Australia news live update: national cabinet meets to discuss severe staff shortages; NSW Covid cases to spike as rapid tests counted



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Further to our piece on traders on Melbourne retail and hospitality strip Chapel St declaring a “code red”, a spokesperson for the Victorian minister for small business, Jaala Pulford, tells Guardian Australia she will meet with traders this afternoon.

National cabinet will meet today to discuss measures to increase the labour supply as a wave of staff shortages caused by the Omicron wave wreaks havoc across the Australian economy.

But so far states and the federal government appear to have little appetite for the cash handouts for which businesses are asking, with Scott Morrison calling for “patience”.

And at the Victorian state level, government sources indicate there’s a reluctance a return to the disaster payments or business grants handed out during the Melbourne lockdowns last year.

Figuring out who is eligible would be a problem, but one big issue appears to be who would pay for it. The state budget has already been blown up by Covid and proposals by traders that Canberra fund half seem so far have fallen on deaf ears.

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Novak Djokovic could face a fine or even prison in Serbia after his admission that he broke isolation while he had Covid last month, lawyers have said, as the Serbian prime minister warned his behaviour appeared to be “a clear breach” of the rules.

The 34-year-old Belgrade-born tennis player is chasing a record-breaking 21st grand slam victory at the Australian Open beginning on Monday, but could yet be deported by the government which is unhappy with his medical exemption from inoculation.

Djokovic on Wednesday acknowledged that he knew he had tested positive when he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot in the Serbian capital on 18 December, saying in a statement on social media he had made an “error of judgment”.

You can read the full report from Jon Henley and Milivoje Pantovic below:



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NSW minister admits RAT fines ‘almost impossible’ to enforce

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Hash Tayeh has been back behind the counter at the burger chain he founded, Burgertory, for the first time in three years as he struggles to keep the business going in the face of the Omicron wave.

He has been doing night shifts at his outlet on Chapel Street in Melbourne, a fashionable shopping and entertainment strip which local traders say has been overwhelmed by Covid-related staff shortages.

The pandemic taught him to “just never get too comfortable and always be humble,” he said.

“So I was helping them take orders, take out the rubbish, mop the floors, do the dishes – wherever they needed me.”

Two hundred and sixty of Burgertory’s 400 staff have had Covid.

You can read the full report below:



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Good morning

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