Australia’s largest states further ease coronavirus curbs

New South Wales’ 50-person limit on indoor venues would be scrapped, so long as the venues observed a one person per four square meter rule. (AFP)
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Updated 14 June 2020

Australia’s largest states further ease coronavirus curbs

  • New South Wales’ 50-person limit on indoor venues would be scrapped
  • In Victoria, indoor businesses will be allowed to have up to 50 seated patrons from June 22

SYDNEY: Australia’s two largest states will further ease public coronavirus restrictions at libraries, community centers and nightclubs, officials said on Sunday, despite recording increases in new infections.
New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, said that from July 1, a 50-person limit on indoor venues such as restaurants and churches would be scrapped, so long as the venues observed a one person per four square meter rule.
Nightclubs and music festivals would also be allowed to operate from August if new cases remain low, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. The state on Saturday reported the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in weeks, and state officials on Sunday said there had been nine new infections since late Friday.
In neighboring Victoria, where pubs and other venues are currently limited to 20 people, indoor businesses will be allowed to have up to 50 seated patrons from June 22, said state premier Daniel Andrews.
All sports for children would resume, he said. Indoor sports centers and physical recreation spaces like gyms will be allowed to host 20 people, with caps of up to 10 adults per group, he added.
Strict lockdown restrictions and the closure of state and national borders have allowed Australia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with many parts of the country claiming to have eliminated the disease.
With only 102 deaths, much lower than most other developed nations, the federal government has stepped up pressure on state and territory leaders to reopen internal borders, a step viewed as key to reviving the country’s economy.
“We would love to open everything tomorrow. We can’t do that. Because if we did we would be almost making it certain that we would have a second wave,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Australia’s international borders will remain closed until at least Sept. 17, but Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday officials were exploring two possible ways to reopen borders.
“One is to use our quarantine system with international students and appropriately with people who are delivering national benefit, whether it’s in business or other areas,” Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The second option under consideration was to allow bilateral travel between “COVID-safe” countries, such as New Zealand, without the mandatory two-week quarantine period, he added.
Australia’s education sector is highly reliant on fee-paying international students for funding and has been badly hit by the border closures.


Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

Updated 57 sec ago

Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

  • German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres
  • Germany has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government

WINDHOEK: Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Tuesday said reparations offered by Germany for mass killings in its then colony at the start of the twentieth century were “not acceptable” and needed to be “revised.”
German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.
In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by Germany as well as development aid.
Geingob on Tuesday was briefed by his government’s special envoy Zed Ngavirue on the status of negotiations.
The briefing took place ahead of a final round of talks for which a date has yet to be set.
“The current offer for reparations made by the German government remains an outstanding issue and is not acceptable to the Namibian government,” Geingob said in a statement after the briefing, adding that Ngavirue had been asked to “continue with negotiations for a revised offer.”
No details were provided on the offer.
The president also noted that Germany had declined to accept the term “reparations,” as that word was also avoided during the country’s negotiations with Israel after the Holocaust.
Ngavirue rejected Germany’s reference to reparations as “healing the wounds” and said the terminology would be subject to further debate, according to the statement.
Berlin was not immediately available for comment on the claims.
Germany has acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities and some officials have even recognized it as a genocide.
But the country has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government.
Namibia was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South African rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.
Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.
In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children.
German troops went after them across what is now known as the Kalahari Desert. Only 15,000 Herero survived.
The German government has so far refused to apologize for the killings.