NSW quarantine axed and regional travel delayed, plus all the news you need to know today.

NSW scrapping overseas hotel quarantine on November 1, as regional travel pushed back. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced that November 1 will mark the end of hotel and home quarantine for NSW. 

Returning Australians and tourists entering NSW from that date, will not have to quarantine on arrival.

However, they will need to do a PCR test before boarding their flight, and will have to show proof of vaccination.

"For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, New South Wales, is open for business," Perrottet told Friday's press conference. 

"Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past."

It was however, also announced this morning that NSW regional travel would be off the table for Sydneysiders until that November 1 date. 

The coalition government had promised unlimited travel across the state for the fully vaccinated from the Monday after NSW reached its 80 per cent double vaccination milestone. It's been pushed back because of the risk to those communities where vaccination rates lag behind the cities.

There are 399 new local COVID-19 cases in NSW as the government reveals Sydneysiders won't be allowed to travel to the regions until November.

NSW Health said there had been four more COVID-19 deaths in the 24-hours until Thursday and one new case of COVID-19 that was acquired overseas.


NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole says delaying regional travel is necessary to protect the regions from a virus outbreak because only 36 per cent of regional local government areas have populations where 80 per cent are double vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I know it's frustrating. It's not an easy decision," the Nationals leader told Sydney radio station 2GB on Friday.

"But we have a responsibility to make sure that we keep our regional communities safe.

"It's important that we don't actually open up businesses and then ... case numbers escalate putting those communities and those businesses in jeopardy." 

With 77.8 per cent of NSW residents over 16 now fully vaccinated, the state is likely to reach the 80 per cent threshold on the weekend.

Eastern Australia hit by major storms.

Thunderstorms lashing NSW, Victoria and QLD have seen hailstones larger than five centimetres fall and even a tornado warning issued.

The storms, described by meteorologists as "very, very dangerous," were most intense over Sydney and the Lower Hunter, with part of a Westfield shopping centre in Mount Druitt collapsing mid-afternoon. 

About 4.30pm, the bureau issued a warning for a possible tornado over western Sydney. It was later downgraded. 


Some 33mm of rain fell at Woodville Golf Course at Canterbury in about a quarter of an hour. 

By Thursday evening, the most dangerous storm had passed out to sea. The NSW SES received more than 400 calls for help yesterday, and the calls are still coming in. 

Flash flooding was yesterday warned for Queensland’s southeast corner as a monster storm dropped "tennis ball sized hail" over the region on Thursday afternoon. Some suburbs reported close to 90mm in a matter of hours, with another severe weather warning in place for some parts of the state today.

Heavy rain was also felt in Canberra, Melbourne and Tasmania.

ACT's COVID-19 lockdown comes to an end.

After more than two months, Canberra's COVID lockdown has ended.

Restrictions were formally eased at midnight on Thursday, allowing cafes, restaurants and pubs to reopen, while Canberrans can have up to five visitors at their homes.


But the reopening of the ACT has come with a warning from Chief Minister Andrew Barr of a rise in virus case numbers as movement increases across the territory.

"We have done a lot as a community, this next step needs to be taken carefully," he told reporters.

"It does not mean the end of COVID risk, which is why the first step out of lockdown will be a gentle and measured step forward."

While there has been some criticism the easing of lockdown restrictions are too cautious - with retail not able to reopen to customers in store until October 29 - Mr Barr defended the measures, saying it put public health first.

"It ensures the safest activities are recommencing and the riskiest ones will wait until more of the population are fully vaccinated."

The latest figures show 98.8 per cent of Canberrans aged over 12 have received one dose of the vaccine, while almost 75 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Canberrans are also now able to enter Victoria, provided they apply for an exemption and isolate until they get a negative test result.


Those entering NSW will no longer need to complete a declaration form or follow stay-at-home rules on arrival. 

During the nine weeks of lockdown, there were 1359 COVID-19 cases of reported, including 46 on Thursday.

Australia to keep making AstraZeneca doses.

AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine will continue being produced in Australia into next year with leftover doses being shipped to neighbouring countries.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday rejected reports CSL would stop producing the vaccine in Melbourne this year, as coronavirus cases reached a new national daily record.

"CSL and AstraZeneca are on track to complete the full 50 million-dose production run in Australia and the 3.8 million supply from overseas," he told reporters.

"Our expectation and our plan is that that program will be completed in full. All of those extra doses are being supplied to the region."

He noted Fiji's vaccine rollout was boosted by Australian AstraZeneca doses, which were also sent to Indonesia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations.

A CSL spokeswoman said 20 million doses had been produced in Australia for use locally and in the Asia Pacific region.

AstraZeneca was intended to be the mainstay of Australia's rollout until medical advice about extremely rare side effects changed its age recommendations.


Vaccine rollout co-ordinator John Frewen said 12.5 million AstraZeneca doses had been administered in Australia and 3.5 million sent to the Pacific.

COVID 'V-day' arrives for 1m Vic workers as state bans unvaxxed MPs.

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate has kicked in for Victorian authorised workers, with all now needing their first dose or a scheduled booking to keep working on site.

It kicks in a day after Victoria recorded the highest single-day total ever seen in an Australian state or territory during the pandemic with 2,297 new cases and 11 deaths.

The Victorian government gave the state's 1.25 million authorised workers a fortnight to get at least their first coronavirus vaccination by Friday - or show proof of a booking within the next week - otherwise they would be stood down.

They must then be fully vaccinated by November 26, and there are limited medical exemptions.

When the mandate was announced, most authorised workers in the state had already been partially vaccinated but it was estimated hundreds of thousands had not.

The public health order covers retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors, professional sports people and many other professions.

Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said "V-Day" was creating huge issues and some business were contacting the group to report workers were refusing to get vaccinated.

Meantime, Victoria has become the first Australian state or territory to ban unvaccinated MPs from entering parliament.


A government motion passed the upper house on Thursday evening 31 votes to four. 

Neil Angus, who leads a group pushing misinformation about COVID vaccines, is the only Liberal MP unvaccinated. All Labor MPs have at least had their first dose.

Qld police take vaccine mandate to court.

About 50 Queensland police officers and staff members have taken their fight over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to the Industrial Relations Commission, claiming the directive is invalid.

More than 55 police and staff members have been suspended for not complying with Commissioner Katarina Carroll's directive for 17,200 in the force to have jabs.

In September Ms Carroll directed staff have at least one vaccination shot by October 4 and a second dose by January 24.

But barrister Thomas Allan - representing 39 officers and 10 staff members - told the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on Thursday that Ms Carroll failed to comply with certified agreements and the relevant award, failed to consult over the directive, and made a directive that was beyond her powers.


Three of the applicants gave evidence in the Industrial Relations Commission hearing attended by about 50 people on Thursday.

As of Wednesday, the 36 officers and 24 staff members had been suspended, but since then one officer and one staff member had complied with the direction and had their suspension revoked, a spokesperson said.

A total of 438 employees were yet to officially record their vaccination in line with the commissioner's direction.

AMA report says public hospitals in crisis.

Public hospitals are caught in an unending cycle of crisis caused by a funding formula which has failed to arrest a decline in performance over a decade, the Australian Medical Association says in a new report.

"Our hospitals are full - there simply aren't enough hospital beds or enough doctors and nurses - and tragic stories of deaths, deterioration and delayed care are becoming increasingly commonplace," the report says.

The AMA report, "Public hospitals: Cycle of crisis", was released on Friday and says a shortage of hospital beds, overcrowded emergency departments and longer waits for elective surgery are "risking the lives of all Australians".

It warns of dire consequences if all governments fail to act and says the hospital crisis was in full swing long before COVID-19 arrived.

"Hospital beds will increasingly be taken up by emergency admissions, doubling as a percentage of hospital beds by 2030-31, resulting in even longer waits for elective surgery such as cancer diagnostic procedures," the report says.

It says the funding arrangements underpinning the hospital system are not fit for purpose and fail to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population.

"The way to break free from the cycles of crisis is to change the way hospitals are funded – moving beyond just the focus on activity and volume to a partnership based on community demand and timeliness of treatment."


AMA president Omar Khorshid said the report had been sent to the prime minister and every state and territory leader as its findings required immediate action.

NSW voluntary assisted dying bill tabled.

Nine years after watching her mum die a prolonged, painful and traumatic death, Shayne Higson watched as legislation that would have eased her suffering was tabled in NSW Parliament.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich on Thursday introduced a long-awaited bill that would legalise voluntary assisted dying for people with terminal illness.

Introducing the legislation he asked his parliamentary colleagues to give the dying "the choice, comfort, dignity and respect that they deserve".

The bill has 28 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum - including government MPs - and Mr Greenwich hopes it could be law by Christmas.

The reform would make NSW the last state in Australia to embrace voluntary assisted dying.

"A modern health system must be able to do better than to only offer the options of a cruel, painful and prolonged death... and a violent and lonely suicide," Mr Greenwich told reporters outside parliament.

Ms Higson, Vice President of Dying with Dignity, said the laws would afford people across NSW the option of dying peacefully, and surrounded by family and friends.

Sydney Mardi Gras parade to return to SCG.

Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will be relocated from Oxford Street for a second year in a row, with organisers saying the move provides the best shot of proceeding amid COVID-19 uncertainties.


Possible ongoing restrictions and potential further COVID-19 outbreaks mean a ticketed event at the SCG is the best way to go, Mardi Gras chief executive Albert Kruger said.

"There's still uncertainty of what March is going to look like for us," he said on Thursday.

"Mardi Gras can't guarantee that in the next few months things will be back to normal and we can safely have hundreds of thousands spectators on the streets.

"The parade is too important to the community to risk having to cancel."

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore backed the decision to move the parade, which usually draws about 250,000 spectators.

The theme for the 2022 festival, which will run from February 18 to March 6, is United We Shine, which Mr Kruger hopes will serve as a reminder of the power of the communities' collective voice.

Norway attack 'likely an act of terror'.

A bow-and-arrow attack in which a Danish convert to Islam is suspected of killing five people in a Norwegian town appears to have been an "act of terror," police say.

Investigators named the suspect as Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old living in the Kongsberg municipality where the attacks took place on Wednesday evening.

A police lawyer told Reuters that Braathen had acknowledged killing the victims.


His lawyer confirmed only that Braathen was co-operating with police and giving a detailed statement.

Police had been concerned about signs of radicalisation in the suspect before the attacks, carried out with a bow and arrow and other weapons, a senior officer said.

Flags flew at half-mast across Kongsberg after the deaths of four women and a man, all aged between 50 and 70.

Three others, including an off-duty police officer, were wounded.

A relative of the suspect, speaking on condition of anonymity to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, described him as mentally ill and said the family had suffered threats for several years.

Around the world.

- New Zealand's defeat by the Delta strain could see a relaxation of international border rules by Christmas.

- Asked about the billionaires' space race currently taking places between Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk, Prince William has told the BBC, "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live."

- With AAP

Feature image: Twitter Bureau of Meterology/Robert Cianflone/Getty/Facebook.

Want to have your voice heard? Plus have the chance to win $100? Take our survey now.