Aug 4, 2020
Premier Dan Andrews Press Conference Transcript as Victoria Returns to Lockdown August 4
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, held a press conference on August 4 to address new coronavirus precautions in the state. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Premier Daniel Andrews: (20:34)
Everybody all right to go? Very good. Thanks for joining us for the daily update. I’m joined by Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, the Police Minister, Lisa Neville, and Professor Allen Cheng, who is an infectious diseases expert, and one of the newly appointed deputy chief health offices. And he’ll be happy to take any questions once we get to that part of our briefing.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (20:59)
First things first, there are 12,335 cumulative cases of coronavirus in Victoria. That’s 439 more than yesterday. There are 456 Victorians in hospital and 38 of those are receiving intensive care. We have now conducted 1,697,953 tests. And again, we’re deeply grateful to every single Victorian who’s come forward to get tested. It’s such a powerful contribution to tracking this virus, to containing it, to driving those numbers down. As I said yesterday, we’re concentrating on positive cases, and finding the minutes and hours to track them rather than accounting for all of the negatives. So I can give you an approximate number of tests that were conducted yesterday. And then a couple of days later, the exact will be added into the title. But it is around, the laboratories have confirmed around 21,000 tests that were conducted yesterday.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (21:55)
Again, thank you to every single person coming forward and getting tested. If you’ve got symptoms, you’ve got to come forward and get tested. And then you’ve got to isolate at home while you wait for your test result. In terms of tragedy, I’m sad to have to inform you that there are now 147 people who’ve died as a result of this global pandemic. That is 11 more since our last update. If I can go through some detail as much as I can, one man in his seventies, one man and three women in their eighties, two men and three women in their nineties, and one woman who was in her hundreds. All of those tragedies, all of those fatalities are connected to aged care settings.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (22:45)
More broadly, on that front, I can confirm that there are 1,186 active cases in aged care. That remains a very challenging setting for us. And one that we’re working incredibly closely with the commonwealth government, with the private sector, public hospitals, private hospitals. Literally hundreds and hundreds of shifts that have been picked up by nurses out of our hospital system. A very large team of people working together to provide the best care to all of those residents and to get them what they need, when they need it. It is a very confronting and very challenging set of issues. And I am deeply grateful to all of those staff who are stepping up and doing that important work. There will be much more of that to be done when we can provide you with some further updates, as we did last week, we’re happy to provide you with a periodic update on aged care, and the status in various aged care settings. That’s not for today, but we’ll try and do that a bit later on in the week.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (23:44)
Now, what I’m here today as well to announce, and the reason that the chief commissioner is joining us, is to talk about a range of new penalties and some changes to our approach, in relation to those who should be isolating. I can confirm that the ADF, together with important authorized officers from the Department of Health and Human Services, have conducted more than 3000 door knocks of people who should be isolating at home. More than 800 of those homes, the person who should have been isolating could not be found. That is completely unacceptable. There will be a multitude of reasons for why the person was not there, but I’m making some announcements today around, around some changes, so that we can put that beyond any doubt. And make the enforcement task, which is a Victoria Police function, but the task of ADF and authorized officers from the Department of Human Services, can be made even more simple, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (24:50)
So from now, there’ll be no exercise. If you are supposed to be isolating at home, then you will need to stay in your home, or on your property. Fresh air at the front door, fresh air in your front yard or your backyard…
Premier Daniel Andrews: (25:03)
… Fresh air at the front door, fresh air in your front yard or your backyard, or opening a window. That’s what you’re going to have to do. It’s very difficult to enforce this if people have an awful excuse. And if some people are going to use that to try and justify other decisions that are at no point getting exercise, they were doing something else. I apologize to those who were doing the right thing, but we simply have no choice, but to move to that setting.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (25:26)
I can confirm that there will be more than 500 additional ADF personnel come to Melbourne in coming days, they will be accompanied by around more than 300 additional authorized officers from the health department. And they will continue to go out in teams to door knock, to visit. And yes, it is about compliance. There’s no arguments with that. That’s exactly what it is. It’s about making sure that people are where they should be.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (25:52)
But at the same time, it’s also an opportunity to explain, to provide information, to provide clarity. And it’s a really important opportunity for us to say to those many, many Victorians who are at home where they should be, what do you need? Is there something we can do for you? And as I’ve said to you before, scripts have been filled, basic essentials have been gone and got purchased. Lots of different practical things have been done to support people who without that door knock might not have been able to get the things that they need.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:23)
So it is a two-way thing. It’s not just about compliance. Beyond that though, it’s also about providing support, providing information, providing clarity. So that team is growing substantially. And what that means is that every single positive case will be door knocked multiple times random and repeat door knocks. And you’ll understand why I’m not going to give people the program of door knocking, but they will be multiple door knocks and they will be random in nature, as well as all close contacts will also be visited on the same basis.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (26:58)
And those door knocks, you are expected to be found at home. And now that the exercise provision is gone. And again, that is not a decision made lightly, but it is incredibly important, the police are able to establish, well, first the IDF and authorized officers, and then subsequently police for anyone who isn’t, it’s incredibly important. Stay at home means stay at home for all of us, but it certainly means stay at home for those who have the virus or those who have been directed to isolate.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (27:27)
And they will also be some changes to penalties. As everyone that’s become very well aware, there is a $1,652 on the spot fine. If you breach the directions of the chief health officer. The results are a $200 penalty for not wearing a mask when you are out of your home. Not too many of those fines have had to be issued. And in the general scheme of things, even the $1,652 fine, that’s only used where that’s deemed appropriate. And again, the vast of people are doing the right thing, but there are a number of people who are not.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (28:04)
And that’s why I can announce today a new on the spot fine. It is in fact, the largest on the spot fine for an individual on the statute books of the state of Victoria, $4,957 as you know, penalty units is how this has done and penalty units change each year, but ultimately that’s a $5,000 on the spot fine. And that will be particularly for those who breach their isolation orders.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (28:31)
If you are supposed to be at home and you are not, then you face the prospect of a fine of up to $5,000. If they will repeat breaches, if they were particularly selfish behavior, like for instance, going to work when you had the virus, then there is the alternative pathway. And that is of course, taking you to the magistrate’s court where the maximum penalty that can be applied to you is $20,000. We don’t want it to come to that. We want people to be where they are supposed to be, because that is how we will all get past this.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (29:09)
Any support, any support whatsoever that you or a member of your family might need, because you are doing the right thing and isolating at home, we will do everything we can to provide you with that help. And that’s the critical point here. The door knocking is for compliance, but it’s also to make sure you’ve got the information and the support that you need. We will work with people. We will do everything we possibly can to support people, but you have got to be isolating when you are directed to do so, for a close contact or for a positive case. And of course we want people who have been tested and are waiting for their results, we want you to isolate as well. And if there are any insecure work issues, if there are financial issues, then there is that $300 payment. There is the federal government who are now working with us to pay the $1,500 for those who are in insecure work. All of these measures that are designed to support people, to make the best choices for their family, for every family, for public health and to get us to the other side of this as quickly as possible.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (30:20)
Just finally by way of update and then I might ask Lisa just to wide to speak to these enforcement activities, then Shane perhaps can take us through some of the unfortunate examples of just appalling conduct that Victoria police have had to deal with. Shameful conduct, in fact, one particular incident last night, down in Frankston.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (30:39)
I do want to just speak briefly to the permit system for those workers who are permitted to work beyond midnight tomorrow night. It’s also there is of some utility in terms of the curfew that applies eight o’clock each night. This is old-fashioned common sense. It’s a piece of paper, your employer fills it out. They sign it, you sign it, you carry it with you, and then you’re able to well to demonstrate. So there’s not a sense of anxiety or a sense of having to tell your story 17 times.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (31:09)
If you’re pulled up by police, you can very simply provide that piece of paper and then you would be waved on to go about your business. What we’re going to try and do and again, we do have some time here. What we’re going to try and do is not have a whole lot of key workers that are well understood to be key workers. So nurses for instance, can use their existing hospital ID. Victoria police members will be able to use their ID. The same applies in lots of different settings.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (31:36)
But for the private sector where there’s not that uniform identification that connects the person to their place of work and a reaffirmation from the boss that you are working now, and that this is an active thing, then that paperwork will need to be filled out. I don’t think it’s too onerous. It’s a pretty simple process. That paperwork will be up on the website later today. And I think we’ll provide copies the media and be happy to answer offline any detailed questions. And they will be detailed questions just as they have been in relation to the list of industries and changes that I announced yesterday.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (32:09)
In advance of questions, I’m happy to take any questions. Ultimately, there will always be changes. There will always be a need to interpret things. There are literally hundreds of people that are taking calls and clarifying advice. That’s why the lead in period was so important. We still have the rest of today, all of tomorrow, right into midnight tomorrow night. And for some of those industries that are scaling back, as I indicated yesterday, our aim is to have all of those scale backs done by the end of Friday.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (32:38)
So we’re using literally an army of people are using all the time that we have provided in a graduated process to make those difficult decisions, rulings if you like to deal with all the complexities human behavior and the fact that whenever you draw a line, there’ll be different people on each side of it. Whenever you write a list, there will always be omissions. There will always be a need to clarify things as well.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (33:03)
So I’m very grateful for the patience of Victorians to deal through, work through those issues. And I’m very, very, very grateful to all of those from industry that we’re engaging with day and night as we seek to settle these matters and find this much constrained level of movement, a much reduced level of movement over these needs six weeks. That is essential to driving those numbers down and getting us to the other side of this.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (33:29)
Anything short of a massive reduction in movement around the community will mean that virus will keep spreading; anything short of a massive reduction in movement across the community will mean more virus, not less, more restrictions, not less. And the other side of this will be further away than it has ever been. We’re not settling for that. That’s why I’m so grateful to every single Victorian who is working with us, playing their part, doing what we’re asking them to do. It’s so, so impressive.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (34:02)
I am proud of each and every one of you. I’m grateful to each and every one of you. To those who aren’t, the message is very clear. You will be door knocked, you will be visited. If you’re not at home, then you will be fined. And the fine $1,652. But beyond that, the opportunity for police to on the spot fine you up to $5,000. And for particularly selfish behavior, the opportunity to take you to court where the maximum penalty is in fact, $20,000. To avoid a fine, to keep your family safe, to keep every family safe, to get to the other side of this faster, please do the right thing. Please make better decisions.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (34:40)
And again, thank you so much to all of those who are. They are doing an amazing job. And I know none of this is easy. None of it, but it is might harder and for no good reason by anybody who doesn’t follow these important rules. And now I might ask Lisa just to speak further to enforcement. The chief commissioner has, I know one particularly disgraceful case that he needs to speak about. And then we’re happy to take any questions you have.
Thank you, Premier and good morning, everyone. So most Victorians are doing the right thing, no question. But we have this continual minority of people who are knowingly, not by mistake, but unknowingly doing the wrong thing and putting people’s lives at risk by doing so. It’s ridiculous, it’s unacceptable and it is dangerous. That’s why we put in place extraordinary powers. It’s why we’re putting in place additional police and the chief commissioner we’ll talk about the additional police that are being tasked to the enforcement role, as well as the additional PSOs that are being tasked to the enforcement role.
So extraordinary powers for an extraordinary time, largely to target some of the people in our community who think they can get away without following the rules. So just to be clear, Victoria police will be out there enforcing the curfew. They’ll be out there enforcing whether you can go to work. They’ll be out there and forcing the stage four restrictions and the stage three restrictions in regional Victoria, as well as continuing the work that they’re doing on the borders to stop people moving from Melbourne into regional Victoria. And of course they’re enforcing the masks.
With that said, unfortunately just in the last 48 hours since we’ve had the curfew. And you know, it is a big adjustment for Victorians to deal with the curfew, but we’ve had dozens of people who have decided they don’t need to abide by the curfew. So even though there’s an adjustment period, even though Victoria police have given a bit of a grace period, there are a number of people who have knowingly breached the curfew.
So somebody who decided they were bored and they were going to go out for a drive. Somebody who decided that they needed to buy a car after 8:00 PM last night, drive across the city of Melbourne. And we’ve also seen people who are picked up people from other households, again, breaching the direction, and then also breaching the curfew. All of those people were infringed last night.
So being no doubt, Victoria police are using their powers to do that. They will have extra police out there. They have those extra powers. In relation to those who aren’t self-isolating, who aren’t following those directives, people who are positive, the people who are at the highest risk of spreading this disease, this virus across our community. Not only we’ve got the spectrum of fines now. That gives Victoria police some additional options in terms of making clear to people that this is being taken exceptionally seriously.
Victoria police also will be able to ultimately detain people if people continue to breach that. That is not what we want to do. We don’t want to do that. But Victoria police under the new powers will have that ability to not just fine, but ultimately for those who continue to blatantly and deliberately breach those self-isolation rules, they can do that. Similarly, for those who continue to go to work. So this is serious. This is serious for all of us. That’s why we have provided extraordinary powers to Victoria police.
It’s why yesterday they issued another 161 fines to the community. We don’t want to see that figure grow. But unfortunately, given we continue to see this minority of people out there in our community breaching the rules. Unfortunately, that’s likely to grow and Victoria police will not hesitate to infringe people and do what they need to do to keep our community safe.
Victoria police members are members of our community. So they know this is really, really tough for everyone. It’s tough for them as well as members of our community, but they also know that this is absolutely critical that they enforce these rules and they will do so. And I want to thank each and every one of those Victoria police members who are out there putting their lives on the line in enforcing these penalties and enforcing these directives.
On our behalf, on Victoria’s half, can I ask everyone to play their part? Support Victoria police by supporting, following these directives and we’ll get through these together. Thank you to everyone who’s doing the right thing, but they no doubt if you’re not, Victoria police have the powers and the ability to enforce these directives, whatever that takes. I’ll ask the chief commissioner to also talk about the additional police and PSOs that will be out in our community.
Shane Patton: (39:44)
Thanks Minister. This is clearly the biggest job, the biggest commitment that we have at the moment. It’s the most commitment for Victoria police and that is enforcing the chief health officer guidelines. I just want to recap really briefly on what we’re already doing, because we have a significant commitment. We have Operation Sentinel, which is every day, 500 police officers out and about tasking, checking populous places, knocking on doors, a whole range of things. We have Operation Sentinel two, which is the vehicle checkpoints. Eight vehicle checkpoints right around the restricted area, those permanent ones where we’re checking the access and egress right throughout the state.
Shane Patton: (40:23)
We have Operation Shielding, a 160 transit police officers, transit protective services officers, I should say and 80 police officers from transit who are out there every day and they’re making sure that there’s public assurance. They’re checking who should be in proper areas and they’re enforcing as you would expect them to be doing so.
Shane Patton: (40:47)
In addition to that, we have Operation Ribbon as well, which is our family violence operation. So there’s a whole range of different areas, including Operations [Sinterior 00:40:56] where we’re helping enforcement at quarantine hotels. All up, we’re seeing every day upwards of around 1,500 police and PSOs out there enforcing as they should be. I’ve committed an extra 250 police and PSOs now to that already significant number and on a daily basis, that will be enforcing throughout the day, but importantly over nighttime as well.
Shane Patton: (41:20)
We will have now because of the curfew, we’ll have significant police and PSOs out there, not just in vehicles and doing if you like to static checks. But we’ll have vehicle checkpoints where we’ll set them up at random places and keep rolling them around Melbourne. So the potential, the opportunity for someone to be detected, who isn’t supposed to be out and about is significant.
Shane Patton: (41:43)
Every police officer, right throughout our organization in any patrol car has I responsibility for COVID-19 enforcement and that’s what they’ll be doing. Every one of them will be making sure that we’re enforcing these new guidelines, these restricted guidelines. The curfew is obviously significant because we expect to see much reduced movement right around the state. In terms of discretion, which is a word we’ve heard a lot. We did give them a period of discretion there when we moved to masks and other restrictions.
Shane Patton: (42:13)
That period of discretion, I’ve said it before, it’s virtually closed. Of course, we can’t be prescriptive for every circumstance, but it will only be in an exceptional circumstance. In an exceptional circumstance that Victoria police will be using discretion because we just have to stop this movement. We have to enforce the CHO guidelines.
Shane Patton: (42:33)
The vast majority of people are doing the right thing and for those who are, I thank you. But there is still a minority who aren’t. We’ve given out a significant range of infringements as the minister has outlined, 161 last night, 60 of those were for masks for not wearing masks. And from our perspective though, the people, the vast majority who are doing the right thing need to understand for those who aren’t, there is a consequence and there are consequences and I want to be really clear on that.
Shane Patton: (43:04)
In the last week, we’ve seen a trend in emergency if you like of groups of people, small groups, but nonetheless concerning groups who classify themselves as sovereign citizens, whatever that might mean. People who don’t think the law applies to them. We’ve seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing their name and address. On at least three or four occasions in the past week, we’ve had to smash the windows of people in cars and pull them out of there. So they could provide their details because they weren’t telling us where they were going. They weren’t adhering to the chief health officer guidelines. They weren’t providing their name and their address.
Shane Patton: (43:44)
We don’t want to be doing that, but people have to absolutely understand there are consequences for your actions and if you’re not doing the right thing, we will not hesitate to issue infringements, to arrest you, to detain you where it’s appropriate. As I say, it’s not something we want to be doing, but it is what we will do. And it has been occurring in the last week.
Shane Patton: (44:06)
And particularly one incident if I like to highlight the type of challenges that we’re experiencing. Last night, a 26-year-old police woman was on patrol with another partner down in a Frankston area, near the Bayside Shopping Center. During that time, they approached a 38-year-old woman who wasn’t wearing a mask. After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle. And during that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman hit the head, smashed the head of the police woman several times into a concrete area on the ground.
Shane Patton: (44:42)
That behavior is just totally unacceptable. That’s someone who thinks they’re above the law, they’re not wearing a mask they’re approached and they’re asked the reason why not. And then to react like that is just completely over the top. It’s this type of irresponsible behavior that we’re going to address. That woman was taken back to the police station. She was charged with significant offenses and bail due to no criminal history. But nonetheless, it just goes to show how these things escalate from non-adherence to the smallest things.
Shane Patton: (45:12)
The message is clear from me and it’s simple. We want you to stay at home. That’s what the chief health officer wants you to do. We expect you to adhere to the chief health officer guidelines. If you don’t, we will be enforcing those. We will issue infringements. We will arrest you. We will detain you where we have to. We now have significant new if you like infringement, not powers, but in penalties, in the infringements. And for those who are not at home when they should be, when they should be self-isolating, when they should be quarantining and we conduct checks, we’ll issue those infringements, and on that second occasion, you may well get a $5,000 infringement.
Shane Patton: (45:53)
They’re significant penalties. And so the expectation is the consequences are there for you and you must adhere. Having said that, the minister has outlined briefly a number of if you like breaches that occurred last night and they continue to occur. Over the weekend, we saw Airbnb parties. Clearly that’s not acceptable. We saw people last night, someone who was driving to a bottle shop at three in the morning to get alcohol. That’s not acceptable. We saw people going to McDonald’s coming back from McDonald’s after getting some burgers. That is not acceptable. There are consequences, we will enforce them and the window of discretion is virtually closed.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (46:35)
I’m going to take any questions you have.
Speaker 1: (46:38)
Premier, of the 800 that were found to not be at home, how many of them have been referred to Victorian police?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (46:44)
All of those matters will be referred to police and then it’s a process of Victoria police painstakingly working through each of those. And to the extent that we can over time, if we can provide you with updates on what the consequences of that further police work is, then we’re more than happy to do that.
Speaker 1: (46:59)
On Friday, there was 500 ADF door knocks, 130 people were found to not be at home, and more than a 100 have been referred to Victoria police. Do we have an update on how many of them are being fined?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (47:12)
I asked the chief commissioner exactly that question just a little while ago. We don’t have an update today, but as soon as we can provide you with any further information about what’s happened, we will. But everyone should know and understand if the ADF knock on your door and anyone who’s isolating, you will get multiple random door knocks, both close contacts, as well as positive cases to support you, to provide you with information and to make sure that you’re doing the right thing.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (47:38)
Anyone not found to be where they should be, that matter will be referred to Victoria police. And despite the scale of the challenge, despite the numbers, Victoria police will get to each and every one of those people. And from today, no exercise. So there’s literally apart from getting emergency medical care, so going to the emergency department, most likely in an ambulance. Apart from emergency medical care, there is literally no reason for you to leave your home.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (48:10)
And if you were to leave your home and not be found there, you will have a very difficult time convincing Victoria police that you had a lawful reason. You’ve just got to stay home. If you need anything, then we’ll provide you with support. We’ll do everything we possibly can to support you. And I do make the point again, that the vast majority of Victorians, regardless of their virus status, regardless of where they live, what they do for a living, their income level, all of those things.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (48:36)
Regardless of all those things, the vast majority of people are doing the right thing. And we are very grateful to each and every one of you. But this is now in a different phase and we are going to step up this work, these penalties. No, there’s no joy in crafting these penalties, but I think they’re appropriate.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (48:58)
So yeah, we’ll go that way. Okay. James.
[inaudible 00:49:01] positive cases, but are there any specific plans or operations in the works to enforce the business closures?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (49:12)
Yes, they will be teams of people moving around, making sure that everybody complies. So we’re not just asking people at that sort of individual and family level to follow the rules. Everybody has to follow the rules and there are rules in place. And there is an enormous, as I said off the top, there’s an enormous amount of work still going on right now and it’ll continue into the night and throughout tomorrow. And perhaps even now beyond then to make sure that we’ve got as much clarity as you can ever possibly have when you’re doing things for the very first time in really complex circumstances.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (49:46)
A bit like the point that the chief commissioner made about discretion, there won’t be a heavy-handed approach. If people make a genuine error, I’m talking about businesses now. If they make a genuine error, then we’ll work with them to make sure that that doesn’t happen a second time, but these rules are there for all of us.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (50:03)
… doesn’t happen a second time, but these rules are there for all of us. They are painful, they’re difficult. It’s heartbreaking to have to take these steps. But if we don’t, then we will never get to the other side of this. It will go on and on. That’s not good for health, it’s no good for the vulnerable, and indeed all Victorians, and it’s certainly no good for the Victorian economy. So we’ve all got to play our part. We’ve all got to invest in this, as painful and difficult as it is, so that we can get to the other side.
Speaker 2: (50:32)
Victoria’s the only state that has had an exercise exemption for people who are supposed to be isolating at home. What’s the reason for that? Why did we ever have that exemption? And have you had to overhaul the Human Rights Charter to now [crosstalk 00:50:44]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (50:44)
My view has been very clear about this. I’m not entirely sure about your interstate analysis, I don’t know whether that’s correct, I’d need to look at that. But what I’d say is for the vast majority of people, this has not been an issue. And to a certain extent, this is about putting matters beyond doubt. And it’s also about making sure that when Shane and his members and ADF and authorized officers of the health department are out there doing their important work. And this is moving to a whole new level, the notion of everyone getting door knocked and everyone getting multiple door knocks, it becomes very, very difficult.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (51:18)
If there’s any reason to be out other than one that can be pretty quickly proved, pretty quickly validated, you either needed emergency medical care or you didn’t. So it’s just about trying to make the big job that Victoria police have to do and IDF and authorized officers as simple as we possibly can. State of disaster provisions put that matter beyond doubt. I don’t think that it was in doubt, to be honest. And the vast majority of people have been doing the right thing. But we’re now into a different phase. And these are the steps that we have to take. And that’s exactly why I’ve taken them.
Professor [inaudible 00:51:50] said just last week that if we are effectively locking people up, they had to be allowed outside for fresh air. What’s changed?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (51:58)
Well, we’ve got community transmission mystery cases. We’ve got stage four and we’ve got to get this done. That’s what’s changed, Rachel. And I apologize to those who are doing the right thing. This will have an impact on them, but ultimately we’ve got to get this done. And that’s exactly the decisions we’ve made. That’s the approach we’re taking. And I won’t have a situation where the enforcement work that Victoria police are doing off the back of enormous amounts of work that IDF and health department officials are doing on the doorstep, I won’t have that undermined by people having kind of a loophole, if you like, that they might … a loophole now that they might seek to exploit.
Speaker 2: (52:40)
Premier, just on masks, speaking of loopholes, we understand from frontline officers, that when they go into particularly groups of, say, younger people, that they’re using the excuse of the medical regions don’t require masks, and there’s requirement for them to provide any proof of that at the moment, but it’s being seen as a way of getting out of having to wear a mask. Is there any … [crosstalk 00:53:01]
Premier Daniel Andrews: (53:01)
If we need to tighten that up, of course we will. Is there anything … just take a deep breath and … is there anything worse than someone pretending to be unwell in order to get out of wearing a mask? Seriously, you need to wear the mask. You will be pulled up. If I’ve got to change the rules again … sorry, we haven’t changed mask rules. If I’ve got to go further, then of course we will. We’re not going to have police being lied to, we’re not going to have people just flouting these rules.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (53:34)
Wearing a mask is about keeping you, your loved ones, and every Victorian safe. It is not too much to ask. The nurse in the intensive care ward will be wearing a mask. And it’s not too much to ask that you wear a mask in order to avoid that nurse having to treat more patients than they otherwise would. And that notion of lying about your health status in order to avoid wearing a mask, and in fact, putting other people’s health at risk, that’s shameful. I’ll have a conversation with the chief commissioner about that. If there’s a further change that needs to be made, then of course we will.
Speaker 3: (54:09)
Will occasional care be allowed to continue? And I guess what are the childcare [inaudible 00:54:13] going to be? There seems to be a lot of people who are concerned.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (54:18)
Well, this is a complex area. And I appreciate that there is significant concern about this. It’s being worked on and finalized as we, as we speak, and as soon as we can provide some further clarity, we will do that. But what I want to say, I don’t want to give people false hope. There will be a lot of people who would normally send their kids to childcare that will not be able to do that. And I know that’ll hurt, and I know that’ll be really challenging, but this is what we have all got to achieve. We’ve got to achieve dramatically less movement, massive reductions in the number of people that are moving around the community and living their life as normal. We’ve got to make these changes. Otherwise, we simply won’t drive down those numbers, and those restrictions in one form or another will be with us for an intolerably long time.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (55:07)
Back to the points I made the other day, we can continue with stage three or variations of that, but it’d be six months. And even then, I think four or 500 cases a day for six months is in some respects no different than getting thousands of cases each day in a much more compressed out of control phase, because you just finished up being overwhelmed. You can’t ever have enough people to provide that care. So it’s on childcare, occasional care, babysitting in the home, those arrangements, we will have more to say and we’ll do it as soon as we possibly can. And I appreciate that it’s a very real and practical concern for people, but I don’t want to be giving people false hope. There will be many, many families who would normally have sent their children to childcare and they will not be able to do that.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (55:53)
We’ll have more clarity as soon as we possibly can, and the public health team are working very closely and carefully on that. And of course we’re engaged with the federal government. I’ve had a number of very lengthy exchanges with the prime minister this morning. I’ll be speaking with him again tonight. That’s one of the issues. There are many other issues, but given this is ultimately a federal government setting, we’re in deep discussions about what this means for that sector and trying to make sure that we can keep that sector going, and so that it’s there on the other side of this
Speaker 4: (56:25)
And Premier, related to that, we have a question that’s coming up here if you’d care to answer it here, is …
Premier Daniel Andrews: (56:29)
I’ll certainly try.
Speaker 4: (56:29)
… in a two parent household, do both parents need to be contributing workers?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (56:34)
Yeah, this is exactly the point that we’re trying to clarify and we just have to work through. It’s not so much about whether it’s a yes or no. And I know that might seem quite simple, but it’s about trying to work out what will the impact be? How many kids will be going to childcare? How many childcare workers would need to be moving around the community? How much movement will that add? How much will that movement then undermine our general push to try and have as little movement as possible? I know it’s really challenging, it really is, I know. That’s why we will do our part. We’ll get the clarity as quickly as we possibly can. We’ll inform people and we’ll try and, but might get a simple and as easy to understand as we possibly can.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:15)
But I would also respectfully ask employers to be fully aware that these childcare arrangements, which sometimes can be central to a person working from home, the working from home arrangements may need to change. There may need to be greater flexibility in the relationship between the person who’s working from home and their boss. And I’m confident that Victorian businesses, employers, will step up and give people that added flexibility if, for instance, the absence of childcare makes the kind of working from home that’s been a feature of the last few months really, really tough.
And has the prime minister been able to say if people will not have to pay for childcare if they’re not allowed to use it?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (57:58)
What I’ll do, Lauren … that’s a very important question. Those matters aren’t settled yet, but I’ll leave it to the prime minister to make those announcements. That’s importantly a matter for him, but we’re talking, all of our officials are talking. As I said, I’ve had a whole bunch of texts back and forth this morning following my early morning briefings, following his. There’s a list of things that we’re working through. And we’ll have a telephone discussion tonight just to touch base on where things are at. And as soon as we can make announcements in any of those areas, we will.
Would you be expecting [crosstalk 00:58:33] on childcare by tomorrow?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (58:33)
I’ll leave the timing of those things to the PM. But what I can say to you, Rachel, and to all Victorians, know if it is being spared, everyone is working as hard as they possibly can. All governments are working together because this is a shared challenge and it will only be overcome if all of us play a part, with governments, agencies, businesses, families, individuals, particularly individuals who’ve got symptoms who, who must come forward and get tested. Particularly individuals who’ve been told to isolate at home, you must stay at home. There’s simply no alternative. This thing is so wildly infectious. If you’ve got it and you go out, then you’re almost certainly spreading it. That’s the assumption that we have to have. That’s what the science tells us. That’s what experience tells us. And it also tells us that if we continue to say people who should be at home not being at home, then we won’t drive these numbers down.
[crosstalk 00:59:28] I’m told the advice that people who are supposed to be isolating are allowed to go out and exercise is still up on the [inaudible 00:59:34] website. Will that be changed now?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (59:38)
Well, that’s … it’ll be coming. I’ve just made some announcements, so it’ll be adjusted to take account of the announcements I’ve made very, very soon.
And have you ensured that that information will not still then have [inaudible 00:59:52] have been in recent days?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (59:51)
No one will be in any doubt about what the obligations are on them, and that is to stay at home and to be at home, except for if you need urgent emergency medical care, well, then that is a different case. We’re not wanting to be anything other than proportionate to the challenge we face. And police cannot enforce these stay at home orders. If we have that exercise provision, I regret that, I’m not pleased to have to make that change. But we are now moving to the phase of door knocking everybody. And it will be random and repeat door knocks. So I’m not a betting person, but the odds on being able to behave that way and not finishing up with a very hefty fine are not good.
Why did the section exist in the first place?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:00:40)
Well, I think I’ve already dealt with that. We’re in a different phase now, and it’s not appropriate, particularly for the purposes of enforcement, Rachel. That’s the …
Why was it ever a part of this?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:00:47)
Well, I think you’d always like to have people able to get some fresh air and some exercise if they can, but we’re now moving into a very different set of arrangements as we face a very different challenge. Again, I’m not so much about looking back. I’m about making sure we’ve got the right settings in place right now. And we might need to enter this further. I can’t rule that out. Again, if I’m to be criticized for having a dynamic response, then fine. This is not a static enemy. It moves, it changes, it moves wildly. It’s wildly infectious. Circumstances change every hour, and therefore you’ve got to make changes where that’s appropriate.
[crosstalk 01:01:29] to talk us through …
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:01:29)
Why don’t we do James’ one first and then we’ll get Alan to come up and he can take you through whatever you want to do with him?
Is there someone in business who can go [inaudible 01:01:36] been set up to?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:01:39)
There are … the business support line. So there’s an engagement. I’ll get you all the details, websites and all those numbers. And we’d be very grateful to you if you can push those out as much as you can. I can also confirm over in the jobs department that not only have … well, I think that at last count, they had tripled the number of people that were taking calls. So it’s many hundreds of people, but they’ve gone even further in anticipation of the phone calls, the inquiries, the need for detail. I would just say to all businesses, large and small, thank you so much for your patience as we work through these issues. This has never been done before. And whilst we’d all love to have every answer to every question at one point in time, I think people appreciate that this does need to develop over time, and that’s why we’re working with people.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:02:25)
There’ll be a degree of discretion. We’re not going to be fining businesses who’ve made a genuine attempt to do the right thing. I think something like the worker permit scheme is a really simple, common sense … a really practical thing. That’ll make this system work more easily and should take some of the stress out of anybody who’s out and about. I don’t want people feeling anxious having to convince a police officer that they should be out. I want that to be as simple and as easy a process as possible. And that’s why the permit system is so, so important. But so that’s a long life sign, James. There are enormous numbers of people who are taking calls who are, if you like, updating frequently asked question documents, trying to provide as much information as we possibly can. I think people, and I’m grateful that people I’m sure appreciate that this is a big task and this is absolutely unique. We’ve not done this before. And there will always be areas where we need to clarify. There’ll always be issues where it’s not quite clear. Everyone’s doing their very best to make sure that we get people to clarity that they are fundamentally entitled to.
Speaker 5: (01:03:34)
[crosstalk 01:03:34] business support, why are [inaudible 01:03:37] traders eligible for the [crosstalk 01:03:40]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:03:41)
Well, obviously we have … to the best extent possible, we followed the eligibility criteria that JobKeeper has followed. And we think that that’s a really important way to make sure that we maximize the impact of our efforts and the Commonwealth government’s efforts. We have put in place a number of different industry specific plans. I spoke about arts and entertainment. I spoke about the CBD. There’s a number … tourism.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:04:07)
There’s been a number of different industries where we have had bespoke approaches to try and provide very specialized support for them. I wouldn’t rule out doing more of that, but what’s important, and what I’ve had numerous conversations with the PM about is the fact that anything we can do to make the process of accessing JobSeeker, that dramatically increased unemployment benefit, the more we can streamline that, it’s very important that it’s there. And I think there’s a real recognition that that is so, so important, particularly in our state for this next period. And I’m pleased to say that those arrangements, the JobKeeper and JobSeeker at the higher level, that continues well beyond this six week window. And I think that’s very, very important.
Speaker 6: (01:04:54)
But on a state arrangement, Premier, are you just saying there’s just too many of them? It just costs too much money? Do you agree?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:05:00)
No, I wouldn’t say that. What I’d say is that we’ve tried to follow the criteria that has been in place. There are other income supplements for those who find themselves unable to work, unable for their business to function, and they’re some of the ones I’ve just spoken about, and not so much JobKeeper, but the JobSeeker payment. There’s also a whole lot of material aid we’ve provided. There’s a whole lot of services, counseling advice that we have provided, and we’ll continue to add to that. Yesterday, I was asked about mental health. We’ll have more to say about mental health support because we know a lot of people are doing it tough. We’ll have more to say about family violence support, because we know that that’s a particularly acute challenge at the moment, as it is every single day.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:05:41)
But we’ll have more to say about in those areas in the coming days, and we’ll have more to say about business support. There’s lots of different things that we can do. We’re in very important discussions with the Commonwealth. And that sense of a shared effort is, is very, very important. That’s my commitment to the prime minister and him back to me, and then through us to the entire Victorian community, that we’ll work together to devise the best plan, not just to survive through this period, but then to push off and make sure that we repair this damage and that we grow jobs and skills, and that we’ve got strength in the economy and in communities on once we get to the other side of this.
Speaker 7: (01:06:18)
[crosstalk 01:06:18] Premier, meat processes have to reduce capacity.
Speaker 8: (01:06:24)
Premier, how many [crosstalk 01:06:24] cases have you got at the moment?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:06:24)
Speaker 8: (01:06:24)
How many [inaudible 01:06:21] cases have you got at the moment?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:06:24)
I think Alan might be able to speak to community transmission, but we still see an increase day on day. And that’s why we’ve had no choice but to go to this shutdown. Those cases in many respects are the most challenging, because despite our best efforts, and believe me, there’s such a big team of people who are working hard to try and find the source of every single case, but we just have too many of those cases where we don’t know. And that’s when you’ve got to take these very broad measures, as well as a series of targeted steps to try and pull this up.
[crosstalk 01:07:00] Just on contact tracing, Premier, do we know long it’s taken on average to get in contact with close contacts of known cases?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:07:09)
I’d have to come back to you on close contacts. I know that in relation to the initial interview that’s being conducted in 24 hours, we’re doing everything we can to try and speed that process up as much as we can. And it’s not, I don’t think, necessarily something. And I’ve had this conversation with the PM. It’s not something where I think you can go and find six or 12 hours, but every little improvement, every little efficiency that we can find … minutes matter, hours matter, and getting to people as fast as we possibly can, because that of course is the trigger for the door-knock, the very first door knock, both in terms of clarity of information, compliance, but also providing care. Anyone who needs anything, we need to get out to them as fast as we can. So that, that part of the is within that 24 hours.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:07:50)
And I think are getting quicker, can it get quicker again? We’re looking for ways to try and do that. Close contacts is obviously a bigger challenge because you’ve got to get that data from the long form interview. I’m more than happy to try and come back to you with some further detail on that. Obviously that’s something that’s of great concern to us because we … I shouldn’t say concerned, it’s something that is very important to all of us, because it’s central.
Speaker 7: (01:08:17)
I just have a question on abattoirs.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:17)
Yes, and then Alan’s going to come up because he’s been waiting to answer. Now, he’s very concerned about what questions that might be now. Right, on meat processing.
Speaker 7: (01:08:24)
Yeah. So they have to reduce their operations by 33%.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:29)
Speaker 7: (01:08:30)
Many abattoirs already cut back that much because of the drought and supplies. So will this go back apply to current operations or at peak capacity?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:08:38)
No, it relates to their operations as of last week. So the level they were operating at, because again … and if you think about it, that makes complete sense. If we’re trying to drive down the number of people who are moving in the community, it’s not off the base of full 110% production, which is where some of these facilities operate, particularly once you get into the middle of spring. Obviously that’s … for beef and lamb, poultry is bit more consistent. Fish is the other challenge. I’m not quite sure on seasonal issues there, but certainly from a beef and land point of view, spring, they would be at a higher level. They’re at a lower level now, but it needs to get lower still. Otherwise we won’t achieve what it is we’re trying to achieve, less people moving around the community. Not off peak base, but off what the base was last week, because at that level, it was still too high because we’re seeing far too many cases.
Speaker 7: (01:09:36)
I just have one last question for you. It’s been revealed that there’s more aged care deaths in Victoria than what’s actually being reported. So the federal government figures show deaths in relation to nursing homes yesterday, it was more like 113 yesterday. Including today’s figures, that would be 124 aged care in Victoria. But the Victorian health department said yesterday there’s only 77 coronavirus deaths linked to aged care homes. Do you know why there’s this discrepancy in numbers and why Victorian Health Department’s figures are so much lower?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:10:10)
Sure. This matter was drawn to my attention this morning, that there is … the numbers down the line between the federal government website and the numbers that we’ve given you. I just want to stress the total number of people who have tragically passed away, there’s no dispute there. It’s about which setting you attribute those to and there’s work going on right now to try and clarify that. So as soon as I can possibly reconcile those numbers, we believe that the … when I speak to you each day about those that are connected to aged care, we believe that is absolutely accurate. I just got to get to the bottom of how it is that the federal website is … what rules are they using? How are they coming to that number? It’s nothing more or less than that. And we’ll get to the bottom of that and we’ll be able to report to you as soon as we possibly can.
[crosstalk 01:10:55] Just on small businesses before you step down for a second.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:10:57)
I’m happy to step back again. I’m confident I will.
So [inaudible 01:11:03] in particular are saying the provision for the $5,000 grant at the moment means they have to have work-covered insurance, which they didn’t in the last lockdown back in March. Is there any scope to remove that need to have workplace insurance, because they have casualized workforce, and they don’t workplace insurance.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:11:18)
Sure. Candice, let me follow that up. I’m more than happy to get a detailed answer for you. That was not something that had been drawn to my attention, but I’m more than happy to follow that up. I’ll get somebody from the relevant department to give you a definitive answer on that. Are there any more for me before I have a momentary break from your questions?
Just on aged care, Premier.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:11:34)
Certainly. It’s okay, Alan, you were going to go in a minute. It’s all right.
The federal aged care minister said this morning in [inaudible 01:11:41] case keeping private details of the location [inaudible 01:11:42] Would you agree with that?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:11:50)
I haven’t seen those comments. I’d need to see those comments, [Nole 01:12:00], before I necessarily gave you my views on them. We’re about making sure that people have as much information as we can get to them. I would just say there have been occasions when you’ve asked for things from me and I’ve said, “Look, I’m not going to take people away from doing a job to compile a report.” So for instance, some of the business grants and some of the payments to individuals, whether it be on hardship or insecure work, the last thing I’m going to do is say, “Righto, down tools. Tally up all your numbers because I want to be able to say something that’s moderately impressive at a media conference.” That’s a different thing. I think that people have got a right to know and understand what’s going on in different settings.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:12:32)
And that’s not a criticism. I haven’t seen the comments on … don’t read me to be running a commentary on them. We’ve been as clear as we can be. I would just take you back to the points that the chief health officer has made around just being really careful not to identify any individual or any family, and sometimes the numbers are quite small and you can finish up doing that. But I’m more than happy to review what’s been said. I would just say, though, in terms of the partnership that we have with the Commonwealth government when it comes to aged care, everyone’s working very hard. Everybody’s working together, everybody’s sharing information and it’s a shared effort. And I made some points the other week because I thought it was appropriate to make it clear that we would step in and we would do more in a sector that we don’t actually regulate.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:13:22)
But we will do that, because it’s not about those issues. It’s about residents and it’s about residents’ families. And that’s why it’s been of great concern I know to the PM, to me, to our ministers, to the Commonwealth ministers, any delay in getting information to families. And it has been really tough, particularly when you don’t have clerical staff in some of these facilities, because you’re just focused on care, as you should be, it’s been difficult sometimes to get the information to families.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:13:48)
We’ve stepped in, and I just want to give a shout out to some of those hospital nurses that we’ve sent into those private aged care facilities who have not just been doing clinical care, they’ve been taking iPads to people so they can have Zoom conversations with their family members. They’ve been setting up phone calls, doing all sorts of things, that extra effort, going that extra mile to try and provide not just care, but welfare as well and a sense of reassurance for families. I think that we’ve got to be acutely conscious in everything we do in aged care to make sure that particularly family members have got the information that they need. And I know that there’s a massive effort going on to try and improve that, that’s by us, but also by the federal government as well.
Speaker 9: (01:14:33)
[crosstalk 01:14:33] while you’re up … sorry, just some regional areas are feeling a little bit [inaudible 01:14:41] having restrictions and haven’t having cases there for a long time. Is it fair that those parts of Victoria have been COVID-free, [inaudible 01:14:48]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:14:49)
Well, they’re COVID free to the best of our knowledge. That’s the key point. And when you get mystery cases at these volumes, and when you finish up with growing cases in regional Victoria, and they are growing, then you have no choice but to make the really difficult …
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:15:03)
… Victoria and they are growing, then you have no choice but to make the really difficult decision to come down on this hard and to try and make sure that we do everything we can to keep those numbers low and to stop the position in regional Victoria deteriorating.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:15:18)
It is difficult, I know and understand that. I know and understand that. It is very, very difficult. But the advice is, and it’s not just advice from our public health team, although that would’ve been enough, but it’s advice that’s confirmed by the Federal Public Health team as well, that that’s a very difficult, heartbreaking, but proportionate and necessary decision to make, and that’s why we’ve made it. And the key point here is to get beyond this wave, and these are the settings that will make that more likely rather than less.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:15:47)
But I don’t for a moment underestimate how challenging it is. But I would just point out that when you’ve got this much community transmission, this many mystery cases, you know what you know. But you’ve got to also use that data to assume that there’s more of it out there than you think. And that’s why dramatically reducing movement, not just in Melbourne, but in regional Victoria as well, it’s a big cost, but there’ll be a commensurate benefit if we can get beyond this.
Speaker 10: (01:16:14)
Some people are already carrying letters from their employers [inaudible 01:16:18] their job is. Will that suffice under the [inaudible 01:16:20] system, or [inaudible 01:16:19]?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:16:24)
It’s a good question. I think that it works better when it’s one common permit, so I’d be encouraging people to transfer their letter to this particular document. And again, as I said, we’ll have a copy of that ready for you and it’ll be available for everybody who needs it. It’s a pretty simple process. I want to try and encourage everyone to move on to that one common permit.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:16:44)
Look, can I say thank you to those employers who, off their own bat, have gone and done that letter. I think that’s a really, really good thing. But one common framework is probably easier so the Victoria police are not having to interpret whether something’s genuine or not. And it’s not so much when the employer sits down and writes the letter. It’s at 8:45 at night after the curfew when… Let’s do the one common thing. I think that’s going to be much, much easier.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:17:09)
I don’t want people to feel anxious. I don’t want people who are out there in so many instances doing the very best of work, work for all of us, I don’t want them to feel anxious when they’re stopped. I want them to have the absolute clarity that they’ve got in their pocket something that demonstrates quickly and without any doubt that they are out and that being out is lawful.
Speaker 11: (01:17:32)
Do you know how many of the people who weren’t at home, if any of them were actually out exercising at all?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:17:37)
No. No, we don’t know that yet. And to be honest, I don’t think that that’s necessarily driven many of those numbers at all. That’s the key point here. It’s not so much that that activity is driving people moving away from home, but it’s that it could be used as an excuse if you were doing something wholly different, and therefore we have to remove that. That’s not a pleasant thing to have do, but by removing that it just makes the job of the chief commissioner and his members much, much easier. Not easy, I stress, but easier.
Speaker 12: (01:18:16)
Are there penalties for businesses that put pressure on workers to come to work when they might be waiting for a test result?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:18:17)
Well, people who are waiting for a test should be isolating at home. We’re not going to fine them, and I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to do anything that perhaps disincentivizes people from getting a test. I want everyone to get a test when you’ve got even the mildest symptoms. And it’s also, if you think about it, when you’re doing 20,000, 25,000 tests a day, the results come back in a couple of days, so at any given point in time, depending, you’ve got between 50,000 and 75,000 people that are in that, “I’ve had a test and I’m waiting for a result.” We could never door knock. We could never check those people. So that’s why there’s not a specific penalty.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:18:50)
It’s an ask. We are asking people, and I think the case has been pretty well-made. If you’ve had symptoms sufficient to get tested, then the assumption has got to be that you’ve got it. And that means stay at home, don’t go to work. If you’re in insecure work, you don’t have sick leave, well then there is a payment there for you. And I think we’re now up, my last update was north of 6,000 of those payments. That will have grown, because that’s a couple of days ago. If I can get you a further update, I will.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:19:21)
No employer should be putting pressure on anybody who’s suspected of having this virus. And look, what is more definitive? “I had sufficient symptoms to get tested.” Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that you’ve got it. In fact, it’s mandatory. It’s absolutely necessary to assume that you’ve got it. And I’d ask employers, given that there is a payment there, given that your business will not benefit by anyone coming to work who’s got this. In fact, quite the opposite. You will finish up in a situation where you’re closed, incurring considerable expense. That’s just not conduct that any employer should be engaging in. And I’ve heard a few reports of that. It’s very difficult to establish how big an issue that is, but we have heard some reports of that. And I’d simply ask employers not to do that because it’s not in your interests, let alone the interest of every single Victorian.
Speaker 12: (01:20:12)
Is there any penalty for it though?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:20:12)
There’s no specific penalty. But, again, if we thought that there was widespread instances of that, then we can take further steps. We wouldn’t want to have to do that. And again, whilst I’ve heard some isolated cases of that, I haven’t seen it as widespread. But again, if that evidence, if that situation changes, then we always reserve the right to put in place the penalties, the measures, the steps, to keep everybody safe. That’s what the state of disaster arrangements are all about. That puts all those matters beyond doubt.
Speaker 13: (01:20:47)
Just on tradies, we know there’s a lot of people who work by themselves, they do outdoor work, so they literally have zero contact with anybody else. They might be a dog walker or someone who mows the lawns or a painter.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:20:59)
Speaker 13: (01:21:01)
Are they allowed to continue working? And if not, why not?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:21:05)
There’s a long form list that’s been provided. I’m happy to try and provide any clarification. And that’s what’s happening at the moment. Many, many people that are answering lots and lots of questions.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:21:15)
Ultimately, if you’re working on the construction of a new house, or indeed if you are doing a significant renovation of a house and there’s no one there, there’s no one living there. Or you’re doing urgent maintenance, a pipe has burst, you’re a plumber, you come to the home to fix that. Then you can continue to work, under strict rules. For instance, building a house out in the suburbs, in a brand new estate, no more than five people working on that job at any one time.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:21:44)
We don’t enjoy having to make these decisions. But if everybody who attempted to make the case that they’re in a low risk category, if I said, “Fair enough, that’s terrific. You’re in a low risk category.” That’d mean everybody would be at work. Literally everybody. There might even be more people at work than there was before stage four. And all that will do is mean that we don’t get past this, and we certainly don’t get past it quickly.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:22:10)
So I know that’s really, really difficult, and trying to strike that balance is not easy. And as I said yesterday, there’s no rule book… Sorry, there’s a rule book. There’s no playbook. There’s no manual. There’s no guide to how to do this. It’s never been done before. It’s unique. It’s a one in 100 year event and we’ve got to get this job done. We’ve got to get past this. And the only way to do that is to have a massive reduction in the number of people that are moving around Melbourne, and indeed to a certain extent, moving around the entire state. If I grant exemptions for everybody who makes an eloquent well argued case, then everybody will be at work. Perhaps even more people will be at work than were at work under stage three.
Speaker 14: (01:22:55)
If you can comment further on that incident in Frankston now that we’ve heard what happened?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:22:57)
Well, these matters will lay before the courts and I don’t want to cut across that, but that sort of behavior is nothing short of fundamentally disgusting. And police are out there putting themselves in harm’s way. They run toward the danger when the rest of us wouldn’t. And if you behave that way, that’s just appalling. Absolutely appalling.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:23:21)
There are provisions in place to deal with those who think that police and other emergency services can be treated that way. They’re wrong to think that, and they’ll be dealt with harshly. Wear the mask, for heaven’s sake. For heaven’s sake.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:23:34)
The nurse treating you or a loved one will be wearing a mask. In fact, they’ll be wearing multiple masks, a face shield, gowns, and gloves. They’ll be working long hours. They’ll be struggling to breathe too, but they’ll be getting the job done. And sadly, hundreds of them are sick now and hundreds more will get sick.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:23:58)
So it is not too much to ask, whether you be in the suburbs of Melbourne or in the smallest of country towns, wear the mask. It’s a small contribution, and it makes a massive difference. And thank you to the vast majority of people who are doing that. We’re very proud, very proud, to see people really, really take to that and acknowledge that it’s something that we all have to do. That sort of behavior is disgusting, it’s appalling, and we simply will not tolerate it.
Speaker 15: (01:24:28)
How is the police officer doing?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:24:31)
The police officer’s been concussed. The police officer’s received the very best of care. We send our best wishes to her and to her partner out there working to protect us. It’s the most worthy of work. And this has been a very difficult year for members of Victoria police. A very difficult year. Their courage, their professionalism, is amazing. And the least we can do is follow the rules and be respectful to Victoria police and do as we’re asked. That sort of behavior is simply intolerable. And to every police member and every police family, I say, “Thank you for the contribution that you are making.”
Speaker 16: (01:25:13)
One to Allen after 20 minutes of build-up.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:25:16)
Thanks very much.
Speaker 16: (01:25:16)
In the numbers today, is there any sign that community transmission is stabilizing or going down? How are things tracking there?
Professor Cheng: (01:25:25)
Yeah. I’m sorry. I don’t know everyone’s names, but I do have an answer for that question. So there are 2, 159 cases of unknown transmission. That’s an increase of 128. So some of these, obviously, we need to wait for the investigation to be closed out, and that takes a little bit of time. But 128 more than yesterday.
Speaker 16: (01:25:44)
Is that an indication that masks are having some effect towards [crosstalk 00:01:25:47].
Professor Cheng: (01:25:47)
Look, I think it’s too early to tell. All the measures that have been put into place over the last couple of weeks all contribute. Masks are contributing to that. And obviously the restrictions that have been put in on Sunday will start to kick in over the next week or so.
Speaker 16: (01:26:07)
[crosstalk 01:26:07]. Sorry.
Speaker 17: (01:26:07)
[crosstalk 01:26:10]. Sorry.
Speaker 17: (01:26:07)
Is it safe for Parliament to be sitting at the moment? Because we know the upper house is, against the advice of the CHO direction.
Professor Cheng: (01:26:17)
So parliament is a matter for the presiding officers. We have provided our advice. The issue is about people coming in from regional areas into the restricted stage four area, and the advice that we gave was that it should not be held. But the presiding officers will be working to try and make it as safe as possible.
Speaker 18: (01:26:44)
Just on stage four restrictions, what does success look like? If everybody does the right thing, we get to the end of this six weeks, where do you hope or think we will be?
Professor Cheng: (01:26:55)
So we talk about this effective reproductive ratio, and what that actually means is the number of cases, the change in cases over the following serial interval, which is about a week. So, where stage four restrictions have been put into place overseas, we hope to get a effective reproductive ratio down around 0.5, which means that over the following week, and after allowing for a delay in the cases that have been exposed now to present, we would hope to see a reduction of 30%, 40%, 50% in the number of cases over the next week or so.
Speaker 18: (01:27:35)
And what about at the end of six weeks? I mean, would you expect Victoria to be back, or hope that we’re back, in a single figure daily cases, or where are you hoping to be?
Professor Cheng: (01:27:45)
Look, I think it’s too early to tell. I would hope that it will be much substantially lower, further down than now. I would hope that it would be, yes, in single figures, but we need to see how we go over the next couple of weeks.
Speaker 18: (01:28:00)
But if everything works as it should, that’s where we should be.
Professor Cheng: (01:28:03)
We should be back into substantially smaller numbers than what we have now. That’s for sure.
Speaker 19: (01:28:11)
The gap keeps growing between the number of people in hospital with the number of people in ICU. Is that [inaudible 01:28:12] people in the ICU are dying? Or is it indication that there’s more spread among younger, fitter people who’ve died in the ICU?
Professor Cheng: (01:28:22)
No. I understand that the increase in hospitalizations has, at least in part, been due to the number of people that have been moved from aged care facilities into hospital. And some of those transfers are not because of clinical reasons, they’re because of the arrangements with the care homes to try and limit spread. So hospitalization numbers probably aren’t that reliable as a marker of our severity, but certainly intensive care is.
Speaker 20: (01:28:55)
So we have all the people who are so sick that they’re not even going to ICU, I’ve even been noticing that there are very few people in their 80s and no people in their 90s in ICU the last few days.
Professor Cheng: (01:29:04)
Yeah. The decision to admit someone to intensive care is a complicated clinical decision and it’s made with the patient and the family. It’s not always appropriate for people to go into intensive care, so that’s often a decision that has to be made at the time.
Speaker 20: (01:29:22)
Professor Cheng, you and two other eminent physicians have taken over from Annaliese van Diemen. Is the fact that it’s taken three people to take over from one person an indication that we didn’t have the leadership for the contact tracing team that we should have had earlier?
Professor Cheng: (01:29:39)
Look, I think Dr. van Diemen did a great job and we’re realizing the workload that the whole team have been doing over the last six months. We’re happy to help. And I think, yes, there’s a number of us that are contributing to try and help with this fight.
Speaker 21: (01:30:00)
Just on healthcare workers, Professor Sutton said the other day that they would need to perhaps look at things like PPE because there was such a huge number of healthcare workers who are now getting sick. Is there a review underway? How concerned are authorities about the numbers of infections among healthcare workers?
Professor Cheng: (01:30:13)
So the chief medical officer, Andrew Wilson, is looking at this at the moment. Our experience from the Alfred has actually been that hospitals are like other workplaces, and we’ve certainly had instances where we believe that staff have acquired in the community, or they have transmitted to each other at work, which reinforces some of these measures that have been put into place with universal masking in hospitals.
Professor Cheng: (01:30:42)
Where they have been acquired from patients it usually relates to, at least in the past has related to, where patients haven’t been diagnosed. So at that time where we weren’t using universal masks that healthcare workers did acquire it from patients at that time and putting these sort of measures to treat everyone, essentially, as they potentially could have infection is what’s been done in response to that.
Speaker 21: (01:31:13)
But we know at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and [inaudible 01:31:15], we know that’s where people from aged care who have tested positive are going. So we know they have it. There’s been huge [inaudible 00:16:23]. So what’s gone on there?
Professor Cheng: (01:31:22)
Yeah. So the chief medical officer’s looking into some of those and understand that there will be guidance that will be issued from Andrew Wilson.
Speaker 22: (01:31:38)
[inaudible 01:31:38] committee that Victoria’s not using the COVIDSafe app for a period. Do you know why that [inaudible 01:30:18] be? And if that issues been resolved and if we’re using it now?
Professor Cheng: (01:31:48)
We are using it now. We wouldn’t really expect to find contacts through the app because at the moment we’re either at work or at home, and the contacts are known to us. And so I understand that where it has been used, it’s generally picked up people that have already been detected by the contact tracers.
Speaker 23: (01:32:13)
So why did they stop using it in the first place?
Professor Cheng: (01:32:18)
I’m not sure what about the reasons, but I do know that it is being used now.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:32:25)
Thank you. Any other issues?
Speaker 24: (01:32:29)
One for Shane, please.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:32:29)
Speaker 24: (01:32:29)
Question for Shane.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:32:29)
Speaker 24: (01:32:49)
Thanks, Shane. You mentioned people [inaudible 01:32:51] conspiracy theories [inaudible 01:32:54] Facebook [inaudible 01:32:56]. Is that something that’s on your radar and is there anything that can [inaudible 01:33:07]?
Shane Patton: (01:33:09)
Yeah, we’ve heard a lot about conspiracy theorists and people that don’t think the law applies to them and talking to our members and trying to intimidate them saying, that legislative we can’t hold into account. We absolutely have the powers to hold them to account. We’ve given guidance to our members on that. And so people are expected to comply. I’m fully satisfied that our members now understand what they’re supposed to be doing quite clearly. They did before as well, but now we’ve given enhanced advice to them from our prosecutions division.
Shane Patton: (01:33:38)
So no one gets a free kick when they’re going through a vehicle checkpoint. No one gets a free kick when they’ve pulled up during a curfew. They will be held to account. And if they’re not supposed to be out there, irrespective of what their claim is, sovereign citizen, conspiracy theorist, they just have to obey the law. If not, we’ll hold them to account.
Speaker 24: (01:33:55)
And is the [inaudible 01:33:55] monitoring the online activity [inaudible 01:33:59].
Shane Patton: (01:33:55)
Yeah. I’m not going to divulge here what we do in relation to activity. But clearly we look at social media like everyone else does and we have a range of intelligent products that give us advice and help us to make sure that our members are safe and they can deal with these matters as best as they can.
Speaker 25: (01:34:18)
Have you asked Facebook to take any pages down at all?
Shane Patton: (01:34:21)
No, we haven’t asked Facebook to remove anything.
Speaker 24: (01:34:23)
[inaudible 01:34:23] is that an option?
Shane Patton: (01:34:26)
Oh, look, clearly if there was anything that was offensive, that was against the law, we would engage with Facebook as we do in relation to those matters, but people are entitled to their views, but not when they’re unlawful. And that’s what it comes down to. We enforce the law, the law are the CHO guidelines. That’s what we do.
Speaker 26: (01:34:41)
But quite often what we’re seeing is incitement or encouragement to break the law, engaging in behavior that puts the community at risk. So wouldn’t there be the potential for [inaudible 01:35:01] organization to approach Facebook [inaudible 01:34:58]?
Shane Patton: (01:35:00)
Ah, look, if we see incitement where people are being incited to commit criminal offenses, we take action in regards to that. There’s a fine line though. Sometimes between that and expressing a view about, an opinion about, what people might or might not be able to say to try and get out of an infringement or to potentially get through a checkpoint. So there’s very, sometimes a fine line, but from our point of view, yes, we take action if there’s criminal offenses of incitement, we haven’t seen that to date.
Speaker 27: (01:35:24)
When the ADF and the police go out to enforce the CHO’s directions, why do they have to go out in such a large group? Wouldn’t they be more effective if they could split up into smaller groups and work in different areas?
Shane Patton: (01:35:35)
When we go out with the ADF it’s one police officer and a couple of ADF. The reason for that is because we have the powers. We have the powers to be able to enforce matters. The ADF do not have policing powers, it’s as simple as that. They’re able to give us great assistance, there’s great visibility. And we work together with them and they’re doing really valuable job. But we have the policing powers and that’s why we have to be with them.
Speaker 27: (01:35:59)
So why do they need to be with you? Is it only for looks?
Shane Patton: (01:36:04)
No, it’s not only for looks. We use them to ascertain from people, when they’re working with us and they’re assisting us they’re entitled to speak to people and ask the questions, “Why are you out and about here?” So it gives us, if you like, a workforce multiply from our perspective, they assist in that regard. And if there’s an issue with the person they’re dealing with, well, in that case, they’ll come to us and then we’ll step in and say, “What is the reason?” And we’ll be able to use our police powers. So it’s multiplying our capacity to be able to check more people, more vehicles.
Speaker 28: (01:36:32)
Police have been able to do some [inaudible 01:36:34] checks of people that are meant to self-isolating already, do you know how many fines have been issued for that [inaudible 01:36:39] offense? Since January or [inaudible 01:36:41].
Shane Patton: (01:36:43)
No, I can’t speak specifically to isolation. We don’t singularly isolate them out for specific matters. We put them all in the big batch, we’ve issued this many infringements under our sentinel checks, which encompass a range of things, populous places, isolation, a range of different matters. So I can’t tell you that specifically.
Speaker 29: (01:37:02)
How many people are paying these fines? This is something every time we talk about fines people from the public always say to us, “Yeah, but how many are actually being paid?”
Shane Patton: (01:37:10)
Yeah. I can’t tell you how many are paying the fines at this time. They go through a process and it’s still very early days, if you like. So I’m not in a position to say that, nor is is a concern for Victoria police as to how many pay the fine. I mean, people will make applications for review on occasions, people will contest them, some will just pay them. They’re not concerns for us. It’s about us issuing them so we get the deterrence from issuing them. And that’s the important thing for us. Okay. Thank you.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:37:38)
No other issues?
Speaker 30: (01:37:42)
Are you comfortable with the upper house sitting today?
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:37:43)
It’s entirely a matter for them. The chief health officer has provided advice, we have followed that advice. I think that’s always the best thing to do. Ignoring the advice of experts, I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to drive those numbers down. The advice is there. That’s why we’ve taken some very, very difficult decisions. That’s why I’ve made some very difficult decisions in the last few weeks, last few months, in fact, and it’s all about getting us to the other side of this.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:38:12)
So I would just appeal to all Victorians, please follow the rules. Thank you to those, the vast majority of people, who are. And to those who are not, police have the powers and they have the will and the resolve and the determination to find you and to deal with you. It shouldn’t have to come to that. If you are supposed to be isolating that’s exactly what you must be doing. And there will be random and repeat door knocks. And then there will be enforcement.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:38:42)
And on the issue of paying fines let me be very clear. There is a process to avoid a fine ultimately, but it’s against a very high threshold. Anyone who thinks this is not serious would be very wrong to think that. The fines will be issued and we will pursue Victorians who have done the wrong thing for the payment of those fines. Be in no doubt about that.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:39:05)
But again, thank you to those who are doing the right thing. I’m proud of you. I’m grateful to you. We will get through this, but only if we all play our part.
Premier Daniel Andrews: (01:39:13)
If there’s no other issues? Very good. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Speaker 30: (01:39:18)
Speaker 27: (01:39:18)