Dec 5, 2020
Dan Andrews COVID Press Conference Transcript December 5
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews held a coronavirus update news conference on December 5. He announced a significant easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, including easing rules on masks and increasing home visitors to 30 people. Read the full transcript here.
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Dan Andrews: (00:07)
Everyone ready to go? Yep.
Dan Andrews: (00:12)
Firstly, today’s the 37th day with zero cases of coronavirus across our state. Yesterday, they were 8,377 test results received. We thank each and every one of those almost eight and a half thousand Victorians who got a test the day before. If you’ve got symptoms, any symptoms whatsoever, it is the most important thing to go and get tested and get tested quickly, not to wait an afternoon, not to wait a day, but to go and get tested as soon as you register those symptoms. It is so, so important for us to find any cases that might be there to then protect your family and by that, protect every single family. So we do send our thanks to those almost eight and a half thousand Victorians who went and got tested. We’ve just got to keep those numbers up, that’s what gives us the clearest and most accurate picture.
Dan Andrews: (01:01)
Just before I get to our restrictions, and I know everyone’s very keen to hear the changes that we’re about to announce, I do just want to call out that as at 8:30 this morning, Vic SES has received some 325 calls for assistance in the last 24 hours. 98% of those have now been cleared. 250 of those 325 calls were for trees down and some 35 for significant damage to buildings. The eastern suburbs of Melbourne were those who were hardest hit by some pretty wild weather overnight. The severe weather warning now only applies for small parts of the state, elevated in coastal areas. But I did on behalf of all Victorians, just again, want to thank all those SES units for the amazing work that they do on behalf of all of us and the broader emergency services family who assist them. We’re all very much indebted to SES volunteers at a time like this. As I said, today marks 37 days without a coronavirus case anywhere in our state. This is a remarkable achievement. It is something that every Victorian owns. It is something that every Victorian has built through their sacrifice, through all that they’ve given up, the character that they have shown and the compassion that they have extended to each other. But like most incredibly valuable things, this thing is precious and it is fragile. Whilst today we can take some big steps, not to normal, but to a COVID-safe summer, we all need to remain vigilant and we all need to play our part.
Dan Andrews: (02:43)
Again, nothing’s more important than getting tested as soon as you register any symptom. Nothing is more important in a broader sense than all of us playing our respective part in safeguarding and protecting this internationally, unique, very valuable, precious thing. We will finish up with cases. We will finish up with outbreaks. That is the nature of this virus. Even 37 days in a row without a vaccine, they’re two different things. It’s not the same as having a vaccine. 37 days in a row is an amazing achievement and every Victorian should be proud, but this thing is not done. It is not over. It can come back, and if we don’t all play our part and remain vigilant, then we do run the risk of everything that we’ve built being compromised. So that’s why we’ve all got to remain vigilant. 37 days is not a vaccine. They’re just not the same thing.
Dan Andrews: (03:41)
However, after this amazing effort and the ongoing effort that Victorians right across the board have put in, I’m very pleased to be able to make some significant announcements today as to restrictions that will apply for most of the summer. We’ll come back and review some of these toward the end of January, but these will be the settings for the next couple of months.
Dan Andrews: (04:04)
If I deal with offices first, all of this, where there is a future date, it’s subject to public health advice. We have built this thing because we have steadfastly not listened to the loudest voices, not listened to the critics, but instead listened to the data, the doctors and the science. So all of these prospective changes will of course be subject to public health advice as close to that date as possible. Having made that point, I wanted to start with offices first. Office space, workplaces, private sector will be able to move to 50% of employees from Monday, the 11th of January. People watching and listening will know that private sector offices at the moment are 25%. They’ll be able to take that jump to 50% on Monday, the 11th of January.
Dan Andrews: (04:53)
We have kept the public service at home so as to favor the private sector, to give them more room to get back to that COVID-safe summer. But again, subject to advice, from Monday, the 11th of January, the Victorian public service will move to 25%, and hopefully again, on Monday the 8th of February, the public sector, Victorian public service will be able to move to 50% of employees in office.
Dan Andrews: (05:22)
Now, turning to seeing family and friends. I’m very pleased to announce that from 11:59 PM tonight, as opposed to the 13th as we had foreshadowed, we’re essentially bringing forward everyone’s ability to have 30 visitors daily from any number of households to their home. So 15 goes tonight and you’re up, you’ll be able to have from midnight tonight, 30 visitors from multiple households to your home over the course of a day. That’s not 30 for lunch and 30 for dinner, that’s 30 across the day. I’m sure that will be very warmly welcomed.
Dan Andrews: (06:01)
In terms of public gatherings, up to a hundred people from any number of households that’s as in outdoors. Weddings, funerals, and religious gatherings, a one to two square meter rule will now apply. There will be no cap. In terms of dance floors, where that’s obviously important for weddings, for instance, there will be a one to four square meter rule in place with a maximum of 50 people. If you’re having a service or a wedding, for instance, at your family home, the 30 limit applies. So it’s the same as any gathering that you might have in your home.
Dan Andrews: (06:44)
In terms of some broader issues that are central to that COVID-safe summer, firstly, let me talk about masks. Masks must be carried by everyone at all times. They must be worn in indoor shopping centers and supermarkets and department stores, for instance, K-Mart or Myer, Ikea, Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi just to give you a few examples and indoor markets such as the Prahran Market. Large, big crowds, people you don’t know people, who’ve not… Everybody has QR coded in, so there’s a need or requirement to continue to wear a mask in those settings. That’s very important. If there is a case, if there is an outbreak that will simply make the job of contact tracing easier, not easy but easier. It just makes sense for us to hang on to mandatory masks in those settings.
Dan Andrews: (07:43)
Mandatory mask also for public transport and for commercial passenger vehicles, Uber, taxis, things of that nature. In other settings, masks continue to be strongly recommended indoors or outdoors when that physical distancing, that 1.5 meters can’t be maintained. That’s advisory in the highest terms, the strongest terms, but it is not mandatory. We would encourage people to wear a mask whenever they can, and wherever there’s any doubt that they got to come in closer contact than that 1.5 meters. And just to be clear, everyone must carry a mask unless you’ve got a medical exemption, everyone must carry a mask for those occasions when they move into a Chadstone Shopping Center or go to Bunnings, or are out and about and through no fault of their own, suddenly find themselves in a crowd, in a group of people where that distance can not be maintained.
Dan Andrews: (08:41)
Masks have been a great insurance policy for us and they remain as such. We’ll have another look at this in January and see whether those rules can change, but it’s a very low cost for a very high benefit. I want to thank single Victorian for the amazing compliance we’ve seen with the mask rules as they have related. They are coming off now to a certain extent, but they still remain very important in those large settings and important to have in your pocket so that if you need to put it on you, you absolutely can.
Dan Andrews: (09:12)
In terms of hospitality venues, bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes, they will move, from 11:59 PM tonight to one person per two square meters for indoor and outdoor venues. There will be no cap on the number of patrons that can be in those venues inside or outside provided the one person per two square meters is observed. Up to 25 patrons will be permitted in venues before the density question of one to two meters kicks in. So for smaller venues, they’ll be able to have 25, and then the one to two becomes a relevant factor, post 25 patrons. That’s just about making sure that we have a set of rules that are simple and easy and cater for many, many small venues all the way through to much larger ones.
Dan Andrews: (10:04)
This will be of interest to many people as well. Standing service will now be allowed again. So you don’t have to be seated. You’re able to stand at the public bar. Night clubs will be one per two square meters. The same dance floor rules that I mentioned before for a wedding will apply in those settings. Standing service will also be permitted in those venues. They’ll look different. They will need to be different, but they will be able to reopen in a COVID-safe way.
Dan Andrews: (10:35)
I want to run through the rest of it relatively quickly. Indoor physical recreation and community sport, one person to four square meters. Gyms and exercise classes indoors limited to 50 people. COVID marshals that have been required, they will be required when the premises is staffed. When unstaffed, there won’t be a need for those marshals, but a density requirement of one to eight square meters will then be necessary in that unstaffed, unmarshaled part of the day.
Dan Andrews: (11:08)
Outdoor physical recreation and community sport, up to a hundred patrons for outdoor fitness classes, again, one to two square meters. Pools, spas, springs, indoor venues, one to four, outdoor venues, one to two. Community venues like libraries, one person per two square meters.
Dan Andrews: (11:28)
Seated entertainment venues both indoor and outdoor, up to 75% of fixed seated capacity with a maximum of 1000 people. One per two square meters in foyers, bars, bathrooms, those sorts of common and shared facilities. Large events will be determined. As you all know, we have a process that’s been set up to do an event-by-event plan, taking into account the unique circumstances of each of those much larger events. So I can’t today give you a Boxing Day Test number or the Australian Open number, but we’ll come back to you at the appropriate time once all those matters have been finalized.
Dan Andrews: (12:08)
Indoor non-seated entertainment venues. So for instance, a small gallery will be able to have up to 50% of its total capacity with, again, that maximum of 1000 people, one person to two square meters. Outdoor non-seated entertainment, such as the zoo, for instance, one person per two square meters. If I can then go to gaming, one person per four square meters, and there’s no longer a seated service requirement. There’ll be other rules in terms of machines turned on and off and COVID-safe planning and all of that, but we believe that we can take that next step.
Dan Andrews: (12:44)
Hairdressing, beauty and personal care, one person per two square meters, facemasks no longer required, but we would anticipate that staff would continue to wear those face masks. That just makes common sense, I think. Real estate inspections and auctions, one person per two square meters, very important part of our economy. And of course everyone’s, well, many people’s lives are by selling and buying. That can get closer to normal, be done in a COVID-safe way.
Dan Andrews: (13:12)
When it comes to accommodation settings, bookings restricted to the private gathering limit of 30 visitors. So when you’re away, that place is essentially your home, so the rules that apply at your home, 30 visitors across the day from multiple households, apply to you when you are there staying at an accommodation business. Tourism, spices, and groups, there are no cap on tour groups, but masks must be worn on tour transport.
Dan Andrews: (13:43)
That is essentially the list. There will be many questions that come out of that. We’ve provided you with a document, and as has been our practice, we won’t try and write the rules from the podium. There will be many, many questions, and we’ll deeply engage with all those sectors beyond the engagement that we’ve already had, for which we are very grateful to all the [inaudible 00:14:02] bodies and the so many others who’ve worked very closely with us on these rules and all the rules across this journey.
Dan Andrews: (14:08)
But what this signifies today is, that we have built something that’s precious. We have built something that is internationally unique. We can take these steps and we can do it safely as long as everyone follows different rules and arguably, better rules for the purposes of freedom of movement, economic activity, getting back to work, getting back to not normal, but finding and locking in a COVID-safe summer. We’re very pleased to be able to make those decisions today.
Dan Andrews: (14:38)
I thank Martin and Brett and all the public health team, and I thank all Victorians for the amazing effort, sacrifice. The character that has been shining across this state is inspiring. It makes you proud to be a Victorian. Now, we all just have to lock this in and make sure that none of us, in any way, contribute to the spread of this virus. We know that without a vaccine, we will see cases. We will see outbreaks, but we’re very confident that we’ll be able to control those. But that control is underpinned by everyone playing their part, and it will be undermined if people don’t. So all of us need to remain vigilant. We need to acknowledge that despite the breakthroughs that are being made in different parts of the world, and lots of positive news about vaccines, that vaccine is not here yet. When it arrives, it’ll have to be administered. That’s a big job. So we have many months in front of us, of living a different life, but it’s got to be a COVID-safe summer, and then we will make further announcements once we get into 2021.
Dan Andrews: (15:49)
Again, this is an amazing achievement and every Victorian owns it. Every Victorian should be proud of it, and I’m proud of every single Victorian. I might ask Martin to fall in here to add to my comments. And then the three of us happy to take any and all questions you have.
I thank you, Premier, and I join with you in thanking, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services and its public health team for the extraordinary work that they’ve put in over the last few months to get us to this unrivaled position that only a few short weeks and months ago, so many doubted we would be in. I want to thank the people of Victoria, as the premier has.
I just want to make a few comments that have been of significant interest regarding some international travelers who made their way into Victoria yesterday just to put a few things clearly on the record. So two international travelers are now in mandatory quarantine in Victoria after having arrived in Sydney yesterday at around midday, and then boarded a domestic flight without quarantining in New South Wales. A comprehensive public health response is now under way, including testing and full contact tracing. I can report very positively that the initial tests of the two international travelers returned a negative result, and that was a very good outcome. However, that’s not over because what we have to do is, because of the incubation period process, keep those people in quarantine and they will be in quarantine for the next two weeks, is we have to also act on the basis that because of the incubation, there is some significant challenges still for the 176 people who were on that flight, 170 passengers and 4 cabin crew and 2 pilots. So anyone who was on Virgin airlines, Flight VA…
So anyone who was on Virgin Airlines, flight VA 838 from Sydney to Melbourne that arrived at approximately 1:25 PM should immediately quarantine at home and contact the Department of Health and Human Services, or 1300 651 160 for further information. The two international travelers knowing were not showing symptoms of COVID-19. They have had no known contact with a confirmed case, and as I’ve indicated, the initial tests of the two travelers has returned a negative result. A follow up test has been arranged for tomorrow and because of their ongoing quarantining, they’ll also be tested on day 11. The 176 close contacts, that is everyone that was on the plane, have all been identified. And I want to thank Virgin Australia for their cooperation in that regard. And that includes, as I said, 170 passengers, four cabin crew, and the two pilots.
In addition, five staff who spoke with the travelers at Melbourne Airport, have also been identified as close contacts and they have been contacted and also advised to quarantine. Of those passengers we’ve been in contact with them last night and again, this morning through our contact tracing and outbreak team, 168 passengers have already received a phone call from the department, advising them to quarantine until further testing on the overseas travelers resolves the issue. So if in fact, tomorrow the international travelers return a further negative test, the incubation period on the chain of transmission will have been broken and we will release those close contacts from isolation. And that will be very good thing for those people.
Anyone who was at Melbourne Airport, Domestic Terminal three on Saturday is advised to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and to seek testing if symptoms of however mild develop. Melbourne Airport is not at risk to the public, and you may continue to visit the airport in line with current restrictions. Can I also thank New South Wales Health who have been very cooperative and supportive. Once our Victorian Health Department officials alerted them to the situation they have pulled out all stops to be cooperative in making sure that the same kind of follow-up as to what has happened has occurred.
At that end of issues, I want to thank my New South Wales counterpart. Mr. Has for the extremely collegial way that he has approached this issue. And I want to thank everyone who’s been involved. And to such time as these two international travelers return their next negative test, which we remain positive about, unfortunately the 176 plus people on that plane, 174 others beyond the two international travelers, plus the workers at Melbourne Airport are required to self isolate, and our department will continue through the projects of our contact tracing team to stay in contact with them. And as soon as we get at some stage tomorrow, that update on that, we’ll be able to advise them of what the status of their ongoing isolation is. So I might return the program.
Dan Andrews: (22:02)
Thanks, Martin. Let me just add very briefly the New South Wales government have committed to an investigation as to what went on and we welcome Mart. These things will happen from time to time, and I’m sure that our discussion will occur at National Cabinet next week, where we’ll all work together as closely as we can to try and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, whether it be that airport or any airport. We are now happy to take any and all questions you have.
Speaker 1: (22:29)
How did, how were they found?
Dan Andrews: (22:32)
Well, in terms of what exactly occurred in New South Wales at Sydney Airport, that’s a matter of the investigation that’s being run there. In terms of Melbourne Airport, they finished up speaking to someone who formed the view that this was not as it should be. And so there was some good fortune there, and sometimes you need a little bit of that. So we’re very keen to have a system that’s not reliant on this, I think Victorians know it too well that you’ve got to have the most robust system. And we will make sure in terms of our own return travelers, whether it be, lots of different detail that we’ve put in place that’ll apply from tomorrow. So airside transfers rather than getting into the actual airport, things of that nature, but let’s wait and see what comes of the New South Wales work just to find out what happened. And then hopefully all of us can learn from that. As I said, I’m sure this will be a matter that will be discussed in the most collegiate terms at National Cabinet later on this week.
Speaker 1: (23:34)
We were being told that they were picked up by a car rental company who overheard a conversation. Can you confirm that that’s how they were reported to authorities? [crosstalk 00:23:43]
Dan Andrews: (23:43)
I think that was a feature of it. Again, we’re very grateful for that employee doing quite amazing job. Yeah. We’re very grateful. Sometimes you need that kind of good fortune, we don’t expect it. We don’t, we’ve not built a system that actually relies upon it, but something’s is going wrong in New South Wales let’s let them find out what that was. And we’re very grateful that we’re able to pull this up as quickly as possible. What’s also important to acknowledge is that they’ve got one set of test results, come back negative. We’ll get another set of test results tomorrow. Hopefully they’re negative again. And then those 170 plus people who are currently at home, will be able to be that, as Martin said, that chain of transmission will be broken, the links broken, and, therefore, they’ll be able to be released back to having a normal, pre Christmas spirit.
Speaker 1: (24:31)
Is there a sense that this was deliberate or they didn’t realize?
Dan Andrews: (24:36)
I wouldn’t make any comment on their motives, or the issue you’re raising. I think that’s much more about trying to find out exactly what happened in Sydney, and it’s for the New South Wales authorities to do that. And I’m very confident that when the minister has had confirms that there’s going to be an investigation, that’s exactly what will happen. And look, no doubt, they’ll get to the bottom of what’s happened, but there’ll be learnings there for all of us. And we can all make sure that the systems we have in place are as robust as possible.
Speaker 1: (25:02)
Just on that thought, we’ve been told that the car rental company employee overheard the conversation rather than,
Dan Andrews: (25:08)
You’re almost certain about that. But when that person became aware that this was not as it should be, something was wrong here, they’ve acted promptly. And we’re very grateful to them [crosstalk 00:07:17]. Very, very grateful to them.
Speaker 1: (25:19)
[crosstalk 00:25:19] It wasn’t that they reported to the car rental authority?
Dan Andrews: (25:24)
No, I don’t think that’s right, but I can’t speak to whether they overheard or anything like that. Or what I can say is on behalf of all Victorians, that employer has done an amazing job and we’re very grateful to them, [crosstalk 00:25:32] and hopefully they’re suitably honored and rewarded by their employer. And if we have to do something, we will. They’ve done a really, really good job.
Speaker 1: (25:39)
Does it concern you the amount of time between when they come off the plane, these employees notice, and then the other passengers on the plane were notified later that night, about eight o’clock?
Dan Andrews: (25:48)
Now all you’ve got to get the manifest and we got that in quicker time as we can. But again, if we can work with airlines in the future, hopefully we don’t have these sorts of incidents. But if we do, we can always look to try and get those manifests details quicker. As Martin said, everyone got a text message last night, there was, I think only one person who hadn’t provided a mobile number. We didn’t think it best ring them at midnight, but they were contacted this morning.
Dan Andrews: (26:09)
And all of those, 170 plus people were being phone called beyond the text message from IDN. So I think all of them now know exactly what’s required of them. Hopefully it’s only for another day. So we get another negative, another two negatives tomorrow, and then they’ll be able to go back to their business as if this had never happened. The key point here is that let’s wait for the New South Wales investigation. Let’s learn what can be learned from that, both at that end and across the whole country, and make sure that this doesn’t happen again. That’s always the most important thing with these things.
Speaker 1: (26:44)
Would Vodafone be involved as well though?
Dan Andrews: (26:48)
Again, I’m not going to speculate on what’s contributed to this. I think the most important thing is to have a proper process in Sydney, work out what’s happened. And then all of us will work together to make sure it can’t happen again. Once that review is done, once that investigation is done, then maybe I’ll be able to answer a question like that. But it’s principally what happens at Sydney Airport is principally a matter for the New South Wales government in partnership with the federal government. And I don’t know what agencies were or weren’t involved. That will be a matter for the work that’s done by New South Wales.
Speaker 1: (27:20)
Did things need to change in Melbourne given that what’s happened was they were reported by a car rental authority? Will they need to be… and you’ve said that [crosstalk 00:09:26].
Dan Andrews: (27:28)
Sure. I’ll just, let’s be, we’re not having any of this. There’s no sense of any criticism by anybody in Victoria. Like those people should not, they’re in it, it seems they’re in a queue waiting to get on a bus to go to a hotel quarantine. Next minute, they’re not in that queue. They’re instead making quite, from the Sydney Airport quite an overland journey to get to the other terminal. Tickets have been purchased en route. Then they’ve got on the plane, made their way here. We picked it up. We’re very grateful that we were able to do that, but there should be no sense of any criticism by anybody in our state. But, each of us, if there’s learnings across the board, then we should look at whatever the investigation in New South Wales throws up.
Dan Andrews: (28:13)
And I’m not here to criticize New South Wales it’s happened, I can’t change that. All we can do is work together as closely as possible to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. And I’m really confident that we’ll be able to do that.
Speaker 1: (28:24)
[crosstalk 00:28:24] here in Victoria. I don’t believe so. No, but if there’s any learnings to come out of what happened in New South Wales, and again, you’ve got to establish the facts first, then of course, we would look to make any enhancements we could, but I don’t want that answer, which is an honest answer. I don’t want that to be interpreted as any criticism of any systems in, at our airport or across our staff. These people should not have been here. They did get here. And if there’s changes that can be made around where flights come from from a domestic point of view, then maybe we’ll all be stronger for this. And hopefully we do get a negative test tomorrow and we can kind of pull the thing up there and maybe learn some lessons. When I say we, as in every airport across the whole country. But I wouldn’t want anyone to be in any way critical of anybody in our state, they’ve all done their job well, we just got to get to the bottom of what happened up in Sydney.
Speaker 1: (29:24)
And are they just striding citizens who’ve returned from [inaudible 00:29:26]?
Dan Andrews: (29:27)
I believe they have, they are returned travelers, their exact immigration status, whether they’re citizens or permanent residents, I’m not certain, but they were returning or at least they are reviling themselves of an entitlement that they had. They’re here lawfully, beyond that I can’t speculate as to what motivated them to come or how recently they were here. Let’s let New South Wales do their work and we can see what comes with that.
Speaker 1: (30:00)
But now they’re effectively the first two people talking cards about who [crosstalk 00:30:00]
Dan Andrews: (30:05)
They are, they are the first albeit inadvertent occupants of Victoria reset hotel quarantine system.
Speaker 1: (30:08)
What was the process after they were picked up? Were they indue or were they taken straight to hotel quarantine, were they taken to the Hope hotel or the-
Dan Andrews: (30:15)
They’ve gone into hotel quarantine and nearby to the airport and they will be treated no different to anybody else. They will have been interviews done all of that. Well, the usual stuff. They’ve been tested, they’ll be tested again. We wish them well, we hope they haven’t got it. We don’t want anyone to have this. Something’s gone wrong in New South Wales. Let’s get to the bottom of that. And then hopefully that won’t happen again. And every state can benefit from that, because though if it can happen there then logic tells you that there’s some chance that could happen at another airport. And we don’t want that happening anyway.
Speaker 1: (30:50)
Do we have a for travels?
Dan Andrews: (30:54)
No we wouldn’t necessarily speak to that in any event, given the limited numbers of people that are coming back, certainly these are very limited. Privacy is important, and we’ve always tried to respect that.
Speaker 2: (31:05)
We don’t pay pre check in electronically on international airport and that’s why they’re on the bypass checking for CBT. If that is the case, is that a broader problem they may experience?
Dan Andrews: (31:16)
Well, that’s kind of the point that I’m making in relation to it. Let’s let New South Wales establish the facts. And if, for instance, an issue like that was thrown up, then that might be something that we all of us governments across the board would work with airlines and, and our international partners to try and limit that or stop that from happening. I don’t know that that’s happened. That’s why we have to let New South Wales do their important work and they’ll get to the bottom of what’s happening. And then we’ll be in a better place to be able to call in on it.
Dan Andrews: (31:49)
We have, we have contingency plans for all manner of different people arriving in the hotel, but these people are in very safe hands and are well quarantined away from people. And there’s no risk to public health by them being here. We just have to make sure that we hold everybody who’s come, who at a defined close contact of them. So 15 minutes, face-to-face, two hours in the same room. And all of those rules apply and, therefore, we’ll wait for the test results tomorrow. I want to thank all those 170 plus people who through an abundance of caution are following the rules, doing the right thing. We’re very grateful to them. Hopefully we can give them some positive news tomorrow and they can go back to their normal pre-Christmas activities.
Speaker 1: (32:33)
There was a person with the people still at the airport, when they were taken, I guess, into quarantine, they hadn’t left the airport,
Dan Andrews: (32:40)
Speaker 1: (32:44)
So they were still at the rental car-
Dan Andrews: (32:44)
As I understand. They certainly had not left the precinct of the airport. They had not moved into the community as it were. But any, and all that I’ve come in contact with are on that list that Martin went through. So whether it’s fellow passengers, cabincrew pilots, staff of the rental car and others that they are engaged with, they are all being quarantined. As we wait for the, what is essentially a 48 hour test, which we will get the results of sometime tomorrow. And we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we,
Speaker 1: (33:14)
I imagine given that we’re about to reset to a quarantine. This might in a sense, undermine some Victorians confidence and faith in the system about returning travelers. What is your message to them about how to approach this system?
Dan Andrews: (33:30)
Well, a couple of points I’ve made the point many, many times that no system, as we’ve just witnessed in new South Wales, no system can be zero risk. This is the most human of activity. So you we’ll finish up with cases. You’ll finish up with infections. The key challenge here is to have the most rigorous processes in place to manage that risk to the lowest possible level. And then to rapidly respond with your public health response, tracking, tracing, testing, isolation, all of that. And I’m very confident that we’ve got a system that is rigorous as, as, as you know, features of that system include everybody is a direct employee or a sole contractor to us. They’re not looking for anybody else. There’s no pizza shops. There’s no working in another hotel. There’s no moonlighting everyone’s working on this job and for our dedicated IO.
Dan Andrews: (34:24)
So it’s a specific purpose structure under the, a normal role of course is as the corrections commissioner and McKesson was doing that work and she’s doing a very good job at it. Victoria police are embedded from a security point of view. There’s a deputy CHO been appointed to be a public health commander within that very focused group. They’ve only got one job and that’s to run these hotels. And then there’ll be some other people who have logistics and planning, work testing, all staff members every day, testing their household contacts once every week, advanced contact tracing all of their household context. So who do they live with and what do they do for a living? This is all about managing risk. It’s all about learning lessons, but I do, I do have to make the point that no system, as we’ve just seen in Sydney can be zero risk. You’ve got to get it as low as possible, manage it and have processes in place to escalate if, and when something goes wrong. And I’m confident that we’re there
Speaker 2: (35:26)
Somewhat entry in Australia, they were about to get into a car, to go to a private residence that far and Sandy, once they’ve arrived in Australia or new South Wales,
Dan Andrews: (35:43)
I can’t speak for either new South Wales or Victoria place. They make their own decisions. The facts of those matters will be provided to public health. And then there’s a well-known process around enforcement. And if there’s referrals that needs to be made well, that’d be a matter for others. But I think I know it’s not, it’s frustrating cause everyone wants answers to all these questions including me, but you’ve got to let us know.
Dan Andrews: (36:03)
I know it’s frustrating, because everyone wants answers to all these questions, including me. But you’ve got to let New South Wales go through a process, and establish exactly what happened and how. And I doubt that will be quick. And we’re grateful to the New South Wales government for their commitment to that. And this’ll be one of, I’m sure, many different Coronavirus matters that we’ll talk about at national cabinet and the reform council meeting later this week in Canberra.
Speaker 4: (36:25)
This issue of people getting a domestic boarding pass when they check in at an international port…
Dan Andrews: (36:31)
Speaker 4: (36:31)
Has that been something that’s been raised as part of Victoria’s hotel quarantine? Has this been –
Dan Andrews: (36:36)
Yeah, and I think the mere fact that we’re talking about two people, where it seems something clearly has gone wrong, at another airport… We’re not talking about hundreds of people a day. We’re not talking about… You’re talking about, by and large, a system that is working well. But, the margin for error is very low. And therefore, there may be learnings out of that. But again, I know it’s frustrating. We have to wait for New South Wales to do their work, investigate how it happened, what went wrong, what contributed, if anything, to that. And then we can push on from there. But we just need to let them do that work. And I think they’ll do that quickly, because there’s a matter of urgency around. There are many people arriving. Many flights arriving from all around the world. Here to Sydney, and from tomorrow, 160 odd people arriving in Melbourne every day.
Speaker 4: (37:27)
But do you know if that’s come up in the Victorian context? That-
Dan Andrews: (37:29)
I don’t believe so. I’ve got no advice specifically that that’s been an issue. And I don’t know that that’s specifically an issue here. It may well be, logic tells me, that they may well have moved beyond the group of people that were clearly on route to hotel quarantine, and then gone and been able to purchase tickets, and get boarding passes, and make their way to Melbourne. That’s not as it should be, but let’s let New South Wales find out how that was able to happen. And again, there’s no sense of criticism here. This has happened. We can not change that. All we can do is all of us focus on making sure that it doesn’t happen again. And to that end, New South Wales Health have worked very closely with us. The government in New South Wales is working closely with us, and I thank them for their commitment to have a thorough investigation and a quick one, I would hope, to get some answers as quickly as possible.
Speaker 5: (38:24)
Just on restrictions.
Dan Andrews: (38:25)
Sure. That is the other thing that’s happened to that.
Speaker 5: (38:30)
Is this, kind of, an acknowledgement that until we get a mass type of vaccine, this is kind of the best situation we’ll be able to be in for things like gyms, wedding reception venues, indoor gathering in homes… at least [inaudible 00:38:48] whatever it is at now, zero cases.
Dan Andrews: (38:50)
Yeah, and I want the run of zero days to continue for as long as possible.
Speaker 5: (38:54)
And if it does continue…
Dan Andrews: (38:58)
Even if it does continue. That’s not, as I’ve said, I don’t know how many times… not quite 30 times, but I’ve said it plenty of times. As the tally has grown, whether it’s five days, 15 days, 50 days with no cases, that’s not the same as having a vaccine onshore and properly administered to a sufficient percentage of the community to give us the protection. The other issue is what’s the nature of that vaccine. Does it prevent infection or does it mitigate and make it a much less serious disease? All of that stuff, that’s not settled yet. So all of us have to, I think, acknowledge that this is with us for a period of time, and that’s why it’s not a normal summer.
Dan Andrews: (39:33)
It’s a COVID-safe summer. And then, at the end of that period, we’ll be able to review and reflect on what’s possible, what’s safe, and hopefully some further changes. But I think it’s wise for people to assume that these settings are here for a period of time, a significant period of time. One caveat on that, the dates I’ve mentioned about jumping up to 50%… public health advice will drive that as well as masks in the settings that we’ve announced. We think they are really good insurance policy, whether that’s still a view of public health when we get to the end of January early February. That’s the the nature of following advice. I can’t predict what the experts will tell us is proportionate and appropriate in weeks and months time. That approach has served us well. I mean, you can’t answer every single question when people want answers, but it does mean that you’re science driven. You’re data driven. That’s what’s built this, together with the character and the conviction of the Victorian community. So we’re going to keep following that approach.
Speaker 4: (40:33)
Are there any similar restrictions in hospitality venues? I didn’t hear you mention it, but it says here that the use of electronic record keeping or QR codes will be mandatory. Why did you decide to make that a rule?
Dan Andrews: (40:42)
Well, look, we think the most important way to contact trace when there’s the inevitable case and the inevitable outbreak is if you’ve got the most meticulous records. And we think that now that there’s many private products, all of which I think we’ve worked with to be able to speak to our central RT platform, as well as a product that we’ve put into the market… We don’t think it’s too much for businesses to run that system. And for patrons, all patrons, to participate in that.
Dan Andrews: (41:14)
I must say, I’ve had probably more anecdotal feedback than I would like about some, some venues that are perhaps not quite as vigilant when it comes to asking patrons to touch on, as it were. We need every venue to do this. We need every single venue to be committed to having that meticulous record of who was where, and with whom. So that if we do get a case, it’s just so much… It’s almost surgical. We can target those people, speak to them, lock them down, their close contacts if there’s a positive for, hopefully, a short period of time. The link in the chain is broken, and they can be allowed to go back doing whatever it is they would normally be doing. Records matter, so we think it’s a proportionate response.
Speaker 4: (42:05)
Are you aware that there’s been some technical problems with the service Victoria app this week?
Dan Andrews: (42:10)
Not that I’m briefed on, no.
Speaker 4: (42:11)
Some Victorians have been trying to create accounts. And business owners have been trying to create accounts and it tells them that they can’t create one. And they have to try again a few days.
Dan Andrews: (42:21)
Sure, let me get some advice for you on that. Well, I’m not briefed on that matter.
Speaker 6: (42:23)
Dan Andrews: (42:27)
No I don’t, but I can try and get you an update.
Speaker 4: (42:31)
Do you think it’s good enough, though, that this app isn’t ready to go yet?
Dan Andrews: (42:35)
Well, I’m not… Well, part of…
Speaker 4: (42:37)
… got it actually working?
Speaker 6: (42:39)
It is working.
Dan Andrews: (42:40)
Well, hang on. Part of me saying to you that you’ve asked a question and I’m going to follow up for you means that I’m not conceding the point you’re making. I’m going to go and get the facts. And if they align with what you’re putting to me, well, all that’s great for you. If not, let’s get the answer. Let’s not jump to a conclusion that doesn’t serve anybody’s interests. Like ultimately, if what you’re putting to me is not correct, and I’m sitting here and waxing lyrical about how awful things are when, in fact, they’re not, that undermines confidence. And confidence matters.
Speaker 4: (43:11)
I’ve had people send screenshots of their experience.
Dan Andrews: (43:14)
I’m not quibbling with that, but you and I have had this discussion many, many times.
Speaker 4: (43:18)
[crosstalk 00:43:18] service to Victoria, I…
Dan Andrews: (43:18)
I’ve taken the question on notice. You’ve raised many other issues with me, that’s your job. I’m trying to be as respectful as possible. Let’s not draw a conclusion until I do exactly what I’ve committed to do. I’m not briefed on this matter. I’ll get a briefing. I’ll get an answer. We’ll get it to you as soon as possible. And then we can draw conclusions, good, bad, or indifferent. But let’s not do anything, any of us in this room, to undermine that sense of positivity and confidence that every Victorian should have. This community has done something extraordinary, extraordinary. And scrutiny is absolutely critical. But if I take it on notice, it means I don’t have an answer. It’s not my habit just to make stuff up. Never done that. I want to start today. Let me get you an answer. And that’s fine.
Speaker 4: (44:14)
I’m not asking you to make stuff up. I just asked if it was good enough.I do have-
Dan Andrews: (44:14)
Well, again, now hang on. With the greatest of respect, unless and until we establish what’s actually happening, I’m not in a position to make a judgment. Nothing more or less than that.
Speaker 4: (44:25)
So, if you’d like me to just read you what it says, I can read you exactly what it says. Thanks for being so keen. We’re just fine tuning a few things. You’ll be able to set up your account soon. So check back in a few days. That’s the service Victoria.gov.au-
Dan Andrews: (44:38)
Yeah, which is what you just said to me at the beginning of the question, I’m happy to have… I’ll get it checked out. And someone, probably Steph from my office, will come back to you with an answer, and then we’ll be able to go from there. But I think it’s just, it’s just important. I’m not having a go at you or anybody else, but let’s get the facts before we draw conclusions about what’s good enough or not. That may be a handful of cases. That may not be the case right now. Things may have changed. IT is sometimes like that. You can have issues for a short period of time, and then things are rectified and remedied. I think it’s always important that we… None of us do anything to undermine the rightful confidence that, I think, the community has about systems and processes and what they’ve built. That’s the only point I’m making. I’m not coming here today for a quarrel with anybody. Any other questions?
Speaker 7: (45:25)
For masks, can we just clarify… People don’t have to wear masks in the office anymore?
Dan Andrews: (45:28)
Correct. They might choose to. It’s still highly recommended, but you’re not required to. And that’s… Just to be clear on the logic of this, if you’re working in an office, then you will know the people you’re working with. You’re at 25%, you’re moving to 50%. No doubt your employer will have a clear sense of exactly who was in the office at that time. And you’d also… That physical distancing is important in terms of spacing out. And just being careful around cleaning, all the COVID safe plan… All those details are still there. So that cleaning bathrooms, shared facilities, all of those things. We just think that that is a proportionate thing for us to do at this stage, but it may well be that people decide to continue to wear a mask. That’s a personal choice for them in that sort of environment.
Dan Andrews: (46:19)
And we do recommend, if they can… Where they think they may not be able to maintain distance, then they’re absolutely… We absolutely advise them to continue to wear the mask, but it’s not mandatory.
Speaker 7: (46:29)
Does the same go for schools, currently?
Dan Andrews: (46:31)
Well, this mask masks in schools… I think it’s a bit hard for us to… Primary’s not been an issue. Secondary, obviously, done or all but finished. We’ll have some advice across the board. All the school settings will be reviewed. All the… For instance, things like camps and excursions may well be different in February than they would be now. We’ll have the most updated advice, the most contemporary advice for schools, and therefore parents, well ahead of day one of term one.
Speaker 7: (47:04)
My kids are still going to school for the next two weeks.
Dan Andrews: (47:08)
You have primary school kids?
Speaker 7: (47:17)
No, secondary school. Yeah. So do they have to wear masks?
Dan Andrews: (47:19)
Well [crosstalk 00:47:16]. Right, so there’s no change.
Speaker 7: (47:21)
There’s no change.
Dan Andrews: (47:21)
There is no change to whatever the policy is now. We’re not changing the settings.
Speaker 7: (47:24)
Dan Andrews: (47:25)
And I don’t think they’ve been mandatory, as a matter of what schools are putting put in place.
Speaker 4: (47:32)
Can I ask [crosstalk 00:47:32] just follow up on schools, our Tom’s school… Six graduations are coming up. And at the moment, parents aren’t allowed to go because it’s…
Dan Andrews: (47:39)
A matter that’s been raised with me many times.
Speaker 4: (47:40)
Right. So does that change?
Dan Andrews: (47:41)
I think the chief health officer is perfectly qualified to answer that.
Speaker 4: (47:44)
Professor Sutton: (47:49)
I have provided some advice to department of education training. They’ll have their own policy communications in coming days. So I don’t want to speak in advance of that, but I have provided my advice.
Speaker 4: (48:04)
On the easing of restrictions, the premier said that they want the same in place, maybe till the end of January, depending on your advice and other advice. Does that mean for people at home, who will be… It’s a bit stop, start. It’d be confusing, right, if you stay at home. Do you think that this is what’s going to be in place until end of January, maybe February? When are we expecting the next easing?
Professor Sutton: (48:20)
I think the intention is that this is a longer set. There’s no question that we’re trying to lay out what the policy settings should be right through summer. We will always be open to whatever the epidemiology is, whatever the threats might be globally and at our shores, the jurisdictions… and reflect on that in terms of the settings that we have here. But the intention with this is that it’s a longer set in terms of what these policy settings will be. So it should give some sense of certainty. Again, as we’ve always been, we will reflect on the challenges that particular businesses, particular settings might have. And if there are tweaks that needs to be made, we should take that on board. But we might be more mindful and bundling that rather than making a change on a weekly basis. For sure.
Speaker 6: (49:13)
Do you think that we will ever get to having a hundred percent of office workers back before a vaccine comes?
Professor Sutton: (49:20)
Look, it’s conceivable. But as we said for months, as is the case with a density quotient, these are all insurance policies for what might happen should a case enter Victoria. And so they all have the same intention. You don’t go back to completely normal behavior, completely normal settings because of that risk. That’s true across Australia. And so we have to have that in mind for office spaces as well. So, we’ll absolutely move 25 to 50%. We can give a consideration about 100%, but it really does provide that insurance at lower levels that allows for the physical distancing that allows for the easier controls in contact tracing should a case enter into any of those work settings.
Speaker 6: (50:13)
Do you think we’ll ever get to a place where we’re at the same easing of restrictions as a lot of other cities in Australia?
Professor Sutton: (50:19)
Well, I think we’re pretty much there, with today. The application of a density quotient of one per two square meters without caps is reasonably common across the country. And I think that’s almost exactly where we’ve lined up.
Speaker 8: (50:32)
Your claims that homicide police are going to come off their normal rounds to work on hotel quarantine. Is that your understanding?
Dan Andrews: (50:46)
I would just direct you to some very clear and concise comments that deputy commissioner Ross Guenther made last week when we announced our reset. Victoria police have more sworn members than at any time in their history thanks to investments in the partnership we have with the chief commissioner. I’m very confident that Victoria police, who are ultimately responsible for the allocation of their resources, are able to fight crime, keep the community safe, and deal with another community safety challenge. And that is making sure that hotel quarantine is run to the highest possible standard.
Dan Andrews: (51:20)
So I wouldn’t accept those criticisms. I think that Victoria police… I want to thank Victoria police for the amazing work they’ve done all year. They’ve done an amazing job, and we’re going to still call on them to do even more work. And I’m confident that they can get that balance right. They always have. This is not, in any way, a series of decisions that anybody in the criminal element should be seeing as, oh, well, police will be short in various roles and functions. Not at all. The deputy commissioner has made that very, very clear and the chief commissioner would not have agreed to allocate those staff if he couldn’t strike that balance. That’s what every Victorian should be certain off.
Speaker 5: (52:02)
Yeah, I get their support, but their refusal in the last week to do [inaudible 00:52:10] the federal government’s clients for many months, that they were sort of a panacea to the original [inaudible 00:52:16] problems.
Dan Andrews: (52:16)
Well, as I said before, I’m not here for a quarrel with anyone today. Today is a positive day. Today’s a day that every Victorian should be proud. I will just say this. There’s been a lot written and a lot said about these matters. And I think that the most recent notification from the ADF puts that matter beyond any doubt, beyond any doubt. But, what is also clear is my gratitude and the gratitude of my government and our state for the roles that ADF will, in fact, perform. We’re very, very pleased about that.
Speaker 5: (52:47)
What was that matter that you were saying…
Dan Andrews: (52:49)
Well, as I said, there’s been a lot written and a lot said about those things. I just think that this is now a little clearer than it’s perhaps been. But I’m not looking backwards. I’m looking to the future. And it’s one that sees us having to fend off the second wave. But this is still with us. One where we can look with a sense of optimism and confidence to a COVID safe summer. Again, part of how we’ve got here is that we’ve not been distracted. We’ve not been thrown off course by those who endlessly criticized, those who politicize this, those who have been some of the loudest voices. We’ve just stuck to the data, the doctors, and the science. And then found that, in ourselves as Victorians, to see this thing through. And that’s something that everyone should be proud of.
Speaker 5: (53:39)
Do these rules allow for music festivals, some larger…
Dan Andrews: (53:44)
Yeah, it does. There’ll be some issues around seated versus not-seated. And then there’s this other process that we’ve got in place for very much bespoke arrangements for larger festivals, events. That’s rightly a process where we look at the specifics of each venue.
Dan Andrews: (54:02)
Well, we look at the specifics of each venue, the nature of the engagement, the crowd, all of those things. That’s kind of an offline process. I think that’s served us well to this point and it will continue to.
Speaker 9: (54:13)
Premier, just a quick question from our Canberra office, Federal Parliament is looking to pass the Foreign Relations Bill which could tear up your Belt and Road deal. How do you feel about that?
Dan Andrews: (54:22)
It’s totally a matter for the Federal Parliament.
Speaker 10: (54:25)
Would you hope that given the last week that they might reconsider anything that would strain that relationship more?
Dan Andrews: (54:30)
Again, that’s entirely a matter for the Federal Parliament. Our relationship with China is not in a good place at the moment, and it’s in all of our interests to try and find a reset, and to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to get more Victorian product to our biggest customer, because that supports Victorian jobs and Victorian families.
Dan Andrews: (54:47)
I don’t think anyone could say that that relationship is in a good place at the moment, and it’s a reset opportunity that we need to find. But as for bills in the Federal Parliament and the work of the Federal Parliament, I’ve got enough to get on with here without being a commentator on amendment by amendment, vote by vote, what happens in the Federal Parliament, least of all the Federal Senate.
Speaker 11: (55:08)
Penny Wong suggested that the Prime Minister should have sensible discussions with you. Are you open talk to Scott Morrison?
Dan Andrews: (55:14)
All my conversations with the Prime Minister are sensible.
Speaker 11: (55:16)
On this issue would you…
Dan Andrews: (55:19)
In fact, I’d say they’re probably… They’re a little warmer than. That sounds very clinical, doesn’t it? I’ve got a good relationship with the Prime Minister. Doesn’t mean we’re sitting down three nights a week for a beer or that we agree on everything, but we’ve got a very good relationship. I spoke with him last week. We did speak about this issue. It was just perhaps the next day after the social media posts, which I’ve been very clear about, as has he. We don’t agree on every issue, but I wouldn’t say that we were miles apart on this one either.
Dan Andrews: (55:50)
But I think a reset opportunity is really important here. This relationship, you don’t have to agree on everything, but it’s in our interest to make sure that we’re sending more product, not less to our biggest customer. Logic tells you that. That’s just the fact of it. Doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, and you can have a trading relationship and a diplomatic relationship that are nuanced, and are mature, and are sophisticated. You absolutely can do it, and it’s not like we haven’t done it in the past. We’ve been able to strike that balance and I’d be confident that sensible people across the board think that that’s something we can do again and that we should. And if I’ve got even a tiny part to play in that, even if it’s just supporting the Commonwealth government to do that work, I absolutely will.
Speaker 11: (56:36)
Are you considering tearing up the Victorian agreement given that reset that you mentioned?
Dan Andrews: (56:44)
No. No, I don’t think that’d be resetting anything. I think that might make… Anyway, again, that’s entirely a matter for the Federal Parliament.
Speaker 12: (56:50)
But the Victorian agreement with China is still there?
Dan Andrews: (56:54)
All of our… We have many, many different [inaudible 00:56:56] with hospitals, with universities, with research institutes, with provincial governments and with the central government, and not just in China but in lots of different places. We think those agreements… As I understood it this bill was not just about Chinese agreements, it’s a broader thing, and it is a matter for the Federal Parliament to determine whether that’s what they want to do or not.
[crosstalk 00:57:20] When will decisions be made about the size of the crowds at the Australian Open and Boxing Day Test [crosstalk 00:57:28].
Dan Andrews: (57:26)
Sure, we’ll have more to say about Australian Open and Boxing Day Test, on that issue and other issues, as soon as we can.
Dan Andrews: (57:39)
To tell you the truth, Laura, I don’t know. I can’t give you an exact date. But if I can, if when I ask someone whether we can give a date, if the answer is yes, I’ll come back to you. But it will be as soon as… I’m not trying to avoid the question. We’ve got a lot of things we have to do every day on this stuff, and it just gets done in an orderly, methodical way. But as soon as we can, and as soon as we’ve got that sense of confidence, and we’ve been through that process to look at all the different risks…
Dan Andrews: (58:03)
And they present in lots of different ways. You can have a big crowd at a big venue, but everyone has to get there. And usually they’re in a much smaller venue, a tram, a train, a car, for a long period of time to get to the venue. Access, egress, bathrooms, food, stalls, bars, all that sort of stuff, what can look like a very dispersed crowd at various pinch points, lot of people will be in close contact with others. So you’ve just got to work through all that and that’s an ongoing project, but one that we’ll be able to report progress on soon.
There’s still no start date for that for the Australia Open? [inaudible 00:00:58:41].
Dan Andrews: (58:37)
I’ll leave it to Minister Pakula to make some announcements about that.
Speaker 13: (58:37)
Premier, just on technology…
Dan Andrews: (58:37)
Speaker 13: (58:39)
… To help with COVID Apple and Google have exposure notifications, and this is something that notifies people once they’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID, and it’s a setting that’s already in people’s smart phones but Victorians can’t use it. They need the DHHS to contact Apple and Google to essentially just turn it on. Is that something that you’d be considering?
Dan Andrews: (59:05)
More than happy to get some advice on that. Again, I’ll get the advice, but we’ve got an app at a Commonwealth level that’s supposed to do exactly that, so we’d have to make sure that we were not cutting across any of those functions. But I’m more than happy to ask the relevant technology people to give me an answer on that.
Speaker 14: (59:28)
Has there been any thinking put into, this might be a question for Brett, threshold and treaty points for when those restrictions [inaudible 00:00:59:37], like cases per 100,000, test positivity numbers? I think a month or two ago Brett said that you were looking into it. Has that been done over the last [inaudible 00:59:46] period?
Dan Andrews: (59:48)
No, I think it’s very important to acknowledge that once you get numbers very low, you can put in place a public health response to that’s just not possible when you have much larger numbers. So keeping testing numbers up is very important and there’s a whole lot of WHO literature and guidelines about percentage of positives to total tests taken, all of those things. So we want to keep those numbers up as high as we possibly can, and the percentage of people with symptoms that are coming forward and getting tested, and how quickly they’re doing that, those exposure days that you’ve heard us talk about many, many times. In terms of thresholds for restrictions, I think that becomes less and less relevant because we’ve locked in with positive cases, their close contacts, and the close contacts of those close contacts. Anyway, not the most linguistically neat way of doing it, but it is effective. It works.
Dan Andrews: (01:00:40)
You, the people you’ve been with, and the people they’ve been with, and having those people locked down until a link in the chain is broken, and then they can be let go. What that means is that you could potentially have thousands of people at home because of a particular outbreak or a series of outbreaks that are all linked, but millions of others can get about their business, so that’s what I think makes it less likely that we need to have a hard and fast number, if you like, a threshold at which we would take lots of steps back. We don’t think we need to do that. There’s every reason to expect that we want and need to do that. If everyone keeps playing their part.
Speaker 14: (01:01:23)
Basically what that might rule out is a South Australian situation where, if it does [inaudible 01:01:26] again, instead of statewide set of restrictions, you’d be able to isolate so many people who are potentially exposed that would kill it rather than statewide lockdown?
Dan Andrews: (01:01:36)
Yeah and I know we’re all across the South Australian thing, but there’s a point there I think that needs to be inserted. They didn’t do a statewide lockdown because of what they knew. They did a statewide lockdown because of what they didn’t know and what they feared may have happened. It turned out that it wasn’t a customer, a very casual contact having got the virus from a staff member or from a place of work. It turned out that person actually works there, it seems, and that’s when they were able to make the change back. We would never rule out doing what the experts told us was proportionate to any given challenge, but we think that can be avoided if everyone keeps playing their part, everyone keeps following the rules.
Dan Andrews: (01:02:18)
Despite the fact that we’ve got much to be positive and optimistic about, if everyone just has that fundamental acknowledgement, that it’s not gone, it’s not over, it can come back. And we all know… We, more than anyone in this country, we know that this thing moves rapidly silently, and that if you’re not as stubborn and as determined as the virus, then it will be an issue for us again. So I think that where we’re at now, the rules we have, the approach we’ve taken, and the ability… Not because of anything we’ve done internally, but just because numbers are low, you can find those three groups and you can lock them down. It could be thousands of people, and it’s not much good for them. But it means millions of other Victorians can enjoy the rules that I’ve outlined today, and whatever further easing we can do when we get to the other side of summer.
Speaker 10: (01:03:15)
Is there an issue with charging people hotel quarantine in Victoria’s human rights charter, and would you be able to overcome that?
Dan Andrews: (01:03:21)
No, it’s just a matter of making sure that legally this is completely beyond any doubt. It’s not a charter issue. This is just about being completely clear with what to say to Victorians. We want to settle the model. We’ll put an urgent billing to the parliament next week, that I hope will receive a majority of votes in both houses and then we’ll have a framework no different than New South Wales and indeed other states. And I just say to all my fellow Victorians, the last thing we want is to be the only free hotel quarantine in the country because all that will do is mean that more and more and more people, many of whom are not from Victoria, may want to transit through our city taking up the place of others, because of course there are quotas and it has to be done to scale.
Dan Andrews: (01:04:09)
We wouldn’t want that outcome. So we’ll get that passed pretty quickly, and we’ll then be able to charge people without any doubt at all. It’d be legally certain and I think that’s in everybody’s interest. I should just say that whilst tomorrow marks 160, so that’s 1200 [inaudible 00:10:22], we’ll be able to increase that at the appropriate time. But the best thing, as Sydney shows us yesterday, you’ve just got to make sure that you’ve got all the checking, double checking and triple checking you can possibly do. And I think that’s a good number to start it and then we’ll be able to gradually add to that over the weeks and months to come.
Speaker 15: (01:04:41)
Are you going to be doing the Nutbush?
Dan Andrews: (01:04:41)
Speaker 15: (01:04:46)
What’s your dance of choice?
Dan Andrews: (01:04:48)
Can I just ask on Melbourne airport, this might be for Brett or it might not be, but you said that Melbourne Airport is not a risk location, and people should feel safe going there. Can you just explain why that is, why people should feel reassured about that?
Dan Andrews: (01:05:04)
Because we believe that everybody that these two return travelers came in contact with has had an appropriate public health response. So those who are in close contact, and if the return travels were infected, they are at some risk of being infected themselves. They’re not at the airport. They’re they’re at home. Because we have been able to track and trace all of those that the two people came in contact with, Melbourne Airport is safe. And indeed, let’s hope tomorrow we get two more negative tests.
Dan Andrews: (01:05:34)
And those 170 plus people who are at home, and we thank them so much for being part of this and being serious about it and being absolutely responsive through no fault of their own. They may have come in contact with people who have this virus, but we’ll know more about that tomorrow. And if that’s the case, they’ll be able to go about their business and they’ll do so without thanks.
So would that be considered low risk?
Dan Andrews: (01:05:58)
I think the best thing to do is rather than doing risk stratification, we will wait for the test tomorrow and get a second lot of negatives, hopefully. Then they are no risk, because the people they were in contact with didn’t have at that point, so they kind of got it from them to the 99.99%, whatever it is. That’s not until, I assume, tomorrow afternoon. Sometime tomorrow, we’ll do it soon.
Speaker 16: (01:06:19)
Dan Andrews: (01:06:22)
All right. How about three? So that’ll be a much awaited… There’ll be some confirmation as soon as we can about the status of those two people following their second test, the 48 hour test, which will be about mid afternoon tomorrow. Any other issues?
Speaker 17: (01:06:35)
Yeah, Mr. Foley. Can I just ask you this?
Dan Andrews: (01:06:37)
Speaker 17: (01:06:37)
Researchers are looking at sniffer dogs detecting COVID at airports?
Martin Foley: (01:06:40)
Say that again?
Speaker 17: (01:06:45)
Researchers have found that sniffer dogs can detect COVID and they’re trying to roll them out at airports next year. What do you, A, think of that and, B, does it show that it could be a last line of defense in the case of what happened yesterday?
Martin Foley: (01:06:56)
Well, as the owner of a Lagotto that is remarkably clever at sniffing out all sorts of things I’m happy to donate Ted to that effort, if it works. I’ve got no advice on that, but firstly airports are run by the Commonwealth. But of course if we can, in any way, shape, or form assist, then of course we will. Through the international networks that are scientific and public health officials are engaged in, if we can get access to that, then I’m sure Professor Sutton and his team will more than happily deploy sniffer dogs on the front line.
Speaker 18: (01:07:35)
Just dealing with nightclubs, will it be up to staff to monitor adherence to those rules, because obviously that’s going to be [inaudible 01:07:44]?
Martin Foley: (01:07:45)
Every employer, every business has a role to play in keeping us COVID safe, but there will also be enforcement. There will be enforcement from WorkSafe, from local government, and from our hundreds of authorized officers out there. And we’ve all got an important role to stay safe and stay open. And whether you’re a bar, whether you’re a night club, you’re an office, whether you’re an Uber driver, whatever it is, we all have a role in this great social undertaking to keep us open and keep us safe. And that is my strong message to every Victorian, that we will stay safe and we will stay open if we follow the rules.
Martin Foley: (01:08:29)
And don’t bank on the prospect that you won’t be caught, if you are not following the rules. There is every prospect that you will. The easiest way to solve that is to make sure that we all follow the rules.
Speaker 17: (01:08:44)
Professor Sutton, can I just ask you what you think of the idea?
Professor Sutton: (01:08:50)
I don’t think we’d rule out any tool that might be of use. The reality is every single international arrival into Victoria goes into quarantine, so we’re not looking at people who are going to be out and about in the airport with a risk of COVID. Of course there’s a risk of Portside workers, there have been airline crew who’ve developed illness, so if it’s an adjunct in that sense, because of some encroachment of the virus from returning passengers to those who are in those ports of entry, if that’s another useful tool, absolutely.
Professor Sutton: (01:09:24)
But actually our testing program, which is akin to the hotel quarantine staff testing program that will apply Portside as well, is probably the most robust in the world. So that is another daily opportunity to check for anyone symptomatic or otherwise as to whether they have COVID, but if there’s a dog that can sweep through thousands of people and pick up COVID potentially, then that’s terrific. I think it’s mostly being thought of in Europe where there are international transits and people aren’t in mandatory quarantine. They go to voluntary home quarantine, so it is much more useful to find people at that point of entry. I think that’s it.
Dan Andrews: (01:10:09)
There’s no other issues. Are we good? Thank you very much.