The expert behind Melbourne’s economically destructive Stage Four lockdowns has admitted the measures won’t prevent a third wave of coronavirus.
University of Melbourne infectious diseases Professor Tony Blakely is a key author of state government modelling that argues the restrictions shouldn’t be eased until Victoria’s new cases averaged five a day over a fortnight.
That is still a tough ask, considering Victoria recorded 43 new cases on Thursday as New South Wales and Queensland struggle to keep average daily counts in the single digits.
Victoria’s Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has used that argument to justify maintaining harsh rules in Melbourne until at least late October.
The expert behind Melbourne’s economically destructive Stage Four lockdowns has admitted the measures won’t prevent a third wave of coronavirus. Pictured is a deserted intersection at Swanston and Bourke streets on September 10, 2020
The Stage Four lockdowns have already been extended by two weeks beyond the initial September 13 end date.
Melbourne’s five million residents on August 2 were placed into a strict lockdown banning them from travelling more than 5km from home and being outside after 8am.
This followed a second wave of COVID-19 that in early July saw residents in 36 suburbs and inner-city public housing towers banned form leaving home as the rest of the city lived under Stage Three lockdowns.
Professor Blakely said he could not guarantee the Stage Four lockdowns would prevent a potential third wave outbreak because the disease was unpredictable.
‘We simply can’t guarantee there won’t be another third wave because this virus is stochastic, it is chance,’ he told ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales.
‘It just takes one person getting in and giving it to a super spreader, going to a wedding even if there’s only 50 people and off it goes.
‘So there is that chance element.’
Professor Blakely said he could not guarantee the Stage Four lockdowns would prevent a potential third wave outbreak because the disease was unpredictable
Melbourne’s five million residents on August 2 were placed into a strict lockdown banning them from travelling more than 5km from home and being outside after 8am. Pictured are police in Melbourne on September 9, 2020 searching the boot of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Sales had asked him if Melburnians could be making sacrifices for nothing.
‘How do Victorians know they won’t have gone through all of this and complied and done the right thing and then be let down again at the government end?,’ she said.
What Victoria receives from YOUR GST
Victoria has allocated $17.7billion from the Commonwealth Grants Commission in 2019
That equated to 25.7 per cent of the $69billion distributed to the states and territories from GST revenue
Victoria received 98.3 cents for every dollar of the GST collected in the state compared with 87 cents for New South Wales and 51.8 cents for Western Australia
Queensland received $1.05 compared with $1.47 for South Australia, $1.76 for Tasmania and $1.24 for the Australian Capital Territory – the home of the nation’s highest average salaries
The Northern Territory received $4.27 for every GST dollar collected there
Source: Commonwealth Grants Commission 2019 report
When much of Melbourne was placed into Stage Three lockdown again in July, federal Treasury estimated they would cost $1billion a week.
The Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think tank, calculated the Stage Four lockdowns would cost the state economy $3.17billion a week.
Victoria last year received $17.7billion from the Commonwealth’s collection of the Good and Services Tax.
Professor Blakely said the other bigger states were simply lucky to have avoided a second wave of COVID-19.
‘I can tell you that New South Wales and Queensland are thanking their lucky stars at the moment that they haven’t seen an outbreak yet,’ he said.
‘There is stochasticy and chance involved here.
‘I’m hoping that Victoria has good luck now and we get through to Christmas in good shape with good action and good policy to maximise the good luck.’
Victoria has recorded 43 new cases of coronavirus and nine more deaths.
Friday’s cases have taken the state’s death toll to 710.
The new numbers come in the eighth day of double digits in cases after Thursday recorded 51 infections and Wednesday had 76.
The 14-day average of cases in the coronavirus-riddled state fell to 73 on Thursday.
Mr Andrews said although there were discussions to ease the 8am to 5am curfew on September 28, it may be extended beyond that.
‘The plan talks about the 28th, it may go beyond that,’ he said.
‘We will look at the data, we’ll look at where we’re at, we’ll look at how close we are to achieving the very low case numbers that are essential to opening the place up.
‘It’s no more complex than that. The curfew will be on for no longer than it needs to be on.’
MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Step one: The first step will come in to place on September 13.
Step two: The second step will be implemented when Melbourne has 30-50 COVID-19 cases a day on average over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on September 28.
Step three: The move to step three will occur when there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on October 26.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23.
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
Step one – 11.59pm on September 13:
– Curfew will be eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – September 28:
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – October 26:
– Curfew is no longer in place
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – November 23:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records