As the coronavirus crisis continues to worsen across the country Victorians, in particular, are being impacted with the premier announcing sweeping changes to how Melbournians will live and work. The news comes as the state records 725 new diagnoses overnight and 15 deaths.
As of 11.59 pm Wednesday residents of Melbourne and Mitchell shire will face tough new restrictions including the already instated 8 pm-5 am curfew on leaving your home to a travel limit within a 5km radius of home to mandatory work permits for anyone employed in an essential or permitted business. Speaking of the new restrictions, Andrews said it is time for hard decisions.
“They are always difficult decisions to make, always difficult lines to draw and lists to write and we apologise for the pain and the hurt that those lists, that those sorts of decisions make necessary,” Andrews said. “But these are the decisions I’ve made because they are the only option we have in order to try and drive these numbers down.”
The new worker permit scheme will come into force from August 6. It requires employers to provide eligible employees with a permit to establish their bonafide for travel to and from home during the lockdown. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure employees are issued with the permit. Failure to carry a permit while travelling to and from work will result in a massive fine. Andrews said there will be no grace period for the permits.
“Any period that people will explain they were confused, that door will close very quickly because these rules need to work. It’s in all of our interests that these rules work and drive down these case numbers,” Andrews said.
Victorian Police have issued 155 fines for breaches of the health Act in the past 24 hours. The premier said the new permit scheme will make it simpler for police and ADF to identify those who are not doing the right thing.
Other changes announced by Andrews today include the introduction of a childcare permit which parents will need to complete to prove there is no one at home able to care for a child. Andrews said the permit application will be simple to complete.
“This will be simply the person indicating that they are doing permitted work and also then attesting that there is no-one in their home that can look after the kids and then we’ll be able to go from there.”
The premier said there will be penalties for people providing false declarations.
“Yes, there will be penalties if people were to make a false statement that they didn’t have an alternative in home child care arrangement, a member of their family and then sent their kids to child care,” the premier said. “That is what I’m appealing to people to act in the interests of the state and act in the interests of every family by being — being truthful, being honest about that.”
The premier also announced elective surgeries would once again be put on hold in the state in an effort to ensure those who needed urgent care were able to receive assistance.
“The sickest patients must get treated quickest. That is always a principle that our public and indeed private hospitals work under.
“This is a regrettable decision but it is very important one in order to preserve sufficient capacity in our entire health system. City and country, public and private.I don’t enjoy having to make these decisions but in terms of keeping patients safe and hospital workers safe and preserving sufficient capacity so that we’re planning for what might be needed — we hope not needed — but things that might be needed we need to mirror the restrictions that applied in Melbourne for a few weeks now in regional Victoria as well.”
The news comes as NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced tough new border restrictions for the state. From 12.01 am Friday, all Victorians entering NSW will be placed in mandatory hotel quarantine, at their own expense, for 14 days. People who live in border communities will be excluded. In addition to this Berejikilian said all other NSW residents must return via Sydney airport and spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, as concerns around the spread of COVID-19 via Victoria continues.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced from 1 am Saturday, August 8 the state will close its borders to NSW and the ACT. There will be some exceptions to this such as if you are border town resident or you are travelling to provide freight however all other travel will be stopped. The premier said she was enacting harsher border enforcement under advisement from the Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young.
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