COVID-19 Updates

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 18 October 2020

There’s been plenty said about how challenging 2020 has been.

And it’s true. This year has asked more of us – taken more from us – than any year, ever.

But 2020 has also proven, without doubt, the incredible courage of Victorians.

We have found it in ourselves to stay the course. And as a state – millions strong – we are defeating this virus.

Other places around the world have not been so successful.

Back in August and at our peak, we reported 725 daily cases. At the same time, the UK recorded 891.

Today, as Victoria records two new cases, the UK hit 16,171. And as we continue easing our restrictions – they are being forced to increase theirs.

We are seeing states and cities, not so different from our own, overwhelmed by their second wave.

Doctors and nurses being asked to decide which of their patients are most worthy of their care.

And communities – entire countries – confronting the reality that this will be “normal” until there is a vaccine.

We have escaped that awful eventuality. With modest acts of greatness and kindness, we have endured this – together.

Today, and on the strength of that success, we’ve been able to progress a number of changes.

I know these changes can’t be absolutely everything everyone wants. But they are the steps we can safely take that will make life a little bit easier.

From 11:59pm tonight, the five-kilometre limit for exercise and shopping will be extended to 25 kilometres. The two-hour time limit for exercise and socialising will also fall away.

Outdoor sports settings like tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks will be able to reopen.

All allied health professionals currently operating will be able to resume routine face-to-face care.

Outdoor real estate auctions will be able to take place with up to 10 people, plus the required staff.

And in good news for those sizing up the scissors or cautiously contemplating a buzzcut – hairdressers will be able to open, with strict safety protocols in place.

From tonight, groups of up to ten people from two households will also be able to gather in outdoor public places. That could be for exercise – or a picnic in the park.

I know some people will reasonably ask why it’s limited to two households – and not five or ten. But by limiting the number of households, we’re limiting any potential spread of the virus.

We’re also able to get thousands more Victorians back to work – particularly those who work outside. That includes tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and photographers.

These are the changes we can safely make from tonight.

We need to wait just a bit longer – until 11:59pm on 1 November – to take the rest of the Third Step that will see retail, hospitality and personal care services open again.

This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team.

But if we continue to track well on the most important indicators – case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested – we may be in a position to move sooner.

These indicators help tell us the story that sits behind a case – and understand how we can safely make our next moves.

My commitment to Melburnians: we’ll review this data each and every day this week and when we get to next weekend, if we can move any earlier and do it safely, we will.

When we do reach the Third Step it will also mean we move from “stay home” to “stay safe” – with no restrictions on the reasons to leave home.

Under this step, all remaining retail will open. Restaurants, cafes and pubs will open. And personal and beauty services will be able to offer treatments to clients – as long as a face mask can be worn.

These businesses will be able to have staff onsite for a ‘dark opening’ from 28 October, giving them time to prepare to open their doors to the public.

We’ll also be able to go a bit further on home visits too – allowing households to have two people and their dependents visit their home once per day.

The other aspects of our roadmap – from accommodation to outdoor sport – will also be introduced.

I know there’ll be plenty of people who want to know when they can head to regional Victoria.

And unfortunately, for now, that’s off the cards. As we’ve seen this week, this virus is wildly infectious – and we all need to help protect the hard-won gains of our regional communities.

Because we are doing so well in regional Victoria, we’re able to make a few changes there too.

From tonight, regional libraries and toy libraries will be able to open to a maximum of 20 people indoors.

People will be able to hold outdoor religious gatherings with up to 20 people – and 50 from 1 November.

And in good news for our regional hospitality businesses, they’ll be able to host up to 40 customers indoors and up to 70 outdoors from 11:59pm tonight. 

Staying safe is more important than ever. So please, keep wearing a mask, keep maintaining your distance – and if you feel sick, get tested and stay home.

I understand that for some these changes won’t be enough. They’ll want more – and they’ll want it sooner.

But the whole way through this, we have been guided by our public health experts and their advice.

None of us ever want to do this again.

We have come too far – sacrificed too much – to give up now. We are so close.

These are the safe, steady steps that will see us out of this – and see us through to the other side.

We can do this.

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 27 September 2020

Seven weeks ago, our average case numbers were peaking at more than 400 every single day. Today, Melbourne’s rolling case average is 22.1.

It’s a remarkable thing – and an achievement that belongs to every single Victorian.

Because with grit and with guts and with heart – we are beating this thing.

We are driving it down.

We are winning.

Thanks to those efforts, and on the advice of our public health team, I can confirm that from 11:59pm tonight, Melbourne will enter the Second Step towards reopening.

I can also confirm, again on the advice of our public health team, that we are further ahead than we’d hoped for.

The latest modelling shows that our strategy is working. Not only have we been able to drive down cases from the hundreds – we’re well on-track to hit single digits in the next few weeks.

That allows us to make some small, but significant changes.

Firstly, our move to the Third and Last Steps will no longer be defined by dates in the calendar.

Instead, the “trigger point” for review by our public health team will be based solely on reaching our case number targets.  That means the sooner we hit those targets – the sooner we can consider our next steps.

It also means that getting back to the things we love – seeing more of the people we love – not only is achievable, it’s in our hands.

Making sure we have enough time to evaluate the impact, movement between steps will be spaced at least three weeks apart.

This, and based on the current projections, means we’ll be in a position to consider our next Step by mid-October.

Those same projections have enabled us to make a few small changes to our Second Step too.

Under the existing roadmap, onsite learning for VCE, VCAL and Prep to Grade Two was set to resume onsite learning from October 12.

Because we’re slightly ahead of where the modelling had put us – and in good news for many parents – we’ve been able to expand that to all primary school students.

As always, we’ll continue to review the return of remaining year levels on a regular basis. 

There are a few other areas where we’ve been able to go a little bit further to make life a little bit easier.

For example, private inspections can resume for real estate. Weddings can take place with up to five people. Apprentices and uni students in their final year of study will be able to attend onsite for learning and assessment where necessary.

In a really meaningful change for many families, the rules around visiting hospitals and care facilities will also be slightly relaxed.

And because we said we’d lift it the moment we could – and the Chief Health Officer’s advice is the success of our current numbers means we can – the curfew will no longer be in place after tonight.

None of these changes though are a sign we can take our foot off the pedal. The fine for gatherings – having visitors over to your home, meeting outdoors in big groups – will be increased to the same penalty for travelling into regional Victoria without a valid reason. That is, almost $5000.

Under the Second Step, we’ve also been able to make sure more Victorians – 127,000 Victorians – can get back to work.

The workforce limits for some industries will be expanded. Supermarkets and food distribution centres, for example, will return to full capacity. Abattoirs, seafood and meat processing plants will also increase, in line with the levels we know are safe.  

At the same time, and recognising the increased risk in some of these environments, there’ll be additional obligations for employers, including regular surveillance testing of staff, nightly deep cleaning, separating workers into consistent bubbles, and providing regular training for their workers.

Manufacturing can return with up to 90 per cent of its workforce. Sole traders doing outside gardening and landscaping can return. Retail pet grooming will also resume.

We’ll also be able to enact those changes laid out in the existing roadmap.

From 11:59pm tonight, groups of up to five from across a maximum of two households can meet outdoors.  Outdoor pools will open, and personal training can resume with a maximum of two people and their trainer.

Childcare centres can reopen, with kinder to open from Term 4 too.

Recognising a number of important upcoming events for many of our religious communities, gatherings of up to five people can meet with their faith leader outdoors.

More of our medical, health and allied professionals will also be able to offer face to face services for non-urgent care.

And of course, reaching the Second Step means we can begin to slowly ramp up elective surgery to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

With all of these changes, though, comes increased responsibility to keep each other safe.

To get tested when you’re sick. To keep your distance when you’re out. To follow the rules and listen to the health advice.

It also means continuing to wear a face covering. And with more people moving across our city, our public health team have advised the rules around wearing a mask need to be strengthened.

Victorians will now be required to wear a fitted face mask, covering the nose and mouth. Some of the concessions we made as we adjusted to this new normal – things like wearing a scarf or a bandana or a face shield – will no longer apply. 

As I’ve said before, wearing a face covering is a small sacrifice – but it makes a huge difference in keeping all of us safe. Because fundamentally, that’s what all of this comes down to.

None of it’s easy. But all of it matters.

And every day, and every Victorian, is getting us that much closer to the other side. 

Whether you call it the final quarter, the home stretch, or the last push – we’re nearly there.

We’ve got this.

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 15 September 2020

Last week, we released our roadmap towards reopening.

Those safe, steady and sustainable steps that will see us all the way to COVID Normal.

Importantly, these steps are guided by clear targets – giving Victorians greater insight into our progress, and ensuring that when it comes to taking our next step forward, we can do so confidently.

Thanks to the efforts of every Victorian, we’ve reached our very first target.

Having reached a 14-day average of 3.6 and with no mystery cases, regional Victoria has reached the necessary “trigger point” in our roadmap – meaning our public health experts have advised that we can take this next step.

I can announce, that from 11:59pm tomorrow, regional communities will progress to the Third Step of our reopening roadmap.

Today is testament to the determination of regional Victorians. A determination to not only get these numbers low – but to keep them low.

It’s also good news for every Victorian, wherever they live.

Because it shows – in very real terms – the strategy is working. The hard work of all Victorians is paying off.

Today shows that slowly and surely, we can – we will – drive this thing down.

What that means is a number of changes to how regional Victorians live and work.

As we’ve outlined under the roadmap, “household bubbles” will now be a possibility.

That means, your household can choose one other household to be in a bubble. You can visit them in their home. They can visit you in your home – with up to a total of five visitors. 

I understand some people will likely want more and sooner. But the bubble arrangement means people can begin to visit each other at home slowly, cautiously – so that if the worst were to happen, we can effectively track and trace the spread of the virus.

If you are catching up with friends and family, we encourage you to do it outside. All the latest evidence says being outdoors reduces the risk. To that end, people will be able to gather in groups of ten in outdoor public places, without a limit on the number of households.

Outdoor contact and non-contact sport will begin for regional Victorians aged 18 and under, as well as outdoor non-contact sport for adults.  And there’ll be a staged return to onsite learning for all regional students in the first two weeks of Term Four.

The numbers for weddings and funerals will increase, and religious gatherings can happen outdoors with up to ten people.

Hospitality businesses will be able to serve patrons outdoors, with a cap of 50 seated patrons per venue, and an updated ‘two square metre’ density limit in place.

Indoors, venues can open with a cap of 10 seated customers per space – with up to two spaces per venue – and in line with the existing ‘four square metre’ density rule.

Tables must be spaced at least 1.5m apart, cleaned after every customer and the details of all patrons must be kept.

These arrangements will also pave the way for Melbourne’s return to dining – for when we too can safely take that next step.

Beauty and personal care services will also be available with a face covering. Outdoor events like a play in the park or an open-air cinema can take place, in accordance with other restrictions.

Regional real estate agents will be able to hold auctions outdoors with up to ten people.

And travel can resume for regional Victorians holidaying anywhere in regional Victoria.

All businesses across Victoria – regional and in Melbourne – will also be required to have a COVIDSafe Plan, enforceable from 28 September.

I want to remind Victorians, in every corner of the state, that even as the rules change, the need to follow them doesn’t.

I know sometimes that’s tedious. It’s frustrating. It’s boring. I promise, I’m right there with you.

But we shouldn’t lose sight that the rules are there to keep us safe – and keep us on-track for opening.

That’s why I’m urging Melburnians, please – don’t try to travel into regional communities unless it’s for one of those permitted reasons.

Because just as today’s success belongs to regional Victorians, it belongs to you too.

And together, we’ve come so far, given so much, taking a backwards step is the last thing we want to do.

We all have to jealously protect those low numbers – and jealously protect our path towards a full reopening across the whole of our state.

To every Victorian: we are achieving amazing things.

With kindness and courage and commitment – with big and small sacrifices – we are beating this thing.

And with a 14-day average of 52.9, I can confirm Melbourne is on track to reach the Second Step of reopening by 28 September.

We are almost there.

Today is proof positive that with purpose and patience, we can see this thing through.

And when we do, we can find a COVID Normal where life looks close to how we remember it.

We can do this.

On the Road to COVID Normal, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 13 September 2020

Thanks to the enormous efforts of Victorians in following the rules and driving down case numbers, we will take the first of our cautious and careful steps towards a COVID Normal tonight.

The numbers are falling but we need to keep it that way – ensuring we can continue to open up safely and sustainably – based on the data, the science and expert public health advice.

From 11.59pm Melbourne moves from Stage Four to the First Step of the roadmap for reopening, with modest changes including more social interaction and more time outside.

Social bubbles begin, allowing those living alone or single parents to have one other person in their home. Exercise is extended to two hours split over a maximum of two sessions, and you will be able to use that time outside for social interaction with one other person or the members of your household.

Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment reopen, libraries will be able to open for contactless click and collect and the curfew will begin at 9pm as Melbourne moves into warmer months.

Tonight, regional Victoria moves from Stage Three restrictions to the Second Step of the roadmap, with up to five people able to gather together in outdoor public places from a maximum of two households.

Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also open. And religious services can be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.

Given the incredible effort of regional Victorians, the Government will continue to closely monitor the 14-day rolling average, which currently sits at 4.1 for regional communities. If this effort continues, regional Victorians could move to the Third Step in a matter of days.  

Also from today, Victoria’s State of Emergency and State of Disaster declarations have been renewed for another four weeks, ending at 11.59pm on 11 October 2020.

While the vast majority of Victorians are doing the right thing and following the directions, these measures give the Chief Health Officer and Victoria Police the powers they need to continue to respond rapidly to the pandemic – in line with the latest data and public health advice.

This includes ensuring Victoria Police has the ability to enforce the directions that are keeping us safe and slowing the spread of the virus. Without these efforts, we risk losing all of Victorians’ hard-won gains.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“I’m so proud of Victorians for the way we are all working together to beat this virus – it means we can take our first safe and steady steps towards a COVID Normal tonight.”

“What we’ve seen in regional Victoria should give hope to all Victorians. If we all play our part, we can drive numbers down and get through this together.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“Victorians are doing an incredible job – following the rules, getting tested and staying at home when we’re sick – getting us that much closer to COVID Normal.”

“The State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need to fight this virus – keeping all of us safe.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville

“Extending a State of Disaster is never a decision we make lightly – and it won’t be in place a moment longer than it needs to be.”

“We are at a critical point right now. And we have to do everything we can to hold onto the gains we’ve made, which means giving Victoria Police everything they need to enforce the Chief Health Officer’s directions as we keep driving down cases.”

Keeping Ourselves, and Our Homes COVID Safe, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 12 September 2020

As we take our first safe, steady and sustainable steps towards COVID Normal, it’s more important than ever that Victorians are taking the right actions to keep themselves, their friends and families safe.

It’s why the Victorian Government has today released the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Home Safety Plan, a resource for families to plan and implement COVID safe measures, whether at home or out in the community.

Like the trusted Bushfire Survival Plan, the COVID Home Safety Plan sets out the small steps we can all take to keep ourselves safe – particularly as we take our first steps in our roadmap to COVID Normal.

We’ve been doing many of these things for months – things like washing our hands and keeping our distance – but as restrictions ease, we must remain vigilant in our fight against this virus.

It’s also important that as our state gradually reopens and Victorians are able to do more of the things they love, including seeing more of the people they love, we’re all taking the right steps to keep each other safe.

The COVID Home Safety Plan provides an important reminder that even as restrictions gradually ease, we all have a role to play in reaching, and then maintaining, a COVID Normal.

This includes important actions inside the home, like regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, recognising the symptoms of the virus, and planning for potential illness.

Outside the home, the Plan includes suggestions like keeping a record of where we’ve been or who we’ve seen, wearing a face covering and the COVID Normal steps we’ll all need to keep each other safe as group and gathering sizes gradually increase.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Home Safety Plan is available for download at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/covid-19-home-safety-plan with hardcopy and translated versions available shortly.

Additional advice and precautions for those with a confirmed case, or those who are close contacts, continues to be available on the DHHS website and via our public health doorknocking teams.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“We’ve said the whole way through – this is like a public health bushfire. And just like a bushfire, there’s steps we can all take to keep ourselves and our homes safe.”

“We’ve been doing many of these things for months. But as we seek to reach – and then maintain – COVID Normal, they’ll still be as important as ever.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“By sitting down as a family or a household with a COVID Home Safety Plan, Victorians can make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to staying safe.”

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 6 September 2020

Today is Father’s Day.

And just like Mother’s Day earlier this year, I know there’ll be plenty of families missing each other.

Whether it’s dad or grandpa, baba, papa or cha – today is a day that is supposed to be spent together.

Normally, for us, it’d be lunch with Cath and the kids. And maybe a trip back home to see mum – and visit dad. This year, though, it’s got to be different.

I know that same sense of loss and missing those you love is being felt by every single Victorian family.

But each of those sacrifices – each of those big, real and meaningful sacrifices – is making a difference. And slowly, together, we are driving this virus down.

When Melbourne was in Stage 3 restrictions, it was taking an average of 49 days to cut our number of cases in half. In Stage 4, we’re doing it in just 18.

At the same time, the expert modelling tells us that even with that enormous effort – we’re likely to be averaging around 60 cases a day by next weekend. For reference, last time we eased restrictions, we were averaging around 10 a day.

If we go too far too soon, the modelling also tells us we’d be on track for a third wave by mid-November.

That’d mean we’re back to where we are now, maybe even worse. Days, weeks, months of sacrifice – gone. Confidence for business – destroyed. More families suffering. More lives lost.

It’s why, even as we release a roadmap for reopening, it’s got to be done in safe, steady and sustainable steps.

Currently, Melbourne is in Stage 4 restrictions. From 11:59pm on 13 September, we’ll take our First Step towards COVID Normal. Regional Victoria, currently in Stage 3 restrictions, will be able to jump to the Second Step of reopening.

By moving from stages to steps, we’re giving Victorians a long-term plan for our path out of restrictions and into COVID Normal.

Importantly, we want the whole of the state to be at COVID Normal by the end of the year – making sure family barbeques, summer holidays and a trip to the beach can all still happen.

These steps will be guided by dates – and the data. That means if we’re on-track to take a step forward, we can do so confidently.

With clear and articulated case targets, we’re creating “trigger points” for review for our public health team – and giving Victorians even more insight into how we’re tracking.

The First Step will mean modest changes. Small improvements we can make, to make life a little bit easier, without giving away any of Victorians’ hard-won gains.

That includes the creation of a “bubble” for people living alone and single parents. This would allow more isolated Victorians to nominate one other person to help them through this – a friend or family member that can visit them in their home.

I understand that isolation is a real issue for many. But I’d ask people only add someone to their bubble if they need to.  After all, the more people you see, the more chance there is of coming into contact with someone who has the virus, putting us back on a path to lockdown.

Exercise will also be expanded. Under the First Step, it will also be lengthened to two hours every day. This could be a two-hour block or split into two one-hour blocks.

You can continue exercising with one other person outside your household – or those you live with.

We’ll also expand this to include “social interaction”. These are activities that don’t require the reopening of a workplace or recreational facility – things like sharing a picnic in your local park or reading a book at your local beach. And for parents just as much as kids, the reopening of playgrounds.

Finally, recognising we’re slowly getting to warmer weather, curfew will also move back an hour to 9pm.

As I said, these are the small sustainable forward steps we can take to make life just a little bit easier.  Ahead of 28 September, and if we’re on track with our case numbers, our public health team will review our progress and ensure we can confidently move metropolitan Melbourne to the Second Step.

Under the Second Step in metropolitan Melbourne, we’ll get more people back to work – some 100,000 workers across construction, manufacturing, and landscape garden and maintenance workers who operate alone.

Childcare will also open without permits – making life a little less stressful for parents working from home. 

I know for a lot of businesses, they’ll want to know what comes next for them too, and certainty to plan for the future.  And while the current arrangements will remain in place until at least 28 September, we’ll continue meeting with you – and listening to you – to make sure you have that certainty going forward.

For regional Victoria, the Second Step will mean some changes too.

From 11:59pm on 13 September, people living alone and single parents will also be able to have a bubble.

Up to five people will be able to gather together in outdoor public places – the park, the beach – up to a maximum of two households. By limiting it to two households, we’re again limiting the virus’s ability to spread.

Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also open. And religious services can be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.

For schools and students, we’ll begin a staged return to onsite learning from Term Four.

All VCE and VCAL students – in Melbourne and regional Victoria – will attend onsite for the General Achievement Test and other essential assessments from 5 October.

In regional Victoria, all students will return to onsite learning between 12 and 16 October and in Melbourne, VCE and VCAL students and Prep to Grade 2 will also return for onsite learning from the 12 of October.

There’s a lot to take in – many of those questions will be answered on the website www.vic.gov.au/roadmap – and if they’re not, we will work to answer them over coming days.

I understand there’ll be some people who’ll be disappointed, those who wanted more and sooner. But these are the steady and sustainable steps that our health experts tell us will see us out of this – safely.

This roadmap is about making sure we stay one step ahead of the virus – and making sure we don’t have to take another backwards step.

I say it often: we all want this to be over. And we all really do. But for this to be over, we each have to find it in ourselves to keep going just a little bit longer.

We’ve all come too far, given too much, to see it wasted.

By not seeing our dads today, we’re that much closer to seeing them at Christmas.

By spending another night on the couch at home, we’re that much closer to being able to catch up with mates at the park.

And by staying the course, we will get through this – and we’ll get through it together.

Working Together to Reopen Victoria - Safely, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 31 August 2020

The Victorian Government will release its reopening roadmap this Sunday, 6 September, providing certainty and clarity to communities and businesses alike.

Ahead of this release, the Government will commence an intensive, and extensive, round of discussions with industry, unions and community organisations to inform the final development of Victoria’s roadmap to ‘COVID Normal’.

This consultation will be based around six principles for industry on a COVIDSafe re-opening, based on the best advice from our public health experts – and imperative to keeping our community safe.

We need the voices of industry to inform how this re-opening can happen practically, safely and steadily. This will be vital to planning what a ‘COVID Normal’ will look like, industry by industry.

Many of the key principles are things Victorian businesses and workplaces continue to practice every day:

  • ensuring physical distancing, including following density requirements, making sure staff work from home wherever possible, limiting the total number of staff and customers in an enclosed area, and stopping carpooling
  • wearing a face covering at all times in the workplace and ensuring full PPE is worn in high-risk settings
  • requiring hygienic workplaces, with high-touch points regularly cleaned, staff regularly washing their hands, and hand sanitisers available for all staff and customers
  • continuing to act quickly if staff become unwell by having a strict policy that supports them to stay home and get tested, even if they have mild symptoms. All places of work need to have a plan to act immediately if there is a confirmed case and records must be kept of all staff, customers and visitors.

Recognising there is no one size fits all solution, the Government will commit to tailoring guidance to different industries as part of the roadmap.

Additionally, wherever possible, workforce bubbles should be created to limit the number of staff who have prolonged and close contact with each other. To achieve this, teams of staff could be rostered on the same shifts, with no overlap in shift changes and a reduction in staff working across multiple sites.

Under the proposed framework, meetings and lunchtimes could also look different, with enclosed spaces avoided wherever possible.  Opening doors and windows for airflow rather than relying only on recirculated air and moving tearooms and lunch breaks outside – along with meetings and team catch-ups – all help to reduce risk.

As part of our work to finalise a roadmap, the Government will also consult with community support organisations on the impacts of social isolation on Victorians.

The Government will also seek feedback on the current worker permit system and childcare arrangements – and these insights will be vital as we transition to a ‘COVID Normal.’

Engagement with industry, unions and community organisations will take place from today, with advice to then be provided to Victoria’s public health team who will consider feedback as work on the roadmap continues.

Based on the outcomes of these consultations, the Government and our health experts will finalise the plan for re-opening by the end of the week.

For more information about consultations contact Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“We know every Victorian wants certainty about the future – for them, for their family and for their work. By the end of the week, we will lay out a plan to re-open our state.”

“Workplaces will need to look very different as we find our ‘COVID Normal’. By working with business we’ll make sure that can happen practically and safely.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula

“We’ve said from the start that supporting our businesses will be crucial as we rebuild – that’s why we’re bringing them to the table as work continues on our future roadmap.”

“Over the next few days, we’ll be talking through our COVIDSafe principles to ensure businesses can survive, adapt, and most importantly, open up safely.”

Victorians Reminded to Keep Getting Tested, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 18 August 2020

Victorians are urged not to become complacent even after successive days of lower case numbers. Since the start of the pandemic nearly two million tests have been processed, with daily numbers reaching as high as 34,000 on some days.

But while it is encouraging that daily case numbers are beginning to stabilise, we have also seen a concerning drop off in testing rates in recent days. The seven days from 11 to 17 August saw 154,432 tests processed, a drop of almost 30,000 or around 17 per cent from the previous seven-day period.

The reduction could be explained by stronger restrictions on movement, and the trend is broadly consistent across the state – however there are more extreme examples of testing falling away. Our large scale testing sites have seen between 15 and 40  per cent drops in demand in recent weeks, even though our testing capacity has increased.

While it is good news that people are staying home and following the restrictions, you are allowed to leave your home to get tested. Even if you’re not going to work, even if you live by yourself or with only one other person – you should still get tested if you have any symptoms at all of coronavirus.

We’ve said all along that we will be guided by what the data tells us, so the more tests we can do to understand how this virus is spreading in the community, the better. Without consistently strong testing numbers, low case numbers alone won’t give us confidence we need to begin easing restrictions.

With flu cases down 75 per cent on the same time last year, it’s far more likely that a sniffle, or scratchy throat, could be coronavirus. The most effective way to beat this deadly virus – which has already claimed 351 lives this year – is to find every new case and isolate them as quickly as possible to stop further spread amongst the community.

Victorians have worked incredibly hard to follow the rules and drive community transmission numbers down – we can’t let all that effort go to waste by letting our guard down now.

Our $450 coronavirus test isolation payment means you don’t have to choose between putting food on the table and taking care of your health – while also protecting the wider community.

Getting tested is easier than ever before with more than 190 locations across Victoria offering free coronavirus testing – whether it’s in a health service, GP clinic, drive-through or pop-up site.

We’re also making it easier to access testing in regional areas with dedicated Incident Management Teams (IMT) set up in Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong to offer more testing, as well as food and financial support, to those affected by the virus.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“The greatest weapon we have in the fight against this pandemic is to keep testing. We can’t stop this virus if we don’t know it’s there – which is why we need to all play a part in fighting this thing, by getting tested.”

“My message to Victorians could not be clearer – if you have any symptoms at all, go and get tested. We simply can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to this deadly virus.”

State of Emergency Extended to Drive Down Virus, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 16 August 2020

The State of Emergency in Victoria will be extended for four weeks to continue measures we know are working to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

We know how challenging it is to live with Stage 4 restrictions and it’s easy to feel frustrated or get complacent – especially as the weather improves – but right now it is critical that all Victorians follow the directions to drive this virus down and keep each other safe.

This is far from over and our best weapon against the spread of this deadly virus is limiting movement. In Melbourne, that means following Stage 4 restrictions and not leaving your house during the curfew hours of 8pm to 5am, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving. Only permitted workers can attend work premises.

We have made the decisions necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus in regional Victoria, including the introduction of Stage 3 restrictions across all regional local government areas from 11.59pm, Wednesday 5 August.

Today we have seen 15 new cases in regional Victoria and while we are still seeing new cases in the regions, it is critical that these numbers don’t continue to increase – as we know, all it takes is one positive case to set the virus off again in any of our regional communities.

If you have even the mildest of symptoms, please get tested and stay home. People without access to sick leave or other supports can apply for the $450 payment to help you get through while waiting for their test result.

No matter where you live, if you have a legitimate reason for leaving home you must wear a mask, physically distance from other people and practice good hygiene, such as handwashing.

The State of Emergency will now be extended to 11.59pm on Sunday, 13 September 2020 which allows the Victorian Government to continue enforcing physical distancing and isolation requirements as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer (CHO).

Victoria Police has strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines for breaches of stay at home directions. This includes up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses. Under the directions, 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.

Since 2 August, Victoria has also been in a State of Disaster, which can remain in place for up to one month, and may then be renewed.

Quote attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

”We will beat this virus – and extending the State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need for the fight.”

”I thank every Victorian who is part of our massive team keeping our community safe – you can thank them too by following the rules, which will see us all get through the pandemic.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to stopping this deadly disease. Our public health team will work in partnership with local communities to keep you and your family safe.”

Keeping Victoria Safe and Together, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 15 August 2020

As we all stay home to keep each other safe, the Victorian Government has today announced a number of programs and projects to keep Victoria connected.

That includes rebooting the popular Victoria Together online platform, providing entertainment and connection for Victorians as we stay home and stay safe. The hub showcases the best of our online experiences, including health and fitness programs, music, comedy, kids’ activities and an array of other offerings.

Continuing the hit streaming series State of Music, the Government has again joined with the Mushroom Group to enliven Friday nights with performances from emerging home-grown talent in the State of Music: Introducing series.

Introducing showcases unsigned Victorian artists introduced by an established performer – a highlight of the first episode is Paul Kelly setting the scene for singer-songwriter Jess Hitchcock. Introducing premieres 7:30pm Friday.

A five-part stand-up comedy series hosted by Nazeem Hussain will feature well-known names like Frank Woodley, Em Rusciano, Rhys Nicholson and Geraldine Hickey as well as a raft of new talent.

Big Night In, hosted by Jon Foreman, returns for a second season and a partnership with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will allow Victorians to cook alongside some of the state’s finest talent.

Reflecting our creative capital status, Victorians will also be able to revisit some of our state’s most loved films with the new Victoria on Film series.

Produced in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the series features interviews with the stars and creators of iconic movies including Ride Like a Girl, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, The Dressmaker, The Australian Dream, and Romulus My Father.

The platform will also include storytime sessions from State Library Victoria for our youngest Victorians, in addition to a new partnership with Channel 31 to share more content with more of our diverse communities.

Resources are also available to help Victorians with at-home exercise, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and sleep.

To experience everything Victoria Together has to offer, visit together.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“By spending another Saturday night at home on the couch – you are helping to keep every Victorian safe. As you do, some of our best musicians, comedians, creators and cooks are there to help keep you company.” 

“We are physically apart – but our connection is stronger than ever. We can only get through this together.”

“Victoria Together provides entertainment for people of all ages – and is supporting our musicians, filmmakers and others in the creative industries who are doing it tough.”

Stay Home: New Crackdown on Isolation Breaches, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 4 August 2020

More Victoria Police and Australian Defence Force personnel will be out in force ensuring Victorians are abiding by the directions of the Chief Health Officer (CHO), as the next stage of restrictions is supported by stronger enforcement and increased penalties for those who repeatedly breach the directions.

From today, a new infringement offence for a breach of the CHO directions will be introduced to target those people who are failing to self-isolate after testing positive to coronavirus or being identified as a close contact. 

A fine of $4,957 can be issued to a person who is found to breach the requirement to be self-isolating for a second or subsequent time – the highest on the spot infringement Victoria Police can issue to a person.

In line with the raft of changes we’ve made under Stage 4 restrictions this week, people who have tested positive or are close contacts will no longer be able to leave their homes for exercise. A limited number of reasons to leave the home will remain – including seeking medical care, in an emergency, or if required by law – but if your door is knocked and you’re not able to prove you were out for the right reasons, you will face the consequences.

To ensure all Victorians are following the CHO directions, there will be an additional 250 sworn officers joining Operation Sentinel – bringing it to a team of 750 Victoria Police officers, as well as general duties officers.

They will be assisted by the expansion of Operation Vestige, which sees ADF personnel and DHHS authorised officers making in person visits to the homes of people who have tested positive or are close contacts to ensure they are self-isolating. The teams also ensure people understand the requirements for isolation and that they have what they need including connections to support services if required.

More than 500 ADF personnel and 300 authorised officers will join the teams already on the ground and see the operation scale up to 4,000 household visits every day from next week.

Any persons not at home or confirmed as non-compliant through door knocking are prioritised for compliance checks by Victoria Police as part of Operation Sentinel spot check activity. Where non-compliance is confirmed, infringements are issued.

With new restrictions on business and industry coming into force from Wednesday night, employees working in permitted industries who cannot work from home will be required to carry a new ‘Worker Permit’ when travelling to and from work. From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, employers will be required to issue signed permits to their employees to allow them to attend a workplace – to prevent people trying to get around the tough new restrictions.

Enforcement will also be bolstered by the addition of Protective Services Officers normally stationed on the Night Network supporting compliance efforts following the introduction of a curfew and the reduction in trains running at night.

In addition to the stronger enforcement capability, Victoria Police will continue to police the border of metropolitan Melbourne to ensure travel into regional Victoria only occurs for permitted reasons.  

Booze buses have already been deployed to road stops and checkpoints to monitor traffic flow, and police will continue to use Automatic Number Plate Recognition to scan registration details and identify the residential addresses of license holders. Victoria Police are also conducting checks across the state, including the main arterials to regional Victoria.

Victoria Police has undertaken over 6000 spot checks in the past 24 hours at homes, businesses and non-essential services across the state and issued 161 fines as part of Operation Sentinel – including 60 for failing to wear a mask.

Police are conducting checks at businesses, homes, community locations and non-essential services across the state to ensure directions are being followed. Operation Ribbon and Operation Shielding remain in place.

The community can continue to report non-urgent crime and events, as well as breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directives, by calling the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or submitting an online report at police.vic.gov.au/palolr.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“If we all do the right thing, we will get through this. Those doing the wrong thing will cop a fine from Victoria Police, because the only way to beat this deadly virus is if we all follow the rules.”

“We have a massive team going door to door to support all Victorians – including more powers and resources to Victoria Police to catch anyone who thinks they can get away with doing the wrong thing.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville

“Victoria Police don’t want be issuing these fines but make no mistake – they will if they need to. It’s more important than ever that Victorians do the right thing and follow the directives of the Chief Health Officer.”

“By covering my face, I’m helping to keep you safe – and by covering your face, you’re helping to keep every Victorian safe.”

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 3 August 2020

Yesterday, we asked Victorians to make some big sacrifices. Big, real and meaningful sacrifices. Today, sadly, we need to ask the same of Victorian businesses and Victorian workers.

As Premier, I’ve spent every day fighting for workers and fighting for jobs.

I understand deeply: a job means financial security – but it also means stability, purpose and the foundation to build your future.

Truthfully, I never thought I’d find myself in a position where I’d have to ask people not to go to work.

But if we’re serious about driving this thing down – and we absolutely must be – we need to take unprecedented steps in limiting the movement of people, and therefore limiting the movement of this virus.

Today I can announce three lists that will apply during Stage 4 restrictions.

These changes, in addition to the previous restrictions including working from home requirements, will mean around 1 million Victorians are no longer moving around the state for work.

First: supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies, post offices – plus everyone involved in our frontline response – will continue to operate.

Second: Industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next six weeks including retail, some manufacturing and administration. These businesses will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shutdown safely.

Retail stores will be permitted to operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place, and hardware stores can remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

The third and final list is made up of industries that are permitted to operate – but under significantly different conditions.

Whether it’s our food production, waste collection or supply chain logistics we need some things to continue – but they’ve got do so safely.

All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVIDSafe plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace – because beating this virus requires a rapid response wherever it rears its head.

In industries that can’t close, but where we’ve seen a number of cases or emerging new risks, we’ll be making some big changes to make these workplaces safer – for workers and for their families.

That includes mandated reductions to the number of workers onsite. In the meat industry – and based on the minimum required to operate safely onsite – the workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. Unlike other changes, and recognising the risk these sites have posed here and around the world, this will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state.

Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time.

Our construction sector, the lifeblood of our economy, will also move to pilot light levels. This will allow the industry to keep ticking – while also making sure we limit the number of people onsite.

For major construction sites, that means the absolute minimum required for safety – but no more than 25 per cent of the normal workforce onsite. Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of five people onsite.

To date, we’ve almost halved the number of people onsite on some of our biggest Government projects. Now we’re going to go through project by project, line by line to make sure they are reduced to the practical minimum number of workers.

These workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.

To give one example, workers in abattoirs will be kitted out in full PPE – gowns, masks and shields – more akin to what a nurse would wear. They’ll also be subject to routine testing.

These changes will be enforceable. And the onus will be on employers to make sure they’re doing the right thing by their workers, including ensuring those with symptoms – and potentially the virus – do not come to work.

As always, this work will be done in consultation with industry and with unions.

And for those businesses and industries that fall into grey areas when it comes to their operation, the dedicated Industry Coordination Centre within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will consider their case.

I understand this will have real and heavy consequences for a number of businesses, workers and their families. We’ll do everything we can to lighten that load.

For those businesses that suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions, we will provide support through our expanded Business Support Fund.

Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5,000 grant while those in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000 in recognition of spending longer under restrictions.

Honestly, this will be an imperfect process.

The decision of which column to put millions of Victorian jobs – millions of Victorian workers – could never be clear cut.

And, as much as we’d like one, there is no playbook when it comes to a pandemic.

But what is clear is that if we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of complete shutdowns.

It’s hard to imagine what a Stage 5 might look like. But it would radically change the way people live. Not just rules on when and where you can go shopping – but restrictions on going shopping at all.

This will be hard. It’ll be frustrating. It’ll be confusing. For a lot of workers and their families, it’ll be heartbreaking.

But the only way to get people back to work and businesses back open is by making these tough decisions – and by Victorians abiding by them.

We have to make this work.

Lives and livelihoods are counting on it.

Statement on changes to Melbourne's Restrictions, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 2 August 2020

I know how much Victorians want to go back to some semblance of normal – or at least “COVID normal”.

They want to be able to get a beer with their mates. To drop round and see mum. And they definitely want an end to these daily updates and their grim new milestones.

Our health experts tell us the measures we’ve introduced are working. But too slowly.

The current rate of community transmission – mystery cases that cannot be traced back to work or home – is far too high.

As they tell us, based on the current numbers, cases might begin to drop off not in days or weeks – but in months. Months more of lockdown restrictions. Months more of 300, 400, 500 cases a day.

More Victorians in hospital beds. More Victorians hooked up to machines just to breathe.

And more Victorians – more grandparents, parents, sons, daughters, partners and loved ones – choked to death by an invisible enemy.

That’s not something I’m willing to accept. I don’t think it’s something any of us are willing to accept.

We must do more. We must go harder. It’s the only way we’ll get to the other side of this.

I know Victorians are with me when I say, too many people are not taking this seriously. And too many people not taking this seriously means that too many other people are having to plan funerals for those they love.

It’s why from 6pm tonight, Victoria will enter a State of Disaster.  We used this same provision over summer, and as we step-up our fight against this public health bushfire, we need to use it again.

This will give our police additional powers to make sure people are complying with public health directions – more on which we’ll have to say in the coming days.

From 6pm tonight, Melbourne will also move to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules to limit the movement of people – and limit the spread of this virus across our city.

That includes a curfew – from 8pm to 5am – beginning tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.

Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks. There’ll be exemptions for partners who live apart and for work, if required.

The Night Network will be suspended, and public transport services will be reduced during curfew hours. This will also allow us to redeploy more of our PSOs into our enforcement efforts.

New time, distance and gathering limits will also apply for exercise and shopping.

Exercise will be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five kilometres from your home. Group size will be limited to a maximum of two – you and one other person – whether you live with them or not.

Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day. Again, the five-kilometre rule will apply.

Of course, there’ll be some common-sense exceptions. If your closest supermarket is further than five kilometres, you can still shop there. If you’re a parent with little ones, you can still take them with you when you go for a walk.

And these distance, gathering and time limits won’t apply for work, medical care or compassionate reasons.

Study at TAFE and uni must be done remotely. And from Wednesday at 11:59pm, weddings in Melbourne cannot occur.

Face coverings will continue to be compulsory – ensuring that if we do have to be out, it’s in the safest way possible.

The question I know most parents will be asking: schools will return to remote and flexible learning – across all year levels.

Students who are currently attending onsite – including senior students and those in our specialist schools – will go to school on Monday, have a pupil free day on Tuesday, and be learning at home from Wednesday.

Onsite supervision will be offered but tightened – only available for students who really need it.  That means children whose parents are permitted workers and vulnerable kids who can’t learn from home.

From Thursday, those same rules will apply to Melbourne’s kinder and early childhood education services.

We know this will be a significant ask of parents with little ones – and big ones too. But I promise, as a parent to three, it’s an ask I don’t make lightly.

These changes will be in place for at least the next six weeks until Sunday 13 September. As always, we’ll keep reviewing and realigning the restrictions in line with the advice of our health experts – and if we can change things earlier, we will.

We also recognise that workplaces continue to be the site of many of our cases.

Today, I’ve made some announcements that change how Victorians will live – tomorrow, I’ll have more to say about the way Victorians need to work.

I know that will cause a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty. But the truth is, this is complex – and we’re going to take some extra time to make sure we get these calls right.

I’ve had the job of leading this state for almost six years – more than 2000 days. And today is by far the hardest day – and the hardest decision.

But it is the decision I’ve made to keep our state safe.

The whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I’ll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there’ll be more questions than answers.

It’s why I’m asking something else of Victorians – please be calm, please be kind, please be patient.

I understand people will feel scared and sad and worried.

But we are Victorians – and we will get through this as Victorians.  With grit, with guts and together.

All the temporary sacrifices we make now – all the time missed with mates, those delayed visits to mum – those sacrifices will help keep our mates and our mums and our fellow Victorians safe.

We can – we will – get through this.

Apart. But together.

Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 30 July 2020

Today is not a good day.

And as the numbers show, this virus does not discriminate.

It rips through workplaces, sweeps through aged care settings, cuts through communities – and tragically, takes lives with it as it goes.

Most of today’s cases are in metro areas. But we have seen a significant jump in regional communities. It’s vital we stop this virus further seeping into regional Victoria.

Last week, and based on the latest in scientific study, we announced that face coverings would be mandatory in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Today, and in line with the advice of the Chief Health Officer, I can announce that same requirement will apply across regional Victoria.

That means from Sunday 2 August at 11:59pm, a face covering will be mandatory whenever you leave home – and wherever you live.

I understand this will a big step for some. But by covering your face, you’re protecting your community, and protecting those extra freedoms your community enjoys.

By covering your face, you’re keeping local businesses open, and keeping local people in work.

There are, unfortunately, other changes we need to make.

To date, new cases in regional communities have largely been contained to workplaces. Increasingly though, in some locations, we’re seeing a different kind of spread.

That’s why, from 11:59pm tonight, and in the local government areas of Colac-Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, and the Borough of Queenscliffe, you will no longer be able to visit people or have visitors at home.

Understandably, there’ll be plenty of questions about why this and not that. Why you can have dinner together at a restaurant – but not at a mate’s place.

And the simple truth is, the data. The data is telling us that outside work, this is the single greatest cause of transmission in these communities.

People are visiting friends and family – and taking the virus home with them.

It makes sense. These are the kind of places we let our guard down. We relax, we get comfortable and we forget all the rules about keeping safe.

As challenging as it is, these changes are fundamentally about protecting the people you love.

Reflecting today’s numbers, we’ll continue to look at workplaces – how and what and where more can be done to protect workers, their families and their communities.

I understand that many Victorians will be feeling equal parts frustrated, tired and sad. I am too.

We’re clearly a long way from where we wanted to be.

As always, I do want to thank every single Victorian who is doing the right thing.

This is one of the biggest challenges our state has faced. And yet, really, we’re all being asked to make the smallest of sacrifices.

By not seeing your mate, you might be saving their life.

By not hugging your mum, you might be keeping her alive.

And by covering your face, you’re contributing to the safety of every single Victorian.

Day by day, decision by decision – we can get on top of this.

But we need your help.

 

Homes for Homeless Victorians During Pandemic and Beyond, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 28 July 2020

At the start of this pandemic, we acted swiftly to support over 2000 Victorians off the streets and into accommodation in vacant hotels – because you can’t “stay home” if you don’t have one and you can’t “stay safe” if you have nowhere to wash your hands.

Now, the Victorian Government will help these same Victorians out of homelessness and into their very own homes with the new $150 million From Homelessness to a Home package.

This funding will also see the Government extend current hotel accommodation until at least April next year while these 2,000 Victorians are supported to access stable, long term housing.

We will lease arrange to lease 1,100 properties from the private rental market, providing a permanent home for people once they leave emergency accommodation. This investment will give Victorians a roof over their head in the short-term, while also providing long-term support to help them find their home – and the security, stability and sense of belonging that goes with it.

The first of the Government’s promised 1000 new social housing units are also coming online now and will also support people to transition out of homelessness and into a home.

Each client will have access to flexible support packages to ensure they are getting the tailored help they need while in crisis hotel accommodation – including mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence support for those who need it. That same support will be available to help sustain a tenancy once they move to other long-term housing.

The Private Rental Assistance Program will also gain extra funding to encourage more people leaving emergency hotel accommodation to set up their own private tenancy, helping with the bond and initial rent.

This investment is an opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness – affording more Victorians the security and stability of a home, while also boosting the private rental market.

Funding will be allocated to homelessness agencies in both metropolitan and regional areas – enabling them to deliver a tailored and more responsive service based on the needs of individuals.

The investment builds on nearly $25 million in emergency housing, isolation and coronavirus recovery facilities for people experiencing homelessness, and almost $500 million to upgrade and build new community and public housing across the state.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“This pandemic has laid bare many inequalities – you can’t stay home if you don’t have one and you can’t wash your hands regularly if you don’t have access to the bare basics of hot water and soap.”

“This is our opportunity to help break the cycle of homelessness – because now more than ever, home means stability, security and safety.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Housing Richard Wynne

“With more housing options and wrap-around support to go with it, we’re giving Victorians the best possible chance to find a path out of homelessness and get their lives back on track.”

Face Coverings Mandatory For Melbourne And Mitchell Shire, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 19 July 2020

People living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will now be required to wear a face covering when leaving home for one of the four reasons, following a concerning increase in coronavirus cases in recent days.

Based on the latest advice from the Chief Health Officer, we’re urging Victorians: just as you remember to take your keys when you leave the house, you need to remember to take something to cover your face – to help keep you and our community safe.

To give people time to purchase or make a face covering, this new rule won’t be enforced until after 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July – but for those who can, please start wearing yours immediately. The fine for not wearing a face covering will be $200.

There will be some reasons not to wear a face covering. For example, those who have a medical reason, kids under 12 years of age, those who have a professional reason or if it’s just not practical, like when running – however you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.

In our schools, that’ll mean teachers don’t have to wear a face covering while teaching – but students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one on the way to and from school.

Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face. The Government will work with Victorian industry and unions to provide advice to workplaces in the coming days.

Face coverings in regional Victoria continue to be recommended in situations where maintaining 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons.

The State of Emergency will also be extended until 11.59pm on 16 August 2020, allowing for the enforcement of this direction and other vital public health  directions from the Chief Health Officer.

While we’ve recently seen a decrease in the number of cases being spread between families, the majority of our outbreaks are now coming from settings where people are working closely together.

To address this increase, an inspection and enforcement blitz will be carried out in workplaces across the state. WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police will focus on at-risk workplaces, including distribution centres, call centres and meat processing centres.

And with a spike in cases in aged care settings, the Victorian Government has been working closely with the Commonwealth on a range of measures, ensuring care workers are equipped to prevent the spread of coronavirus while providing quality care.

As the risk of transmission in aged care and health care settings remains high, from 22 July, visitation will be restricted to those defined as carers only, with a limit of one hour per day.  And like previous asymptomatic staff testing blitzes, aged care staff will be able to access free testing, even if they don’t have symptoms.

The Government will work closely with hospitals and care providers in the coming days to ensure these changes are made in a careful and sensitive way to support the needs of patients and residents.

The Victorian Government’s one-off $1500 worker support payment is still available to support Victorian workers, including those in aged care, who have been instructed to stay home because they’ve had a positive test or need to self-isolate as a close contact.

The Government has also been made aware of a number of people deliberately moving their weddings from Melbourne to regional Victoria in order to avoid restrictions. Directions will be updated to send a clear message: we are facing a pandemic and this is not the time for parties – this includes traveling to regional Victoria to attend one.

As always, the Government will continue to monitor data over the next fortnight. Compliance – and the rate of community transmission – will decide what we do next, and whether we move to Stage 4 restrictions.

For information about coronavirus or to find your nearest testing site, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call 1800 675 398.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“I understand this is a big shift and that not being able to see each other’s faces might be confronting. But this virus is incredibly infectious – and this is about keeping people safe.”

“By covering our faces, we’re protecting ourselves, our families and every single Victorian. So please – just as you remember your house keys, please remember something to cover your face.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“We’ve extended the State of Emergency because we know our coronavirus fight is far from over.”

“That includes the tough decision to introduce further visitation restrictions to healthcare and aged care settings. We know this will be difficult for Victorian families, but ultimately this is about keeping the people we love safe.”

Quotes attributable to Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton

“The best way you can help keep community transmission low is by sticking to the coronavirus restrictions,  keeping your distance and wearing a face covering whenever you leave home.”

“By covering my face, I’m helping to keep you safe – and by covering your face, you’re helping to keep every Victorian safe.”

Return to Flexible and Remote Learning, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 12 July 2020

Most students in Victorian schools in areas under Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions will return to flexible and remote learning for the start of Term 3, limiting the number of people moving across our state to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

On the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, students in Prep to Year 10 at government schools in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will learn from home from Monday 20 July until at least 19 August, following five pupil free days already scheduled for the coming week.

Onsite supervision will be available for students when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made – including children whose parents cannot work from home, vulnerable children and children with a disability.

These arrangements will significantly reduce the movement of more than 700,000 students, as well as their parents and guardians, across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire to help slow the spread of the virus.

Recognising the need to minimise disruption to Year 11 and 12, these students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will return to face-to-face learning from Monday 13 July, as will Year 10 students attending schools for VCE or VCAL classes.

We also understand that remote learning can be an even greater challenge for parents of kids with special needs so all government specialist schools will also resume face to face learning on Monday, 13 July.

All students in regional and rural Victoria, except the Mitchell Shire, will return to onsite learning as normal from Monday 13 July.

Schools will continue to provide multiple entry points and staggered drop-off and pick-ups where necessary, to reduce the number of adults around school grounds at any one time. Schools will also continue to implement physical distancing and cleaning measures for the safety of their staff.

The Government has already invested up to $45 million in enhanced daily cleaning in government schools, which will continue throughout Term 3.

Those teachers not involved in onsite teaching next week will prepare for a return to remote and flexible learning and teaching, and provide a program of care and supervision for those students whose parents and carers cannot work from home and vulnerable students.

To help our kids work though any mental health challenges they face due to the coronavirus pandemic, a range of wellbeing resources for students, parents and teachers will be introduced. The resources include simple wellbeing activities, and video tips developed in partnership with the Melbourne Football Club. Smiling Mind will also produce resources for senior secondary students to support their mental health and wellbeing.

These resources complement the existing mental health and wellbeing support available to all Victorian government school kids. Secondary school students can access counselling via a voice call or video conference through the headspace counselling partnership or via their school-based mental health practitioner.

Early childhood education and care services can continue to operate, in line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer and Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

Eligible not-for-profit sessional kindergarten services in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be offered extra funding to enable them to provide free kinder to children during Term 3.

The Victorian Government will offer funding of $460 for each eligible child enrolled in a funded kindergarten program within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

For all eligible not-for-profit sessional kindergarten services outside of these areas, funding of $230 per eligible child will be offered.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“Keeping kids home from school was a vital part of slowing the spread of coronavirus before, and it will be vital to our efforts again.”

“As a father of three school-aged kids I know it won’t be easy for many parents, but we have to slow the spread of coronavirus to protect students, teachers and all Victorians.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“I know a return to flexible and remote learning will be a challenge for many, but I am sure our principals, teachers, support staff, students and families will once again do us proud.”

Keeping Local Communities Connected During Coronavirus, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, 10 July 2020

Victorians experiencing loneliness or social disconnection due to coronavirus will receive support from the Australian Red Cross and local community organisations with one call to the coronavirus hotline, thanks to a new  Victorian Government initiative.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan has launched the Community Activation and Social Isolation initiative with more than $6 million over six months to support people experiencing loneliness or social disconnection as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The initiative is part of the Victorian Government’s $59.4 million mental health and wellbeing package, helping Victorians with additional supports to deal with significant changes to our lives as a result of the pandemic.

For many Victorians, physical distancing and social or work-related restrictions have led to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. For those already lonely or isolated before the pandemic, it’s been even harder to get help to feel happy and well.

The Community Activation and Social Isolation initiative will expand the Victorian coronavirus hotline (1800 675 398) by partnering with the Australian Red Cross whose volunteers have been trained in psychological first aid to provide emotional support and help to callers who may be distressed or anxious.

The hotline will also link people in need to community connectors for local practical supports and social activities, such as video chats, online book clubs or fitness groups.

To help older Victorians stay connected and participate in social activities during the pandemic, a Social Support Hub has also been set up at the Victorian Government’s Seniors Online website at seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/services-information/social-support-hub.

Seniors can find out what services and activities are available in their local area via the Hub. The Hub will be regularly updated with information and links to other community based organisations offering support and activities to older Victorians, including information about  phone line support and local community connectors.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan

“The coronavirus pandemic has bought into even sharper focus the importance of community and social connections to improve health and wellbeing. This initiative is about people getting the help they need safely and locally.”

”If you’re feeling lonely, give the coronavirus hotline a call on 1800 675 398 and  press three to speak to an Australian Red Cross volunteer who will provide a friendly ear and can connect you to supports in your local community.”

Quote attributable to Sue Cunningham, Red Cross Victorian Director

We are understandably hearing stories of people feeling isolated and lonely. Some have concerns about job loss and finances. Many people are distressed and are needing someone to turn to. We are helping by providing that friendly listening ear and caring voice, linking them into local supports, and giving vital information.”

Face Masks to Help Fight Coronavirus in Victoria, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement of the Premier, 10 July 2020

Victorians living in metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are now recommended to wear face masks in situations where they are leaving their home and physical distancing is not possible – to help slow the spread of coronavirus in the community.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the new recommendations from the Chief Health Officer would apply from today, following new evidence from global medical experts and increased community transmission in Victoria.

The Victorian Government will order over two million reusable masks and one million more single-use masks to ensure more Victorians have access to this added protection while also boosting local manufacturing capability.

Studies have recently shown that, even when factoring in imperfections and human error, wearing face masks can reduce transmission of coronavirus by around 60 per cent. Before this study, advice around the effectiveness of face masks in reducing transmission has been contradictory and lacking in evidence.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has now updated his advice to recommend  anyone living in metro Melbourne or Mitchell Shire to wear a face covering or cloth mask when leaving home for one of the four permitted reasons – where it is not possible to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people.

These recommendations apply to adults over the age of 18, recognising both the lower transmission and disease severity in younger people, but also the difficulty in getting children to wear a face mask properly. The recommendation does not apply to wearing masks in schools and early childhood settings.

Anyone who lives outside metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire should follow the same advice if they need to enter an area currently under Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions.

This is a health recommendation only and will not be enforced – people will not be fined for not wearing a face mask.

The order for two million reusable face masks will be placed by the end of July. To bridge the gap while local manufacturing ramps up, a million single-use masks will also be ordered, favouring Victorian manufacturers to provide a much-needed boost for local jobs.

Further work will be undertaken this week to determine the best method for distributing the face masks across Victoria, ensuring those who are most vulnerable are given priority consideration.

Consultation will also occur with union and industry groups about whether the advice around face masks in the workplace needs to also be updated.

Face masks provide an added layer of protection but the best ways to reduce the transmission of coronavirus remain the same – good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette and keeping a physical distance of 1.5 metres.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“The Chief Health Officer has now given us the clear advice that wearing facemasks makes a tangible difference when it comes to reducing the transmission of coronavirus within the community – and that is why we are issuing this new recommendation.”

“Staying at home if you feel unwell is still the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus but wearing a cloth mask provides an additional physical barrier, adding one more layer of protection for you and those around you.” 

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“We’ve always relied on the advice of experts when it come to this pandemic and that’s what we’re doing now.”

“At this stage the advice only applies to people in the metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire area where physical distancing is not possible, but wearing a mask is an added protection that anyone can choose to take – no matter where they live.”

Quote attributable to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton

“With a virus this infectious, every bit helps and the simple action of wearing a facemask will help protect your family, your neighbours and the most vulnerable in our community.”

 

More Services to Keep Victorians Safe on Public Transport, Minister for Transport, 10 July 2020

The Victorian Government is adding hundreds of new train and tram services to the state’s busiest lines every week to give passengers more choice on when they travel and help maintain physical distancing across the network.

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll today announced further measures as part of the Government’s public transport response to coronavirus, with the new services starting next week alongside changes to make journeys safer for both passengers and frontline public transport staff.

From Monday 13 July, 95 extra train services on either side of the morning and afternoon peaks will be added to the metropolitan network each week, making it easier to stagger travel times and physically distance on services.

The Sunbury, Craigieburn, Werribee, Mernda, Dandenong, Ringwood and Glen Waverley lines will each get an extra 10 services per week and the Hurstbridge line will see five new services each week.

The Frankston and Sandringham lines will also get an extra 10 services per week from Monday 27 July, once level crossing removal works on the Frankston line are complete.

On the tram network, two new shuttle routes will run along Collins St – one during weekday peak periods along St George’s Road, Brunswick Street and Collins Street using large E Class trams, and the second for up to 19 hours each day between Victoria Harbour and St Vincent’s Plaza via Collins St.

To reduce congestion on Collins Street, Route 30 will be replaced with the Route 12 which will be diverted to La Trobe Street, providing alternative travel options within the CBD and additional capacity on La Trobe Street.

Bus journeys will be safer for passengers and drivers with the network-wide implementation of boarding through all doors over the next 18 months – helping passengers maintain distance and reduce crowding at bus stops.

The Department of Transport and bus operators will work with passengers to transition to this new model, which will be made possible by the permanent removal of cash transactions on board buses using myki from 13 July, with all passengers required to travel with a valid myki that has been topped up ahead of time.

These new measures are in addition to safety measures introduce across the public transport network during the past few months, including extensive cleaning across the network, hand sanitising facilities and more than $192 million in enhanced public transport maintenance through the Building Works stimulus package.

Victorians are reminded to be vigilant while on public transport – never travelling when unwell, practicing good hand hygiene at all times and physically distancing from others wherever possible.

Those using taxi and ride share services are reminded to sit in the back seat of vehicles to maintain distance with drivers. Vehicles are being regularly cleaned and high touch surfaces disinfected regularly to keep everyone safe.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport and Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll

“We’re adding hundreds of new train and tram services every week – giving Victorians the options to travel outside of the traditional peak hours and practice better physical distancing, keeping us all safer.”

“We’re grateful to our frontline public transport staff for keeping Victoria moving during the pandemic – these changes will keep them safer as they do their essential work.”

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 7 July 2020

2020 has not been the year any of us wanted.

Cancelled events. Plans put on pause. Uncertainty about what the future holds.

And I guess that’s why so many people want to pretend this is over.

Others don’t have that luxury. In the last 36 hours we lost two more Victorian lives to this deadly virus. We don’t yet know their names, their stories or the circumstances in which they died.

All we do know is that – except for the company and compassion of the medical staff who cared for them – they would have died alone.

No family. No friends. No holding hands. No goodbyes.  Denied the last quiet moments that we all hope for.

That’s how dangerous and infectious this disease is.

Thankfully, it’s a fate that most Victorian families have not been asked to endure. And I think, for some, that’s led to a creeping complacency.

But although today it’s someone else – tomorrow it could be you, or me.

I know a lot of people aren’t scared because this feels like something happening to other people in other parts of the world.  But you should be scared of this. I’m scared of this. We all should be.

Yesterday, we reached a grim new milestone, the most cases in a single day. Today, we surpassed it.

It’s clear we are on the cusp of our second wave – and we cannot let this virus cut through our communities.

It’s why based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions will be reinstated across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11:59pm on Wednesday 8 July.

For six weeks, and if you live in these areas, there’ll be only four reasons to leave your home:

Shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Daily exercise. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home.

Otherwise: Stay home. Stay home. Stay home.  In case it needs repeating, stay home. We are fighting a global and deadly pandemic.

This Stay at Home direction will apply to your principal place of residence – that means no escaping to holiday homes.

And because we need to limit the spread of the virus across our state, there will only be three reasons to cross the border of these metropolitan areas: Shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home.

Unless you’re a local, that means no fishing trips at Lakes Entrance. No four-hour hikes in the Grampians.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will also return to Stage 3 restrictions.

Restaurants and cafes will return to takeaway and delivery services only. Beauty and personal services will need to close. Entertainment and cultural venues will need to close. Community sport will need to stop.

I know just how tough this will be for these businesses and for their workers. I promise, we’ll have more to say shortly about support to help get you through.

I also understand six weeks might feel like an eternity. But it’s the time our health experts tell us they need to really get on top of this thing.

Many parents, teachers and students will be worried about what happens with the school year. I can confirm that all Year 11 and Year 12 students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will go back to school for Term 3 as planned, along with our special schools.

For students Prep to Year 10, we’re going to extend the school holidays by one week, so we can get more advice from our health experts. But I want to be upfront and let parents know that a return to remote learning for these kids is a possibility, if that’s what they tell us is safest.

For people who live in regional Victoria, where case numbers remain low, current restrictions will remain the same for now.

We’ve talked about this virus being like a public health bushfire. By putting a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, we’re essentially putting in place a perimeter to protect regional Victorians.

This is not where any of us wanted to be, but we have to face the reality of our situation. To do anything else would have deadly consequences.

I don’t take this step lightly. And I know just how deeply frustrating this is for everyone.

But I’m asking you, please talk to your families. Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbours. Talk to your communities.

This isn’t over. And until there is a vaccine or a drug or a cure, there is no such thing as “normal”.

For every restriction that you break and all the health advice that you ignore – the consequence may be someone’s life.

Now more than ever, we need Victorians to play their part. Lives are counting on it.

List of restricted LGAs

Banyule Hume Moreland
Bayside Kingston Mornington Peninsula
Boroondara Knox Nillumbik
Brimbank Manningham Port Phillip
Cardinia Maribyrnong Stonnington
Casey Maroondah Whitehorse
Darebin Melbourne Whittlesea
Frankston Melton Wyndham
Glen Eira Monash Yarra
Greater Dandenong Moonee Valley Yarra Ranges
Hobsons Bay Mitchell Shire  

 

 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 4 July 2020

Today’s numbers represent the second biggest increase in confirmed case since this began – and the biggest jump since 28 March.

As these figures show, we are still on a knife’s edge. Rather than spread across the state, we know many of these cases are located in specific communities.

That means the need for targeted, swift action is stronger than ever before.

In recent days, 23 cases across more than 12 households have been identified in the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates.

This represents a challenge we’ve not yet encountered.  This is not like an outbreak spread across multiple homes or multiple suburbs.

The close confines and the shared community spaces within these large apartment blocks means this virus can spread like wildfire.

And just like fire, we need to put a perimeter around it to stop it from spreading.

It’s why, effective immediately, these estates – encompassing nine sites – will be closed and contained. Residents will be required to stay inside their homes.

Just as we’ve done with similar outbreaks in closely confined settings like aged care, the only people coming in and out will be those providing essential services.

This will be in place for at least the next five days, ensuring we can test every single resident. The lifting of this restriction will be determined by our success in testing and tracking this virus.

Operation Benessere will be supported by onsite police and PSOs, ensuring safety, compliance and security.

Residents will be supported with onsite clinical care, as well as food delivery and care packages.

I know this is big. And I know this is unprecedented. But as always with this thing, an unprecedented challenge requires unprecedented action.

On the advice of our health experts, the number of “hot zone” postcodes will also be expanded to include 3031 and 3051. This will be effective from 11:59pm tonight.

For residents in these postcodes, the message is clear: stay at home.

There’s only four reasons to be out. Again, shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Exercise. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home.

These postcodes are experiencing elevated community transmission – and the only way to combat that is with stronger restrictions.

But it’s not just enough to impose them.

We need people to abide by them. To follow the rules. To listen to the advice.

To think not only about themselves but their families and friends and communities.

This virus is dangerous. It’s indiscriminate.  And it has the potential to undo everything that’s been achieved.

I understand people are tired. They’re frustrated too.

But just as we drove down this virus before, we must do it again.

We need Victorians – your collective commitment and courage.

Because we all have a part to play.

And it’s up to all of us to make this work.

Hot Zone Residents Urged to Get Tested at New Sites, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 1 July 2020

Residents living in Victoria’s ten restricted postcodes are urged to get tested for coronavirus this week – with new sites being setup as part of a massive effort to prevent further spread of the virus throughout the community.

In less than a week teams have already knocked on 54,000 doors in high risk areas offering advice, testing information and in some cases, self-administered testing kits, which can be collected at a later date.

We have also processed more than 113,000 tests – thanks to Victorians who have done the right thing and helped to protect their families and their communities as we continue to fight this deadly virus.

It’s more important than ever for the over 300,000 Victorians living in the restricted postcodes to get tested, regardless of whether you have symptoms.

A big team of doorknockers will hit the streets in Maidstone, Broadmeadows and Albanvale tomorrow and Brunswick West on Thursday to continue our community outreach, going door-to-door carrying out mobile testing and ensuring locals have the most up-to-date health advice.

A range of fixed, mobile and drive-through testing clinics are already located across the hotspot suburbs – with 22 sites up and running and more coming online every day.

While testing has already been available locally, the Government is standing up an additional 12 new sites to ensure there are dedicated testing locations in every postcode in coming days. This afternoon testing sites will be up and running at Wingate Avenue Community Centre, Maribyrnong Community Centre, Fairbairn park pavilion in Ascot Vale, Niddrie Community Hub, Glenroy library and AG Gillen Oval. Further announcements will be made on new sites as they open.

Reinforcements are also on the way from interstate with 30 clinical staff from South Australia arriving today to support community testing sites and the Queensland Government committing to send 40 nurses to assist our hardworking medical teams. The first group of Commonwealth public service workers will also hit the ground from tomorrow, joining our door knocking efforts across the hot zones.

The ten ‘hot zone’ postcodes will be required to return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions from 11:59pm tonight until at least 29 July. For anyone living in these locations, there will again only be four reasons to be out: shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work – if it can’t be done from home.

To find your nearest testing site visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call 1800 675 398.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“None of us wanted to be here but now that we are, the best thing everyone in these restricted postcodes can do is follow the rules, get tested and help us get this under control.”

“This is a public health bushfire and just as we send firefighters to help our neighbours through summer, we are very grateful to other states and the Federal Government for their support now.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“The more cases we find the quicker we can isolate this deadly virus and prevent wider spread in the community and to the rest of Victoria.”

“Our message to all Victorians is clear: if you are sick, get tested and stay home.”

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 25 June 2020

I know many Victorians are feeling anxious and unsure.

After all, so many of us have given up so much in order to keep our state safe.

And yet – disappointingly, devastatingly – we again find ourselves on a knife’s edge. What we do now will determine what comes next.

We don’t want to have to move to local lockdowns. We know the impact that would have on businesses and on families. But we do need to get a comprehensive sense of how this virus might be spreading – and we need Victorians’ help to get us there.

Today we begin our Suburban Testing Blitz, our plan to ensure we have all the information and insights we need. This targeted blitz across ten priority suburbs represents one of the biggest testing efforts ever.

On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, priority suburbs include Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

Over the next 10 days, residents of these suburbs will receive free testing – with or without symptoms. Our aim is to do 10,000 tests a day across these areas and in the top two priority suburbs – Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows – we want to reach half the population in the next three days.

A team made up of 800 testers will zero-in on community transmission with a fleet of mobile testing vans – allowing people to not only get tested in their own community, but in their own street.

And, in an Australian first and thanks to the efforts of the Doherty Institute, from next week we will be doing additional testing from the collection of saliva samples – providing a faster, easier and more comfortable test.

We’re asking locals in these areas – particularly if you have symptoms – please come forward and get tested. See it as your civic duty. See it as your contribution to keeping your local area and our whole community safe.

Our squad of more than 1 000 doorknockers will also continue their outreach, going door to door to ensure locals have the latest health advice.

To make sure we can process these test results in time, we’ll also be undertaking a massive expansion of our lab processed capacity.

Right now, pathologists in Victoria can process up to 18,000 tests a day. With the help of labs in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and private providers that number will grow to at least 25,000 tests every single day.

These efforts will be supported by Australian Defence Force personnel who’ll provide planning and logistics support – including the transportation of pathology samples interstate if required.

Through fire and flood – and even just this summer – we have always been proud to send our people to support other states in their time of need. We are grateful now to receive that same support from around the country as we continue to confront coronavirus together.

Our state-wide testing efforts will also continue, with more than 130 testing locations across Victoria – and more sites coming soon.

Again, we still need Victorians to play their part. Staying safe in the community – and staying safe inside your home.

If you’re sick, get tested and stay home. If someone in your household is sick, make sure they get tested and stay home.

If you’ve been tested, stay home while you wait for your result.

Keep your distance. Keep washing your hands. Keep listening to the advice. And as you do, remember:

You’re doing this for your family – and for every Victorian family.

I want to be upfront, in the coming weeks, and in line with our expanded testing program, we’ll likely see our daily cases increase.

Some may see this as a mark of failure. Instead, if those cases can be traced back to other known positives, it’ll be a mark of our success. Every Victorian who gets tested – every case that is identified – brings us one step closer to containing and slowing the spread of this virus.

This isn’t easy.

But it’s up to all of us to make this work. 

Media Release, Minister for Health, State of Emergency Extended to Keep Slowing the Spread, 21 June 2020

The State of Emergency in Victoria will be extended for another four weeks to continue the measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus and keep Victorians safe.

The State of Emergency will be extended until 11.59pm on 19 July 2020, which allows the Victorian Government to continue to enforce physical distancing and isolation requirements, as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer.

The substantial increase in the number of household contacts spreading the virus amongst extended family groups shows the battle against coronavirus is far from over. As we’ve seen across the world, this virus can turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days.

Our message is clear: 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, but Victoria Police will be out in force to ensure all Victorians are doing the right thing.

Victoria Police has strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines – with a squad of 500 officers 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.

Quote attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“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.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville

“While many Victorians are doing the right thing – there are still some who are ignoring the restrictions. Victoria Police will continue to be out in force, using their powers to help slow the spread.”

Quote attributable to Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton

“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.”

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 20 June 2020

From the outset, we have always listened to our medical experts. And they’re telling us we’ve come to a critical crossroads.

Today, our case numbers have hit the highest they’ve been in more than two months. I know that’s not what people want to hear – but sadly, that is our reality.

The experts tell us that, largely, the numbers are being driven by families – families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around distancing and hygiene. In fact, around half of our cases since the end of April have come from transmission inside someone’s home.

You can see how this could happen. People feeling relaxed at home. Letting their guard down. Letting old habits creep back. But we are still in a pandemic – and people’s lives are still at risk.

It’s why today, we’re announcing a number of changes.

From 11:59pm on Sunday, the number of visitors you can have at your home will reduce to five. Outside the home, families and friends can meet in groups up to ten.  As we’ve seen across the world, this virus has the ability to turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days.

That’s why we also need to delay an increase to gathering limits in businesses and community facilities.

That means restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship – will all stay at a maximum of 20 people in any one space until 12 July. Businesses that were set to open on Monday like gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs can do so – but again, only with a maximum of 20.

Community sport for kids and non-contact competition for adults can proceed as planned. Ski season and accommodation facilities with communal spaces will also open, but with increased screening and safeguards in place.

I know this is not where we wanted to be. And that Victorians will feel disappointed and frustrated. I’m frustrated too. But we have to channel that frustration into action.

We can’t let this thing get away from us. We must act – while we can.

That means staying safe while out in the community – but just as importantly, staying safe at home.  And that means only seeing those you need to – if you need to. Not your third cousin. Not your third best friend from primary school.

Each of us need to be aware that the more people you see and the more often you see them – the more danger you are putting people in. There are other things we need to do.

If you do have to see people, keep your distance. No handshakes and no hugs. Maintain good hygiene. Don’t share food or drinks. And if you’re feeling unwell – stay at home.

Don’t visit friends and family. Don’t go on holiday. Don’t go to work. Stay home.

We want to make this as easy as possible.

Which is why we’re also announcing a new $1500 payment for those who have a confirmed case or are a close contact and who can’t rely on sick leave. This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work instead.

I know businesses are keen to open further – which is why we’ve all got to play our part.

That means ensuring those who can work from home continue to do so at least until 31 July. And if you do have people on the job – having a zero-tolerance approach to sickness. Having symptoms must mean you go home, and you get tested.

We’ll also look at ways we might begin to contain hotspots – if we keep seeing high case numbers each day, we will have to consider putting whole suburbs back into lockdown.

The vast majority of Victorians have been doing the right thing.

But this is a wake-up call. We cannot be complacent.

And the only thing between us and a second wave is what we do next. 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 29 May 2020

Victoria – and Victorians – have achieved something remarkable.

We’ve made sacrifices. We’ve missed loved ones. We’ve given up getting on the beers.

And in doing so, we’ve helped keep one another safe.

Because of those efforts, we’ve been able to gradually ease restrictions. And from Monday, we’ll no longer be giving Victorians a definitive list of reasons to leave home.

Instead, we’ll be asking people to use that same common sense – and that same sense of community – in the weeks and months to come.

Some measures, though, must stay the same. One of the key things that won’t change is working from home. If you’re currently working from home – you must keep working from home.

By working from home, we limit the number of people moving around – and we limit the spread of this virus.

To date, we’ve left the ins and the outs of how this will work to Victorians and their employers.

But going forward – and in light of new evidence indicating increased activity – the obligation for employers to keep their staff working from home will now be included in the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

That means there will now be a clear and shared responsibility between workers and their bosses. For employees, that means an obligation to keep working from home. And for employers, an obligation to support them in doing so.

As we’ve said from the start, our actions will always be guided by evidence.

Right now, we can’t have the usual number of people on our trains, trams and buses – it just isn’t safe.

And we know that if just half the people who normally use public transport start driving to work, we will see our freeways and other major roads grind to a halt.

The number of people on the roads and the transport network is already starting to increase and we cannot let that creep continue.

If we do, then we’ll see commute times worse than anything any of us have ever experienced – two hours from Werribee to the city, 90 minutes from Reservoir and two and half hours from Mulgrave.

The majority of Victorians – and employers – are following the work from home advice.

But for the small number that are not, this is about removing any shadow of doubt: if you can work from home, you must continue to do so.

And because we’re asking this of businesses – this applies equally to workers in the public sector too.

We’re also being upfront: we don’t yet have a timeline on when this might change, or how we might be able to get back to work as normal.

For now, we’re saying this will be in place until at least the end of June, but it may well be longer. As always, that will depend on the advice of our Chief Health Officer.

What is clear is that by continuing to work from home – you are making a very real difference to the safety of our state.

The challenge we face is far from over.

So, keep your distance. Keep washing your hands.

And if you’ve been working from home – you must keep working from home.

It’s up to all of us to make this work. 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 24 May 2020

The whole way through this pandemic, our advice to Victorians has remained the same: “stay home”.

Now, as we begin to settle into a new normal, our message is “stay safe”.

That means maintaining your physical distance.  Using common sense.

And as we ease restrictions, each of us playing our part to keep one another safe.

With the rate of community transmission remaining low, and the rate of testing remaining high, we’re in a position to make a number of additional changes.

As always with these things, there’ll be questions about why we can do this, but not that. Why one activity is okay, but another might not be.

And the truth is, we’ve had to make some tough decisions. Just as we can ease some restrictions, some of our other measures must remain in place.

One of our most important messages to Victorians is this: if you are working from home, you must keep working from home – at least until the end of June.

I understand there’ll be questions about why you can go to the pub or the park – but not the office.

But the health advice on this is very clear.

We just can’t afford to have millions of people moving around our state – taking public transport or using the communal kitchen. Let alone when you think about the logistical challenges of getting people in and out of lifts or lobbies.

Now I understand this won’t reflect everyone’s working conditions. And there are plenty of workers for whom this just won’t apply.

But for those bosses who have employees who can work from home – we’re asking that they keep working from home.

It’s making a very real contribution to the safety of our state.

Because of that contribution – and the contributions of every Victorian – today we can announce our next steps.

Each of these changes are cautious and considered.

And each of them is underpinned by one key principle: by limiting the number of people moving around our state – we can limit the spread of this virus.

That means from Tuesday – and in line with the return to face-to-face learning in school – outdoor playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor communal gym equipment will reopen.

Then, from 11:59pm on 31 May, you’ll be able to have a total of 20 people in your home. For a family of five, that means 15 visitors.  Outdoor gatherings can also increase to 20.

Overnight stays can resume at private residences. And importantly, for our tourism industry, so can overnight stays in accommodation.

In good news for those itching to pitch their tent, this will also apply to campgrounds and caravan parks – but not with communal facilities like kitchens or bathrooms so we can stay safe.

Limits on our most significant ceremonies will be lifted, with up to 20 people allowed at weddings – plus the celebrant and couple – and up to 50 people allowed at a funeral, in addition to those required to conduct the ceremony.  Up to 20 will be allowed at other religious ceremonies, in addition to those required to perform the service.

Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities will be able to open with no more than 20 people in a single area, plus those needed to operate the space. That means men’s sheds and arts and crafts classes can resume.

From 11:59pm on 31 May, entertainment and cultural venues like galleries, museums, drive-in cinemas and historic sites will be able to open their doors, alongside zoos and outdoor amusement parks. Physical distancing and a limit of up to 20 patrons per space will apply, and indoor venues will be required to keep customer contact details.

Swimming pools will also open with limits of 20 people and additional safety requirements in place. Community sporting activities will also be permitted with up to 20 people in undivided spaces, provided the sport is outdoors, non-competition, non-contact, and people are able to play 1.5 metres apart. Restrictions on professional sport will remain unchanged.

Beauty and personal care services like nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours will be able to open with up to 20 customers per space – with customer contact details required to be kept.

Auctions and open for inspections will also be subject to the 20-person limit – plus those required to conduct the activity – with agents also required to keep the contact details of everyone who attends.

Non-food and drink market stalls will also be able to open from 11:59pm on 31 May.

If community transmission rates continue to remain low and testing rates continue to remain high, we will look to further relax restrictions from 22 June.

From that date, indoor fitness and recreation facilities will open with up to 20 people per space and up to 10 people per group or activity at any one time.

Up to 50 people will be permitted in restaurants, cafes, galleries, museums and for the first time, cinemas and theatres. And for those eager to hit the slopes, the ski season will open slightly later this year on 22 June.

At the same time, we’re urging Victorians:

In all your activities, be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense.

And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.

By making these small sacrifices, we’re each contributing to something much greater than ourselves.

Working from home means we can go away for the weekend.

Staggering start times means our kids can start learning face-to-face.

Keeping our distance means we can open cafes and restaurants.

And by only seeing those you need to, if you need to, we can help keep our friends and families safe.

Because we all have a part to play.

And it’s up to all of us to make this work.

 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 17 May 2020

Earlier this week, we made a number of announcements on easing restrictions in Victoria. These decisions were informed by data – including the biggest testing blitz in the nation and one of the highest testing rates in the world.

At the same time, we asked Victorians to use common sense when it came to deciding what they could do – and who they could do it with.

We also said, that for the moment, there would be no changes to restrictions on cafes, restaurants and pubs while we undertook more testing.

After smashing through our goal of 50,000 tests in the last week, the results of this data has given us the confidence we need to plan to slowly start lifting some more restrictions.

Today, and informed by the advice of the Chief Health Officer, I can announce our cautious and careful next steps.

The continuing low numbers of community transmission and the high rates of testing give us confidence that cafes, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses can begin planning for a phased re-opening from the beginning of June.

From 1 June – cafes, restaurants and pubs will be able to reopen their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space.

From 22 June – this could increase to up to 50 patrons.

During the second half of July, up to 100.

The timelines we’re announcing today are reliant on Victorians continuing to get tested when they show even mild symptoms and on those tests continuing to show low numbers of positive cases around the state.

Before each of these dates, the Chief Health Officer will review the rates of community transmission in Victoria, confirm our ability to test, trace and respond to possible outbreaks and make sure we have an adequate safety net in the health system – before we take the steps outlined.

This industry has told us they need time to plan and prepare to protect the safety of their staff and customers. Making these announcements now will be giving them that time.

The hospitality industry is one of the pillars of the Victorian economy and has been among the hardest hit by this pandemic – re-opening the venues we all love is a critical piece of the puzzle in saving jobs and restoring our local communities.

We need to be really clear though: this is not a done deal. These timelines will depend on how we’re tracking.

And just as we’ve used evidence to inform our decisions the whole way through this – these next steps will be no different.

If, in the coming weeks, we see a sudden upswing in community exposures from an unknown source – we may have to make the call to delay.

Similarly, if an initial opening led to a whole series of uncontrolled crowds or breaches –we’d look at that pretty seriously too.

A number of precautions will be put in place to guide these changes.

All venues will need to abide by existing physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres. Tables will also need to be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart.

Venues will be required to take the contact details of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing.

And there’ll be other safety requirements too, including extra cleaning, staff health screening and temperature checks.

Further work will need to be done on how we manage shared areas like entrances and bathrooms, and will be done in consultation with the industry and unions and on the advice of our public health team.

Once in place, these changes will apply to standalone restaurants and cafes, as well as restaurants and bistros within a pub, hotel, bar, registered and licensed club, RSL or community club.

Restrictions on other spaces within these kinds of venues – including public bars and gaming areas – will remain in place throughout June, as will restrictions on food courts.

As we take these important steps, we must also continue to make a number of sacrifices, as the cumulative effect of easing too much too soon could undo all the hard work we have done together.

That means, for most Victorians the advice has not changed: if you can work from home – you must work from home.

I know many of us are missing seeing our colleagues and our work friends in-person.

Sharing lunch in the staff room. Morning tea for a birthday. And maybe a sneaky knock-off beer after work.

But right now, the science is very clearly telling us that we can’t afford to take that risk.

We can’t have millions of people moving across our state – particularly around the Melbourne CBD – touching elevator buttons or opening front doors.

In fact, we probably won’t be able to return to work as we know it for some time.

As always, we’re asking Victorians to take on their share of the responsibility in all this.

After all, it’s up to each of us to make this work.

None of us want to be responsible for seeing the gains we have made together disappear.

And for every action or activity we can resume – there will be others that we just can’t.

For now, and for the foreseeable future, this must be our new normal.

Lives and livelihoods are counting on it.

 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Statement from the Premier, 11 May 2020

Over the past two weeks, we’ve tested more than 160,000 Victorians for coronavirus. I want to thank each and every one of them for playing their part in protecting our state.

The job isn’t done yet – and that size and scale of testing will continue to be a big part of our response in the weeks and months to come. But because of that initial data, we’ve been able to get a better understanding of the way the virus is moving through our community. And with it, greater insight into how we can respond.

Today – thanks to the efforts of Victorians – I can announce our cautious next steps.

As we have worked to flatten the curve, we’ve been telling Victorians there’s only four reasons to be out: shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work – if you can’t do it from home.

From 11:59pm this Tuesday night, there’s now a fifth reason to leave home: visiting friends and family – with a maximum gathering of up to ten outdoors and having up to five visitors in your home.

I know this will come as a welcome relief, but I need to be clear. Although these are our first steps back towards normalcy – they are not an invitation to host a dinner party every night of the week.

It’s not about having a rotating roster of acquaintances and associates – or your third best friend from primary school – over for a visit. This is about seeing those you need to – if you need to.

We’re asking Victorians to limit their circle to just family and friends. That means that when we do have outbreaks and positive cases – and we will – we can test and trace and effectively contain the spread.

I want to be clear: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

For our family, that means I won’t see my Mum for a little while. She’s in her 70s – and she has a number of conditions that would put her at risk.

So, for now, we’re going to have to stay connected in different ways, with FaceTime calls, gifts in the mail or an old-fashioned letter. As hard as that is, no visit is worth putting her safety at risk. I’m asking all Victorians to think about these things when you’re making your own plans with the people you love.

We’re also able to make some changes to rules for some of the most significant gatherings in any of our lives: weddings will now be able to have ten guests and up to 20 people will be able to attend funerals held indoors and up to 30 if they’re outdoors.

More of the outdoor recreational activities that so many Victorians have been missing will also be allowed: walking groups, fishing, hiking – and yes, even a game of golf. These activities will be subject to physical distancing to help keep people safe.

These new restrictions and a renewed State of Emergency will be in place until 11:59pm on Sunday 31 May. As we go through this month, we’ll keep reviewing the situation and our case numbers – and hopefully, we’ll be able to make further announcements then.

But with more freedom comes more responsibility. I’m asking Victorians to use common sense – you should only spend time together if it’s safe.  And you should only be undertaking these activities if you really need to. If it’s integral to your health and wellbeing.

Use your judgement. And think about the health of your fellow Victorians.

Because right now, staying apart is what’s keeping us together.

And none of us want to squander everything we’ve achieved. None of us want to have to take a backwards step.

And none of us want to be responsible for the loss of someone we love – or someone we’ve never met.

That means it’s up to all of us to make this work.

And it’s why our message has not changed: if you can stay at home – you must stay at home.

 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Keeping Victoria Together During Coronavirus, 1 May 2020

To help keep Victorians connected – and help keep our creators creating – the Victorian Government has launched Victoria Together, a new online portal showcasing the best our state has to offer from live music and comedy, to the amazing animals at Melbourne Zoo.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley today launched the new site as part of a dedicated campaign to help keep Victorians connected as we face coronavirus – together.

Victoria Together will also be home to a new online series developed with Mushroom Group, State of Music, which will feature weekly performances from some of our best home-grown talent.

The first episode will air this Sunday at 7.30pm AEST and will be livestreamed on the site. The episode will be hosted by Rosie Beaton and feature an interview with James Reyne and performances from Birds of Tokyo, Diesel and G Flip. The project will also produce other local content, dedicated to supporting and sharing the talents of emerging local artists.

In addition to the State of Music project, the site will be supported by a grants and partnerships program of $2.35 million – mainly to help support creators digitise their content and generate new experiences online for Victorians who are following health directions, and staying at home. With many local artists having lost work, ACMI will help lead the curation of this new content from across our creative industries.

Creative industries employed around 260,000 people in Victoria — but the sector has been hit hard by coronavirus with artists, musicians and other creators losing their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic.

As well as supporting local talent and hosting new creative content, Victoria Together also provides a one-stop-shop for Victoria’s existing online attractions, including ACMI’s film screenings, Zoos Victoria’s ‘Animal House’ livestream and virtual tours of exhibitions and galleries across the state. It also includes exercise and wellbeing resources.

The very best of regional Victoria will also be on show with exhibitions from the Bendigo Art Gallery, resources from Clunes Booktown and even “slow TV” from Terindah Estate on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Kids have not been forgotten, with a range of educational resources to keep them busy, while older Victorians will be supported to stay connected – with the Victorians Seniors Festival moving online. Victoria’s multicultural communities are also being drawn on for content that showcases the rich diversity of our state.

Complementing Victoria Together, the Victorian Government has also launched a new campaign reinforcing that “Staying apart keeps us together”. Kicking off on TV screens tonight, the campaign will extend across digital, radio and print – including as part of the Government’s commitment to support rural and regional publications.

To experience everything Victoria Together has to offer, visit together.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“There’s nothing more Victorian than watching a live gig, trying out a recipe from one of our best chefs, or visiting our outstanding regional galleries – that’s why we’re bringing these experiences into people’s homes.”

“I know we’re asking a lot of Victorians at the moment but following the rules and staying apart keeps us together as a community.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley

“This digital offering will not only share Victorian creative content with more people – it will also help generate new opportunities for our creative industries hard hit by this pandemic.”

 

Media Release, Victorian State Government, Department of Health and Human Services, Coronavirus Update for Victoria, 22 April 2020

The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria is 1,336 – no net increase from yesterday.

While two new cases were added yesterday, two existing cases were reclassified to another state as per national protocols – meaning the overall number of cases has not changed. 

There were no new deaths reported yesterday. To date, 15 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.

The total number of cases is made up of 695 men and 641 women, with people aged from babies to their early nineties.

There are 135 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission. Currently 29 people are in hospital, including 12 patients in intensive care. 1,243 people have recovered. More than 90,000 tests have been completed.

Of the total 1,336 cases, there have been 1,057 in metropolitan Melbourne and 242 in regional Victoria. Several cases remain under investigation.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the recent daily fluctuations in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Victoria was due to an increase in the number of tests being completed and an increase in the number of travellers returning from overseas on repatriation flights.

“The increases we are seeing are small and this is encouraging. They prove that our physical distancing measures are working but this is not a time to relax our strong approach – this disease can get away from you very quickly as we have seen in cities overseas,” Professor Sutton said.

“We thank Victorians who overwhelmingly are doing the right thing by staying at home, but we must keep at it to save lives.

“Everyone who’s unwell must isolate themselves and everyone who’s been told they’re in quarantine either as a returned traveller or close contact must do so as well.

“Physical distancing will save lives. Everyone needs to comply with restrictions in place to keep yourself, your loved ones and the whole community safe. Our message is clear: if you can stay home, you must stay home.”

The Department of Health and Human Services follows up and monitors all close contacts of confirmed cases and provides them with information and support. All close contacts must self-isolate for 14-days.

There are only four reasons for Victorians to leave their home: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education.

Police have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines, including 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.

 

Media Release, Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews, Supporting Tenants and Landlords through Coronavirus, 15 April 2020

The Victorian Government will bring urgent legislation to the Parliament in line with decisions of the National Cabinet to support tenants and landlords through the coronavirus pandemic by reforming residential and commercial tenancy laws.

These include introducing a temporary ban on evictions, pausing rental increases for six months, and providing land tax relief for landlords and rent relief for tenants experiencing financial hardship as part of a plan to help Victorian families and businesses get to the other side of this unprecedented crisis.

Premier Daniel Andrews today announced a $500 million package aimed at giving certainty to residential and commercial tenants and landlords, while they struggle with the unprecedented economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with emergency legislation to be put into the Parliament next Thursday.

The Stage 3 restrictions designed to help slow the spread of coronavirus have had widespread economic consequences, leaving many businesses with no cashflow to pay their rent, and many workers without jobs – making it increasingly difficult for them to pay rent at home.

To get through this crisis, we all have to work together. Partnerships will have to be formed between tenants and landlords, and landlords and their banks – to help people continue to pay the rent and keep a roof over their heads.

Tenants and landlords who struggle to strike a deal over rent reductions will be given access to a fast-tracked dispute resolution service, with Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Small Business Commission mediating to ensure fair agreements are reached.

To encourage landlords to do the right thing by their tenants, the Government will provide $420 million in land tax relief. If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.

A new Coronavirus Relief Deputy Commissioner will be established at the State Revenue Office to manage these land tax relief claims.

To provide much needed peace of mind and security, evictions will be banned for residential tenancies for six months, except in some circumstances. Evictions will also be banned for six months for the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies involving small and medium-sized businesses. Rental increases will also be banned for commercial and residential properties for the same period.

Consistent with the National Cabinet agreement to implement a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies, the Government will also urgently legislate so that eligible small and medium sized businesses can be granted rental waivers or deferrals.

Businesses are eligible for these measures if they have an annual turnover under $50 million per year and have experienced more than a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to coronavirus.

The Government will also create an $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship due of coronavirus. To be eligible, renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria or gone through mediation, have less than $5,000 in savings and still be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.

As agreed by National Cabinet, these new measures will come into effect from 29 March for a period of six months.

Quote attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“More than ever, we need to be working in partnership. Landlords working with tenants. Tenants working with landlords. And Government willing to help those most in need.”

Quote attributable to Treasurer Tim Pallas

“This is about supporting tenants, landlords and small business – and making sure that everyone can make it to the other side of this pandemic.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz

“These are unprecedented measures – but we are facing an unprecedented crisis. With this support, we’ll help tenants cover the rent and keep a roof over their head.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek

“This support will help small businesses keep their doors open, keep employing and keep driving the state’s economy.”

 

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