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Small business owner losing thousands trapped in Melbourne tower locked down by coronavirus

A small business owner says he will lose thousands while stuck in a quarantined Melbourne public housing block.

Steve Pat, who runs Urban Steam Clean, is unable to leave his one-bedroom flat in Flemington Towers with 3,000 others while the building is locked down.

Residents of 10 towers in Flemington, North Melbourne, and Kensington were banned from even setting foot outside their door on Saturday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the drastic measure would last at least five days as a renewed coronavirus outbreak rips through those suburbs.

Steve Pat, who runs Urban Steam Clean, is unable to leave his one-bedroom flat in Flemington Towers in Melbourne due to coronavirus lockdown and has to cancel all his jobs for the next two weeks

Residents of 10 towers in Flemington (pictured), North Melbourne, and Kensington were banned from even setting foot outside their door on Saturday

Residents of 10 towers in Flemington (pictured), North Melbourne, and Kensington were banned from even setting foot outside their door on Saturday

But Mr Pat said he feared the lockdown would last a full two weeks if any of his fellow residents refused tests, according to his detention directions.

He said if that was the case he would lose about $4,000 in jobs for his carpet cleaning business, far more than any government compensation.

The hardworking Turkish-Australian said he had to cancel all jobs booked for this week and turn down numerous calls requesting his services.

Mr Andrews promised free rent for the next two weeks and $1,500 for anyone unable to work due to being stuck in the locked down suburbs.

‘I appreciate that, but I usually make a lot more than that,’ Mr Pat, who is a sole trader, told Daily Mail Australia.

‘People think we’re whingers and that we shouldn’t complain as we get a free rent, but I’d rather pay my rent and not get any money and be out there doing my job. 

‘Most people think everyone who lives here is a bum or a drug user, but it’s nowhere near that.’

Mr Pat said he had to cancel all jobs booked for this week and turn down numerous calls requesting his services

Mr Pat said he had to cancel all jobs booked for this week and turn down numerous calls requesting his services

Mr Pat and his neighbours had to walk to the lobby to collect a box of essential groceries despite being ordered not to leave their rooms. Pictured is supplies being delivered to the bottom of the public housing block

Mr Pat and his neighbours had to walk to the lobby to collect a box of essential groceries despite being ordered not to leave their rooms. Pictured is supplies being delivered to the bottom of the public housing block

He said much of his earnings went to support his two sons, aged six and nine, who live with his ex-wife in Turkey and had to cancel a trip to visit him. 

Mr Pat said less than 500 people had been tested so far and he had not received any communication from health authorities.

He and his neighbours had to walk to the lobby to collect a box of essential groceries despite being ordered not to leave their rooms.

‘I haven’t been told anything by anyone, no authority has knocked on my door other than the police to give me the detention directions,’ he said. 

‘We can test 20,000 people in Melbourne in 24 hours, why couldn’t they test us yet?’

‘This in my opinion is worse than prison as we don’t even get a hour outside to go for a walk and get some fresh air.

‘This is not just a loss of income but a loss of freedom, our everyday human rights.’

Mr Pat said he called a hotline for residents asking for cat litter two days ago and was told someone would call him back, but no one did.

A sign stuck to the window of a person trapped inside the housing commission flats in Flemington on Monday

A sign stuck to the window of a person trapped inside the housing commission flats in Flemington on Monday

Food and drink packages were delivered to residents by police on Saturday night

Some complained they did not receive essentials such as bread and milk

Food and drink packages (right) were delivered to residents by police (left) on Saturday night but some complained they did not receive essentials such as bread and milk

THE MOST COMMON COMPLAINTS FROM THE TOWERS 

– Lack of essential supplies and food

– Heavy handed attitudes of police in enforcing the stay-at-home orders

– Inability to go shopping is at odds with others in the hotspot postcodes

– Lack of protective equipment such as masks for residents

– No information provided about length or reasons behind lockdown

The state government said it distributed 3,000 meals, 1,000 food hampers and 250 personal care packs to residents, while the charity FareShare has provided more than 3,000 prepared meals and 4,500 pastries. 

Other public housing residents have also said no one brought supplies to their doors, which they weren’t allowed to leave, so they were missed.

Donations supplied by members of the public have been left in the corridors and eventually turns rotten.

After being caught by surprise when the no-warning lockdown came in, many of those in the buildings are furious at a lack of food and information from authorities.

A resident in Flemington named Omar said he received a box of Weetbix for the week but did not have any milk.

‘People are going to die of starvation. Pregnant ladies are knocking on doors for milk,’ he said.

After being caught by surprise when the no-warning lockdown came in, many of those in the buildings are furious at a lack of food and information from authorities

 After being caught by surprise when the no-warning lockdown came in, many of those in the buildings are furious at a lack of food and information from authorities

Residents shared images on social media of out-of-date meals, food left on the floor, and Muslim families given pork.

Debbie Harrison, who is caring for her 83-year-old mother, Ivy, at a housing unit in North Melbourne said they were only given four sausage rolls to eat in 48 hours.

Ms Harrison tried to get her daughter to deliver groceries, but she was turned away by police guarding the public housing tower.

Victoria’s outbreak added another 127 patients on Monday, the state’s highest daily increase since the pandemic arrived in Australia.

The border with NSW was shut for the first time since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and more than 300,000 people are under virtual house arrest. 

Firefighters dressed in personal protective equipment prepare to distribute food throughout a public housing tower in North Melbourne on Tuesday

Firefighters dressed in personal protective equipment prepare to distribute food throughout a public housing tower in North Melbourne on Tuesday

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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