‘NEVER ON THE TABLE’: The rule Daniel Andrews still isn’t budging on

3 weeks ago 5

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews was questioned over the decision to keep the 5km travel limit in place despite easing numerous other restrictions.

Mr Andrews said the decision was based on health advice and that it won't be enforced longer than it has to be.

He said removing the 5km at this step was never outlined in the roadmap.

"I don't think the 5km was ever on the table for this first step, and we didn't foreshadow that. It is not like we could not have taken a step that we could have reasonably presumed to have been taking," Mr Andrews said.

"There will be a time for that, but it isn't now. It is not with 400 active cases plus their close contacts, not even with 12, 14, 16 cases a day, there is still too much risk out there at this stage."

The premier said he understands the 5km restriction on travel is "inconvenient" for Melbourne residents.

"I know that people would love that to be a bigger distance or no limitations whatsoever, but when the experts are telling you that it is moving, it is bringing a sense of control not to the people, but potential change of transmission, then you've got no choice," he said.

Epidemiologist and Chair of Deakin University, Catherine Bennett, told ABC that the Victorian government was "disingenuous" about what rules they chose to ease.

"I do think they've been very disingenuous in what they've decided to relax, the 5km rule, for example, although you can now extend that around your workplace if you are one of those with a work permit," she said.

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a raft of changes that will come into effect across Melbourne tomorrow as it moves to the second step of the roadmap out of lockdown.

He also noted the third and last steps in the roadmap will no longer be defined by dates and instead will depend on the number of virus cases.

"The trigger point for review by our public health team will be based solely on reaching our case number targets," Mr Andrews said.

"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."

Here is a list of the changes that will be implemented from 11.59pm tonight.

REASONS TO LEAVE HOME/GATHERINGS

– There will be no limit on the number of people from one household that can shop for necessary items.

– A household or limit of five people from two households can meet outdoors for social interaction. Children are not included in the limit.

– A single person household or a single parents household can have one nominated visitor.

EXERCISE

– Two people can exercise outdoors with a personal trainer.

– Outdoor pools are permitted to open for exercise only.

CHILDCARE/SCHOOLS

– Childcare will be open to all children, with the 5km not applying.

In-home child minding is permitted with one child minder outside the household allowed at any one time.

– Primary and secondary students can return to onsite learning from Term 4.

– From October 5 VCE and VCAL students can attend school for assessments.

– From October 12 all primary school students, VCE and VCAL students and specialist schools can return to onsite learning

HOSPITALS/HEALTH CARE

– Patients in care facilities and hospitals can have one visitor per day for a maximum of two hours. Patients under the age of 18 can be visited by two parents or carers at the same time with no time limit.

– Dental clinic can provide non-urgent services if they have a COVID safe plan in place.

– All AHPRA registered health workers – and in addition, social work, speech pathology,dietetics, audiology, exercise physiology, orthotists and prosthetists – may provide some face to face services.

REAL ESTATE

– Private property and display home inspections allowed with ne agent and one prospective buyer or tenant. The prospective buyer or tenant may be accompanied by one other person from an existing household, intimate partner or child under 18-years-old.

FUNERALS, WEDDINGS AND RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS

– Outdoor religious gatherings and ceremonies are permitted with a limit of five people and one faith leader. It must be adjacent to the place of worship.

– Weddings are permitted in outdoor public spaces with a maxmimum of five attendees, including the couple and two witnesses but not including the celebrant.

– Funerals can be attended by up to 10 people, plus children under 12 months and the people conducting the funeral.

VEHICLE MAINTAINENCE

– Safety inspections, maintenance or repairs on vehicles are permitted, including scheduled servicing.

WORKFORCE

– There will be a partial return to work for childcare, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, postal and distribution, dental services, allied health, elective surgery, outdoor sole traders (gardening, landscaping and garden maintenance businesses), pet grooming, real estate, and limited higher education and VET staff.

CURFEW

– Melbourne's curfew will not apply from 5am on Monday

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews revealed he was "saddened" by Jenny Mikakos' resignation as health minister, revealing he hasn't spoken to her since the announcement.

"No-one is happy to see someone who is an incredibly hard working member of the team go," he said.

"When you make a decision you can't serve in the Cabinet, you can't serve in the Cabinet. You need to tender your resignation. That's what happened. I wish her well. I acknowledge her hard work and her passion and commitment."

Mr Andrews said he had worked with Ms Mikakos for a long time, adding he has a "great deal of respect" for her.

"In the business I'm in, I don't know many people who could say they worked harder than her. A very hard working person. I'm sorry for her and I am saddened by this, I wish her well," he said.

"She's made a decision and it was the only decision she could make once she determined she could no longer sit in the Cabinet.

"I have nothing but good wishes for her in whatever the next chapter of her life involves."

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews has been questioned over his testimony during Friday's hotel quarantine inquiry.

During the inquiry Mr Andrews said he had no expectation for Australian Defence Force support for the hotel quarantine program.

During Sunday's press conference, one journalist claimed Mr Andrews "mislead" the inquiry, quoting comments the premier made in July saying he was grateful to Scott Morrison for his offer of support from the ADF.

Mr Andrews denied he mislead the inquiry in his recent testimony, saying the journalist only partially read his quote from July.

"You omitted a very important word – extensive support. I had no expectation whatsoever of extensive support coming to us from the ADF," he said.

"That is what I took away from the National Cabinet meeting in very plain and clear terms. I fully acknowledge that there would be, in my judgement a very different arrangement in New South Wales.

"You will see there is further reference in my statement which is a true and correct statement in every way where I made it very clear that the Prime Minister at his press conference after the National Cabinet meeting, advanced a more generous position.

"I acknowledged that, but it did not change any expectations I had about ADF support in the establishment of the program. It was no-one, no-one, had any expectation that there would be extensive support. That is what I have said because they are the facts of these matters."

The reporter then asked if the growing calls for Mr Andrews' resignation were "fair".

"It is not a matter for me to judge it. I've answered the question. I don't run from problems. That is not who I am," Mr Andrews responded.

"This is a difficult job, but it is a job that has to be done, and I'm determined to get this job done, but I need Victorians to work with me, and I'm so proud that they are, the vast majority of Victorians are focused on beating this thing, so I think that answers your question."

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews said Victorians needed to stay on track if they wanted to take one of the most significant steps towards reopening the state in just a few weeks' time.

"There's three weeks to go before we can take a really big step. That's why we can't let our guard down, can't pretend this is over because we desperately want it to be," he said.

"We can't say, 'Oh well, I have a sniffle, a cough, but I won't get or wait two days'. We can't say, 'I desperately want to see my mate mates so I will, I'll be right, I won't get caught'.

"No. That can't happen. Just can't happen. We have to all find a way to see this thing off to, to defeat it.

"The next marker of that, the next marker we hope and we predict again, subject to everything in between, will be in three weeks' time on 19 October."

Ally Foster

Premier Daniel Andrews has warned there will be more COVID-19 cases in 2021, but assured Victorians that an increase in cases won't mean that restrictions are instantly brought back in.

Mr Andrews said the aim of the state's suppression strategy was to get case numbers as low as possible and then to deal with spikes in cases as they arise.

"When the inevitable cases come forward in December or February next year, we won't necessarily, that doesn't trigger the instant re imposition of some of the restrictions we're talking about here," he said.

"There is a tolerance there and that's why we have to be ready and the numbers have to be low in the first instance."

Ally Foster

Here are some more details on the workers that will be included in the 127,000 allowed to return to work from midnight tonight.

Industries included in these changes will be:

Supermarkets and food distribution centres, which will be able to return to full capacity.

Abattoirs, seafood and meat processing plants will be able to increase worker capacities.

Manufacturing can have up to 90 per cent of the workforce return.

Sole traders doing work outside such as gardening and landscapers can return, but they will not be able to work in teams.

Pet grooming services will also return.

These changes will also come with increased obligations for employers, with regular surveillance testing of staff, deep cleaning, separating workers into consistent teams and providing regular training.

Premier Daniel Andrews was questioned over whether one day was enough notice for these industries, with the premier then claiming it was the best option under the current circumstances.

"What is the alternative? Make a decision last week and then update them which wasn't based on contemporary data? The notion of taking these steps will give people as much notice as we can and in some circumstances it is easier because we are on school holidays, we can talk about the beginning of term four," he said.

"My judgement is I don't think too many of them will be complaining that this decision has been made was up I think they will be very pleased. And they will work hard over the coming days to come up to the permitted level of activity."

Ally Foster

Mandatory mask wearing for Victorians will remain in place, with restrictions around the type of covering that can be worn to be tightened.

People will have to wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth when outside their homes.

Face shields, bandannas and scarves will no longer be acceptable, with anyone seen wearing these risking a fine.

Victorians will have a two-week adjustment period for this rule.

Premier Daniel Andrews said face shields don't meet the test of covering a person's face and mouth adequately.

"You can wear one if you want, in terms of your eyes, but it would need to be accompanied by a mask and we would recommend a two-ply mask, but anything is better than nothing, but a shield is akin to not wearing a face covering," he said.

"People have been amazing with this. There's been a few cases of people who for whatever reason refuse to wear masks but the vast majority of people, not just in Melbourne, but regional Victoria, they see it as, not something anyone is happy to do, but they see it as something that's possible and you get a significant benefit from that."

Ally Foster

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria is in a "very different" place in terms of the pandemic than it was two weeks ago.

He noted that 15 of today's 16 cases were linked to known clusters. This is a huge change compared to the 50-70 cases the state was seeing a fortnight ago.

"We are at a point now and the epidemiology is different, where the demographics of the cases we are seeing a different," Prof Sutton said.

"We always said that aged care cases would be a stubborn tale of this epidemic curve. That remains the case but it does mean that not insignificant proportion of our daily cases are in aged care and the curfew doesn't address that transmission risk, obviously."

Prof Sutton said the recent developments in Melbourne meant the curfew was no longer a "proportionate measure" to have in place.

"That's where we are at at this point in time and the new fines that will be in place from tomorrow night are really to focus down on that transmission risk and to be a reminder, an actual penalty for a breach of those stay-at-home directions where individuals might unlawfully gather in private homes," he said.

"So the focus is absolutely on that behaviour, on that transmission risk because that's an ongoing concern and as the premier stated, this whole strategy can fall apart if we don't hold the course on the very, very important aspect of limiting our interactions with others to those that are in this new step."

Ally Foster

The third step in Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown will be brought forward as a result of Melbourne's success in reducing case numbers.

The third step will now be taken on October 19, which will see restrictions eased even further, particularly regarding the rules about travel and leaving your home.

"The 19 October is three weeks away and our experts are confident that that is enough of the life-cycle of this virus, given its latency, that is enough time for us to be certain that the numbers we see are a true reflection of the impact of the announcements I have just made," Mr Andrews said.

"That is fully a week earlier than what we had thought."

Mr Andrews said the government would now be basing easing restrictions on the number of cases in the state instead of particular dates.

He said when these care number benchmarks are reached, so long as it wasn't within the next three weeks, then restrictions will be eased further.

"We are at least a week ahead of schedule but we must wait and see how things unfold over the next three weeks and then make those decisions and speak about likely timeframes in November," Mr Andrews said.

"This is a strategy that is designed to get us to a COVID normal Christmas. We are well on track, in fact, we are ahead of time when it comes to achieving that outcome.

"That is a credit to every single Victorian who is staying the course, working hard, making sacrifices. We have to get this done, we have to complete this task."

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