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NSW calls for third of Covid-19 hotel spots to go to international students to boost economy

Senior federal cabinet minister Simon Birmingham is sympathetic to NSW's call to be able to open up a third of the states' hotel quarantine capability to international students to boost the economy.

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It’s the only Australian territory without restrictions on travellers from within the country and New Zealand. Source: Breakfast

But he insists the priority has to remain on returning Australians.

"Getting those Australians, particularly those who might be in challenging or distressed circumstances home is a genuine priority," he told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program.

"But if we can see fast enough movement in terms of the bringing down of that list of returning Australians then I would like nothing more than to see international students able to safely come through proven processes."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian understands the federal government's position, but points out her state welcomes back 3000 Australians every week and more than all the other states combined.

"So all I'm suggesting is next year after Christmas and New Year's, let's consider ... having a proportion out of that 3000 to international students," she told reporters in Albury.

"A lot of our universities will actually have to axe jobs if we don't, especially regional universities. I don't want to see that happen."

Sydney generic

She said since the pandemic started, NSW has seen in excess of 100,000 Australians returned, whereas other states combined have only done a small fraction of that.

More broadly, Senator Birmingham says it's "not impossible" that international travel could be back on the cards next year, but to do it in the first half of 2021 would be challenging.

Such travel will depend on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

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South Australia virus cluster raises questions over allowing quarantine workers to have second jobs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been logging into the virtual G20 Leaders Summit while in isolation in The Lodge after his trip to Japan last week.

There was some optimism among the leaders of the world's biggest economies about vaccines given the encouraging results of some candidates.

But the leaders also said a vaccine and treatment had to be safe, affordable and available to all, especially in developing countries, saying "no one is safe until we are all safe".

Meanwhile, South Australians are enjoying easier restrictions earlier than initially envisaged after a pizza shop worker was found to have lied about how he contacted the virus.

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The police commissioner said the state wouldn’t have gone into lockdown if a pizza bar worker had been honest. Source: 1 NEWS

Even so, SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said she had no regrets about ordering the the lockdown after modelling showed her state had a 99 per cent chance of enduring a "significant wave".

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced compulsory face mask-wearing will come to an end for Melbourne along with a further easing of other restrictions.