Premier Daniel Andrews has delayed Melbourne’s lifting of lockdown restrictions on Sunday despite the city’s 14-day rolling coronavirus cases average dropping below five.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded seven new Covid-19 cases and no deaths, taking Melbourne’s all-important rolling average to 4.6 and regional Victoria’s to 0.2.
Mr Andrews had hinted if case numbers remained low, hospitality and retail sectors could reopen next week, but on Sunday he explained he would be cautious and pause lifting restrictions.
Mr Andrews withheld the easing of some restrictions on Sunday as the state awaits results of at least 1000 tests from the northern metropolitan outbreak.
“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 on Sunday.
“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.”
Mr Andrews described it as a "cautious pause" to rule out there wasn't widespread community transmission linked to the cluster.
The premier sympathised with those who were eagerly anticipating restrictions to be eased, saying he understood it was “frustrating”.
“Victorians have given too much, done too much, sacrificed too much, to make a decision now when you have got so many tests sitting in labs waiting for the results to come through,” he said.
Mr Andrews stressed this was not a “setback”, rather it was a case of waiting and for decisions to be led by the data.
“That is what has seen these numbers go from thousands of active cases to now, 100 active cases,” Mr Andrews said.
“That is the approach that has seen us go from 700 plus cases per day to seven cases.”
Mr Andrews stressed though he expected to announce restrictions easing on Sunday, they wouldn’t have come into effect until mid-next week.
“I do hope to make definitive announcements about opening up metropolitan Melbourne and a couple of days' time,” Mr Andrews said, promising to keep the public updated.
Regional Victoria gets the green light to ease restrictions
Regional Victoria will see restrictions ease as Mr Andrews confirmed on Sunday.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday, indoor gyms and fitness spaces will be able to open up with up to 20 people, with a maximum of 10 people per space, adhering to the one person per eight-square-metre rule.
Indoor pools will also be allowed to reopen with 20 people in regional Victoria. Indoor sports for those under the age of 18 will be able to resume.
Statement from the Premier on next steps for regional Victoria: pic.twitter.com/1Fo1r0IRZI
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 24, 2020
Indoor religious celebrations will also be able to have 20 people including a religious leader and 50 people can congregate outdoors.
Food courts are able to reopen, live music at outdoor hospitality venues will be able to resume and schools will be able to have graduations.
Shepparton will align with the rest of regional Victoria in terms of restrictions from 11.59pm on Sunday.
Former health minister slams ‘paralysis in decision-making’
Following Mr Andrews revealing the announcement of easing restrictions would be delayed, many expressed their disappointment and frustration.
Former health minister Jenny Mikakos, who resigned amid the probe into Victoria’s hotel quarantine, slammed the Andrews government on Twitter.
“[Victoria] has met the under 5 threshold which some thought was unachievable,” she said.
“This was a very cautious target. 6/7 of new cases are related to a known outbreak so the risk is manageable. The set reopening is gradual & safe so any delay is unnecessary.
“It’s paralysis in decision-making.”
Vic has met the under 5 threshold which some thought was unachievable. This was a very cautious target. 6/7 of new cases are related to a known outbreak so the risk is manageable. The set reopening is gradual & safe so any delay is unnecessary. It’s paralysis in decision-making.
— Jenny Mikakos #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) October 24, 2020
Sally Capp, the lord mayor of the City of Melbourne, said she was “bitterly disappointed” following the announcement.
“We are bitterly disappointed by today’s announcement that provides no certainty for businesses across our city – particularly those in hospitality and retail,” she tweeted.
“Changing the goal posts is confidence shattering for businesses that are struggling to hold on. Every day is critical to keeping Melburnians in jobs and saving businesses.”
Meanwhile “I Stand With Dan” is once again trending on Twitter, with many people appreciating Sunday’s decision would have been difficult.
“Daniel Andrews knew he was going to face an aggressive backlash today but still made the call. Respect,” one person tweeted.
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