Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said the four new cases, all from one family in the northern suburbs, will not prevent Melbourne from coming out of lockdown tomorrow.
The eased rules will remain in place apart from one which states that masks would not be required outdoors.
Mr Merlino said the pandemic won’t be over “until we have successfully rolled out the vaccine program, and we have purpose-built quarantine facilities to deal with our highest risk individuals”. He added that the pandemic will be with us for some time yet.
The impact has been especially felt by businesses, and additional support has been provided by the state government however the COVID disaster payments will end at the end of lockdown. “The advice from the national CMO to the Federal Government is that Melbourne is no longer a hotspot and therefore that income support is no longer provided in Victoria,” he said.
“We tried to get them to reconsider, our State Treasurer went to Josh Frydenberg to see if it would be reconsidered. My understanding is that the Commonwealth is not going to reconsider the timing or nature of their income support. We understand that this is a difficulty this week for a few thousand businesses across Melbourne who will need to continue to be closed, which is why we provide that support.”
Asked about people who have properties in rural areas battered by last night’s wild weather in Victoria, Mr Merlino did not have a fully formulated response, stating “to take a commonsense approach.”
“If there is an emergency requirement to attend a property than it can happen but I will come back to you in terms of the exact details and circumstances,” he said.
Mr Merlino spoke of the infected Victorian couple who travelled to Queensland last week, stating that “they were relocating, that is not a breach of directions in Victoria” and “there may well be things they should have done in Queensland. I don’t have the answer to that.”
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng was asked about the possibility of another lockdown if the four-membered household which tested positive cannot be linked to a known cluster.
“I have talked about upstream and downstream risks. In this situation, we do have concerns but they are more upstream, where they got the infection from rather than the possibility that they will continue to transmit. We are very keen to ensure that the people we tested yesterday in the house, to make sure they won’t any sensitive links such as schools, public housing,” he said.
Asked about the return of Premier Dan Andrews, Mr Cheng said “he is meeting with doctors this week” but “based on that advice from his doctors, he will be able to indicate at what point he will return back to work as Premier. I am not his doctor. I am in regular contact with him.”