Scott Morrison has taken aim at Daniel Andrews after the Victorian Premier delayed easing Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions on Sunday.
In a joint media release, along with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, the prime minister labelled the delay in lifting the Covid-19 restrictions as “a profound disappointment”.
“At some point, you have to move forward and put your public health systems to work in a bid to reclaim the jobs that have been lost, and rescue the livelihoods and peace of mind of so many Victorians who have been affected by the inability to contain the outbreak that led to the second Victorian wave,” the statement said.
It then goes on to say the Victorian government is either up to the task of managing outbreaks or not.
The statement also said borders and closures were not “indicators of public health success”, but the opposite.
“The decision to keep businesses closed suggests that there is still not sufficient confidence within the Government that their systems can support reopening,” the statement said.
“This is a profound disappointment. Of course, Victorians do not want to face another lockdown and of course they don’t want all of this to have been for nothing.
“That is why ensuring the State Government’s capability to deal with outbreaks through their public health response is so essential. This is what you need for Victoria to open up safely and stay safely open.”
On Sunday, Mr Andrews said he would hold off on making any announcements on lifting the lockdown in Melbourne as at least 1000 tests were still being processed regarding an outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
“We had hoped today to be able to announce that metropolitan Melbourne would take significant steps, not from today but from mid-week, around retail, hospitality and a whole range of other important next steps,” Mr Andrews said.
“We are not in a position to do that today because we have at least 1000 test results from that northern metropolitan outbreak that are in the labs.”
The premier said the decision to not announce any changes to Melbourne’s lockdown was considered to be a “cautious pause” and he promised to provide an update in the coming days after the test results came back.
Mr Andrews also reiterated throughout the press conference on Sunday, even if changes were to be announced they would not come into effect until later in the week.
The prime minister and federal ministers’ statement also notes the rolling 14-day average is below five, which is what was needed for Melbourne to see restrictions eased.
Melbourne’s 14-day average of daily cases dropped below five to 4.6 on Sunday as the state recorded seven new Covid cases and no deaths.
Health authorities were waiting for the average to drop below five in Melbourne to ease restrictions, but a new outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs has delayed the announcement.
Mr Morrison, Mr Frydenberg and Mr Hunt called for Victoria to mirror NSW’s Covid-Safe restrictions “for the sake of health, mental health and halting the loss of more than 1,000 jobs per day”.
The statement said the Victorian Government had benefited “greatly” from the cooperation of the public and business community, though they had paid a “significant price” due to the “prolonged” lockdown.
During the press conference on Sunday, Mr Andrews sympathised and said he understood the delay was “frustrating”.
On social media, some expressed their disappointment with the premier not announcing the easing of restrictions, while some acknowledged the difficult position Mr Andrews was is in.
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