Here’s what you need to know this morning.
A poor air quality alert has been issued for Sydney, where smoke from hazard reduction burns is covering parts of the city.
The Rural Fire Service is carrying out burns in areas including Oatley in south Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong.
Air quality has already dropped from ‘good’ to ‘fair’ in areas including Parramatta, Penrith, Richmond, Bargo, Oakdale, Camden, Liverpool and Campbelltown west.
Air quality is expected to worsen over the course of the day and drop to ‘poor’, which means those who may suffer from shortness of breath or coughing should avoid outdoor physical activity.
Tracing underway after possible breach
NSW Health authorities are scrambling to contact people who might have been infected during a recent stay in a Sydney quarantine hotel.
It’s the second possible breach in hotel quarantine in less than a week.
Authorities said three people — two of them members from the same family — flew into Australia on April 3 on the same flight, and stayed in adjacent rooms on the 10th floor of the Mercure hotel in Sydney’s CBD.
They all tested negative on day two of their stay but later tested positive to the same strain of the virus first identified in South Africa.
Others staying on the same floor have since checked out and health authorities were working to track them down so they could be tested and put into isolation.
Hotel staff who worked on the 10th floor were also being tested and told to self-isolate.
Shenhua decision a ‘massive win’
Environmental groups and farmers have expressed relief that the proposed Shenhua coal mine on the Liverpool Plains will not go ahead.
The state government yesterday announced it had bought back the mining licence from the Chinese company at a cost of $100 million.
It comes after a 13-year-long fight by opponents of the mine.
The National Farmers’ Federation said it was a poorly planned project on prime agricultural land that should never have been considered in the first place.
The Environmental Defenders Office described it as a massive win and said it was an inappropriate and potentially devastating coal mine proposal.
Migrants’ despair over vaccine delay
The Greens Senator for NSW Mehreen Faraqi said migrant families in Australia had been doubly hit by the coronavirus pandemic with the recent delays in vaccinations.
Senator Faraqi, speaking at a Muslim Ramadan dinner in Sydney’s west last night, said migrants and international students were some of the first people to lose their jobs at the height of the pandemic last year, especially those in casual employment.
She said now with the federal government delays in COVID-19 vaccinations, many people were struggling because they couldn’t travel to see family and friends overseas.
“So many of us migrant families living in Australia were hoping that the vaccine would be rolled out sometime this year,” Ms Faraqi said.
“Then we could actually have some hope of seeing our families, our parents, our brothers and sisters who are living overseas, and now that seems to have been dashed so we are living with heavy hearts.”
Calls to save Bluesfest
NSW Labor is calling on the government to bail out the Byron Bay Bluesfest amid fears the festival industry could collapse.
It is estimated organisers lost about $10 million after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the event on the Easter long weekend for the second year running.
Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham said the government needed some sort of insurance scheme to build confidence in the industry ahead of the summer season.
He said many festival directors had their confidence shaken by the Bluesfest cancellation and weren’t prepared to take big risks and be left wearing all the costs alone.