonment). 

Police can also confirm that all three women are now cooperating with QPS and Queensland Health officials. 

A criminal investigation is also being undertaken by Task Force Sierra Linnet investigators which is unrelated and not connected to the alleged travel to Victoria. 

All three women are currently in quarantine and are due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28. 

There is no further information available at this time in relation to the ongoing criminal investigation. 

The Queensland Police Service is committed to ensuring everyone complies with public health directions and will continue to enforce restrictions at the border. 

The Queensland Entry Declaration can be accessed at www.qld.gov.au/border-pass.

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NSW Police
, Latest News, 27-30 July 2020: 


Victorian man charged over alleged breach of Public Health Order 
Thursday, 30 July 2020 02:58:56 PM 

Police have charged a Victorian man with breaching a Public Health Order after he flew from Melbourne to Sydney allegedly without a permit to enter NSW. 

Just before 1pm yesterday (Wednesday 29 July 2020), officers who were deployed at Sydney Airport for Operation Coronavirus, were requested to assist NSW Health who were talking with a man who had just arrived on a flight from Melbourne. 

Police were told the 21-year-old man from Roxbough Park, Victoria, was unable to produce a NSW Health exemption. 

The man was assisted to charge his phone before it was established that he did not have a permit but would apply for one so he could care for his children. 

It’s alleged that the man made a number of applications for a permit and had provided false information. 

After establishing that the man did not have children, nor a valid reason to be in NSW, police directed him to return to Victoria. 

He was offered options for travel and further assistance from NSW Health.
The man allegedly refused to make travel plans and failed to comply with police directions and was arrested about 3.30pm before being taken to Mascot Police Station. 
During a subsequent search of the man and his bags, officers located a bottle of alprazolam, which was not prescribed to him. 

He was charged with not comply with noticed direction re s 7/8/9 - COVID-19 and possess prescribed restricted substance. 

The man was granted conditional bail but is required to quarantine in a Health-managed hotel until he appears at Downing Centre Local Court on Monday 17 August 2020. 

Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any ministerial direction or behaviour which may impact on the health and safety of the community. 

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Latest breaches of Public Health Orders across state 
Monday, 27 July 2020 02:38:30 PM 

Three people have been issued Penalty Infringement Notices after failing to self-isolate on return from Victoria. 

Details of these alleged breaches are further outlined below: 

- About 12pm on Saturday (25 July 2020), officers attached to Murray River Police District attended a home on Decimus Street, Deniliquin, following reports two people who had returned from Victoria on Tuesday 21 July 2020, had been seen entering a store on Cressy Street. A 33-year-old woman and 31-year-old man allegedly told police “it’s a free country”. They were both subsequently issued $1000 PINs. 

- About 12pm yesterday (Sunday 26 July 2020), officers from South Coast Police District attended a home at Surf Beach, after reports a 63-year-old woman had visited a supermarket in Batemans Bay despite being directed to self-isolate after returning from Victoria. She was issued a $1000 PIN.

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Victoria Police, Breaking News, 29 July 2020: 


Teen charged following evade 
Wednesday, 29 July 2020 04:44 

A teenaged boy has been charged after evading police in a car last night. Officers were called to Holland Crescent, Truganina about 11.50pm after reports of a group of males acting suspiciously. 

When police arrived it is alleged that two males drove off in a BMW. 

The BMW was sighted a number of times by police and it is alleged that it was travelling at high speed and failing to stop at red lights. 

The car was eventually spotted in Quarrion Court, Hoppers Crossing about 12.40am. 

As officers approached the BMW, the two occupants got out of the car and ran from police. 

The driver, a 16-year-old boy from Truganina, was arrested after a short foot chase. 

The other occupant of the car is still outstanding. Investigators have interviewed the youth and he has been charged with reckless conduct endangering serious injury, drive manner dangerous, drive speed dangerous and unlicensed driving. 

He has been bailed to appear at a Children’s Court at a later date.
The teen was also found to be in breach of the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer. 
He has been issued a $1652 penalty notice. 
The directions by the Chief Health Officer, under the State of Emergency declared in Victoria, have been enacted to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.
 
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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News.com.au, 1 August 2020: 

A Victorian woman has been charged after she allegedly gave false information to police upon her arrival into Queensland. 

Officers from task force Sierra Linnet reviewed the border declaration of a 51-year-old woman who told authorities she was travelling into Queensland from Victoria for “essential work purposes”. 

Gympie police attended an address at 11am this morning and spoke to the woman. Further investigations revealed that she lied at the border about her purpose for entering Queensland, police said. 

She has since been taken to hotel quarantine. 

She was charged with one count of failing to comply with a COVID-19 border direction, and was issued a Notice to Appear at Gympie Magistrates Court on November 30. 

Investigations are ongoing.

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Friday, 31 July 2020

The Morrison Government was advised to get the priorities straight but refused to listen


It appears Scott Morrison & Co did not listen to this open letter. 


Corresponding authors:

Chris Edmond (cedmond@unimelb.edu.au)
Steven Hamilton (steven_hamilton@gwu.edu)
Richard Holden (richard.holden@unsw.edu.au)
Bruce Preston (bruce.preston@unimelb.edu.au)

The views expressed are those of the signatories and not necessarily those of their employer.

19 April 2020

Dear Prime Minister and Members of the National Cabinet:

The undersigned economists have witnessed and participated in the public debate about when to relax social-distancing measures in Australia. Some commentators have expressed the view that there is a trade-off between the public health and economic aspects of the crisis. We, as economists, believe this is a false distinction.

We cannot have a functioning economy unless we first comprehensively address the public health crisis. The measures put in place in Australia, at the border and within the states and territories, have reduced the number of new infections. This has put Australia in an enviable position compared to other countries, and we must not squander that success.

We recognise that the measures taken to date have come at a cost to economic activity and jobs, but believe these are far outweighed by the lives saved and the avoided economic damage due to an unmitigated contagion. We believe that strong fiscal measures are a much better way to offset these economic costs than prematurely loosening restrictions.

As has been foreshadowed in your public remarks, our borders will need to remain under tight control for an extended period. It is vital to keep social-distancing measures in place until the number of infections is very low, our testing capacity is expanded well beyond its already comparatively high level, and widespread contact tracing is available.

A second-wave outbreak would be extremely damaging to the economy, in addition to involving tragic and unnecessary loss of life.

Sincerely,


On the day this open letter was written the number of active confirmed Covid-19 cases in Australia was falling - averaging 42 cases a day in that week. However, nationally there were still est. 2,306 active & not yet recovered cases of the virus and the death toll had reached 70 people.

By 20 April 2020 national infection growth rate - which needed to be below a factor of 1 if Australia wanted to maintain suppression or eliminate the virus - was recorded as 0.89 representing an average of 11 new cases per day for the last 7 days.

By 2 May 2020 active & not yet recovered cases had fallen to 901 but deaths had risen to 93 people. 

That week Prime Minister Scott Morrison began to push for an easing of COVID-19 public health order restrictions.

However by 20 May Australia was averaging 17 cases per day and the infection growth rate was beginning to climb again. 

Even though the national infection growth rate had been above a factor of 1 since early June, the Morrison Government continued to push for a rolling back of public health order restrictions and castigated those states, industry sectors and workers which it thought were not responding quickly enough to its desire to 'open the economy'.

In varying degrees the states and territories complied. The result?

By 3pm on 8 July 2020, there were 1,293 active & not yet recovered cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 106 deaths.

As of 3 pm on 29 July the national number of active & not yet recovered COVID-19 cases stood at est. 5,787 and known deaths from the virus totalled 176 people. That day the Australian Dept. of Health recorded there has been an average of 385 new cases reported each day over the last week.

It is now Friday 31 July 2020 and the resurgence of COVID-19 infection predicted by those 289 economists last April is underway.


Thursday, 30 July 2020

Fair Work Commission shuts the door after COVID-19 has bolted


In April 2020 the Fair Work Commission was aware of a need and varied 99 modern awards to support the inclusion of "unpaid pandemic leave".

At the time it was also aware that there was a need to consider paid pandemic leave in respect of “health care workers” covered by a number of awards.

However, on 8 July the Fair Work Commission dithered and refused to vary identified “Health awards” to provide for paid pandemic leave.

This refusal came despite the strong suspicion that some private sector aged care workers in insecure employment were not declaring COVID-19 symptoms as they could not afford to stay home without suffering financial hardship and possible loss of ongoing employment.

The inevitable began to occur. COVID-19 infection numbers began to rise again in private sector aged care facilities in Victoria where there are now at least 440 active cases in 61 aged care facilities and the death toll for those in residential care stands at 47 elderly people.

In addition these 61 aged care facilities appear to be associated with another 78 COVID-19 cases.

Although Victoria has the highest death toll New South Wales is not far behind, with 29 elderly people in residential care dead since the start of the pandemic.

The national COVID-19 death toll in residential care stood at 78 on 29 July 2020 according to the Australian Government Dept. of Health. 

It was only on 27 July that the Fair Work Commission decided it was convinced there was a need for paid pandemic leave in the aged care sector*.

ABC News, 28 July 2020:

Aged care workers employed under three awards will be entitled to two weeks' paid leave if they are required to self-isolate due to having coronavirus symptoms or being a close contact of a confirmed case, following a ruling from the Fair Work Commission.

The amendments will come into effect from Wednesday, July 29, and last for three months.

Conditions attached to the paid leave include:
  • Workers must be aged 17 or older and be likely to have worked during the self-isolation period
  • Cannot be receiving any income — including other leave or JobKeeper — during their time in quarantine
  • If workers test positive to the virus they will be provided with workers compensation leave, which will supersede the pandemic leave
  • If the direction to self-isolate comes from a doctor, and not come the Government or employer, the worker must provide a medical certificate
  • The entitlement extends to casual employees "engaged on a regular and systemic basis" and the payment would be based on their average earnings over the past six weeks.....
In its ruling, the FWC stated "it cannot be assumed that the current outbreak will remain confined to Victoria".

"The recent events in that state demonstrate how rapidly circumstances can change," the full bench of the commission found.

"Recent developments in New South Wales are not encouraging. The award of the entitlement remains necessary notwithstanding that the current locus of the pandemic is in Victoria."…...

Key points:
  • The Fair Work Commission ruled the paid leave was necessary nationwide due to recent events demonstrating "how rapidly circumstances can change"
  • The ruling follows submissions from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Health Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation calling for paid pandemic leave to apply for all staff in aged care across the country until the end of September
  • Only casual employees who can have been employed on a "regular and systemic basis" will be entitled to the paid leave
  • The commission's ruling grants paid pandemic leave to staff working in residential aged care under the Aged Care Award, the Nurses Award and the Health Professionals Award.
NOTE
* See Fair Work Commission, Decisions, Health Sector Awards—Pandemic Leave, (AM2020/13), 27 July 2020

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

If a Gumnut Baby & Kooka can mask up then so can you!


Government Spanish Influenza Pandemic Poster 1919
May Gibbs

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron Bay are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat


The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 2020:

In Byron Bay, sales of a $9.30 large green G-Force smoothie reveal how the COVID-19 wave has dumped on the NSW tourist town. 


In good times, with 2.4 million visitors a year ranging from backpackers to festival goers and others looking for yoga, surf and a healthy lifestyle, Byron can support six smoothie businesses. 

One of them, Sweet Byron, would sell 19 of these large green smoothies a day.   

Then coronavirus hit, forcing the closure of domestic and international borders. Byron's foreign visitors dried up, and its English language schools nearly emptied. 

 COVID-19 caused the cancellation of weddings and events such as the Writers Festival and the Splendour in the Grass misic festival, which usually provide a boost in the slow winter months. 

Ninety per cent of shops, hotels and restaurants in the town closed. When they reopened before school holidays, the streets were empty and Sweet Byron was lucky if it sold two Gforce Smoothies. 

Those students and backpackers who had remained headed north when the Queensland border re-opened earlier this month. 

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat, according to a map by data analytics company Taylor Fry released last week

This is the most in any local government area in Australia and double the number in capital cities. 

Without JobKeeper Mika Cohen, the owner of the Sweet Byron smoothie shop, said his business wouldn't survive. 

Smoothie sales bounced back during the recent school holidays after coronavirus travel restrictions lifted and the town filled with families who followed the sun north. 

Mr Cohen was back to selling 8 Gforce Smoothies a day, still less than half the number he sold pre-COVID. 

With nearly all of Byron's economy tied to tourism, hospitality and the creative arts, Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the pandemic has delivered a "triple whammy". 

"It is really dangerous times for us," he said. 

Hotel bookings looked healthy for summer, but if the town doesn't get that "fattening" he feared it could "lurch into real danger". 

Hotel owner Christian Millett said Byron had been a stable market all year long, in the past. But after coronavirus shut down weddings and festivals, Mr Millett said he would not have been been able to justify keeping his doors open outside of school holidays if he wasn't receiving JobKeeper.....

Taylor Fry's analysis found smaller firms in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction sectors are especially dependent on JobKeeper to retain their staff...... 

When the tourism dried up, it affected the rest of the region with "all the pork and tomatoes, macadamia and the mueslis which aren't being bought".

Cr Richardson said there was a "false sense of affluence" associated with Byron because of its multimillion-dollar beach houses and movie-star residents like Chris Hemsworth. 

"For every $10 million house at Wattegos Beach there are 10 homes that are in some of the poorest areas in NSW," he said. 

Four areas in the LGA are among the most disadvantaged 20 per cent in Australia, and two are among the most affluent..... 

Rents are also high, and Cr Richardson said he has seen more people couch surfing after losing their jobs. A shopkeeper said his landlord wanted to restore rents to pre-COVID levels after providing discounts earlier: "In this time, we can't afford the full rent for the premises ... because there are 60 to 40 per cent fewer tourists." 

Taylor Fry's principal Alan Greenfield said without JobKeeper he was nervous about the future of regional tourist towns, especially if restrictions on travel continued. "If locals can't see a future where they live, they might be inclined to move away." 

Simon Westaway, the executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, said the impact of COVID-19 on his 10,000 members had been "diabolical". Unlike other industries, it had been hard for tourist operators to "pivot" to other business. 

Even if people could travel, the impact of continuing uncertainty over jobs and rising mortgage stress – estimated to grow to $200 billion from $60 billon now – meant visitors were not necessarily buying the most expensive "smoothie". 

"You put all these figures together, and you go wowie kazowie, who is in a mindset to have a decent holiday? Let alone if you are allowed out [by governments]. " 

Although business was down now, surf school director and founder of Let's Go Surfing Brenda Miley said Byron was an aspirational place that will bounce back. "Everyone wants to go there. It is well worn trek from Bondi to Byron, and that all came together last school holidays." 

 She thinks it will be booked out next summer if government restrictions on travel aren't in place. "People who were planning to go skiing in Colorado or France are so happy to go to Byron and surf for a week or two," she said.

Percentage of NSW Northern Rivers Businesses relying on JobKeeper Payments by Local Government Area - as of 22 July 2020 

  • Byron 60.39%
  • Tweed 47.79%
  • Ballina 39.56%
  • Clarence Valley 34.52%
  • Lismore 35.05%
  • Richmond Valley 27.45%
  • Kyogle 21.3%