Squiz Today / 22 December 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 22 December



Is the word most used so far to describe expectations of 2021 in The Guardian’s dynamic ‘word of the year’ poll. Politeness prevents us from repeating the words used to describe 2020…


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says it’s too early to call a trend, but new cases linked to Sydney’s Northern Beaches coronavirus cluster rose by 15 yesterday - half the number recorded on Sunday. The total number of infected people linked to the cluster is 83. And the result was off the back of record testing - 38,578 were done in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday night.

Berejiklian is “cautiously optimistic” with one big disclaimer... “As we know in a pandemic, things can be volatile," she said yesterday. Looking ahead, another promising result today will see pressure on officials to loosen things up when the Northern Beaches lockdown and restrictions on gatherings across Greater Sydney and the surrounding regions expire tomorrow. The inverse is also true - if cases are spreading across the city and into other areas, more people might need to cancel their Christmas plans. The bottom line: Sydneysiders won’t know what their Christmas looks like until 11am tomorrow.

Like, in the next few days? Unlikely… But Berejiklian has asked her state and territory counterparts to “make sure your response is proportionate to what is happening." And she urged them to keep in mind that border bans will affect people’s mental health because “it is a very emotional time of year.” The stinger: "We are doing our bit in terms of bringing home your travellers - 45% of people coming through are from other states … please consider the heavy load NSW has been lifting to bring home Aussies," she said. That was a sentiment shared by PM Scott Morrison who yesterday pointed to the bigger picture. "Christmas is a time to be thankful, and while there are frustrations and disappointing disruptions, in Australia we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be grateful for.”



• The inquiry into the Victorian Government’s handling of its hotel quarantine program has found that the state’s second wave - which led to the deaths of more than 800 people - was down to the use of private security who were untrained and poorly equipped. Former judge Jennifer Coate slammed the Andrews Government for failing to identify who commissioned the use of private guards. Premier Daniel Andrews apologised again for the errors and said he has no intention of resigning over the scandal.

• A super-infectious strain of the virus has seen more than 40 nations block travellers from the UK. The new strain is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible, but the jury’s out as to whether it’s more deadly. PM Morrison yesterday said it has been detected in a guest in hotel quarantine in Sydney, but he has no medical advice that would warrant a ban on UK arrivals here.

• And activewear brand Lorna Jane will be taken to court by the consumer regulator over claims its 'anti-virus activewear' protected wearers against COVID-19. The company said it was “extremely disappointed" its come to that.


It's not long until the European Union and the UK go their separate ways on trade, and talks are continuing after the sides failed to reach an agreement over the weekend. Analysts say it’s unlikely a deal will be reached before 31 December. They are still butting heads over fishing rights, competition rules, standards, and how any deal will be enforced. If a deal isn’t forthcoming, there’s likely to be significant disruptions to several industries. And an early taste of what’s to come has been served up by France - its banned all travel from the UK for 48 hours - including trucks carrying freight through the Channel tunnel or from Dover - over the super-infectious COVID strain. Chaos...


More than 340 boys who were abducted from a boarding school in northwest Nigeria earlier this month have been rescued. After locating the boys last week, government security forces secured the release of the boys late last week, they confirmed yesterday. The details on who was responsible, whether a ransom was paid and how the release occurred are unclear. While Islamist terror outfit Boko Haram claimed responsibility, state authorities say armed local bandits were behind the mass kidnapping, adding to concerns about increasing violence by Islamist factions. Boko Haram has carried out similar abductions in the past - it says that Western education is a sin against Islam.


Humans and bears - perhaps not so different after all… According to new archaeological evidence, early humans who were living in what is now northern Spain managed to survive the harsh winter conditions by hibernating in caves. They argue that these early humans - most likely early Neanderthals or their predecessors - went into “metabolic states that helped them to survive for long periods in frigid conditions with limited supplies of food and enough stores of body fat". So just like winter in Canberra… But the theory has yet to be proven, with further research needed to investigate other possibilities. Wonder if they had a version of Fat Bear Week?


What a great end to the year for two Aussie athletes... After a 3-year break from the sport, surfer Tyler Wright clinched a historic win in Hawaii yesterday at the first women’s major event to be held at the iconic Banzai Pipeline. In her 12th career win and second Maui Pro title, Wright beat out fellow Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons and 4-time world champion Carissa Moore. And it’s her first victory since 2016 after a long battle with injury and illness. She goes into the next comp in mid-January as the world's number-one ranked surfer. “It’s cool to see all the hard work over the last two years come together,” she said. Totally. Meanwhile in Florida, Aussie golfer Hannah Green tied second in the LPGA Tour Championship yesterday - on her 24th birthday, no less. It’s a return to form after she won the PGA Championship in June last year.


Jump on the interwebs ATM and you can't move for a 'best of' list. Our favourites: the cultural moments that defined the year - including Brad and Jen flirting over Zoom. Reading for pleasure - not on our to-do list this year, sadly. But we can still appreciate a good book cover. And if you want to actually read one, this is a good list (we hear…). But the best list we’ve found - The Best, Fakest, and Most Teary Influencer Apologies of 2020. We have zero ideas of who these people are, but gee they bring the drama…


ABS Data Release - Retail Trade, November

A birthday for actor Ralph Fiennes (1962) and model/property mogul Jennifer Hawkins (1983)

Anniversary of:
• Thomas Edison inventing the first string of Christmas tree lights (1882)
• the premiere of Doctor Zhivago (1965) and The Graduate (1967)
• the birthdays of Bee Gees Maurice and Robin Gibb (1949)

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