Daniel Andrews has hinted the JobKeeper wage subsidy package could be extended for Victorians as he plunged Melbourne and Mitchell Shire north of the city back into lockdown for six weeks.
The Victorian premier on Tuesday re-instituted stage-three lockdown for Australia’s second most populous city after his state recorded its worst day yet for COVID-19 infections with 191 cases.
Melbourne’s population of five million people will be stopped from leaving the city’s confines by roadblocks and booze bus-style vehicle checks – unless they have an essential reason.
As Mr Andrews revealed parts of the state were returning to lockdown, he said he was ‘confident’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison would implement further financial support packages for Melbourne’s stranded residents.
Daniel Andrews addressing the media on Tuesday. He has hinted the JobKeeper wage subsidy package could be extended for Victorians after Melbourne and neighbouring Mitchell Shire were placed into lockdown
The whole of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire north of the city will be placed back into lock down for six weeks from 11.59pm on Wednesday after Victoria recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus – its worst figure yet. Pictured: A map showing the suburbs in lockdown
The federal government is due to review JobKeeper later this month.
‘I am confident the prime minister knows and understands that there will be different forms of hardship in different parts of the country, different industry, different sectors,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I’m confident he and his colleagues are looking to design whatever the next series of decisions that they make, whatever those new or different policy settings are.
‘I think he is going to be guided by that hardship just as we are, where there is hardship you have to have a response that is appropriate to that and that means that you have got a set of policy, a set of tools that where they’re needed most they will make the most difference.’
The lockdown announced on Tuesday means residents of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will only be allowed to leave their home for work and study, giving or receiving care, shopping for essentials and daily exercise near where they live.
Gatherings of more than two people who do not live together will be banned; beauty services and entertainment venues will shut; and cafes, restaurants and pubs will be able to offer takeaway only.
Year 11 and 12 pupils and special schools will go back to class but holidays will be extended by a week for students up to year 10, with remote learning a possibility after that.
Restrictions for the rest of Victoria remain the same – but residents can only enter Melbourne for caregiving, essential shopping and work or study.
A passenger wearing a protective masks arrives on a flight from Melbourne into Sydney on Tuesday. The federal government is due to review JobKeeper later this month
Under-pressure premier Daniel Andrews said the new lockdown was essential to avoid ‘thousands and thousands’ of cases and ‘many, many people in hospital.’
‘This is a pandemic and it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us,’ he said.
Mr Andrews said case numbers will ‘get worse before they get better’. He has told Prime Minster Scott Morrison about the new lockdown and requested hundreds of ADF troops to help with enforcement.
The Premier also said he has spoken to Mr Morrison about the possibility of extending JobKeeper and the increased JobSeeker payment, which are due to expire in September, for Victorians who are locked down until 19 August.
‘I am confident that the Prime Minister knows and understands that there will be different forms of hardship in different parts of the country, different industry, different sectors,’ he said.
Pictured: Workers help deliver food to residents to a locked-down housing tower in North Melbourne
Volunteers have been delivering food to public housing residents. Pictured: A stack of food and supplies stored before distribution
After Mr Andrews announced the new lockdown, Victorian Opposition leader Michael O’Brien savaged him for hiring ‘failing to accept responsibility for his own mistakes’.
Dozens of cases from the Melbourne outbreak have been traced back to breaches in the hotel quarantine system after private security guards used by the government instead of the police interacted with patients and took the virus home to their families.
He said: ‘Daniel Andrews let the Covid-19 genie out of the bottle with hotel quarantine bungles and now everyone’s paying the price for it. This is going to be devastating for so many families, so many small businesses, so many jobs that just may not be there in six weeks’ time.’
Preparing for duty: Police Officers congregate outside Sydney Domestic Terminal before being transported to various parts of the NSW border where they will stop Victorians entering the state
Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton confirmed 37 new cases are linked to outbreaks and 154 are under investigation, bringing the state’s total to 2,824 cases.
Thirteen new cases are linked to nine Melbourne tower blocks which have suffered 69 cases and been placed under hard lockdown since Saturday, meaning residents cannot leave for any reason without special approval.
Pictures from the housing commission blocks today show firefighters dressed in hazmat suits preparing to enter the buildings to deliver milk and bread while dozens of police stand guard outside.