Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been slammed for blaming families for a spike in COVID-19 cases, which saw the state return to strict lockdown measures.
The Premier announced the lifting of restrictions would be halted until July 12 after Victoria recorded 25 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said Mr Andrews had reached a ‘new political low’.
‘Under Daniel Andrews, Victoria is the COVID capital of the country. For Daniel Andrews to blame that on Victorian families – rather than his own incompetence – is an absolute disgrace,’ he said on Saturday.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien slammed Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) for blaming families over the state’s recent spike in coronavirus cases
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
‘Victorians believed Daniel Andrews when he promised them his harsh lockdown restrictions would ease on Monday. Now Daniel Andrews has broken that promise and he has betrayed Victorians.’
‘To blame Victorian families for his betrayal of them shows that Daniel Andrews is simply not fit to lead Victoria,’ Mr O’Brien said.
Mr Andrews on Saturday said Victorian families were mainly responsible for the coronavirus spike.
‘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.’
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.
Mr O’Brien also criticised Mr Andrews for failing to name the recent Black Lives Matter protest as a cause of the spike.
Mr O’Brien (pictured) also attacked Mr Andrews for failing to name the recent Black Lives Matter protests as a cause of the spike in Victoria’s coronavirus cases
‘Daniel Andrews encouraged 10,000 Victorians to protest two weeks ago by promising that they would not be fined for attending.
‘For Andrews to fail to mention the impact of his 10,000 people protest on the spike in COVID-19 cases demonstrates his culpability,’ Mr O’Brien said.
He called for coronavirus restrictions to be eased in rural parts of the state.
‘Regional Victoria, where there are hardly any COVID-19 cases, is being unfairly punished by Labor’s Melbourne-centric focus.
‘There is again a strong case for an easing of restrictions in country Victoria that enables people to safely get back to work,’ Mr O’Brien explained.
Mr Andrews on Saturday stalled the easing of lockdown restrictions and rolled back the number of guests allowed to gather at houses to five.
The Premier also said he had spoken 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.’
Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship in Victoria 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. Pictured: Cafes in Melbourne’s Centre Place open for dine in customers on June 1
The planned reopening of gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs on Monday will still go ahead, capped to a maximum of 20 people
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.
Outside of the house, Victorians will only be allowed to gather in groups of 10. Pictured: Beachgoers are seen at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne
Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday announced the lifting of restrictions would be halted until July 12, while some would be tightened
A NEW ‘HARDSHIP’ PAYMENT
Premier Daniel Andrews announced Victorians who contract COVID-19 and/or their close contacts will receive a $1,500 payment if they cannot afford to take sick leave.
‘This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work instead,’ he said.
Mr Andrews warned geographical restrictions could be introduced to make sure Victorians abide by the rules.
‘The first and obvious thing that we could do, not to speculate too much, but just to make the point, quite obviously we could return to a stay at home order with a number of reasons that allow you to leave your home,’ he said.
‘And if you didn’t comply with those, say it was four reasons, for a long time, what seemed an even longer time, then you would be committing an offence under the public health and wellbeing act.
‘That is not a decision that we would take lightly. I have discussed that with the prime minister today.’
Mr Andrews also threatened authorities would go door-to-door to make sure Victorians took the latest message seriously.
‘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.’
The Victorian premier will also be speaking to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklan on potentially limiting people to travel from Victorian hotspots.
A $1,500 payment for those who contract COVID-19 and their close contacts has also been announced.
The cash would go to people who can’t afford to take sick leave.
‘This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work instead,’ Mr Andrews said.
Those who are currently working from home are required to continue to do so until July 31.
A cap of 20 patrons is set on cafes, restaurants and pubs at the moment in Victoria. It will remain the same. Pictured: A bartender is seen pouring a beer at the Glenferrie Pub in Melbourne on June 1
From midnight on Sunday, the number of visitors in a house will be reduced from 20 to five (stock image)
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.’
Gideon Rozner, Director of Policy at free market think thank the Institute of Public Affairs, said the delay in easing restrictions is a ‘betrayal of mainstream Victorians’.
‘Now, Daniel Andrews is inflicting even more punishment on law-abiding Victorians workers and struggling small businesses, while left-wing political protesters were allowed to attend a ‘mass gathering’ just weeks ago,’ he said.
‘It is one rule for Andrews’ support base, and another for mainstream Victorians.
‘Victoria has had by far the most stringent and inflexible lockdown restrictions in the country, yet it still has the highest rate of infections.
‘Clearly, the sacrifice of thousands of Victorian livelihoods has not been worth it.’
A total of 25 new cases have been recorded in the state on Saturday, up from 13 on Friday, 18 on Thursday and 21 on Wednesday. Pictured: Cafes open in Melbourne’s CBD on June 1
Mr Andrews’ announcement came as planned climate change protests went ahead in Melbourne on Saturday.
The demonstrators had planned to ride bikes around the city, block intersections and keep their marching groups to 20 protesters from 2pm.
‘The community response to COVID has shown that when Australians understand there is a crisis they will pull together to look after each other,’ spokeswoman Catherine Strong told news.com.
‘Extinction Rebellion is getting back on the streets to remind people that what we’ve seen with COVID is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the problems unchecked climate change will bring, and we need to act now.’
Mr Andrews said demonstrators who continued to go against the health advice to attend rallies during a protest should go home.
‘I think that we could not have been clearer and I have a message for the people out there protesting today,’ he said.
‘Go home! Go home! You’re not doing your cause any good. And you’re potentially putting other people at risk.’
It comes after thousands of protesters gathered for a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne’s CBD on June 6.
A third protester was on Thursday confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 after attending the mass gathering.
It comes after thousands of protesters gathered for a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne’s CBD on June 6. A third protester was on Thursday confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 after attending the mass gathering
Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen could not confirm if the man became infected while protesting.
‘Again, it’s not possible to say for certain whether this person acquired their illness at the protest,’ she said on Thursday.
‘They were wearing a mask, it’s possible but it’s not certain.’
Dr van Diemen remains hopeful that potential cases of COVID-19 infection from the Black Lives Matter protest had already come forward.
‘Given the time frame since the protest, it’s now been almost two weeks,’ she said.
‘We’re getting to the end of the incubation period so assuming that people do get tested as soon as they become symptomatic, we would hope there wouldn’t be any or many more cases linked to the protest.’
Mr Sutton explained the rest of Australia seems to have gone down to zero levels of infections, so there is no need to lift restrictions elsewhere.
Canberrans, for example, are now able to join together in larger groups, with restrictions lifted to allow cinemas and indoor play centres to reopen and gatherings of up to 100 people.
In NSW, a returned traveller in hotel quarantine was the only new case of COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours.
There were no new cases in Western Australia, although health authorities recorded one historical case – a woman aged in her 60s, who was a returned overseas traveller and former cruise ship passenger on the Costa Luminosa.
Nearly 7,440 virus cases have now been confirmed across Australia since the initial outbreak. The death toll remains at 102, relatively low by international standards.
In contrast, there have been 8.5 million infections around the world with a combined death toll of 450,000.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes the world is in a ‘new and dangerous place’.
‘Many people are understandably fed up being at home, but the virus is still spreading fast,’ he warned on Friday, a day after 150,000 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed globally – a record daily tally.