Yesterday Victoria had 725 fresh cases of COVID-19 with 15 deaths. Today, the number is 471 with 8 deaths. Although the figure is smaller, it does not offer much solace to the authorities as there is fear of food shortages while authorities try to balance what is essential and what is not – while stage 4 restrictions are in force.
Some experts fear there may be severe shortages of certain foods in the markets, especially as a result of warehouse closures – which are being seen as hotspots of transmission of the virus. They seek clarity of direction and balance as the stricter lockdown is expected to last until at least mid-September.
Premier Andrews and other state administration officials held crisis talks with business leaders late into Wednesday and early on Thursday amid fears that the Stage 4 shutdown will interfere with supply of critical items, including food.
Employer groups remain concerned the clampdown on warehouses – and abattoirs across Victoria – could trigger food shortages in the state and nationally.
Speaking on Sky News, Federal Transport Minister Michael McCormack said the government would ensure trucks carrying essential supplies stayed on the road.
“Whether that’s personal protection equipment, medical supplies, respiratory equipment, food, grocery, meat – whatever the case might be – that they can get across those borders consistently”.
Talking to the ABC, his colleague Greg Hunt was confident of being able to guarantee supply chains for essential items.
“What is critical is that we have the flexibility that allows us to ensure continued distribution”.
The government has included warehouses in the list of permitted businesses although at a reduced capacity of two thirds.
Giving the daily press briefing Premier Daniel Andrews said to ensure supply of red meats and poultry, abattoirs will also be working – at their prescribed reduced capacities.
The authorities are very vary as some of the outbreaks have been linked to the abattoirs which seem to have gone out of hand later.
There have been reports leaked to News Corp pblications – denied by Health Minister Greg Hunt later – that Victoria could see peak rates of 1000 or more cases a day before the numbers finally begin to fall.
From today, essential workers in Melbourne if pulled over by police to prove they’re allowed to leave their homes must show permits. Failure to do so will result in on the spot fines.
To download a copy of the Work Permit Form, click here.