The Victorian government is offering a $1,500 cash incentive to encourage people to stay home if they’re feeling sick amid the coronavirus crisis.
The one-off payment is part of a wider Hardship Fund announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday, and will be offered to confirmed confirmed coronavirus cases and close contacts who can’t rely on sick leave as they self-isolate.
It comes as the state is experiencing a spike in diagnosed COVID-19 cases, with 57 new cases identified since Friday.
‘This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work themselves,’ Mr Andrews said.
Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) made the announcement on Saturday, and payments are part of a wider Hardship Fund and will be offered to confirmed cases and close contacts who can’t rely on sick leave
A medical worker takes a sample from a person at a drive-through COVID-19 pop-up testing clinic at the Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne
‘People are, sadly, making the choice that public health is less important than the welfare and survival, in a financial sense, of their family.
‘They’re wrong to make that judgment but I can appreciate that is a judgment that is being made.’
In response to the spike in case numbers, state authorities have taken measures to backtrack on plans to begin reopening the state.
The Premier spoke to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the possibility of reintroducing a stay at home order to ensure Victorians follow the rules.
‘As we’ve seen across the world, this virus has the ability to turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘That’s why we need to delay an increase to gathering limits in businesses and community facilities.’
People shop at the Queen Victoria Market while wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of novel coronavirus
Victoria is experiencing a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases. Pictured: People leave Flinders Street Station while while wearing face masks
Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship will stay at a maximum of 20 people in one space until July 12.
They were scheduled to increase capacity from 20 people to 50 on Monday.
The planned reopening of gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs on Monday will still go ahead, capped to a maximum of 20 people.
From midnight on Sunday, the number of visitors in a house will be reduced from 20 to five. Outside, people will only be allowed to gather in groups of 10 – a decrease from 20.
Mr Andrews also threatened authorities would go door-to-door to make sure close contacts of coronavirus patients who were ordered to self-isolate were doing so.
‘We will go door-to-door, getting the message out there to communities across the state that these restrictions are there for everyone,’ he said.
‘We’ll go door to if we have to make sure people are doing the right thing.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos, and Premier Daniel Andrews arrive to give more bad news about coronavirus outbreaks in the state
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Sunday announced the state’s infectious total had reached 1,836 cases, of which 121 remain active.
‘It is still a very serious situation,’ Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters on Sunday.
‘We have had particularly some concerns around family gatherings, extended family members across many households, visiting each other even when they have been exhibiting mild symptoms.’
Two clusters are driving the outbreak – a family that has 11 infections over nine households, and 13 contractors who worked at the Stamford Plaza hotel.
One of Sunday’s new cases was from the family outbreak and three were workers at the hotel. The other eight cases are under investigation.
All but one of Saturday’s 25 cases were local transmissions, including infections that health authorities are yet to trace to a source.
Mr Andrews said Victorian families were mainly responsible for the coronavirus spike, spreading it between members during social events.
Mr Andrews said families gathering (file image pictured) were mainly responsible for the spike which caused him to halt the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on Saturday
‘The experts tell us that, largely, the numbers are being driven by families – families having big get togethers and not following the advice around distancing and hygiene,’ he said.
Mr Andrews said about half of the state’s cases since the end of April have come from transmission inside someone’s home.
‘You can see how this could happen. People feeling relaxed at home. Letting their guard down. Letting old habits creep back,’ he said.
The state’s Chief Health Officer said Victoria is ‘absolutely at risk of a second peak’ of COVID-19.
‘We are at a point where we have to turn it around or the numbers get beyond us,’ Professor Brett Sutton said on Saturday.
‘We are indeed at a crossroads.’
Those who are currently working from home are required to continue to do so until July 31.