Why chairman Dan Andrews’ controversial gaming ban could be lifted in a week as Victoria records 79 new Covid cases
- Controversial playground ban will finally end ‘within days’ in Victoria
- Introduced on August 16 by Prime Minister Dan Andrews, much to the ire of many parents
- No concrete evidence that the virus was transmitted in parks in the state
The controversial general play ban that has outraged many parents in Victoria could soon be lifted.
Prime Minister Dan Andrews is said to be tempted to lift the community restriction – despite the state registering 79 new Covid-19 cases on Friday.
The peak in the number of cases – there were also 80 on Thursday – was the highest daily increase since September 2 last year, when 110 cases were reported.
Victoria’s latest lockdown – which ends at 11:59 pm on September 2 – will more than likely be extended, by more mystery cases that crop up every day, as well as a high percentage of cases that are not currently isolated.
Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews angered many parents when he closed children’s playgrounds earlier this month (pictured, a family out and about in Melbourne)
The Prime Minister defended the decision – despite authorities saying there was no concrete link to Covid-19 transmission from playgrounds
Despite the rise in cases, health authorities have said: the evidence of playground transfer remains inconclusive.
“We’re not getting a definitive answer. We don’t have an alternative explanation and that’s going to be a working hypothesis,” chief health officer Brett Sutton said.
“We can’t see the virus pass from one person to another, so we don’t know for sure.”
Earlier this month, Andrews defended his unpopular decision to close children’s play areas in Melbourne, pointing out that 50 children in the city had tested positive for Covid-19.
“We’ve seen evidence of transmission between people who don’t even know each other and don’t know they were in the company of each other,” the prime minister said at the time.
“This is tough. But the best we can all do is stick together and hopefully bring the numbers down.”
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and fitness equipment in metropolitan Melbourne were closed from August 16 after CHO Brett Sutton said the measure was necessary to reduce transmission of the Delta variant.
The decision was widely criticized by tired Melbourne families with children who struggled during their sixth lockdown.
“Going to a playground is one of the few things left to relieve boredom in the kids, it’s a punch in the guts,” said Melbourne dad Toby Cummings.
Professor Sutton explained the reason for the decision.
“There have been instances where parents supervising children sat down on playgrounds, drank coffee and did not wear masks or take social distancing,” he said.
“That’s the transfer risk, and the more we can get on top of it every time — whether it’s a small and moderate or significant contribution to that overall transfer burden — we need to get to the finish line quickly so this doesn’t drag on.”
A number of doctors, pediatricians and infectious disease experts also urged the Andrews administration to reconsider the closure of playgrounds, warning that the toll on children’s mental health could be greater than the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and fitness equipment in metropolitan Melbourne were closed from August 16 after CHO Brett Sutton said the measure was needed to reduce transmission of the Delta variant (pictured, a council employee closes a swing near the CBD )
Dan Andrews is now believed to be leaning towards reopening the playgrounds in days – despite a recent spike in Covid cases