Victoria has recorded one locally acquired COVID-19 case and a further infection in hotel quarantine on the third day of its “circuit-breaker” lockdown.
The Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn hotel quarantine cluster grew to 16 yesterday with two new cases. A woman and a three-year-old child from different households who attended a private family function at a Sydney Road venue in Coburg on 6 February and an international airline crew member in hotel quarantine were recorded as part of the cluster which involves the more infectious UK strain of the virus.
The state’s top health officials have defended the state’s testing and contact tracing systems, as authorities urge anyone who visited a growing number of exposure sites to get tested.
The following exposure sites were added on 14 February:
Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre, Pascoe Vale
Elite Swimming Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale
Woolworths Broadmeadows Central, Broadmeadows
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, Broadmeadows
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
Yarra Trams – No. 11 (from Harbour Esplanade/Collins St to William St/Collins St #3) between 7.55am-8.10am; and No. 58 (Bourke St/William St #5 to Queen Victoria Market/Peel St #9) from 8.10am-8.25am) and (from Queen Victoria Market/Peel St #9 to Bourke St/William St #5) from 9.40am-9.55am, Melbourne
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra is urging the state government to provide support to industries directly affected by the lockdown.
For many businesses, the Valentine’s Day weekend, which also saw the return of crowds at Flemington Racecourse, crowds at the Australian Open, Chinese New Year celebrations and countless weddings and functions that were due to be held following last year’s delays, was going to be their busiest in a year.
Across the state, venues and business owners had ordered significant levels of stock to meet the demand which has now been abruptly taken away from them. Worse still, these are the businesses that have been most impacted by the limit on workers allowed to return to offices and restrictions on travel.
“Victorian businesses need certainty that this lockdown will end after the five-day timeline with Victoria returning to COVID Normal on Thursday,” Mr Guerra said.
“Business needs this reassurance to prepare to welcome staff and patrons back and secure stock and other logistics.
“The Victorian Chamber is urging the State Government to provide targeted support for hospitality venues to compensate for perished food and cancellation costs not covered by insurance for the affected sectors. Without this, the reality is doors will close indefinitely and jobs will be lost.
“A robust and reliable quarantine system and the effective roll-out of a vaccine is the best opportunity we have to provide the confidence that businesses need to invest and employ so that we can rebuild the economy. We need clarity on both aspects.”
As businesses are on their knees, George Crozier MP has called on Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews to explain why the health directives for the current five-day state-wide lockdown actually extend to midnight 26 February.
“You don’t lockdown a state if you know where the cases are. Contact tracing is not fixed as promised and Daniel Andrews has failed every single Victorian yet again,” Mr Crozier said in a statement.
Mr Andrews, however, said the state was “well-placed” to lift lockdown restrictions come 11.59pm Wednesday however he stressed it was still too early to say whether stage four measures would ease.