Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Canberra’s prime minister has launched an extraordinary spray after being challenged over his response to coronavirus.

Andrew Barr broke out after being grilled over extending the ACT lockdown for another four weeks.

Sky News journalist Tom Connell covered most of his explosion after investigating the path out of the lockdown.

Connell questioned why Canberra residents had to wait for the rest of the country to obtain vaccinations before being released from restrictions.

“You said you would wait until the nation reaches 70 percent before gradually easing the restrictions,” he said.

Barr jumped back with an icy response.

“This is Sky News’ approach to journalism, isn’t it?” said the ACT leader.

“The national plan that the National Cabinet agrees on is that these milestones are related to the Australian average.

“Not, as Mr Connell misrepresented yesterday, to suggest that each state should go beyond the Australian average.”

Barr clarified the state vaccination rates would not be considered in Canberra’s reopening plan.

Instead, the end of restrictions will depend on ACT and national jab rates.

Connell was quick to point out that ACT was set to reach its 70 percent double-dose target on Oct. 8 – three weeks earlier than the rest of the country.

“Does that mean you will continue to have Canberra closed for another three weeks after the 70 percent or even longer if required?” he said.

But the minister refused to answer several of the journalist’s questions.

Camera iconACT currently has the highest vaccination coverage rate in the country with just over 52 percent of the population fully vaccinated. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage. Credit: Corp Australia company profile

Canberra’s lockdown has been extended by another four weeks and should now end on October 15.

On Tuesday, Mr Barr said the reopening of the ACT would be in line with the vaccine thresholds in the national plan.

“Once the nation reaches the vaccination thresholds outlined in the national plan, we will be able to support the gradual easing of the restrictions in the ACT,” he said.

“Based on current vaccination paths, the nation is expected to reach 70 and 80 percent effective vaccination milestones by mid-October and early to mid-November.”

Canberra’s restrictions will be revised in two weeks, when some rules can be eased.

ACT registered 13 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the outbreak to 541 infections.

Of the new cases, five were isolated throughout their period of infection, while eight were contagious in the community.

Barr confirmed that seven Canberrans were now in hospital with Covid-19, including one person on intensive care who was receiving ventilation.


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