Daniel Andrews has dealt a devastating blow to the desperate Melburnians who look forward to finally escaping the city’s draconian confinement.
The state registered seven new cases and no new deaths on Saturday as the city’s 14-day moving average eventually reached five.
But a disturbing cluster at an Islamic school has derailed hopes that the state has overcome the worst coronavirus disaster, killing 817 Victorians.
Then the Prime Minister told residents not to win their ‘hopes’ during his daily Saturday update, warning that the school cluster could deteriorate and reopen too soon would be risky.
There were multiple reports that restrictions, including store and business closures, could be eased as early as Wednesday.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews delivered a devastating blow to desperate Melburnians looking forward to coming out of strict lockdown
Women take photos on St. Kilda’s beachfront, observing the rule of social distance by staying within the circle specially drawn on October 17th, while keeping the town locked
“I want to warn people, if you want to bank, that I’ll be making a whole bunch of detailed opening announcements tomorrow,” he said.
He warned that companies and staff are ahead of the curve before any official announcements are made.
“I’ve been very clear, when I get up and make the announcement, that’s when people can start planning,” he explained.
Apart from that, think there’s a risk of preventing whatever we do.
“No one should assume that I make announcements and what the nature of those announcements are until they are actually made.”
He said more than 9,000 staff, students, relatives and residents in the northern Preston metropolitan area as of Tuesday.
Health workers seen at Goulburn Valley Health-Mcintosh Covid19 testing facility in Shepparton, Victoria, Thursday, October 15
Mr. Andrews thanked everyone who went for frequent testing and said that without further test results there could be a further delay in relaxing the restrictions.
Mr. Andrews stressed that it is important for them to wait for the thousands of test results and see if there are any links with current outbreaks.
“It also speaks directly to the fact that if that’s the case, you can see the case numbers explode when you open it,” he continued.
‘We’ve already had this position in some ways and we must do everything we can to prevent that.
“I’ll make announcements tomorrow. I’ll fully explain where we land, but with so many test results in the labs and others that will be done today, it’s very important that we let ourselves be guided by the data and the evidence and the science. ‘
Of the seven cases reported on Saturday, one is a student attending East Preston Islamic College
Students and their families, including staff from the nearby Croxton School (pictured), are also urged to get tested
Of the seven cases reported on Saturday, one is a student attending East Preston Islamic College.
The health department has urged families and staff to get tested, including those at the nearby Croxton School, even if they have no symptoms.
Both schools are closed for two weeks for a thorough cleaning while all members are tested.
Victoria’s Commander of Testing and Community Engagement Jeroen Weimar said they worked with faith leaders to get the message across and get tested.
“I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to protect people,” he said.
“I have held several sessions over the past two days to listen and act on the advice of prominent members of the community.
“We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.”
Health teams toured the suburbs where the cluster continues to grow and turned to 90 homes tested. About a third of the people accepted to be tested for COVID-19.
Only two people walk down an almost deserted street in Melbourne’s normally busy CBD. The business leaders called for a ‘safe and staged’ return to work in the city
A woman gets a haircut Monday at the Joey Scandizzo Salon in South Yarra. Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can accommodate 30 swimmers, while outdoor property auctions can take place with up to 10 bidders
Andrews relaxed some restrictions last Sunday, allowing hairdressers to open again (photo, a man visiting a hairdresser Monday after some lockdown measures were lifted)
The rise in the number of cases comes after only one new case was registered on Friday, which helped bring the moving average down.
The state’s death toll remains at 817 and the national figure at 905, with just one death in the past week.
Retail and hospitality businesses are said to be closed until November 1, but it looks like this could be brought forward by a week.
Residents of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire have been trapped at home since the second lockdown began on July 9.
The city’s second lockdown is currently in its 15th week, though Andrews relaxed some restrictions last Sunday.
Under the new rules, groups of up to 10 people from two households can gather outside and tennis courts, skate parks and golf courses have been started.
Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can accommodate 30 swimmers, while outdoor property auctions can take place with up to 10 bidders.
But the changes aren’t coming fast enough for some Melburnians, who fear the extended lockdown will wreak havoc on the economy.
In wild scenes in the city, protesters against the blockade clashed with police on Friday.
About 300 Melburnians showed up for the rally and walked the streets chanting ‘freedom’ and shouting that Andrews would be fired. Many refused to wear face masks.
In total, 16 people were arrested, 61 protesters were fined and 96 criminal reports were issued for a series of crimes.
Three police officers were injured in the clashes, one of which was taken to hospital as a precaution.
VICTORIA’S ROAD OUTSIDE LOCKDOWN
The state government has set a new path to emerge from the lockdown for the Melbourne metropolis and regional Victoria, which is dependent on eradicating COVID-19 cases in the community that have an unknown source.
STEP ONE: from 11:59 PM Sunday 18 October
* Outside limit of two hours removed
* 5 km travel restriction extended to 25 km
* Outdoor meetings from 5 to 10
* Personal health appointments to resume
* Tennis courts, golf courses and skate parks reopen
* Outdoor pools open to up to 30 swimmers
* Hairdressers can reopen
* Outdoor real estate auctions allowed with a maximum of 10 people, plus staff
STEP TWO: From 11:59 PM on November 1:
* A maximum of two people, plus dependents, are allowed to visit a house per day
* All shops can open
* Hospitality: maximum 20 customers sitting indoors (subject to one per four m2), maximum 50 outdoor patrons (subject to one per two m2)
* Beauty and personal care open
* Wedding groups of up to 10 people allowed
* Maximum 20 mourners allowed at funerals
* Outside of religious gatherings and ceremonies with a maximum of 20 people
IMPORTANT RESTRICTIONS REMAIN:
* Approved face masks must be worn outdoors at all times
* Work from home if possible
* All companies must have a COVID safe plan