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Morning Briefing Nov 16: Masks set to be mandatory - are other moves on the cards?

Masks are set to become mandatory on Auckland’s public transport and all domestic flights this week – and the Government has hinted further measures could soon be on the way.

Source: istock.com

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins last week indicated the Government’s upcoming mask mandate could be expanded, while scanning QR codes could also become compulsory in certain situations. 

The moves come after months of pleading for such orders by several public health experts.

One of those experts, Michael Baker, told RNZ mandatory mask use on public transport is an effective tool in reducing transmission of Covid-19.

He says it’s still too early to say if Auckland is in the clear following the most recent community transmission and adds having managed isolation facilities in New Zealand’s biggest cities is an ongoing concern.

Physicist and disease modeller Shaun Hendy also told Stuff that while wearing a mask isn’t fool proof, it “does seem to have an effect with casual contacts”.

Meanwhile a digital technology expert is backing moves to make the use of the Covid Tracer app mandatory at big events and in places like bars and restaurants.

University of Auckland Centre for Informed Futures research fellow Andrew Chen says total daily scans need to get back up to the 2.5 million mark to better ensure rapid contact tracing. 

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Trump closer to accepting defeat?

Donald Trump has seemingly acknowledged Joe Biden won the US election for the first time – but still says he’s not conceding.

“He won because the election was rigged,” Trump wrote on Twitter before repeating his spurious claims of election fraud. 

His latest remarks follow a big march of Trump supporters in Washington DC, who chanted “Stop the steal” as they descended on the Capitol Building yesterday.

The march was relatively calm; however, clashes did break out later in the day. 

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden carried on his preparations for the transition of power early next year, with rumours he’ll take the historic step of selecting a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time.

Five men have held that job during Trump’s four-year presidency. 

Liddell’s ‘lost friends’ over job

Kiwi businessman turned Trump adviser Chris Liddell has opened up about his time working with the US President in an exclusive interview with Q+A’s Jack Tame.

Liddell has been nominated by Trump for the top job at the OECD – a move hailed by New Zealand’s National Party and opposed by the Greens – and he outlined to Tame why he should have that role

Liddell acknowledged the personal cost of working for Trump, too.

He says he’s “lost friends” over the job, but “I haven't lost my soul”. He also denies ever supporting Trump’s policy of separating children at the US border. 

NZ signs major trade deal

New Zealand has signed the largest free trade deal in the world with the hopes it will add an extra $2 billion to the economy.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal is eight years in the making and brings together the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five other countries with free trade deals. 

But not everybody’s happy with the news. Lobby group It's Our Future says there’s been no effective public consultation over the deal and that the Covid-19 pandemic shows a strong reason why such trade deals should be ditched.

NCEA exams kick off

After a school year severely disrupted by Covid-19, NCEA exams get underway today.

Around 140,000 students will sit exams over the next three weeks, with many saying they’re grateful for the added support from teachers this year.

Extra credits are on offer and university entrance requirements have been lowered following the Level 4 nationwide lockdown and Auckland’s second Level 3 lockdown. Exams are due to end on December 9.

Other news of note this morning:

- The Government says reforms brought in to improve emergency management are proving their worth in Napier following flooding in the city last week.

- Plans for a one-stop-shop youth hub in Christchurch have taken a major step forward – but it’s been met with some opposition

- A small plane has crashed into a sports field in the Sydney suburb of Cromer.

- All Blacks coach Ian Foster admits his side “got rattled” as they slumped to New Zealand’s first loss to Argentina on Saturday night.

- Kylie Minogue has become the first female artist to have a number one album in Britain in five separate decades. Five!

- And TVNZ’s Good Sorts celebrates the tiny Otago town that raised millions of dollars to bring its health services back.

And finally...

Benee gestures on stage at the Aotearoa Music Awards. Source: Getty

It’s been a tough year for the local music industry with Covid-19 wreaking havoc on live shows.

But the best and brightest of the country’s music stars finally got together for the Aotearoa Music Awards last night.

I have officially reached the age where I have no idea who almost all of those stars are, but please do enjoy this wrap-up of who won what.