The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Friday August 7.

Hundreds preparing to descend on Melbourne CBD in protest.

Police have vowed to crack down on anti-lockdown protesters planning a Melbourne march in a "blatant breach" of COVID-19 rules.

In a statement on Thursday, Victoria Police said it was aware some people may be planning to protest in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday.

A Facebook event has called on people to march in opposition to the city's six-week shutdown and claimed to be part of a broader movement of planned protests.


"Let's blow this one up and fill up the streets to show these criminals we won't give up our country and livelihoods without a fight," the event description reads.

It had more than 100 confirmed attendees and 400 expressions of interest late on Thursday evening.

If they turn up, Victoria Police said it wouldn't hesitate to hand out $1652 on-the-spot fines or arrest protesters.

"This is a completely blatant breach of the chief health officer's directions and puts Victorian lives at risk," police said.

Victorians told not to stockpile meat.

Victorians are being urged not to panic buy meat as the state's abattoirs cut back operations under industry restrictions to help slow the spread of coronavirus in workplaces.

The reduced production is part of a sweeping stage four Melbourne lockdown that has progressively come into effect since Sunday.

Victoria recorded 471 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Thursday, far fewer than the record-breaking 725 cases and 15 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Victoria Health believes the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the state will start to fall more significantly in the next week.

There are now 533 Victorians in hospital with coronavirus in the state, and 42 of those in intensive care. A young child is among six people under the age of 40 critically ill.

Thursday marked a move to tough new restrictions on workers and businesses in Melbourne, while regional Victoria officially entered stage three rules. 


During a marathon media conference that lasted more than 90 minutes yesterday, Premier Daniel Andrews fended off repeated questions relating to the state's botched hotel quarantine program.

Genomic testing has revealed the program could be linked to a significant number of cases, if not all cases, in Victoria's second coronavirus wave.

Newcastle emerging as NSW hotspot.

Newcastle has become a NSW COVID hotspot after a man with the virus visited several pubs at the weekend and attended a local A-League match.

The man in his 20s is a close contact of a Newcastle teenager whose diagnosis shut down his high school on Thursday and sent two football teams into self isolation. 

A third infection has now been confirmed. 


There were 12 new cases recorded across the state yesterday, with another two men in their 20s closing down several venues across Sydney. 

The premier is asking young people to "limit the number of places that you go to". 

As of today, people entering New South Wales from Victoria are now required to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Uber has also upped its advice, urging all NSW customers to wear a face mask when using the service moving forward. An alert was sent to app users last night.


The only other state or territory to record a new case was South Australia.

A school for adult learners has been closed in Adelaide after a woman in her 20s tested positive. 

JobKeeper eligibility tweaked for businesses.

It will be easier for businesses hurt by coronavirus to apply for JobKeeper after the end of September under changes made by the federal government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the changes, along with more Victorian companies joining the scheme, will add another $15.6 billion to the cost of the wage subsidy program.

Previously, businesses and not-for-profits hoping to receive JobKeeper from September 28 to January 3 would have to show a significant fall in turnover in both the June and September quarters.

Josh Frydenberg has announced some changes to the JobKeeper scheme. Image: Getty. 

But under the nationwide changes, they will just have to show turnover has significantly fallen for the September quarter, compared to the same period last year.


Businesses and not-for-profits will have to prove their eligibility again in January, but it will be based on the December quarter rather than the two previous quarters as well.

Staff who were employed as of July 1 will now be able to access the program.

The payment is currently $1500 a fortnight but will reduce to $1200 for full-time employees from October to December.

It will then reduce again to $1000 until March.

17 questioned over Beirut explosion.  

Cyprus has located and questioned a Russian man named in multiple news reports as the owner of the ship that carried a cargo of ammonium nitrate abandoned in Beirut.


The chemicals, which had been stored at Beirut port for years, exploded on Tuesday in the country's worst peace-time disaster.

Emergency workers search a collapsed building on August 6 in Beirut, Lebanon. Public anger swelled over the possibility that government negligence over the storage of tons of ammonium nitrate was behind the catastrophe. Image: Marwan Tahtah/Getty. 

A police spokesman said an individual, who he did not name, was questioned at his home in Cyprus on Thursday afternoon.


Sixteen Beirut port staff have also been detained over the blast.

The explosion has killed more than 137 people, wounded 5000, and left nearly 300,000 homeless. 

A coroner has ruled on Caroline Flack's death.

A British coroner has ruled that reality TV host Caroline Flack feared her upcoming assault trial would end her career and bring unbearable media scrutiny. 

The former Love Island host died by suicide in February, weeks before her trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend. 


Coroner Mary Hassell said, in an inquest verdict overnight, that the 40-year-old took her own life "because of an exacerbation of fluctuating ill-health and distress".

"She knew she would face the media, press, publicity — it would all come down upon her," the coroner said.

Flack's family have accused prosecutors of singling her out because of her celebrity status. 

Cold snap being felt across most of Australia.

Parts of the country experienced their coldest morning in a decade yesterday, with temperatures reaching minus 10C in some areas of NSW and Victoria. 

Adelaide is expected to experience its coldest day since 2005, with a top of just 10C predicted today.


The cold snap is expected to continue over the next few days. A low pressure system is moving from the west bringing with it lots of rain for central, south, west and east Australia.

Severe weather is likely to occur in this weather event, so be sure to keep up to date with the latest warnings in your state or territory. 

Around the world.

- An armed man is holding one hostage at a bank in northern France, with police sources saying the gunman is believed to have Islamist sympathies. 

- New York's attorney-general is seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association over allegations high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars for lavish personal trips. 

- Journalist Jonathon Swan says President Donald Trump was "happy" with their viral TV interview. He told Swan after the nearly 40 minute chat; "you’ve got to run it in full. You can’t be editing, you can’t be cutting me off, you’ve got to let the sentences flow."

With AAP

Feature image:  Getty/Asanka Ratnayake/Instagram @carolineflack.