State of EMERGENCY EXTENDED to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus in Victoria
With Victoria experiencing fifth day in a row of new coronavirus cases in the double digits – 19 new cases recorded overnight, Victoria extended the State of Emergency for another four weeks.
The measures are designed to slow the spread of coronavirus and keep Victorians safe; and will be in force until 11.59pm on 19 July 2020.
This allows the Victorian Government to continue to enforce physical distancing and isolation requirements, as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer (CHO).
CHO Professor Brett Sutton in extending the restraints said: “We know these restrictions are frustrating, but we can’t get complacent and let the virus get away from us. It’s vital we follow these directions to keep our community transmission numbers low and protect more Victorians.”
Health Authorities said that there is a substantial increase in the number of household contacts spreading the virus amongst extended family groups – creating worrying hotspots in some parts of our state.
Premier Daniel Andrews says since April, half of Victoria’s new coronavirus cases have come from family-to-family transmission.
The two biggest family clusters – known as the Keilor Downs family cluster and the Coburg family cluster — account for 25 cases and include residents in the Hume, Brimbank, Moreland and Cardinia LGAs.
There are currently no hotspots in regional Victoria, but has claimed inner suburbs in the west, north and south-east of Metropolitan Melbourne.
As of June 20, active case figures are:
- Hume (17)
- Brimbank (10)
- Casey (7)
- Darebin (6)
- Moreland (6)
- Cardinia (6)
The main source of active cases among workers at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Melbourne’s CBD and the Rydges on Swanston hotel in Carlton may be linked to the hotels being used to quarantine returned international travellers.
Authorities believe a contractor may have picked it up from a traveller and the virus then spread among colleagues through a lack of social distancing. These workers, account for at least 30 cases.
Melbourne CBD recording the highest number of active cases, due to returned international travellers in mandatory hotel quarantine – is not what health authorities are most worried about.
Extended Family and Community Transmissions is the worrisome trend for authorities – where the virus can easily turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days.
Another cluster originally linked back to a patient at Monash Health accounts for seven recent cases.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it was primarily a family-based outbreak concentrated in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said: “Now is not the time to let our guard down, our coronavirus fight is far from over. Keeping the State of Emergency in place will ensure we have the tools we need to keep Victorians safe.”
Authorities game a clear message – STAY SAFE. If you do need to see people keep your distance. No handshakes and no hugs. Maintain good hygiene. Don’t share food or drinks. Avoid crowds.
And if you’re unwell – stay home.
In order to continue to limit the number of people moving around the state and to help protect those who must travel to work, people are being asked to continue to work from home if they can.
The work from home rule will stay in place at least until the end of July.
The existing arrangements for enforcing the Chief Health Officer directions will remain in place, and Victoria Police will have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines.
A squad of 500 officers will be conducting spot checks of venues and homes to ensure compliance with directions put in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
On the spot fines include up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses.
Under the State of Emergency, 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.
Meanwhile, the Road to Recovery for Victoria’s Tourism Industry has been dealt with a Painful Setback.
The announcement today by Premier Daniel Andrews has dashed the hopes for many across the state’s tourism and hospitality sector.
VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani said; “While this outcome is not surprising given the spike in confirmed cases in Victoria, it’s incredibly disappointing for our industry and means the progress we were hoping for in the coming weeks has been suddenly dashed”.
Advancements for the accommodation sector, school camps and the use of communal facilities in caravan camping grounds and ski lodges can still proceed as announced last week; but retaining the cap on 20 patrons until 12 July.
This means the hospitality and attractions sectors remain in a difficult operating environment.
However, the government is considering if restrictions might be eased at different paces in regional areas with little or no confirmed cases in their communities.
But some businesses have chosen to not open from 1 June when permitted, due to the restrictions, which make their business models unviable.
“Sadly, the disregard of hygiene and safety measures within the community has led the Premier to the difficult point of having to make these decisions; decisions that will have a devastating effect on businesses that were already on the edge after three months of hibernation,” Felicia Mariani said.
With the delay in easing of restrictions, Victorian businesses have been dealt a blow, which will directly impact thousands of restaurants, pubs, auction halls, gyms, cinemas, theatres and other cultural and religious venues.
Given the emergency, the extension of the work from home order across the state to 31 July will mean that many businesses continue to suffer from lack of foot traffic and patronage from office workers.
It is extremely disappointing for businesses that Victorians who have not respected the social distancing requirements are now costing businesses and jobs as the entire state pays the price.
Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Paul Guerra said: “This news will be devastating for thousands of small businesses desperate to get back to work before it is too late”.