Morning mail: Djokovic airport drama, aged care Covid outbreak, Capitol riots anniversary

<span>Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning. Novak Djokovic spends hours at Melbourne airport over visa mix-up, data confirms Donald Trump’s enduring hold over vast sections of America and Covid concerns in a Sydney nursing home.

The world No 1 men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has been held at passport control in Melbourne for several hours, throwing fresh doubt over his participation at the Australian Open. It comes after the reigning Australian Open champion was announced he had been granted a Covid-19-related “medical exemption” by tournament organisers. Scott Morrison has said there would be no “special rules” for the Serbian, and if he failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his medical exemption the 20-time Grand Slam champion will be “on the next plane home”. Djokovic has refused to reveal his Covid vaccine status and has been an outspoken opponent of vaccination for the coronavirus.

A major Covid outbreak at a Sydney nursing home has left residents reportedly “petrified”, with families questioning how the disease spread to 38 residents and 25 care staff and the timing of booster shots. Meanwhile, importers of Covid rapid tests have blamed regulatory delays for preventing home use, further strangling supply at a time of peak demand. One company claims they’ve been waiting three months for the national regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to give the green light for its product to be used at home.

More than 40% of Americans still do not believe that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 US presidential election, a new poll has found, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud ever being proven. The data was released on the first anniversary of the 6 January attack on the Capitol, provoked by Donald Trump’s claim that the election was stolen. New research has also found that more than 1,000 Americans in positions of public trust acted as “accomplices” in attempting to overturn the 2020 result. The former president earlier cancelled a press conference scheduled to mark the day.


A staff member restocks glasses in a Melbourne restaurant
‘We are not as busy as we thought we’d be because a lot of people are being cautious.’ Australia’s Covid outbreak has hit tourism and hospitality operators. Photograph: James Ross/EPA

Small businesses across Australia are grappling with acute staff shortages, as skyrocketing Covid cases and complications surrounding testing keep thousands of workers away from their places of employment.

More than one in 10 staff at one of northern NSW’s biggest hospitals have resigned, citing crippling workload, burnout and significantly better working conditions across the border in Queensland.

Paramedics have experienced their busiest month in the 126-year history of the NSW Ambulance service, with the state’s health minister and premier calling on residents to stop making unnecessarily calls. In this column, a Sydney-based paramedic shares their concerns.

Archibald prize-winning artist Craig Ruddy has died from Covid-related complications, aged 53. Ruddy was revered for his paintings of David Gulpilil, Cathy Freeman and Bruce Pascoe. In a statement, Pascoe paid tribute to the painter’s “decent and gentle soul … The world needs the goodness of his spirit replaced.”

The world

Kazakh riot police
Riot police officers in the commercial capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, on Wednesday. Photograph: EPA

Kazakhstan’s president has vowed to crack down on ongoing protests across the nation that started nearly a week ago following a sudden spike in fuel prices. In Almaty, the mayor’s office was set alight following violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Pope Francis has suggested that “selfishness” is to blame for many people choosing to have pets rather than raise children. The pontiff said the practice “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity”.

A section of the Parthenon’s eastern frieze is being returned to Greece by Italy, adding pressure on the UK to repatriate the 2,500-year-old Elgin marbles. The fragment will initially return on loan, but the move is expected to become permanent.

Recommended reads

The pernicious effect of social media on youth mental health has been a repeated focus for Scott Morrison, with the prime minister campaigning prominently on reforming online safety. And while Australia’s children’s commissioner supports these efforts, as Anne Hollonds tells Paul Karp, there are many and multifaceted roots to youth self-harm or poor mental health that long precede the rise of social media.

Standup paddleboarding – or sup-ing, to those in the know – is about the closest you can get to water without getting wet. As Cait Kelly writes: “You cruise along, admire the view, find a nice spot for lunch. You can dip in, dip out – hell, you can take a rod if you want, or do some downward dog on your board.” But how difficult is the sport, how much skill does it require and how much does it cost to get into it?

They’re the duo behind 500 live comedy podcasts. And this week it’s the brains behind the Little Dum Dum Club’s turn to sift the online chaff of the internet for comedy wheat in this week’s 10 funniest things. Come for the Dave Chapelle, stay for vintage Seinfeld.

An everyday dish across India, there are seemingly endless varieties of dal to try. And given its simplicity to make, as well as its protein, fibre and iron, dal is “the comfort food you can enjoy freely without feeling disgusting afterwards,” Rosemary Bolger writes.


Hyperpop: revisited. In this recap of one of our top-rating stories of 2021, on this episode of Full Story Laura Murphy-Oates speaks with music writer Shaad D’Souza about the emergence of the bold and vibrant genre known as hyperpop.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


David Warner departs on day one of the SCG Ashes Test
England’s Stuart Broad celebrates after enticing Australia’s David Warner to edge behind on day one at the SCG. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Broad v Warner. It was one of the chief “what could have beens” of England’s puzzling Ashes selections. And having finally got his man in Sydney, Geoff Lemon examines the case for the man responsible for Warner’s 2019 “Ashes immolation”.

“Thin-skinned and indignant.” That’s Andy Bull’s assessment of England’s managing director Ashley Giles’s “scattergun broadsides” as the finger pointing and blame shifting within the visiting camp continues after their meek 3-0 Ashes capitulation.

Media roundup

Anthony Albanese has ruled out a minimum tax rate for Australia’s highest income-earners, effectively dropping a policy he previously championed inside the Labor party, the Australian reports. Western Australia’s Covid exposure has expanded with five new Delta cases linked to the so-called “backpacker cluster”, the ABC writes. And Indigenous advocates have criticised systemic failures in the Northern Territory’s “living with Covid” plan after a suspected Covid patient had to walk for three hours to access testing, only to be turned away, according to the NT News.

And if you’ve read this far …

It’s long been argued that Google Maps can help you find anything. But thanks to a fleeting street capture, it’s now unearthed an Italian mafia boss, on the run for over 20 years. Convicted murderer Gioacchino Gammino was snapped out the front of a fruit and vegetable shop he ran in rural Spain, under an assumed name. He reportedly asked police: “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years!”

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