Morrison wants Melbourne lockdown lifted

·3-min read

Scott Morrison has called on the Victorian government to lift lockdown restrictions as soon as possible.

Victoria has recorded 11 new coronavirus infections but they are all close contacts of existing cases or people in quarantine.

Melbourne is set to emerge from a two-week lockdown on Thursday night, but with the outbreak relatively under control, there are calls for the state government to act sooner.

Innes Willox from the Australian Industry Group said the prolonged Victorian lockdown seemed increasingly unnecessary and harmful, with only a handful of connected cases each day.

The prime minister also wants Victoria to reopen, particularly for parents with schoolchildren at home.

"Kids have lost enough time out of school over the course of the last 18 months and it's very important we get those kids back to school as soon as possible," he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

"I am hopeful these restrictions in Victoria will be lifted as soon as possible. I would be urging that we move to lift those restrictions as soon as possible."

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it was a matter for the Victorian government when to lift the lockdown, but its risks and benefits were being tracked on a daily basis.

He said it was possible lockdowns may still be needed in future even with a high rate of vaccination.

"We all hope that (lockdowns) will no longer be required into the future."

Meanwhile, the prime minister remains under pressure to find alternatives to hotel quarantine, which was the source of the latest outbreak.

He has agreed to fund the construction of a purpose-built quarantine site in Victoria, which will be run by the state government.

But the deal will not be easily replicated across the country.

The federal government has roasted a "half-baked" Queensland proposal for a quarantine hub in Toowoomba, arguing it is too far from an international airport or major hospital.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has also made it clear she will not be following Victoria's lead.

Ms Berejiklian said NSW was already taking as many incoming travellers as it could handle.

She said if the Commonwealth wanted to boost quarantine capacity in NSW, it would need to build and run the centres itself.

The premier pointed out NSW would need 10 times the 500-bed Victorian site to cater for the number of people coming through hotel quarantine each week.

Although, she also argued hotel quarantine would no longer be viable once the international border reopened.

This would require a major shift in the national quarantine strategy.

Mr Morrison indicated quarantine rules could be completely different once international travel restrictions eventually lifted, but noted it was a "very speculative position at this point in time".

In the meantime, the prime minister has ruled out using military facilities including the Richmond RAAF base in western Sydney for quarantine.

Vaccination rates are also crucial to reopening the international border.

The federal government has sent 100,000 extra doses to Victoria as it deals with the latest outbreak.

Mr Morrison promised the boost in Victorian vaccines stocks would not come at the cost of other states.

Asked when the vaccine might be available for 12- to 16-year-olds, as is occurring in some other countries, Professor Kelly said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had a proposal from Pfizer and he suspected it would follow other regulators in approving it.

National Disability Insurance Scheme Minister Linda Reynolds said on Monday night that all scheme participants aged 16 and over plus their carers aged 16 and over are eligible to receive the COVID-19 jab from Tuesday.

So far, just more than five million vaccine doses have been delivered nationwide.

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