The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Wednesday October 28.

Melbourne is officially open for business, with lines out the door at Kmart.

Melbourne's arduous 15-week COVID-19 lockdown is officially over, with businesses able to reopen and families reunite.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and retail stores could throw open their doors from 11.59pm on Tuesday, with some wasting no time getting back to business.

Angus & Bon in Melbourne's southeast was one of the first restaurants to welcome back customers, serving patrons at the stroke of midnight.

Shoppers lined up to get into Kmart at the stroke of midnight, with Melbourne introducing a booking system allowing customers to skip the queue of the store is at capacity. 

One shopper told 7News, "(I’ve been lining up) since 6pm. I’m so excited, I just don’t even know what to say."


Premier Daniel Andrews outlined new rules for home visits yesterday. Two adults from one household can now visit another home accompanied by any dependents. The visits are restricted to within the 25km travel limit and to one per day.

Home gathering restrictions will remain in place beyond November 8, when the travel limit and the "ring of steel" separating the city from regional Victoria is lifted.

Hours before Tuesday's rules rollback, the Victorian government also clarified masks will remain mandatory outdoors across the state for the rest of the year and possibly into 2021.

Victoria recorded a second consecutive day of no new coronavirus cases or deaths on Tuesday - the first time since March 5 and 6.

Australia is technically out of recession.

Reserve Bank governor Guy Debelle has declared Australia is already technically out of recession, with the September quarter to show a growing economy and the lag from Victoria not as significant as first predicted.

"It looks like in the quarter the country probably recorded positive growth rather than negative," Mr Debelle told a Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday.

However, it might go backwards again before surging forwards. 


With JobKeeper ending in March, and JobSeeker winding back, unemployment is expected to rise in the months ahead.

Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank seven per cent in the April-to-June quarter, putting Australia in its first recession in nearly 30 years.

QLD leaders to face off in election debate.

Queensland's economic recovery is set to be a core issue when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Deb Frecklington face off for the first time in an election debate.

The Labor and Liberal National Party leaders will share the stage at the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane on Wednesday just three days out from polling day.

Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Frecklington have crossed paths at least twice so far on the campaign, in Townsville and Mackay, but they will finally share the stage.

The economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession is set to be the primary topic, with the state border closure and crime prominent.

The Sky News/The Courier-Mail People's Forum will involve a crowd of undecided voters picked by News Corp Australia asking both leaders questions.

The government has promised to make an announcement on the borders by Friday. Queensland polling day is on Saturday.

Ten years' jail for violent attack on woman.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.

An Adelaide man who subjected a woman to a violent attack, bashing her with a pedestal fan, punching her in the face and trying to saw off one of her fingers, has been jailed for more than 10 years.

In an appalling case of domestic violence, Christopher Elliott Moncrieff also repeatedly stabbed the woman in her legs and arms, wrapped a cord around her neck to drag her around and threatened to kill her.


The 35-year-old was on parole at the time for having raped and tortured a teenage girl about eight years earlier, hitting her across the face, repeatedly stomping on her chest, kicking her and pushing a burning cigarette into her right leg.

In the South Australian District Court on Tuesday, Judge Michael Durrant said Moncrieff, who pleaded guilty to aggravated counts of assault and causing harm, had a history of very serious and cowardly offending against women.

Judge Durrant said the woman's victim impact statement recounted how terrified she was during the 2018 attack and that she suffered both physically and psychologically.

"The complainant attended on each occasion when you appeared before me. Her bravery and resilience is admirable and is acknowledged. I hope that she can continue with her recovery and in rebuilding her life."

Judge Durrant imposed a head sentence of 10 years and six months with a non-parole period of eight years.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Berejiklian cautious about Vic border opening as Tasmania welcomes NSW.

Tasmania is preparing to welcome visitors from NSW next month, while Premier Gladys Berejiklian keeps a close eye on Victoria as Melbourne emerges from months of lockdown.


NSW's premier says she's cautious about opening the border with Victoria too quickly.

"We'll take the border down as soon as we can, but we do need to wait to see what impact easing of restrictions in Melbourne and Victoria has before we decide exactly when that will be," Ms Berejiklian told reporters at Port Macquarie on Tuesday.

"That's the real test. It's easy not to spread the virus when people have limited mobility, but once you ease restrictions and people start moving around again, that's the real test."

Tasmania plans to reopen to NSW on November 6, with Premier Peter Gutwein saying the final decision is subject to public health advice.


NSW reported two new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19, while there were 10 new cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Sydney schools evacuated after threats.

Thousands of children at more than 20 Sydney schools have been forced out of classes after threatening emails were received while students sat HSC exams.

A high school on the lower north shore was the first to receive threats about 11am on Tuesday, via an anonymous email.

Since then, police say at least another 18 high schools across Sydney received similar threatening emails.

The schools all enacted their emergency response plans, evacuated students, and contacted police.

Local and specialist officers are searching the schools, but no items of interest had been found by the end of the school day, police say.

The threats caused thousands of students sitting their HSC exams to be pulled from classrooms on one of the most important days of their schooling lives.

Many shattered students said they didn't get to finish their tests.

All the campuses will resume normal operations on Wednesday.

Study finds COVID affects brain function.

People recovering from COVID-19 may suffer significant brain function impacts, with the worst cases of the infection linked to mental decline equivalent to the brain ageing by 10 years, researchers have warned.

A non-peer-reviewed study of more than 84,000 people, led by Adam Hampshire, a doctor at Imperial College London, found that in some severe cases, coronavirus infection is linked to substantial cognitive deficits for months.


"Our analyses ... align with the view that there are chronic cognitive consequences of having COVID-19," the researchers wrote in a report of their findings released on Tuesday.

The cognitive deficits were "of substantial effect size", particularly among people who had been hospitalised with COVID-19, the researchers said, with the worst cases showing impacts "equivalent to the average 10-year decline in global performance between the ages of 20 to 70".

Scientists not directly involved with the study, however, said its results should be viewed with some caution.

"The cognitive function of the participants was not known pre-COVID, and the results also do not reflect long-term recovery - so any effects on cognition may be short term," said Joanna Wardlaw, a professor of applied neuroimaging at Edinburgh University.

Brisbane has seen its largest October downpour in a decade.

A month's rain and tennis ball-sized hailstones have been dumped from the Darling Downs to the Sunshine Coast as severe storms lashed southeast Queensland.

Beachmere, near Caboolture, recorded 80mm of rain in an hour on Tuesday, while 70mm bucketed down on The Upper Lockyer, west of Brisbane, the Bureau of Meteorology reported.

"That's a month's rain in the space of an hour," meteorologist Felim Hanniffy told AAP. "In some areas of northern Brisbane 50mm fell in 30 minutes."

A Swift Water Rescue team from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are seen searching flooded cars on Longlands Street at Woolloongabba in Brisbane, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Image: AAP/Darren England. 

Flash flooding inundated some city areas at the height of the storms, and north of the Sunshine Coast, hail reportedly up to the size of a tennis ball fell.


More severe thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday.

Wet, windy weather and scattered hail has also hit parts of NSW's interior since Friday, threatening to wash away hopes of a bumper harvest for farmers suffering through years of drought, bushfire and dust storms.

More intense weather is forecast throughout the week, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning the central interior of the state is set for a soaking on Wednesday. Dubbo is expected to get a week's worth of rain in a day.

Melania Trump's first solo campaign event of 2020, as Trump's Supreme Court nominee confirmed.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have left the White House for a long day of campaigning in separate battleground states, with the first lady in Pennsylvania for her first solo campaign event this year.


Yesterday, Senate Republicans confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States, securing President Donald Trump's nominee a week before election day.

The Senate voted 52-48, to confirm Judge Barrett overcoming unified Democratic opposition and creating a 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican senator to side with the Democrats against confirming Judge Barrett.

There has never been a confirmation vote this close to a presidential election, with Republican's actively blocking Democratic president Barack Obama's election-year nominee in 2016.


During her confirmation speech, Judge Barrett repeatedly stressed she would operate independently of partisan politics and her own personal opinions.

California fires prompt mass evacuations.

Walls of flame have spurred mass evacuations in Southern California and left two firefighters badly injured as hundreds of thousands of residents endured a second day of power cuts meant to curb the fire risk from dry, gusty weather.

The latest threats came amid what meteorologists called the strongest onslaught of extreme winds - and lowest humidity levels - yet documented during an already epic California wildfire season ranked as the worst on record in terms of hectares burned.

Fires have scorched more than 16,500 square kilometres - equivalent to the land mass of the state of Hawaii - since the start of the year, with thousands of homes destroyed and 31 lives lost.

Around the world.

- A UK judge is to rule on November 2 on US actor Johnny Depp's libel case against News Group Newspapers after an article accused him of being a "wife beater."

- Authorities are scrambling in Vietnam to move more than half a million people out of harm's way ahead of a powerful typhoon set to dump more heavy rain on a central region devastated by weeks of intense weather. 

- A bomb at a religious seminary in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed at least seven people and wounded more than 80. 

- With AAP

Feature image: TikTok/Darren England/AAP/Twitter @AmeliaAdams.