April 18, 2020 17:10:55
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says Victoria has recorded another 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 1,319.
- Nine of the new cases were tested in hotel quarantine
- It is a steep rise in confirmed cases after only one person was diagnosed the day before
- Police issued 88 fines, including to 12 people at a house party, for physical-distancing breaches
Ms Mikakos said nine of the newly confirmed cases were those who had been placed into mandatory quarantine after returning from overseas, including seven people from the Greg Mortimer cruise ship.
Of the 3,872 people placed into hotel quarantine to date, 39 had tested positive to COVID-19 while there, Ms Mikakos said.
It comes after just one new coronavirus case was recorded in the 24 hours to Friday morning, which authorities said showed the state’s physical-distancing restrictions were working.
Two cases were recorded the day before, and eight the day before that.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Ms Mikakos said case numbers were expected to continue to fluctuate from day to day and that the battle against coronavirus was “far from over”.
“We might be talking about COVID-19 into 2021,” she said.
More than 4,000 people were tested on Friday after Victoria expanded its testing criteria earlier in the week.
Ms Mikakos said while there were still cases in the community it was important people remained “vigilant and not complacent”.
None of the new cases were believed to be the result of community transmission.
In an interview with The Age newspaper, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, said it would be “some time” before pubs, restaurants, concerts or “MCG-type” gatherings were re-opened to the public.
He said Australia’s borders may remain closed until there was a vaccine and large sporting events like cricket and football would likely remain closed to spectators until at least 2021.
Ms Mikakos said such “mass gatherings” were not likely to be coming back this year.
The restrictions would be eased in stages in a “thoughtful, careful way”, she said, initially focusing on things that improved people’s mental health and wellbeing and allowed people to connect with their loved ones.
Long-term shutdown expected to ‘decimate’ hospitality industry
Co-owner of Prahran’s 161 nightclub Andrew Sumpter said that pushing the restrictions on Victoria’s hospitality industry out to 2021 threatened the “viability of the industry as a whole”.
“I think the hospitality industry will be decimated almost back to zero,” he said.
“I think even the casino might struggle to reopen.”
He said the flow-on effects would be huge, with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs.
While he agreed with the steps the Government had taken and thought they had been very effective, he said the industry would need ongoing support to restart and become sustainable again once the threat of the coronavirus diminished.
President of the Western Bulldogs AFL team Peter Gordon said he was not surprised that crowds were not expected to be allowed at sporting matches until next year.
“We expected that any return to footy this year would certainly initially be without crowds,” Mr Gordon said.
“And I guess we’ve war games scenarios in which the season is cancelled. Playing with crowds is the second scenario and it’s obviously way better than not playing games at all.”
Golf ban cemented in legislation, kayaking allowed
In an apparent easing of the coronavirus shutdown measures, Professor Sutton has advised that canoeing and kayaking are allowed in Victoria, as long as people comply with physical-distancing measures.
Vic COVID-19 snapshot
- Confirmed cases so far: 1,319
- Deaths: 14
- Suspected community transmissions: 136
- Cases in hospital: 30
- Intensive care patients: 12
- Recovered patients: 1,172
- People tested: More than 97,000
Updated Saturday, April 18Latest information from the Victorian Government
Authorities had earlier said all forms of recreational boating including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding were banned under the stage three restrictions.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson this morning said Professor Sutton had advised “canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rowing and surf skiing are permitted, as long as physical distancing is complied with and people don’t travel large distances to do them”.
“The Chief Health Officer has also made it clear that fishing, hunting and golf are not permitted,” the spokesperson said.
“We are seeing good recent results in flattening the curve but now is not the time to be complacent we have to stay on course.”
Victoria directed all golf facilities to close as part of the restrictions, in contrast to other states where golf courses can remain open as long as golfers follow physical-distancing measures.
From midnight last night, golf courses officially joined go-kart tracks, rifle ranges and equestrian centres on the list of banned recreational facilities in Victoria.
The amendment to the restrictions was added after a DHHS staffer yesterday incorrectly told the office of an Opposition MP golf was allowed.
In a string of tweets on Friday evening, Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith took aim at the Chief Health Officer, questioning why Professor Sutton was not releasing the reasons for the ban.
“Show us your evidence as to why various individual sporting pursuits are banned in Victoria but no other state in Australia,” he wrote.
In one post he said the Chief Health Officer and Premier were peddling “bulls**t”, saying “it’s not about golf” but it was “an example of the punitive rules in Victoria” that exist nowhere else in Australia.
During the press conference today, Ms Mikakos said golf was banned because there was the potential for “intermingling” in club rooms and on the course and there were no guarantees there would be only one or two people at any hole.
She said water sports such as canoeing were permitted because they were a form of physical exercise that could be done while physically distancing.
Victorians fined for party, criminal damage
Under Victoria’s stage three coronavirus restrictions, people are allowed to leave their homes for four main reasons shopping for essential food or supplies, medical care or caregiving, exercise or necessary work or education.
People found to be breaching the restrictions face on-the-spot fines of more than $1,600 and can face stronger criminal penalties.
In the 24 hours to 11:00pm on Friday night, Victoria Police issued 88 fines after conducting 673 spot checks.
A police spokeswoman said that included 12 people gathered at a home for a party, five people committing criminal damage and two outlaw motorcycle gang members fined leaving their Port Melbourne clubhouse, where they had been drinking.
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Parents group calls for school allowance
Parents Victoria and Gender Equity Victoria are calling for a one-off home school allowance to help offset additional costs of educating children in isolation during term two.
The Victorian Government has said it wants children to continue to learn from home where possible during the term, as part of measures implemented to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Parents Victoria Executive Officer Gail McHardy said there needed to be some recognition of the financial burden on parents.
“A learning space at home, boosting their internet, the cost of purchasing any other education apps, digital tech books, things like that, online education resources, they’re not all free,” she said.
“We just certainly feel that because families are under such undue financial stress, it’s really important the Government could find a way to even give a one-off family payment allowance to support them.”
Schools are set to teach online for all of term two in Victoria, and the Chief Health Officer has not ruled out the measures extending into term three.
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April 18, 2020 09:15:22
stories from Victoria