ON A day when Health Minister Jenny Mikakos stressed that country people should not be going to Melbourne, the State Government extended its ‘State of Emergency’ for four weeks “to continue measures we know are working to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives”.
Minister Mikakos said that while case numbers in Victoria were coming down, reduced from a high of 512 less than a week ago, to 451 on Sunday, there were still areas where case numbers were rising.
“I need to stress that regional Victorians should not be travelling to Melbourne and taking it back to their communities with them.”
The comments were made against a backdrop of information from the Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton that movement data was indicating too many people were still on the move despite the restrictions.
The Premier Daniel Andrews explained why the State of Emergency was being extended:
“We know how challenging it is to live with Stage 4 restrictions and it’s easy to feel frustrated or get complacent – especially as the weather improves – but right now it is critical that all Victorians follow the directions to drive this virus down and keep each other safe.
“This is far from over and our best weapon against the spread of this deadly virus is limiting movement. In Melbourne, that means following Stage 4 restrictions and not leaving your house during the curfew hours of 8pm to 5am, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving. Only permitted workers can attend work premises.
“We have made the decisions necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus in regional Victoria, including the introduction of Stage 3 restrictions across all regional local government areas from 11.59pm, Wednesday 5 August.
“Today we have seen 15 new cases in regional Victoria and while we are still seeing new cases in the regions, it is critical that these numbers don’t continue to increase – as we know, all it takes is one positive case to set the virus off again in any of our regional communities.
“If you have even the mildest of symptoms, please get tested and stay home. People without access to sick leave or other supports can apply for the $450 payment to help you get through while waiting for their test result.
“No matter where you live, if you have a legitimate reason for leaving home you must wear a mask, physically distance from other people and practice good hygiene, such as handwashing.”
The State of Emergency will now be extended to 11.59pm on Sunday, September 13, 2020 which allows the Victorian Government to continue enforcing physical distancing and isolation requirements as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer (CHO).
“We will beat this virus – and extending the State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need for the fight,” Mr Andrews said.
“I thank every Victorian who is part of our massive team keeping our community safe – you can thank them too by following the rules, which will see us all get through the pandemic.”
Victoria Police has strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines for breaches of stay at home directions. This includes up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses. Under the directions, people who don’t comply could also be taken to court and receive a fine of up to $20,000. Companies face fines of up to $100,000.
Since August 2, Victoria has also been in a State of Disaster, which can remain in place for up to one month and may then be renewed.
Minister Mikakos urged Victorians to keep up the good work.
“There is no room for complacency when it comes to stopping this deadly disease. Our public health team will work in partnership with local communities to keep you and your family safe.”