Australia

LIVE: Premier’s emotional two-word message

Charis Chang

Victorian authorities have imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world on residents living in Melbourne.

But an expert has warned worse could be in store if the current stage 4 restrictions don’t work.

Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely told news.com.au he didn’t think there was a stage 5, at least not that he knew of, but he did think authorities could further tweak current restrictions.

Among them, he said, authorities could narrow the definition of an essential worker, restrict shopping to once a week, shut all takeaway and make mask-wearing compulsory in the home.

Read the full story here.

Gavin Fernando

A Victorian fly-in, fly-out worker has copped a $5000 fine after flouting quarantine rules to fly to a Pilbara mine site.

Fabian Michael D'Costa, a 49-year-old contractor for iron ore miner BHP, was issued with a self-quarantine direction after arriving at Perth Airport from Victoria on July 3.

But he instead flew directly to a BHP mine site in the Pilbara where he started working without isolating.

The man was fined $5000 and ordered to pay $225 in legal costs.

Gavin Fernando

Premier Daniel Andrews had only two more words to say to Victorians tonight: "Thank you."

The Victorian leader tweeted a series of screenshots earlier tonight showing normally-busy highways that are now completely deserted.

Mr Andrews has been urging people to stay home to stop Victoria's coronavirus cases from rising.

It comes after Victorian authorities announced a series of new restrictions for Melbourne yesterday, which now has one of the toughest lockdowns in the world.

Under the new restrictions, a strict 8pm to 5am curfew has been imposed on the city for the next six weeks.

Leaving the house is only permitted for one of four essential reasons – exercising in your local area; essential shopping; medical needs or care-giving; and going to work if you cannot do so from home.

Residents are not permitted to travel more than 5km from their homes, and must wear masks when they're out.

Gavin Fernando

Victoria's Police Commissioner Shane Patton said officers have had to "smash windows of some cars" because they have deliberately not complied with authorities during the pandemic.

He told 7.30 that while the overall level of compliance has been "very good", there is a "small minority" of people who "say the law doesn't apply to them".

"Just this week, we’ve had three or four cars pull up and people refuse to state their name and address, saying they're not obliged to stop, so we then have to step through a range of processes," he said. "We’ve had to smash windows of some cars because they deliberately did not want to comply with the Chief Health Officer's directions."

He said instances of such disobedience have been heightened during the pandemic, but stressed it's a "very small cohort".

"Generally speaking the whole Victorian community is banding together. The community is actually shunning people who won’t wear mask, who try and breach curfew rules. Generally the community is saying, enough is enough, we want everyone to comply."

Gavin Fernando

All 22 Big W stores in metropolitan Melbourne will be closed for six weeks from tomorrow under Stage 4 restrictions.

Nine stores in regional Victoria will remain open for customers under Stage 3 restrictions, and the remaining 148 stores outside Victoria will continue to trade as normal.

Big W will provide contactless in-store pick up services from all stores and drive up services in 15 of the 22 impacted stores, and continue to offer contactless home delivery to all Victorians.

The announcement of Victoria’s Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions will bring major changes to the state’s meat industry, with the sector preparing for a significant reduction in staff at its abattoirs and meat-work facilities.

Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson said the “most difficult” thing will be reducing staff numbers.

“What we know is that we need to reduce our staffing by 33 per cent from our peak staff number this year,” he told 7 News. “That is probably subject to change, because it has been very difficult to understand the actual process by which to do this, but essentially it means our production will be slower, and obviously we will be producing less product.”

He said they don’t foresee the price of meat rising at this stage, but noted they are “still trying to figure out what this is going to look like”.

The changes come as it was revealed it took more than a week for the Cedar Meats abattoir to give authorities a full list of workers who may have been exposed to the virus during the state’s first wave.

The first Cedar Meats case was identified on April 24, followed by a second case on April 26.

The next day, authorities told the abattoir it was investigating a possible cluster there. But relevant information for contact tracing of staff and visitors was not given to authorities until May 4, The Age reported.

At least 111 cases, including 67 staff, went on to be linked to the cluster.

Rohan Smith
Rohan Smith
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Rohan Smith

Monash University's Eric Windholz, who is a lecturer at the university's Faculty of Law, has written extensively about the risks involved in Victoria's approach to stage four lockdown.

In a piece published on the school's website, he looks at the relationship between Premier Daniel Andrews and his Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, noting that the public relationship is "a risky business".

"The medical-scientists’ expertise enables them to participate in public debate asymmetrically with other participants. Not only do they have a knowledge advantage, they also have a perceived purity of motives, especially when compared to political, business and commercial interests.

"It also can be difficult for governments to ignore the advice that comes from persons they have put forward as experts. All of this can combine to marginalise consideration of alternative views and solutions, freeze deliberation and locking-in certain policy directions.

"Expertise is a very powerful resource – and more so when the expert transitions from adviser to decision-maker, and combines the reputation and trustworthiness of their profession with the authority and power of the state.

"Experts also can make errors. The nature of an emergency means that decisions are being made based on incomplete information in a rapidly changing environment."

You can read more here.

Rohan Smith

Victoria's Chief Police Commissioner Shane Patton has revealed that some Victorians think they are beyond the law and are calling themselves "sovereign citizens".

"In the last week, we've seen a trend, an emergence if you like, of groups of people … small groups, but nonetheless concerning groups, who classify themselves as sovereign citizens, whatever that might mean, people who don't think the law applies to them.

"We've seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address. On at least four occasions in the last week, we've had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren't adhering to the Chief Health Officer guidelines, they weren't providing their name and address.

"We don't want to be doing that, but people have to absolutely understand there are consequences for your actions and if you're not doing the right thing, we will not hesitate to issue infringements, to arrest you, to detain you where it's appropriate."

Eve Black became the face of the sovereign citizen movement when she filmed herself refusing to give police details at a checkpoint. She was later arrested and charged but police had to break her window to get access to her.

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