04/10/2020

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has left the door wide open to extending Melbourne’s six-week lockdown which would scuttle already “eye-watering” dire economic predictions by both the federal and state governments.

“I reckon Christmas is going to look different everywhere, everywhere,” Mr Andrews told the daily press briefing. “I’m focused on making sure there are as many people with their family at Christmas as possible.”
“Stability’s not enough … we have to find those small incremental gains, we have to also see compliance in the community at extraordinarily high levels,” he said.
“I can’t give you an answer about what things look like in three and a half, four weeks time,” he said with Melbourne at the two-week mark of the six-week lockdown. “We will keep working as hard as we can … if Victorians match us in that effort, it is more likely that this will end sooner rather than later.”
People are seen at a Melbourne tram stop on Thursday. Luis Enrique Ascui
The government announced tighter restrictions for hospital and aged care visits and Victoria Police said they would initially show leniency enforcing the mandatory mask wearing in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire which began on Thursday although the Premier said masks are likely to be a feature for some time.
“As challenging as some might find wearing masks, we will see the benefits of that in the days and probably weeks to come which is why it may not just be a feature of the second wave, it may be a feature for many months to come,” Mr Andrews said.
Police disclosed 47 more fines on Thursday including three people travelling from Pakenham to Melton where the driver claimed they didnt know about the restrictions.
The state government said a quarter of infections in the community were coming from young people in their 20s while those in their 60s represented just 6 per cent of diagnosed cases.
“If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side … and go and have a beer or have a meal with a friend … you’ve got to follow the rules, you’ve just got to do it,” Mr Andrews said.
Victoria $7.5b budget deficit
The latest virus numbers come as Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas unveiled a $7.5 billion deficit for the 2019-20 financial year with real gross state product expected to register negative 5.25 per cent this year, wiping an estimated $23 billion off the state economy.
State unemployment is expected to hit 9 per cent with job losses peaking at around 200,000 with property prices expected to fall by up to 9 per cent this year however the forecasts assume only a six-week lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the state is not seeing out of control cases numbers. Eddie Jim
Mr Andrews said there were detailed meetings with health officials on Wednesday night and Thursday morning on the critical reproduction number which indicates if virus numbers are trending up or down which appears to have settled around one.
“If you put a line through the last week or so and certainly the last two weeks we’re not seeing that out of control growth of thousands of cases a day,” he said.
“But that is not good enough we have to drive the numbers down. If the ref number …. stays at one then we will see stable numbers but we will not see falling numbers,” Mr Andrews said.
Latest outbreaks
Growing outbreaks disclosed by the health department on Thursday include 21 cases linked to Clever Kids Childcare in Ashburton, ten cases linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown and closure of Inghams processing plant in North Melbourne after five COVID-19 cases.
MinterEllison has advised that it has two confirmed cases also in Melbourne.
The Australian Defence Force has arrived to help with contact tracing which Health Minister Greg Hunt described as a “herculean task”.
“With over 400 cases, the contact tracing daily task is between 20-30 times greater than NSW. That means it is a massive, herculean task,” he said.
Victoria police are now required to wear masks due to the COVID-19. 21 July 2020.  Eddie Jim
Mr Andrews said he would announce on Friday unique and innovative ways to deal with people who were not cooperating with contact tracing teams.
“When you get swamped every day … no team can ever be big enough to deal with an exponential growth, a doubling and doubling again,” he said.
Mr Andrews said if Victoria needed help he spoke to the Prime Minister, after being asked about Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s comment to radio 2GB that he should “swallow his pride” and accept more assistance.
“I tell you who I ask, I ask the Prime Minister,” he said. “I don’t waste my time asking the bloke he beat in a party room ballot.”