‘SERIOUS SITUATION’: Victoria extends state of emergency as coronavirus cases spike

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

Victoria has extended its state of emergency declaration by four weeks after another spike in coronavirus cases.

The state reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 19 on Sunday. Saturday’s cases were the most new ones Victoria reported since May 4.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters on Sunday the state of emergency would be extended until 11.59pm on July 19.

A man cleans in Melbourne's CBD during the pandemic. Source: Getty Images

“This is because we still have obviously a public health emergency in Victoria,” she said. 

“But most importantly, the state of emergency enables the chief health officer to continue to issue our fresh legal directions which enables us to put in place all the appropriate legal mechanisms to manage the pandemic going forward.

“So obviously this relates to legal directions that required people to isolate in quarantine, as well as all the legal restrictions that apply to the hospitality sector and many other industries across Victoria.”

Ms Mikakos said they were very concerned by the spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

“It is still a very serious situation,” she said.

“We have had particular concerns around family gatherings and extended family members across many households visiting each other.”

The virus caused the closure of a daycare centre and three Melbourne primary schools last week.

On Saturday, premier Daniel Andrews said the state would be rolling back a number of eased restrictions including the number of people allowed inside a pub, cafe or place of worship.

Mr Andrews spoke of his frustration that some people were ignoring the rules.

“In the midst of the pandemics [there are] enormous consequences, not just in terms of safety people’s lives, but it also risks a second wave,” he said.

“And a second wave will be absolutely catastrophic to our economy. We are doing everything we possibly can.”

Residents enjoy the waterside at Brighton. Source: Getty Images

Minister for Police Lisa Neville said on Sunday the state is at “a really critical moment”.

“Overwhelmingly Victorians have done the right thing and I know Victoria Police members would back that claim,” she said.

“But action is necessary, and we heard yesterday and today from the premier and the minister and the chief health officer about some of the concerns that we are seeing in relation to the spread of the virus, particularly in parts of Melbourne, but the risks that that might have to spread further.”

Ms Neville said there would be a “strengthening of enforcement” to ensure people abide by state and police directions.

“They will also be focused around the school holidays and the ski season,” the minister said.

She added police will also continue monitoring Victoria’s virus hotspots which include local government areas of Melbourne, Stonnington and Banyule.

Residents told not to protest

When asked about protests, Ms Neville said “people should not protest” but conceded it was proving difficult to stop them.

Mr Andrews on Saturday declared outside groups would have to be kept at a maximum of 10.

“Firstly, just so we are really clear, allowing or not allowing, that is not really an option, unless you are to barricade the city with concrete barriers, which is an impossible thing to do,” Ms Neville said.

“Let's be really clear. People should not protest, and if in this scenario, we are going back to 10, this sort of idea that people can pretend they are only in groups of 10 and there are like 1000, that will be taken very seriously.

“So people, please, stay home. Find different ways to protest, to get your issues out, while we go through this.”

More to come.

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