Millions of Victorians have been forced to wait another day to hear if the grueling state lockdown will be lifted tomorrow night as planned.
Victoria’s health minister, Martin Foley, announced Monday that authorities have yet to “shut down” or the state’s fifth lockdown will end at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews was expected to end the nationwide stay-at-home orders after the 11 new Covid cases registered Monday were quarantined during their contagious period.
But the prime minister was conspicuously absent from the press conference, leaving residents in uncertainty for another 24 hours about whether restrictions will be eased on Wednesday.
“As we made our position clear yesterday, we want to ensure that, with restrictions ending tomorrow, we make that decision based on the most current and accurate data and advice from our public health teams,” Foley told reporters.
Victorians have been forced to wait another 24 hours to hear if the state lockdown will be lifted. Pictured: People queue at a testing clinic in Melbourne’s Prahran on Thursday
“Nothing is final yet, but we are aware of the need to share this with the people of Victoria as soon as possible.
Despite consecutive days of new infections identified only in those already isolated, Mr Foley said authorities were still concerned that 22 cases had been recorded in the past 48 hours.
“Public health officials took some comfort in the fact that over the weekend the 22 locally acquired cases had all been quarantined for their entire contagious period, but it’s still 22 cases,” he said.
“If you think about where we’ve been in the journey of the last 18 months as we tackled the reopening of outbreaks, 22 cases in two days is a significant figure. It is not a risk that we take lightly, but equally so.
“And we make a decision based on the decision of the public health team, based on the most current advice.”
Mr Foley said health authorities were “comforted” by more than 25,000 Victorians presenting to testing facilities on Sunday.
However, he urged residents with symptoms to come forward for testing, particularly those from Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, where Covid fragments have been found in sewage.
Suburbs to be wary of include Tarneit, Trinder nine, Glenroy Hadfield, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale, and Truganina.
The nationwide lockdown was declared on July 15 due to an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta strain, which arose from cases in NSW.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews (pictured) said on Sunday the lockdown was on track to end Tuesday evening dinsdag
Victoria’s lockdown was supposed to end after five days, but was extended for a week as the virus continued to spread in the community.
Mr Andrews said on Sunday he was confident the lockdown would not be extended again, citing the downward trend in the number of people in the community, although contagious.
His comments came after Victoria registered 11 new locally acquired Covid cases on Sunday, all of which were linked to known outbreaks and were quarantined for their entire contagious period.
“These numbers are the trend we wanted to see, these numbers are more than promising, but we just have to wait and see what comes tomorrow and Tuesday to make sure we can ease restrictions,” Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
“I will foreshadow, there will still be rules after midnight Tuesday. It will be important that we all follow them.”
The new infections bring the total number of active cases in the state to 190, of which 17 are in the hospital, including two people in intensive care.
Victorian ministers and the public health team will hold talks Monday to map out the state’s new set of restrictions, but masks are expected to remain mandatory for some time to come. Pictured: A woman walks her dog on the foreshore of Port Phillip . on Saturday
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Victorian ministers and the public health team will meet on Monday to discuss the new set of restrictions.
Mr Andrews said on Sunday he is focusing on taking down the five reasons to stay home from midnight on Tuesday.
However, he warned that widespread restrictions would remain in place, requiring masks to be mandatory for a “long time.”
“Masks will remain a feature for a long time, until we get the maximum number of people through the vaccine,” he said on Sunday.
Mr Andrews said research has shown that masks were the “largest contributing factor” to the state beating the second wave last year, and would be vital in fighting the highly contagious Indian Delta tribe.
While he said it was too early to determine which businesses would be allowed to reopen, the prime minister hinted that schools were a top priority.
“My goal is for the five reasons to get out of the house and have a lot more freedom of movement so that we can resume our economic recovery, which is what we are looking for.
‘[But] it has to be done safely and indeed, we want to get children back to school.’
Andrews said he “hopes” to remove the five reasons why Victorians are allowed to leave the house from midnight on Tuesday. In the photo: people in face masks walk through the deserted streets of Melbourne on Thursday
Both NSW and Victoria saw thousands take part in anti-lockdown protests over the weekend (pictured in Melbourne on Saturday)
Meanwhile, health department sources have told: The Herald Sun some of the restrictions being tipped will remain in effect until vaccination rates are drastically improved.
Policymakers and health officials are currently in favor of schoolchildren returning to class this week, while field trips, planned camps and events are also given the green light.
High-level talks are already underway to open the doors of Victoria’s much-loved hangouts with cafes, restaurants and bars likely to trade under the 4 people per sqm rule this week with a maximum of 50 customers indoors.
Retail stores will also have the same restrictions, while outdoor public sporting events will be limited to 100 people.
Under the new proposal, face masks are expected to remain mandatory both indoors and outdoors as the highly contagious Indian Delta variant continues to wreak havoc north of the border.
One of the issues that could stand in Victoria’s way, however, is a possible increase in cases as a result of the anti-lockdown march that took place in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday.
More than 1,000 people flooded the streets ignoring orders to stay at home to protest Covid restrictions, with many more taking to the streets in Covid-ravaged Sydney.
Andrews called those attending the Melbourne anti-lockdown rally ‘selfish’ as millions across the country have been forced to stay at home due to Delta tribe outbreaks
The protesters left face masks and ignored social distancing, raising concerns that the anti-lockdown rally could act as a super-spreader for Covid-19.
Andrews expressed dismay at “selfish” anti-lockdown protesters who gathered in Melbourne on Saturday, but said he was reasonably confident it wouldn’t be a super-spreading event.
There are more than 22,000 people in self-isolation in the state after being considered close contact with positive cases, while there are more than 380 exposure sites.
Although the lockdown will be lifted, Andrews warned that the Delta variant was a “whole new enemy” and would remain a threat even after restrictions are eased.
“We have walked next to this virus, now we are just ahead of it,” he said.
“We have to stay ahead of it from now until Tuesday night and then until we get everyone through the vaccine program.
“This virus doesn’t have a day off, it’s relentless.”
VICTORIA’S NEW RESTRICTIONS AFTER LOCKDOWN END
Health official says it is “very likely” the state lockdown will end as planned on Wednesday.
Major changes are likely to include:
– Schools open again
– Cafés and restaurants open but with a maximum of 50 people inside and 100 outside
– Open a store with one person per line of 4 m²
– Public community sport to start over with 100 person cap
– Mouthmasks remain mandatory both inside and outside
– The new restrictions will apply statewide, including Melbourne