REGIONAL students will revert to home learning from Tuesday, August 4 after the Premier Daniel Andrews declared a State of Disaster across Victoria from 6pm tonight, Sunday, August 2.
It is only the second time in history that the government has invoked a ‘State of Disaster’. The ‘State of Emergency’ will continue to operate.
Schools can open as usual on Monday (with masks), there will be a ‘pupil-free day’ on Tuesday and learning-from-home will commence on Wednesday for all students, including Year 11 and 12 VCE students.
Schools will continue to accept the students of essential workers and students with special needs.
In other changes for regional Victoria, the regions will more to Stage Three (‘Stay at Home’) restrictions from midnight on Wednesday, August 5 meaning that cafes, restaurants and pubs will have to close to anything other than a takeaway service.
Gyms also close from Wednesday midnight.
“We can’t have a situation where it continues to grow and grown in regional Victoria,” Mr Andrews said, stressing that ‘mystery’ cases or unknown community transmission cases (presently 760) was the biggest concern.
“There will be people in regional Victoria, where there are no cases or few cases, I say this to people in those areas that may be concerned about the restrictions, we cannot allow this to get into aged care in regional areas like it has in metro areas.
“This is a public health bushfire but you can’t see the fire and you can’t smell the smoke… the only thing that wins if we don’t play our part is the virus. Follow the rules, do the right thing and we’ll get to the other side. It means fewer Victorians will be burying a loved one.”
The Premier said there would be more information impacting workplaces on Monday.
In the Melbourne metro area, restrictions are much more strict, going to Stage 4, with a curfew from 8pm to 5am, one hour of exercise only, one to collect food once-a-day and exercise or travel limited to a 5km radius.
The Education Minister James Merlino provided some additional information for students and their parents but there will be more tomorrow.
“This takes us through to the end of Term Three,” Education Minister James Merlino.
Äll of the plans we have for Term Four including receiving your results certificate and ATAR will not change. The only change is that GAT will be moved from September to early Term Four.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there was an element of “shock and awe” about today’s announcement but the fact was, Stage Three restrictions were fattening the curve but not bringing numbers down.
“I hope this certainly makes a difference to the number of cases. I think it will but as for a guarantee, I can’t give that. People have to go with these new restrictions with a collective responsibility. If they don’t it won’t work.
“There was evidence that Stage Three was working, the curve was flattening but it wasn’t enough. As health care workers you can’t see numbers growing by 400, 500, 600-a-day.
“Six weeks of this should be enough to make a difference but it needs the commitment by everyone.”
But he said there was a significant number of breaches that was holding back the impact of restrictions.
Turning up for work unwell has to stop, he said.
But he did say that thousands of deaths had already been averted by the present restrictions, the task now was to drive down daily numbers.
He also said that a positive by-product of the restrictions was the number of usual flu deaths that had so far been averted this winter.
State Government statement
From the outset of this second surge, our aim has been to protect regional communities. By putting a ring around the city, we want to protect the entirety of our state.
For the most part, it’s worked. But as we know, this virus doesn’t discriminate, and its only goal is to spread.
Based on the current numbers, it’s clear there is a real and growing threat in some regional communities.
The thought of this virus getting into regional aged care – and wiping out entire generations within our regional communities – is something that keeps me up at night. I know I’m not alone.
We cannot let this virus tear through regional aged care in the way it has with private sector aged care in Melbourne.
We cannot let it mean more Victorians in hospital beds. More Victorians hooked up to machines just to breathe.
And more Victorians – more grandparents, parents, sons, daughters, partners and loved ones – choked to death by an invisible enemy.
That’s not something I’m willing to accept. I don’t think it’s something any of us are willing to accept.
We must do more. We must go harder. It’s the only way we’ll get to the other side of this.
It’s why from 6pm tonight, Victoria will enter a State of Disaster. We used this same provision over summer, and as we step-up our fight against this public health bushfire, we need to use it again.
This will give our police additional powers to make sure people are complying with public health directions – more on which we’ll have to say in the coming days.
And from 11:59pm on Wednesday, regional Victoria will return to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions.
That means there’ll again only be four reasons to be out: shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Daily exercise. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home.
Otherwise, you need to stay home.
Businesses in regional Victoria will also return to Stage 3 restrictions.
That means restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway. Beauty and personal services will need to close. Entertainment and cultural venues will need to close. Community sport will need to stop.
This we’ll be tough for these businesses and their workers – and we’ll have more to say very shortly about extra support to help get you through.
Face coverings will continue to be compulsory – ensuring that if we do have to be out, it’s in the safest way possible.
The question I know most parents will be asking: regional schools will return to remote and flexible learning – across all year levels and across the state. The only exception will be for our specialist schools.
Onsite supervision will again be made available for students who need it, including children whose parents are permitted workers and vulnerable kids who can’t learn from home.
We know this will be a significant ask of parents with little ones – and big ones too. But I promise, as a parent to three, it’s an ask I don’t make lightly.
These changes will be in place for at least the next six weeks. As always, we’ll keep reviewing and realigning the restrictions in line with the advice of our health experts – and if we can change things earlier, we will.
I know there’ll also be questions about why restrictions are needed in some communities that have no cases.
But as we’ve learnt over the course of thing, just because you have no cases today – doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow. And when the cost of failure if measured in lives, it’s a risk we cannot afford to take.
I’ve had the job of leading this state for almost six years – more than 2000 days. And today is by far the hardest day – and the hardest decision.
But it is the decision I’ve made to keep our state safe.
The whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I’ll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there’ll be more questions than answers.
It’s why I’m asking something else of Victorians – please be calm, please be kind, please be patient.
I understand people will feel scared and sad and worried.
But we are Victorians – and we will get through this as Victorians. With grit, with guts and together.
All the temporary sacrifices we make now – all the time missed with mates, those delayed visits to mum – those sacrifices will help keep our mates and our mums and our fellow Victorians safe.
We can – we will – get through this.
Apart. But together.
COVID-19 update for Sunday, August 2
- 671 new cases, 598 unknown source, 73 connected to known outbreaks
- Seven deaths (3x70sW, 2x80sW, 1x90sM, 1x90W), total 123
- 6322 active cases
- 385 in hospital, 38 in ICU
- 1053 active cases connected to aged care, 649 connected to health care workers
- Active cases in metro areas 5829, regional 328