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Australia’s border community is split in two by locking coronavirus



Australia's border community is split in two by locking coronavirus

Located on each side of the Murray River which separates New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the twin cities of Albury and Wodonga, more commonly called Albury-Wodonga, have long operated as one community and one economy.

Many of their 100,000 residents cross the border to travel to work and school every day. Business runs on both sides of the river. The two cities even share the same hospital, which is located in Albury on the NSW side but is covered by the Victoria health system.

But the border was closed on Wednesday as authorities tried to prevent a second wave of infections from spreading throughout the country. Over the past few weeks, Victoria has struggled to contain the re-emergence of the corona virus in Melbourne, as the number of cases continues to increase.

Authorities blocked major roads between Victoria and NSW after midnight – the first time in 100 years since the last border was closed during the Spanish flu pandemic.

People from Victoria are prohibited from entering NSW, but exemptions are made for a number of purposes and professions, including cross-border residents in settlements such as Albury-Wodonga.

The online application for cross-border permits began on Tuesday night, but the website crashed only 45 minutes after it was launched when 44,000 people applied, according to Australian national broadcaster ABC.

There are 55 land crossings between Victoria and NSW, on the border which stretches more than 1,000 kilometers (621.3 miles). Albury-Wodonga is located at the busiest crossing of them all – and on Australia’s largest transport route, raising concerns about the potential economic damage in the region.

“Totally frustrated and chaotic”

Early on Wednesday morning, traffic stretched for miles at the border checkpoint on Lincoln Causeway, the main highway that connects Albury and Wodonga, when police officers inspect every car that is crossing.

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It took several Wodonga residents – from the Victoria side of the border – 50 minutes to pass the checkpoint at 6 am to go to work in Albury, said Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie, who called the situation “unacceptable.”

“Unfortunately today has indeed begun as we had hoped with frustration and chaos,” Speedie told reporters next to the checkpoint.

“At 7:30 in the morning, we had traffic turning into the middle of my city, right in the heart of the city,” he said.

Police stopped and questioned the driver at a checkpoint on July 8 in Albury, Australia.

Speedies said his government would continue to work with the NSW police to implement several more practical approaches.

“We have to do better, we really need to find a solution because this is absolutely unattainable for our community.”

Albury Mayor Kevin Mack said three people from Melbourne were found trying to drive across the state border into Albury since 2am Wednesday. They were returned by police, he said.

This week, Albury recorded two new cases of corona virus for the first time in weeks. A resident who returned from Melbourne was infected with the virus and transmitted it to family members, according to local health authorities.

Bikram Gujral, a truck driver who was queuing at the checkpoint, said he understood the strict boundaries that had been imposed.

“Obviously it is frustrating for anyone. But whatever the government does is in our interests, so I feel it is the right thing to do if it’s for our sake to be safe,” he said.

Separated by border

But for some people, closing borders might make them miss the last chance to see their loved ones.

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April Smithers, 29, is being treated for terminal bone cancer at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Center in Albury, on the NSW side of the border.

She and her husband Chris Carter live in Wodonga, on Victoria’s side.

“Our home is in Victoria. We cross into New South Wales almost every day to come to this hospital. With the closure of the border … I will stay here. Luckily the hospital gave me a bed last night,” Carter said.

April Smithers (left) being treated for bone cancer at Albury in New South Wales. She and her husband Chris Carter (right) live in Wodonga, crossing the state border in Victoria.

But Carter’s parents, who had traveled from Canberra to Wodonga to see the couple, could not cross to the NSW side, he said.

“My parents came to help me and April through all this,” Carter said. “But now they are not residents, they don’t have their own medical treatment to go to New South Wales … They can’t see April until we find out how they got their permission.”

The reappearance of the virus refers to the difficulties faced by authorities around the world, as they try to reopen cities after protracted lockouts. Australia has been heralded as one of the most successful countries in the world in tackling and restraining the virus, closing its borders and limiting international travel early.

Australia will reinstate the locking of the six-week corona virus in the second largest city as a country facing a potential second wave
But weeks after countries in Australia relaxed social restrictions, a new outbreak resurfaced in Melbourne last month. On Tuesday, Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced Melbourne’s wishes back to six week lockdown starting from midnight Wednesday.

Residents in Australia’s second largest city will no longer be allowed to leave their homes except for shopping, caring, exercising, or working. Cafes and restaurants that were allowed to reopen last week will return for pick up and delivery only. Beauty and personal services will be closed, as well as cultural and entertainment venues.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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