'What the hell?': Confusion over detail in Victoria's Covid lockdown order

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·3-min read

There has been confusion about Victoria’s lockdown period with some people fearing it could be longer than five days.

The state went into a snap lockdown on Friday night amid concerns a highly contagious strain of Covid-19 was circulating in the community.

As of Saturday, there are 20 confirmed cases of community transmission with 13 linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport.

The lockdown is meant to last five days but, according to a document from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton which explains the Stay Safe Directions, the "stay safe period" ends on February 26.

“For the purposes of these directions, the stay safe period is the period beginning at 11:59:00 pm on 12 February 2021 and ending at 11:59:00 pm on 26 February 2021,” the section reads.

A cyclist is seen on Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.
A cyclist passes through an Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne on Saturday. Source: AAP

Confusion over lockdown length

The section has left a few people scratching their heads.

“What the hell Daniel Andrews?” one woman tweeted.

“You told us five days.”

Another added it “doesn’t make sense”, while others called for “transparency”.

Professor Sutton later clarified the order on Saturday.

“All directions are always written until the end of the current State of Emergency period,” he tweeted.

“The current directions should be revoked at the end of the circuit breaker period, following review of the situation.”

The “circuit breaker period” Prof Sutton is referring to is a callback to Premier Daniel Andrews stating on Friday, Victoria "needs a circuit breaker" of five days.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the plan was still to end lockdown in five days. Source: AAP

Prof Sutton told reporters on Saturday “for now” the lockdown was “absolutely” for five days.

“I think five days is realistic,” he said.

“Clearly we need to make an assessment each and every day.

“We will look very closely only hours leading up to the five-day period but we will have a greater number of results back and we will have almost all, if not all of those primary close contacts, through but it does depend on whether new cases emerge or any other surprises that might occur.”

People wait for takeaway food and coffee at Centre Place in Melbourne.
Workers wait for takeaway food at Melbourne's Centre Place during lockdown. Source: AAP

A Victoria Department of Health spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it had been the “legal convention to date Directions to the point in time the State of Emergency ends".

“We will revoke these directions on Wednesday, 17 February, at 11.59pm, subject to the Chief Health Officer’s advice,” the spokesperson said.

What the lockdown means for Victorians

Residents are not be allowed to leave their homes except for four reasons: shopping for essentials, caregiving, essential work or education, and exercise for two hours a day.

The five-kilometre limit on travel will also be reimposed as will the compulsory use of masks both indoors and outdoors.

All schools will be closed except to the children of those who need to work, however childcare and early childcare centre centres and playgrounds will remain open.

All bars, venues and cafes have been closed and can only sell takeaway meals. Only essential stores like supermarkets, bottle shops and pharmacies will remain open.

Public pools and places of worship are also closed unless for broadcast of services and weddings are not permitted unless on compassionate grounds.

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