Aug 5, 2020
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews Press Conference Transcript August 5
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, held a press conference on August 5 about the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Daniel Andrews: (00:00)
… Victorians. That is 15 more since our last update. I’ll provide you as much detail as I can. One male in his 30s, three males and one female in their 70s, three males, three females in their 80s, three males, one female in their 90s. Of those 15 cases, 12 can be linked to aged care. If we can provide further information to you, then of course we will subject to privacy and obviously prioritizing the grief and loss that those families will be experiencing. And I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to each of those families, this’ll be a terribly difficult time. And any and all support that we can provide to you we will. And we are with you in this very difficult time.
Daniel Andrews: (00:52)
1,721,953 tests have now been conducted across Victoria. That’s as I’ve indicated to the last couple of days, we’ll give you from the laboratories an estimate of tests done each day and the exact number gets added to the total. But with a little bit of lag, we are focusing on those positive cases, so tallying up to fine detail the number of negatives is something that happens a little bit lighter than it was happening. So about 24,000 tests were conducted yesterday. The laboratories have confirmed that. There are currently 528 people in hospital… Sorry, 538, I should say. And 42 of those people are receiving intensive care.
Daniel Andrews: (01:33)
Total active cases, 7,227, and total active cases with a connection to aged care, some 1,435. Can I, off the top, thank all of those Victorians who are coming forward and getting tested. It is arguably the most significant contribution that any of us can make. If you have symptoms, however mild, you need to come forward and get tested, then isolate, waiting for your testing result, and then act on the advice that you’re provided if in fact, you are told you are positive.
Daniel Andrews: (02:02)
Yesterday, we talked about door knocking compliance. We talked about penalties. Those penalties are there for a good reason. They’re there to keep everyone safe and to try and promote the very best choices. But I’d simply ask all of those Victorians who have perhaps not been making the best of choices please change your behavior. To all of those who are doing an amazing job. I’m so grateful and so proud to think that Victorians are dealing with this challenge, a bigger challenge than we have perhaps ever faced. And they’re doing it with a sense of compassion, a sense of care for each other, a sense of concern, of course. But that really clear understanding that we are all in this together and that decisions that each and every one of us make as individuals, as families, as communities, they have an impact on all of us.
Daniel Andrews: (02:51)
And if we all continue to do, as we should making better choices, then we will keep our community safe and we will get to other side of this. The alternative of course, is these restrictions lasting for much longer than they should. And all the attendant pain and suffering and damage that is simply unavoidable because of where we find ourselves, because of those restrictions and the fact that they are the only thing that will pull those numbers up, being even greater than it otherwise would be. No one wants that. And that’s why I would appeal to every single Victorian to follow those rules. But I wouldn’t want those who are following the rules. I wouldn’t want their amazing work to be downplayed in any way. They’re making an amazing contribution. You are making an amazing contribution and you both have our gratitude, but also you have a clear acknowledgement, I think from all of those who are on the frontline, all of those who are ultimately the last line of defense, we acknowledge how hard it is and we acknowledge just how important it is as well.
Daniel Andrews: (03:57)
Now on a couple of specifics, particularly in relation to work permits. I think you’ve all seen those and we’re very grateful to you for making sure that we get the message out around those work permits. That is a relatively simple process, but one that will mean that police can enforce these rules much more easily, and that we really can have the minimum number of people moving throughout the community, the minimum number of people working. That they’re always difficult decisions to make. Their always difficult lines to draw and lists to write. And we apologize for the pain and the hurt that those lists, that those sorts of decisions make necessary. But these are the decisions I’ve made because they are the only option we have in order to try and drive those numbers down.
Daniel Andrews: (04:44)
So that process is working well, I think. And it is a relatively simple process. I want to bend to focus on two other issues, firstly childcare. And I know and understand that this is a really significant and serious issue for so many families right across Victoria. Yesterday I said that we would work as hard as we could to try and find a way through on this. But I didn’t want to give anyone false hope. There will need to be and I can today announced they will be many, many families who will not be able to access childcare as they normally would.
Daniel Andrews: (05:15)
And that is essential to driving down movement. That is essential to driving down these numbers. What I can say though, is there will be a further permit system. It’ll be as simple as possible. It’s quite a simple process, but if you are a permitted worker, regardless of whether you are working in person or you are working from home, and you attest that there is no one else in your household that can look after your children, then you will be able with that very simple permit to access childcare.
Daniel Andrews: (05:44)
I know that that will mean many people who have been using childcare and rely upon childcare will not be able to do that. These rules, I should stress also apply to a kinder and they will essentially apply to primary school students attending school and being under the important… Basically doing remote and flexible learning in a supervised environment outside their home. I know this will cause significant concern, and it will be very challenging for many families. But if I were to simply green light the best part of a quarter of a million kids going to and from childcare every day, then we will not drive these numbers down. Those are very difficult decisions to make. I know they have direct impacts, but just to be clear, if you are a permitted worker, regardless of whether you are working from home, doing that permitted work, or whether you are in person doing that permitted work, if you attest through that quite simple permit process that you have no one else to look after your children in your household, then you will be able to access childcare.
Daniel Andrews: (06:49)
That will mean a very substantial reduction. We’re just doing the final numbers on what the difference between a full compliment and the much smaller number will be. And we’re happy to come back to you on that once we’ve tallied all that up, but it is a massive reduction. And I apologize to those families who will do it tough because childcare is not there, but there is simply no alternative. We’ve worked through this right throughout the evening to try and get a balanced approach. One that allows those… I’ll give you one example, people who are directly involved, whether it be at work or at home in our collective fight against this virus. We didn’t want that effort in any way, undermined because childcare was not available to them. That I think makes perfect sense.
Daniel Andrews: (07:31)
I’m not for a moment pretending this will be easy. It will be very challenging. I wouldn’t make these decisions if I didn’t think that it was exactly what’s needed and necessary to drive those numbers down. And when you look at today’s numbers and they do jump around from day to day, but the notion of more than 700 cases, that is not sustainable, we need to drive those numbers down. And this strategy is designed to do just that. That’s the advice of the experts. That is the decision that I have made.
Daniel Andrews: (07:59)
Finally, before we go to questions, I can also announce today that elective surgery, other than for category one patients and the most urgent of category two patients, those clinical decisions that clinical need will be determined by doctors and others. All surgery beyond category one and the most urgent category two in Regional Victoria will be put on hold until further notice. We can’t have a situation where we are making the sickest patients wait longer because we are treating wholly worthy and any important conditions, but not necessarily time critical conditions.
Daniel Andrews: (08:40)
We can’t put those ahead of people who need that urgent care. The sickest patients must get treated quickest. That is always a principle that our public and indeed our private hospitals work under. This is a regrettable decision, but it is a very important one in order to preserve sufficient capacity in our entire health system, city and country, public and private. No one enjoys, particularly a government that’s done more elective surgery than any government in the history of the state. I don’t enjoy having to make those decisions, but in terms of keeping patients safe, keeping hospital workers safe and preserving sufficient capacity so that we’re planning for what might be needed, we hope not needed, but things that might be needed, we need to mirror the restrictions that have applied in Melbourne for a few weeks now in Regional Victoria as well.
Daniel Andrews: (09:29)
Just… Sorry, just finally. And again, I hope this is an example that shows you that we’re always happy to work through issues and provide clarity wherever we can. I’m sure there’ll be many, many questions today about individual settings. It’s probably best not to do those things on the fly. We will come back to you. There’s a power of work going on at the moment in individual settings, individual businesses, and what those restrictions mean. We’ll provide you with any and all clarity we can, together with any other assistance that you need in terms of just fact checking, anything that you might want to put to air. Fact checking, anything that you might want to make part of a column for tomorrow. All of that. We are all in this together as well. So we need to make sure that we’re supporting you to have the best and most accurate information out.
Daniel Andrews: (10:11)
I just wanted by way of example, just to go to one issue, that’s been raised with me and raised, I think, with the team by a number of different people. Intimate partners can visit each other. But when you are with your partner or they are with you, depending on which home you are visiting, that is essentially your home and the rules apply to you as if you both lived in that premises. So if you at 8:00 PM are at your partner’s house, then the curfew applies to you from that home. If you are at 4:00 in the afternoon, if you are visiting your partner, then the rules around are only going shopping once a day, no further than five kilometers away, that applies to you. Exercise once a day, no more than five kilometers from that premises, that applies to you. I think that is as simple and as easy as we can make this. I’d appeal to people that we think it’s important to have the ability to see your partner, but the rules have to apply wherever you are.
Daniel Andrews: (11:13)
You essentially have two homes. And for the purposes, of when you are in either of those, the rules apply to you from that point. And police will enforce this. There’ll be fair and reasonable, but I think that’s just a common sense. If there was a need to clarify, hopefully that has done it. Wording, which may or may not be better expressed than the way I just did it, will be on, is on the DHHS website, now, just to clarify. That’s one example, there will be many, many other examples.
Daniel Andrews: (11:42)
We’re working with industry. We’re working with peak bodies. We’re working with individuals who’ve got legitimate concerns about what these rules mean for them. I do want to make a point. Victoria police will be fair, but Victoria police will be out there enforcing those rules and there will be a time for people to adjust, but any period, I wouldn’t call it a grace period. There won’t be a grace period, but any period where people might be able to explain that they were confused, that door will close very quickly. Because these rules need to work. It’s in all of our interests that these rules work and drive down these case numbers.
Daniel Andrews: (12:27)
So again, thank you to everyone who is doing the right thing. Thank you to the many, many thousands of people, right across almost every role that are in the team fighting this virus. We’re deeply grateful to them. All of us as Victorians. I don’t think they’ll mind if I were to single out again, health workers. If you wear a mask, if you only go out when you need to, if you don’t go further than five kilometers from your home, if you’re not out and about once the curfew is on each evening, you’re protecting yourself. You’re protecting your family, every family. And most importantly, you are honoring the work that our nurses, our doctors, our ambos, all of our health workers do every minute of every shift, it is incredibly challenging work.
Daniel Andrews: (13:16)
And the job is only made harder and more dangerous if people don’t follow the rules. Because that contributes to more people in hospital. So for all of those reasons, and of course, to avoid a very hefty penalty, we’ve all got to keep doing the right thing. We’ve all got to keep following those rules so that we can in a unified and absolutely determined way drive these numbers down and get to the other side of this as soon as we possibly can. I think that probably covers off all the announcements and other points that I wanted to make. And we’re now happy to take any questions you have.
Speaker 1: (13:49)
[inaudible 00:13:49] walk us through the numbers please.
Daniel Andrews: (13:49)
Speaker 1: (13:51)
Obviously a big total today, how many of them are linked to known outbreaks and what’s behind the big jump in hospitalizations? Is that aged care [inaudible 00:13:59] or is that general public?
Yeah. So 725 new cases and 164 of those are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and a 561 under investigation. The number of people in hospital has increased primarily, but not only because of transfers from aged care. And a lot of those transfers are not for clinical… Not because they’re sick, but because of infection control reasons. But they’re all important. And taking someone from an aged care, this is their home. And obviously very disruptive to the residents.
How sustainable is it to keep transferring aged care patients into hospitals. Is there enough capacity in the long run to keep doing that?
Look, I think everything has a limit. It’s not the preferred option. So when there’s an outbreak in an aged care, there’s an assessment that’s made about what is possible. So what’s the configuration of the aged care, what does infection control look like? What’s the staffing like? And what’s the clinical need of the patient? Of the resident, sorry. And also what are the wishes of the resident, whether they want to remain there in their home or be transferred. So all of these things are taken into account. And then also what the options are. So could they be transferred to a setting that’s not a hospital or to a private hospital or to a public hospital.
Jenny Mikakos: (15:27)
Jenny Mikakos: (15:32)
Thank you. Look, I might just add something further to your question, Richard. So we do have some capacity to continue to absorb more residents from aged care facilities. To date we’ve had more than 300 aged care facility residents transferred to either public or private hospitals. Obviously those decisions are made on a clinical care basis. It can be very traumatic for our aged care residents to be transferred from what is their home, the aged care facility is in fact their home to a hospital environment. But we won’t hesitate to do that or where that’s necessary. So in some cases, as Alan has explained, this situation occurs because there’s a pressing critical need, but we’ve also stepped in to make these transfers where the aged care facility provider themselves has really been unable to provide a safe environment for both the residents and for their staff. So I just want to take this opportunity to thank private hospitals across Melbourne, who are doing a power of work to support our public health services at this time. And together, both public and private hospitals have provided more than 800 shifts. So to date, public and private hospitals have provided more than 800 shifts in private aged care facilities, right across Melbourne. And the announcement today to pause non-urgent elective surgery in our public and private hospitals in Regional Victoria is designed to be able to create greater capacity in those health services to support aged care facilities in those regional communities, as well as provide additional support if they continue to see more grown of virus patients in Regional Victoria.
Jenny Mikakos: (17:27)
We’ve had now new cases, thankfully it’s been a relatively lower number, steady number, but an increasing number of cases in Regional Victoria. As far apart from Portland to East Gippsland. So this is why we have taken this precautionary approach today in announcing this step. I should add that we do not any decision to pause elective surgery lightly, or we acknowledge this is very inconvenient for the patients and families that will be impacted by this, but our intention is to resume normal activity as soon as it’s safe to do so. And at that point in time, we will also be looking to have an elective surgery blitz to be able to address the need that will exist at that time.
Jenny Mikakos: (18:15)
So I just also wanted to add in terms of today’s announcement, that we will also be extending preoperative COVID testing for elective surgery patients in regional communities just as we have been doing in metropolitan Melbourne. This is just another measure designed to support our healthcare services and to make sure that both patients have a better chance of recovery, if they do not have coronavirus when they undertake their surgery. As well as to keep our dedicated healthcare workers safe. So this is an important step, but we will, of course keep working together with the Commonwealth and the aged care sector to support aged care residents at this very challenging time.
Speaker 2: (19:00)
[crosstalk 00:19:00] Are most of those residents who are going to be moved out been moved out?
Daniel Andrews: (19:05)
On that, I want to make a couple comments on aged care as well, if I can.
Jenny Mikakos: (19:08)
Daniel Andrews: (19:09)
A number of those settings that were, I think it’s fair to say we’re in crisis. They have stabilized. In fact, I think all of them could not be described as stable. There will be additional outbreaks. There will be additional settings where we need to… When I say we us, the federal government, public hospitals, private hospitals will need to step in and do more. And of course we will do that. There are a number of settings that were in crisis that are now… They’re being handed back if you like to the private operator. We believe that that can be done safely, but we’re also exploring the notion of some blended teams. So we may leave some nurses in those settings from public and private hospitals or hospital nurses to provide support and assistance. Just so that we can keep those environments stable.
Daniel Andrews: (19:52)
[inaudible 00:19:52] I can’t guarantee you that they won’t be more patients moved. There have been enormous numbers of staff involved in transporting those, at least 300. And indeed there’s probably transports going on, right now. Often that is because the person is sick. But in some respects equally, and it might even be more, are moved because there’s not a confidence that the infection control protocols can be delivered in that aged care setting. So the safest thing to do is to move those residents out.
Daniel Andrews: (20:23)
You’ve heard me say a few times now, and again, just want to make the point, everyone who from a clinical point of view, whether it be infection prevention and control or treatment and care for that individual, who needs to be moved and is deemed that it is necessary for them to be moved, will be. And we will find the capacity. We have it, and we will create it if we have to guide beyond that in order to take care of those residents. But none of us should underestimate the trauma and the very, very complex and significant burden on those patients, those residents of being moved from a familiar environment to one that is not in any way familiar to them. So that is very, very difficult. But clinical need drives it. And it obviously will continue.
Speaker 3: (21:15)
There’s been an increase in aged care active cases, or has a link to aged care, about 250 overnight. What do you attribute that big jump to?
Daniel Andrews: (21:25)
I’d need to come back to you once the CHO release comes out. We’ll be looking into more detail. There’s obviously a lot of testing going on in aged care at the moment. That is not the… That is not just residents. That number includes staff also. So we had a very lengthy meeting last night with our team that are dealing with aged care. And I think it’s fair to say you would describe it as challenging, very, very challenging setting. But there has been some stability come to it. And that’s the product of the partnership of both public and private hospitals, as well as our government working really closely with the federal government. I think those teams, that system is really well set up now, but it remains…
Daniel Andrews: (22:02)
Those teams, that system is really well set up now, but it remains a really challenging environment on those numbers. I’m happy to try and get you the best breakdown that I can, James.
Daniel Andrews: (22:11)
Speaker 4: (22:12)
Will there be a grace period for parents trying to navigate this [inaudible 00:22:16]
Daniel Andrews: (22:17)
I’m not announcing any grace periods. Unfortunately, we need to make these changes. We’ve tried to be as clear as we possibly can. We know that this will cause inconvenience. We know this will be a real challenge for a lot of families, but what is an even greater challenge is if we don’t drive these numbers down and we finish up with these sorts of rules in place for much, much longer than they otherwise would be. I know it’ll be really, really challenging. As I said yesterday, I didn’t want to give false hope to people that there would be a large number of people who would normally use childcare that will not be able to. No one’s pleased about that, but that is essential to limit movement and drive down the number of cases, that every single thing we do has to be based on that, both as individuals in the choices we make all the way through to the policy decisions that are made.
Speaker 4: (23:12)
For the access to childcare permit, will that be available this afternoon?
Daniel Andrews: (23:16)
Yes. It will be, and it will be as simple as it possibly can be. Well, I don’t think the work permit is a complex document, that’s quite simple as well, but this will be simply the person indicating that they are doing permitted work and also then attesting that there is no one in their home that can look after the kids, and then we’ll be able to go from there. I might just add that I’m very grateful, obviously, just as we were in the first wave, very grateful to the Commonwealth government for the decisions. I think that Minister Tehan has announced today in terms of providing support so that that industry is there on the other side of this. To get them through is very, very important.
Speaker 5: (23:56)
Will the parents have to fill out two permits? Any parents at all in the state [crosstalk 00:24:02] one permit if they’re working from home, one permit if they’re on site?
Daniel Andrews: (24:07)
No. There is a very simple second document and for the purposes of clarity and making sure that there is no confusion, a second permit will need to be filled in. It is not a lengthy document. It is simply a matter of your details and signing it and basically confirming that you don’t have another adult in the house for instance, who could be providing that childcare. Again, we’re trying to make this as simple as we possibly can. We’re trying to make it as efficient as we possibly can, but all of these decisions are acknowledging of the significant burden that this will cause but also the very significant reward that we will all get as a community if we can drive these numbers down. Yes, [inaudible 00:24:55] there will be penalties if people were to make a false statement that they didn’t have an alternative in home childcare arrangement, a member of their family, and then sent their kids to childcare. That is why I’m appealing to people to act in the interests of the state and act in the interests of every family by being truthful, being honest about that. I’m confident people will do that.
Daniel Andrews: (25:22)
The reason it is back to those who are permitted workers, is that that is a framework that we’ve already set up. That is obviously many hundreds of thousands of people less than a normal August. That sort of reduction, that driving down of the sheer number of people that are moving throughout the community, that is what will deliver us lower case numbers, as opposed to the more than 700 cases that we’ve had to report today.
Daniel Andrews: (25:50)
I have not left this podium without answering every one of your questions and I won’t do so today, so let’s all just do it one at a time. I’ll answer them all.
Speaker 6: (26:00)
On the same topic, to clarify further …
Daniel Andrews: (26:02)
Speaker 6: (26:03)
In households where are two guardians or two parents …
Daniel Andrews: (26:06)
Speaker 6: (26:07)
Both of them need to be in permitted industries to access childcare?
Daniel Andrews: (26:12)
What you will need to do is you will need to establish that the person, that the second guardian, the second person is not capable of providing care and support to that child. Again, there will be an element of trust in this. It’s very difficult to try and enforce this level of detail, these level of personal decisions in every single household. I would simply say to people that if we see numbers, unacceptably high numbers of children in childcare or kinder, and we believe that there are people who are not going to every effort to try and provide an alternative arrangement or change their own arrangement in their home to keep their child out of childcare, well then I’ll have no choice but to look at these measures in the weeks to come.
Daniel Andrews: (27:05)
We’re trying to be as clear as we possibly can. It’s very difficult circumstance, and I fully acknowledge that. But for those permitted workers where another person in the home cannot look after your children, you will be able to send your children to childcare. That is about a fraction of the overall number of kids who would be in childcare. I apologize for that, but that’s the only way to drive these numbers down.
[crosstalk 00:27:32] will they still be allowed to [inaudible 00:27:35].
Daniel Andrews: (27:36)
On the issue of people coming into your home and providing everything from babysitting to childcare, the chief health officer is examining those matters and we’ll provide clarity as soon as we can later on today. I just want to be clear again, the notion of having thousands and thousands of people coming in and out of homes, that is not conducive with driving down these numbers. Having thousands and thousands of people potentially moving across Melbourne, that simply renders the enforcement of the five kilometer rule, the enforcement of the curfew, the enforcement of all of these rules, it makes it much harder on Victoria police. I don’t want that. I want this to be as simple and as black and white as it can be. That’s a challenging thing to get to that point of clarity. That’s why there’s literally an army of people working through all of these issues. We’ll provide further advice on the issue of in-home childcare arrangements. As I said, everything from baby sitting through, and we’ll do that as soon as we possibly can, Lundy.
Speaker 7: (28:39)
[crosstalk 00:28:39] parents?
Daniel Andrews: (28:39)
Exactly. That’s right. This is well understood I think, very, very well understood, that people, even otherwise healthy people in their senior years, so the average grandparent, some would be younger, but you got to be very careful that you’re not in a high-risk cohort and that in moving around the community, you’re not exposing yourself to risks that are just not smart. I know this will create pressure. I know this will be challenging, but there’s simply no alternative if we are going to be as a state successful in driving these numbers down.
Speaker 8: (29:16)
Premier do you have an update on the total number of deaths connected to aged care?
Daniel Andrews: (29:20)
Speaker 8: (29:20)
Also, why the Victorian government’s numbers are so much lower than [crosstalk 00:29:26] governments?
Daniel Andrews: (29:26)
Yeah, sure. The issue, I had a part of that lengthy discussion last night with the entire public health team and it was a long meeting and went through a lot of different issues. I think I referred to it a moment ago in the context of aged care. In terms of those numbers, there is a discrepancy. We are in contact with the Commonwealth government. We believe our total numbers are accurate. We believe that everyone is doing their very best to report those numbers as faithfully as possible. Things will be reconciled in an ultimate sense. There are different sources of information. There are different categorizations of patients. Commonwealth agencies are working on this. We’re working on it as well, and it may well be something that gets considered at National Cabinet to say that we have a really clear understanding and the numbers actually tally up.
Daniel Andrews: (30:14)
There’s a range of complexities. I know it would seem quite simple, but we have interrogated that and looked at where the possible differences come from, and officials are still working through that. As soon as I can possibly give you a firmer answer, then I will. But I think that’s a matter that will not just be here in Victoria. It’ll be in new South Wales, it’ll be in every state and territory, or could be. On that basis, National Cabinet will probably have to draw a line, if you like, and settle some rules to make sure that everyone’s reporting the same data.
Speaker 8: (30:46)
What’s the current number that you have?
Daniel Andrews: (30:46)
The latest number I have is 162 in total. I don’t have the aggregate number of aged care. If we can get that to you before we step off the podium, we will.
Speaker 9: (30:56)
Premier, yesterday you said that meat works would slack operations by one third last week, but the industry says it’s still being told that it’s on peak capacity, so what is it?
Daniel Andrews: (31:06)
Well, peak capacity is more than 100%. Some of these abattoirs will operate well beyond 100% percent when you get deep into spring, for instance. We’re looking to reduce as much as we possibly can, and I think it’ll finish up being close to that 66% number off of 100% base, if you like. We’re working as hard as we can to reduce these numbers as much as we can. This may vary between red meat, poultry and fish, and that’s why these changes don’t come into effect at midnight tonight. They come into effect later in the week.
Daniel Andrews: (31:46)
We’re still in very active discussions with a lot of different abattoirs and meat processing plants, both large and small. Some of these facilities are quite small. They have a pretty small workplace. We’re probably less worried about a very small employer that has say six staff going down to four. We’re much more concerned about the really big meat-processing centers and driving down the number of staff and, of course, as well, making sure that those who remain on shift remain on shifts with a PPE that is much closer to health PPE than it would be anything that anybody in an industrial setting would have worn in the past.
Speaker 9: (32:29)
Sorry. Just on that topic, could you just define what peak capacity is? Are you referring to peak as in the utmost they can do, the most they can do in a year, or is it something like last week, which is the lowest levels they’ve been in some time?
Daniel Andrews: (32:39)
No. Well, I don’t necessarily accept that you can have one rule across the whole board. I think that everyone’s in a different position. What I’m saying to you is we’re still working through that. We’ll get this workforce down to as low as we can. We think that’s going to finish up at about that 66%, so two thirds. Two thirds of what would be a 100%, that’s what we’re chasing. It might vary from workplace to workplace and there are discussions going on literally as I stand here now, and there could even be variation. In fact, I think there will be variation between beef and lamb, poultry and seafood.
Speaker 9: (33:15)
But, Premier, most processes, particularly focusing on red meat, are already well and truly below that benchmark, therefore there’d be no change. [crosstalk 00:33:20]
Daniel Andrews: (33:20)
No, that’s not right.
Speaker 9: (33:21)
Daniel Andrews: (33:22)
That’s not right. There’ll be lower than what they were before stage Four came in. We’re working through this, and it’s very difficult to lump all of these different processors into, they’re all at different seasons, they have beasts and animals that have a different life cycle. Some can wait. Some can’t. There will be a differentiated approach. That’s the challenge, I suppose, in trying to provide one number that covers the the whole field. That’s not what we’re doing. In fact, we are working with each of those different businesses.
Daniel Andrews: (33:50)
The aim here is twofold. One, to have less people working, particularly in those high-risk industries and, second, to not have a really critical shortage of basic food. We think we can achieve both of those things. When we’ve landed plans for each of those industries, we’ll have more to say about that. But note, in that timeline is in fact midnight, Friday. That is not midnight tonight.
Speaker 9: (34:17)
Just to clarify, red meat is already below one third. You say it’s already going to be, I’m sorry, it’s already reduced by one third, just by the natural levels, that is at the moment. You say it’s going to be reduced from 100%. Are you saying that it will definitely go down another third of what it is already?
Daniel Andrews: (34:32)
Now, what I’m saying is that it is not appropriate for me to be going through right now, when the matters have not been settled. We’re going to get these numbers down so that across the board we’ll be as close as we can to two thirds of their normal output, two thirds of what they would otherwise be doing. That’s what we’re going to try and achieve. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be a difference in approach. Obviously, if you are providing our state with the three-million chickens we consume a week, then that’ll be different with the lifecycle, that’ll be a different set of challenges than a slaughterhouse and a meat processing center that deals with beef, where there is a longer life cycle. The notion of having to wait a few weeks, so producing a few weeks later, processing a few weeks later than you otherwise would, that is an entirely different thing. I think what I’m really saying to you is we’ll have more to say later this week, and I think there will be different approaches based on different products, and that’s the product of lots of discussions with everybody across that industry.
Speaker 9: (35:39)
[crosstalk 00:35:39] is not yet in place. The industry says it doesn’t think it will be out of reach that Friday deadline. Will it likely be delayed?
Daniel Andrews: (35:45)
No, it won’t be. Can I just, as respectfully as possible, we’re having discussions with that industry too. I’m grateful for the interest. I know it is of interest to lots of people, but it’s not like we’re not talking to the industry. We are speaking to them. We’re in detailed and important discussions with them. We will get the best outcome we can for both the reduction of workers, the reduction of risk, and the maintenance of critical supplies or food. I’ve said a few times now I’ll make the point again: When you go to the supermarket, you might not be able to buy every single product that you want to buy in the quantities that you might want to buy them in, but you’ll get what you need and indeed more than that. There’s a fine balance to be struck here, and we’re confident that we can.
Speaker 9: (36:24)
Another one just on PPE. Just on PPE, please. Sorry.
Daniel Andrews: (36:32)
Speaker 9: (36:33)
Most abattoirs already have masks in place that last eight to ten weeks. As for the other stuff comparing to hospital grade, they say it’s a bit silly given that gowns and rubber gloves can’t actually be used by many workers due to OHS concerns, being caught in machinery. Was this sort of just an announcement to sound good?
Daniel Andrews: (36:49)
I’m really not quite sure. If would like me to organize a briefing for you on these issues, I’m more than happy to do that, but that’s not the feedback we’ve had from industry. This industry is a higher-
Speaker 9: (36:59)
[crosstalk 00:36:59] industry told me this morning.
Daniel Andrews: (37:00)
Well, again, I’m not going to have a debate from here about who you’ve spoken to in the industry. We’re speaking to the entire industry. That’s the important job that we have. I don’t know that I can add much more to that. We don’t make announcements of that nature. And, frankly, I don’t think anybody in the team, leave me out of it, I don’t think anybody of the thousands and thousands of people that are out there fighting this virus would necessarily think that that was an appropriate point to make. They will be wearing gloves. They’ll be wearing shields. They’ll be wearing what the health experts tell us is essential to drive down this risk.
Daniel Andrews: (37:34)
I’m not pretending for a moment the people in this industry will be pleased to do this, but the alternative is it gets shut down altogether. I don’t want to have to do that, and I’m confident that I won’t have to do that. We’re working with each individual provider, each individual business. We value the work they do, but we acknowledged just as they do, there are significant risks and we will get down to the lowest number of workers we can against the framework that we have already announced. We’ll reduce the risk as much as we can and we’ll maintain critical food supplies as much as we can.
Daniel Andrews: (38:06)
If you would like a further briefing on these sorts of issues, I’m more than happy to set that up for you.
Premier, can I ask you about enforcement. Do you have an update on how the ADF and [inaudible 00:38:14] are going with door knocking of positive cases?
Daniel Andrews: (38:20)
No, I don’t have an update on that, but I’ll look to provide you with one of those tomorrow. But they’re out there, massive team. Not all of those additional ADF and authorized officers I announced yesterday will be working yet. They were to come over a series of days, but we’re out there door knocking every positive case, and we’re moving to a model where we’ll also door knock close contacts. Everybody who should be isolated will be getting multiple and random door knocks. We’ll move, I think, Simon, into a position where I’ll be able to give you that number most likely every day. If I can’t do it every day, then I’ll do it probably every second day. If I can get you that number between now and when you go to air, I’ll be more than happy to do that.
Have you heard anecdotally if …
Daniel Andrews: (39:02)
I’ve got no further detail than I had yesterday. If we can provide that to you, we will. But we are seeing quite a lot of people who are not at home, that needs to stop. That’s why the door knocking is happening. That’s why anybody who’s found not to be at home, that matter is referred to Victoria police and Victoria police very diligently follow up on each and every one of those.
Speaker 10: (39:18)
Daniel Andrews: (39:22)
I’ll just take you back. I’ll just take you back to the first point. We’ve just had five or six questions on one industry, and I’ve tried to answer all of them. I’ve not left this stage without answering every one of your questions, I will not do so today. I’m not inviting you to keep me here for two hours, but if you want to, that’s fine. There’s just no need to be talking over each other. Just go one at a time, and I’ll answer every single question. I can call people. I don’t want to have to do that. But you should …
Speaker 11: (39:42)
I did ask you yesterday if there was an update with the amount of people that had been fined.
Daniel Andrews: (39:47)
Speaker 11: (39:47)
If they weren’t home, you said you might have an update. Is there?
Daniel Andrews: (39:51)
Yeah, I don’t have it. I’ve not had, as you can appreciate, there’s obviously lots of things that have to happen at the same time and I’ve not had an opportunity to speak with Victoria police today. As soon as I can provide you with further details, I will.
Speaker 12: (40:00)
Premier, do you have any information about the 30-year-old man who passed away?
Daniel Andrews: (40:05)
Speaker 12: (40:05)
Was he a healthcare worker?
Daniel Andrews: (40:06)
No, he was not. But I’m sure you’d appreciate that until there is greater clarity from his family, I can’t do, answer 10 questions. We just have to be careful not to identify him. That may be appropriate, but that’s a matter for the family.
Daniel Andrews: (40:23)
I would just say that it shouldn’t have to get to a tragedy for people to acknowledge that this is a virus that affects everyone. But if that’s what it takes, we’re terribly saddened by this, but hopefully no one misses that point that this is something that’s not just of those who are frail and aged. It can be deadly, and it has been deadly here and around the world in people of all age groups and indeed people that are in otherwise good health. I make no comment beyond the age and gender of that person and they were not a health worker. If we can give you more, than of course we will. But I think you’d understand that we have to be very much guided by the wishes of the family.
Speaker 13: (41:07)
Are you able to say, without going into specifics, whether that person had underlying health conditions?
Daniel Andrews: (41:14)
I’m not at this stage able to talk about those things. But if we can get further information for you, then again, it’s not about wanting to be anything other than transparent, but I just think it’s, you’ve got to be incredibly careful not to be going against the wishes of family. Everyone will have a different view and complex circumstances, and I think that’s probably the best way to go. If we can get you more information, we will.
Speaker 12: (41:33)
This is the youngest person who has died in Australia of the coronavirus?
Daniel Andrews: (41:38)
I believe so. Yes.
Speaker 12: (41:39)
Daniel Andrews: (41:42)
I don’t have an exact age, but in their 30s.
Premier, can you just talk about [crosstalk 00:41:49].
Daniel Andrews: (41:49)
Sorry, Rich, and then we’ll go over here to Laurel. Rich?
Just to ask you about the residential building industry.
Daniel Andrews: (41:53)
In terms of lots of different subcontractors on site at different times.
Daniel Andrews: (41:59)
Are they going to be able to work at one place for three days and then go to another place for three days? How is that going to work?
Daniel Andrews: (42:05)
Sure. There’s the three categories: There’s the big government jobs, and where we’ve already reduced, not necessarily at every single site, but in aggregate, we’re down about half. We’re going project by project to try and see what other reductions we can make. When I can report more on that, I will.
Daniel Andrews: (42:21)
The second category are those above three stories, and we’re having some very productive discussions, much like meat works and other abattoirs, with all the players in that industry and indeed unions about getting those numbers as low as we possibly can. 25% is the maximum. Would hope to go even lower than that if we can, and we know that will cause pain and it will blow out timelines and things of that nature, but it’s critical given the size of that industry. That’s critical to driving these numbers down.
Daniel Andrews: (42:49)
The third category is that volume building, a house being built out in the suburbs. We’re currently working through. We have the rule as it stands now, no more than five on site at any one time. The movement of trades, particularly specialist trades from one property to another, that is a challenge for us and we’re trying to work up some COVID-safe planning that if that is unavoidable, what other steps can we put in place to try and make that as safe as we possibly can?
Daniel Andrews: (43:18)
The other issue, can I say from our very detailed discussions with that industry, there may be five workers, five tradespeople who are performing a particular task, plasterers, painters, plumbers, carpenters, whatever it might be, then there’s somebody who is not necessarily a trades person doing a particular task. They’re supervising that job. Those will need to move between sites as well, because there simply aren’t hundreds and hundreds of people who can necessarily do that supervisory work. We’re working through that in fine detail.
Daniel Andrews: (43:50)
Again, I just remind people, that’s not tonight. That’s by Friday midnight. We’re working to hit those deadlines. We’re very grateful to both unions on behalf of workers and businesses in all three of those different-
Daniel Andrews: (44:03)
… behalf of workers and businesses in all three of those different construction sectors, if you like, for the very positive way in which they’re engaging with us. Laurel.
This sounds complicated.
Daniel Andrews: (44:12)
There are a lot of panicked parents today. They still don’t know if grandparents are able to come over and look after their kids. They still don’t know if you’re really busy working from home and you can’t look after a toddler at the same time, if you can use childcare. Is there not an argument to say, “Let’s just postpone it until Monday so we can get these issues worked out”? They’re just given a matter of hours notice about what they can and can’t do.
Daniel Andrews: (44:36)
Well, we understand and appreciate that this is very challenging. We’re going to do everything we can to try and land this by midnight tonight. Again, we do appreciate that this is a big change for many, many people. We want it to be as simple as possible, but some of those things, no matter how hard you work, you can’t make it a simple and easy thing. There is a degree of complexity that’s embedded in it. I’d be confident that advice in relation to people coming to your home to perform those roles will be finalized very, very soon, and we will get that information out to people as quickly as we possibly can.
Daniel Andrews: (45:13)
Again, common sense will drive this, and we will work with families who will have to adjust, and we’re not going to be out there penalizing people tomorrow morning. There will be a good deal of common sense and compassion, because we know this is a really significant challenge. But whenever we set a deadline, there’s always going to be this point made, “Well, can’t we put it out a few more days?” I’m not wanting to in any way downplay how challenging this is, but we have to make that transition from business as usual or something approaching it to this new stage. That is painful. It’s difficult.
Daniel Andrews: (45:47)
But, hopefully, the fact that we’ve been able to confirm that if you are a permitted worker, whether you’re working from home or you’re working in person at a place of work, if you’ve got no other person in your home that can look after your children, you can send them to childcare. That deals with one significant group. In size, I mean. That’s not to say that there aren’t many others who under those rules will not be able to use childcare. Again, I apologize for that. It will be deeply inconvenient, but like so many of these choices, I either make these tough calls or we don’t drive those numbers down. And that will be altogether tougher on all of us.
Just one rough point. What is the penalty for parents falsely testing that, “I don’t have another one to-”
Daniel Andrews: (46:30)
I’m happy to come back to you with the finer details, but I think it’s essentially breaching a child order, so it will be about 6852. It’s there because if it weren’t, then you’d equally be asking me, “Well, why would people take this seriously if there’s no penalty,” but I don’t want any of those penalties to be issued, and I don’t think parents will do the wrong thing. I think they’ll work as hard as they possibly can to find where they fit in that system. That’s not an easy process. I’m not for a moment pretending that it is. It will be inconvenient. It will be challenging.
Daniel Andrews: (46:59)
But like so many of the decisions I am forced to make, if I don’t make them for the avoidance of some of those challenges, then we won’t drive those numbers down. And 720-plus cases today just demonstrate to us these rules, these changes are what is necessary if we’re going to stop these days of 700 and moved down into a much lower number that is sustainable, that we can contain, and that will allow us to open up and get back to something like the normality that all of us crave and that all of us are deeply frustrated that we’re being denied.
Speaker 14: (47:39)
Just to be absolutely clear on the-
Daniel Andrews: (47:41)
Speaker 14: (47:43)
I think you’re clear, but on childcare, when there is a second parent who is not permitted, is that parent working from home a good enough reason to decide I can’t go?
Daniel Andrews: (47:57)
Yeah. Well, if a permitted worker could not do their work because they have no one else to care for their child, right? And if childcare was denied to them, they would not be able to do their work, then they can use childcare. And I will leave it to individual parents to make that rather difficult judgment about … For instance, we’re going to give you an example. I’ll give you my example and probably the easiest one. So I’ve got a permit. I’m allowed to go to work. [Kath 00:48:34] works part time. Our kids are a bit older. Let’s assume they’re a little bit younger. If she could rearrange her work so that she could look after our kids if they were younger for some of the week, but for some she couldn’t, then they could go to childcare for that for less than they would otherwise go.
Daniel Andrews: (48:50)
There’s going to be a degree of discretion. It’s so difficult to write a rule book that takes into account the circumstances of hundreds of thousands of families. They’re all different. And we’re asking people to approach this in good faith and acknowledging that it’s challenging. But if the difference between a permitted work are doing their work and not doing it is the absence of childcare, they can send their kids to childcare or kinder. We’ll have to monitor that. That is as simple as we can make it. And I know that’s not simple, but I think people probably appreciate, given the point I just made about every family being fundamentally different in so many ways, everyone’s arrangements are unique. Trying to have a rule book that covers the field is very, very tough.
Speaker 15: (49:37)
And what options do we have? There is an unacceptably high number of people, kids still attending child care.
Daniel Andrews: (49:43)
Well, let’s deal with that if and when that comes to pass. The other issue with childcare is, of course, vulnerable children, they will be able to be sent to childcare. And I think people will understand what that term means. There are always a of children whose safety would be compromised if they were not sent to childcare or to kinder. So those arrangements remain in place just as they do for safety, for vulnerability, and lots of other settings.
Speaker 15: (50:15)
I appreciate that, but is this our final? Is this our only alternative and the final step we can take in preventing-
Daniel Andrews: (50:16)
No, there are further steps that can be taken. If we were to see numbers of children presenting at childcare that were akin to a normal day, then we will have to reconsider the settings were put in place. I’m firstly acknowledging this is really tough. I know and understand that. But if we don’t make this work by the individual decisions that people make, by the sacrifices I’m asking people to make, then we will have to go even further. I don’t want to have to do that. I don’t think I will have to, but, again, trying to be open and frank with people …
Daniel Andrews: (50:46)
Yesterday, I said I’m not going to hold out hope that every child that goes to childcare last week will be able to go to childcare next week. I’m being faithful to that. I’m trying to be as honest and as frank as I can be. This can work in driving down the number of people moving throughout the community and therefore driving down the number of coronavirus cases, but it requires everybody to work together.
Daniel Andrews: (51:10)
And, again, I can’t say this enough, I fully acknowledge this is very challenging, but there are many, many people right across the board making enormous sacrifices. I’m deeply grateful to each and every one of them. And we have got to make this work.
Speaker 15: (51:24)
But what does [inaudible 00:51:25] actually mean?
Daniel Andrews: (51:28)
Can I just make the point, I’m not going to be countenancing what the next steps are, what I’m going to do, and I think you’ll appreciate why. I’m going to try and make this work as best we possibly can. I’m asking families to work with me to do that. And then if further clarification, further restrictions, if they’re needed, then we will that take those steps. I hope that’s not the case. If there were any changes to these arrangements …
Daniel Andrews: (51:54)
And I might also say if it is working particularly well with that smaller group and numbers come down, there is an opportunity to relax some of these rules, and to potentially allow more children to go to childcare. I’m not flagging that. I am not pre-announcing, I’m not committing to that. The numbers will drive us on that issue. But I suppose what you’re asking me, it can be answered in two ways. It can get tougher or it might even see more kids go to childcare depending on how the virus is presenting, depending on the numbers that we’re saying, and depending on whether the strategy is in fact working.
Speaker 16: (52:27)
Are you confident that the hotel quarantine inquiry be able to complete its work by the timeline you’ve set under the stage 4 restriction and the state of disaster.
Daniel Andrews: (52:36)
The conduct of the inquiry, and any changes made necessary in relation to stage four. That is entirely a matter for Judge Coate, and it would not be appropriate for me to be making announcements. As I understand it, there’s a hearing on today, and I’ll leave it to her, as is completely appropriate, to talk about the conduct of that inquiry.
Speaker 17: (53:01)
Can I ask you about your tweet last night?
Daniel Andrews: (53:02)
Speaker 17: (53:04)
You shared a few images from the Traffic Management Center. Can I clarify, were they from last night, those images?
Daniel Andrews: (53:08)
I believe so, yes.
Speaker 17: (53:09)
When you first were sent them, what did you think?
Daniel Andrews: (53:12)
Well, there’s a curfew there for a reason. We want people at home. Stay at home means stay at home. I never thought I’d be celebrating the fact that streets were empty, and that people were not going to work, but this is what we have to do. It’s painful, it’s challenging, it’s very difficult, but it is the only strategy that we have. It’s the advice of the experts, and it is what we believe will drive case numbers down.
Daniel Andrews: (53:41)
We don’t want to have to go further than this. That’s why we’ve got to make this work. We’ve got to find a way to make this work. And that’s why there’s a team, thousands of people, thousands and thousands of people who are working day and night to make this strategy work, but they can’t do it on their own. I can’t do this on my own. I need every single Victorian to play their part. And I’m so grateful. So, so grateful, not just as a Premier, but from my family to every other family in Victoria who is doing it tough and doing the right thing, I say thank you.
Speaker 18: (54:15)
Premier, are the delivery drivers able to work past that 8:00 PM curfew?
Daniel Andrews: (54:19)
It depends on the nature of their permit, and it depends on the nature of what they’re doing. If they are a permitted worker, then the curfew does not actually apply to them. A reasonable excuse, a lawful excuse to the operation of the curfew is permitted work.
Speaker 19: (54:37)
So aren’t food delivery drivers permitted workers then?
Daniel Andrews: (54:38)
Speaker 19: (54:38)
Aren’t food delivery drivers over 18?
Daniel Andrews: (54:39)
Yes, they are. Yes, they are. Yes, they are.
Speaker 19: (54:41)
Has that been clarified to them, because there seems to be some confusion in the industry that some operators seem to think that they’re not [crosstalk 00:10:49]-
Daniel Andrews: (54:49)
Well, I’m more than happy to take that offline. There will be challenges whenever you set a deadline to provide absolute clarity to everybody who needs it. That’s the nature of this. If there was another way of doing it, then of course we would. But the notion of extending deadlines out, that’ll just mean that we’ll be having those same debates and discussions once we get to that deadline. That is the nature of deadlines. I don’t think this matter is in question, but I’m more than happy to follow it up offline.
Daniel Andrews: (55:14)
You certainly wouldn’t be able to go after 8:00 PM to a venue and purchase takeaway food, but the home delivery … I thought you were meaning more people who deliver food to a business. You’re talking about people who deliver food from a business to a … Right, okay. Yes, they are permitted workers. We’re more than happy to chase up that. If there’s any clarity needed, we will provide it.
Speaker 20: (55:36)
And are volunteers who provide essential services to charities, are they going to be [inaudible 00:55:39] as well?
Daniel Andrews: (55:39)
Yes, they are. But, again, we’d ask people to minimize their activity, to do only what they need to do. So, for instance, in terms of religious services, we had quite a discussion to make sure that there are some church and charitable groups. They’re not a place of worship or they may have a place of worship within their overall premises or within their overall work. Worship is not something that we can come together and do that, but some of that philanthropic work, humanitarian work, welfare work, housing, homelessness, all of those things, everything right up to Meals on Wheels, we’re not wanting to interrupt that. But, of course, we’re working with all of those providers, all of those agencies to try and minimize the amount of contact that their staff, their volunteers, their team has with others.
Speaker 21: (56:27)
Premier, I’m sure you saw that Jim’s Mowing is keen for his work as a franchisee is to keep going ahead. If people go and mow people’s lawns, will they be fine?
Daniel Andrews: (56:37)
Look, I saw some reports and some comments from the founder of that business, and I can appreciate how difficult this is for him and for his workers. And I’d simply say that, as I said yesterday, if everyone who had an emotional, powerful, well argued case, if I said yes to everybody, then we’d have more people at work in August than we had last month even under stage three. This is really tough, and I take no pleasure in having to make these really difficult calls, but if I don’t make these decisions, we won’t drive down the number of people moving around the community, and we won’t drive down the number of cases, and, indeed, the number of people who are dying. It’s very difficult, and I send my best wishes to that business and every business. And I send my acknowledgement that this is very challenging, but there is no alternative.
Speaker 21: (57:32)
So sound they be fined?
Daniel Andrews: (57:32)
Well, that’s a matter for Victoria Police.
Speaker 21: (57:37)
So is it within the rules?
Daniel Andrews: (57:37)
No, they are not permitted workers. They are not permitted workers, unless of course they are providing emergency, urgent works. So, for instance, if a tree fell, then they might be able to go and do that work, but I’m afraid lawns are not getting mowed, people are not getting haircuts. We’re all making sacrifices. I’m not in any way wanting to diminish the pain and challenge for that business and those workers. But, again, this is pretty simple in many respects. If we just go on business as usual, if we continue to see the same number of people going to work or even more across the Victorian economy, and particularly in metropolitan Melbourne, then we will not pull these numbers up. They will continue to grow, they’ll become completely unmanageable, and we will continue to see many, many people die. There’s just no choice. Of course, if there was a different choice than we would make that choice, but that is not available to us. This is the strategy that we have embark on, and this is what we have to see through. Otherwise, we will not drive those case numbers down.
Daniel Andrews: (58:48)
And I’ll just again make the point that if I said yes to every person who was pleading to stay open, arguing that they have relatively low risk, there is a cumulative risk issue. It’s not just about the work you might do. It’s about stopping on the way to work. It’s about movement in and out of people’s homes. It’s all of those things. If there was a different way, then of course we would pursue that. But short of not following the advice of our experts, this is the only option we have, and we’ll provide any and all support that we can. But this is what we must do to drive down movement and to drive down coronavirus case numbers.
Speaker 22: (59:29)
On permitted workers and travel, what if you’re a permitted worker that normally, a parent or someone else in your family, drives you to and from work. Can that continue?
Daniel Andrews: (59:39)
There was some issues raised, I think, the other night in relation to one particular setting. It was what would now be a takeaway only restaurant, so it would be a delivery only after 8:00 PM. I think the notion of a parent going and picking someone up, if that’s all they’re doing, then I think that’s fine. But we would ask people to try and minimize that as much as they can. If there’s another way in which they could get to and from work, then try and use that. But we do know that for many, particularly after those curfew hours, the best way is the way that they would normally get to and from work. But we’d ask people just to be conscious that that’s all you should be doing. It’s not an opportunity to stop and see friends. It’s not an opportunity to do anything other than go to and from work just as every permitted worker should be doing, regardless of the mode of transport. They should be getting to and from work. That’s what’s permitted. It’s not an opportunity to go and do a whole range of other things.
Daniel Andrews: (01:00:39)
And, look, those pictures that we shared, some of the anecdotal evidence as well shows us all the people are doing the right thing around the curfew, and I’m deeply grateful to them.
Speaker 23: (01:00:48)
Will you publish a list of permitted workers [crosstalk 00:16:51]-
Daniel Andrews: (01:00:51)
There was a long form list provided on Monday. There’ll be formal legal directions that will be provided later on today. And that will mean that all those matters are beyond doubt. Again, I’m always happy to follow up on any individual case. And we’re, certainly all of us, committed to getting as much information to you as quickly as we possibly can.
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:09)
The notion that there will be some in the community who are uncertain, that is an unavoidable thing. Doesn’t matter how much work we do, and there is an enormous amount being done, but that should come to an end quite soon. We should be able to tie those matters up, but we’re always open. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it now, but I’ll will make the point whenever you draw up a list, there’ll always be debates about who should be on the list, who shouldn’t be. Whenever you draw a line, there will always be debates about who should be on either side of it.
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:40)
This has never been done before. It has never been done before, but it’s what’s necessary. And I’m very grateful to all of those who are working so closely with us, and for their patience, and for the fact that they acknowledge that this is absolutely unique.
Speaker 24: (01:01:56)
Can I ask other employees?
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:56)
You certainly can ask Alan something.
Speaker 24: (01:01:58)
Yeah. Alan, obviously another big number today, another daily record. Is it too soon to be expecting to see a positive result from compulsory mask wearing, or are you disappointed that that doesn’t seem to be having an effect yet?
Well, it’s really hard to dissociate all the different effects. So the stage three lockdown, the masks, and now stage four lockdown as of Sunday, it’s a cumulative thing. So we can’t really sort of unpick those effects. And what we’re looking to see is a consistent trend of our cases down. That won’t happen immediately. So the infections that are presenting now, they had their exposures some time ago, and that’s still flowing through the system. But over the next week or the next couple of weeks, I would hope to see our numbers start to come down.
Speaker 24: (01:02:51)
And also just on the aged care numbers, I recognize they’re not all residents, but that is nearly a 20% jump in those cases overnight. Do you know why?
So there’s a number of reasons for that. So often when there’s a new case that’s detected in aged care, the first thing that we would do is to go out and test all the other residents. So sometimes you can see jumps in the numbers just because they’ve just been diagnosed.
Speaker 25: (01:03:18)
Can I ask, sorry-
Daniel Andrews: (01:03:21)
Sure. You certainly can. [inaudible 01:03:20].
Speaker 25: (01:03:21)
When Melbourne entered stage three restrictions, so did Mitchell Shire. There’s a rising number of coronavirus infections in Geelong, for example.
Daniel Andrews: (01:03:31)
Speaker 25: (01:03:31)
Would you consider putting some regional centers with high number of COVID infection into stage four or timing their infections?
Daniel Andrews: (01:03:40)
Sure. So we’ve had an approach that has the most targeted measures based on where the problem is. And that’s why Mitchell Shire was first included simply because it’s right on the interface. There were too many cases there. We are confident, the public health team are confident that they’ve got on top of those cases, and therefore Mitchell Shire can resume its place as part of regional Victoria and being stage three.
Daniel Andrews: (01:04:02)
This has kind of been superseded by events, but you would also recall last week, we made some announcements about Geelong, and not greater Geelong, Geelong plus. So those, I think, six local government areas that were going to move to a different set of rules. So I think that shows you that we’re prepared to do that where that’s the appropriate thing to try and pull up our numbers. But we’re confident that with just the two settings being stage three and stage four, we’ll see a reduction in these numbers because both three and four dramatically limit movement, dramatically limit gatherings.
Daniel Andrews: (01:04:36)
And, look, from tonight, obviously regional Victoria goes into stage three. I know that will be very challenging for everybody in regional Victoria. I just say to those communities who might say, “Oh, well, we haven’t got any cases,” well, not that we know of. And we have significant volumes of mystery cases, another 122 additional community transmission mystery cases, cases where we can’t find how the person got it or who they got it from. That’s not necessarily today’s data. There’s always a tail in terms of all that coronavirus detective work that goes on, but we can confirm today that off the back of work done yesterday and done the day before that’s another 122 of those mystery cases. I haven’t got a metro-regional split, but once you have that many cases where you can’t find a chain of transmission back to that index case, the first person who infected others, you’ve got to assume there’s more of that out there than you’re actually finding. And that’s why those settings have been put in place, as difficult as they are.
Speaker 25: (01:05:37)
So are you comfortable that the level of restrictions in Geelong would be enough to drive down COVID infections there?
Daniel Andrews: (01:05:45)
Yes, I am, but this does change. Advice changes. Numbers, data changes. This virus doesn’t stop. That’s why none of us can afford to either. This virus does not discriminate, and that’s why none of us can afford to think that if we make a bad choice, it won’t matter. It does. It-
Daniel Andrews: (01:06:03)
… Make a bad choice, it won’t matter. It does, it really does. Every single individual act, every single time someone thinks, “Oh well, the rules don’t really apply. I’ll just do this anyway.”
Daniel Andrews: (01:06:12)
No, the virus doesn’t make those judgements. It’s wildly infectious, and we will not defeat this unless we are united, and unless we all do as we need to. And that’s following the rules that apply to us, no matter where we live.
Daniel Andrews: (01:06:28)
I would just, on the point though, about where, say that six local government areas around Geelong, where do they sit? Stage three is in fact a harsher set of rules than we had announced a week or so ago. So that still had, for instance, cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs, staying open. Under stage three, they are all closed. So I suppose we’ve already taken an extra step there, and we’re going to do everything we can not to have to take any further steps beyond that.
Speaker 26: (01:06:57)
[inaudible 01:06:57] while you’re based in [crosstalk 01:06:59] briefed on it. She’s just announced that any New South Wales resident or person returning from Victoria into New South Wales would need to enter 14 days of hotel quarantine. I’m wondering if you had a heads up on that before we gathered in here today, and if you know if that’s going to cause any issues on the border for the border communities?
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:18)
Look, I have pretty regular discussions with the Premier of New South Wales. I’ve not spoken to her in the last couple of days. Our offices talk quite often. I’m more than happy to try and come back to you on that. We’ve had a few challenges with the border… Sorry, when I say we, public sector service provisions and nurses in Wang, for instance, who actually live just on the other side of the river. We’ve had a few challenges like that. We’ve tried to work through those as best we possibly can.
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:42)
I know border communities are doing it really tough. You’d like to try and think you can get an understanding of most issues, but having grown up not far from that border, I know and understand those challenges really well. They are difficult. We’re trying to work as best we can, to try and make that as easy as it can possibly be. It’ll never be easy, but trying to make it a little bit easier.
Daniel Andrews: (01:08:04)
Let’s not forget the other border, so the South Australian border, where there are, for instance, a number of border communities who would rely upon specialist medical care coming out of Adelaide, that’s not happening. This is presenting in lots of different ways. We’re having detailed discussions with all those communities. Jacks Symes is the regional development minister, Ag. Minister, and also someone who represents that entire Northern Victoria corridor. She’s working very closely with her New South Wales counterparts.
Speaker 27: (01:08:33)
Premier, this morning Michael Kidd said that he didn’t think it’d be necessary for people to go into mandatory hotel quarantine in New South Wales from Victoria, unless people were failing to self isolate. Are you disappointed that it’s gotten to that point?
Daniel Andrews: (01:08:45)
Sorry, who made that comment?
Speaker 27: (01:08:45)
I’m the Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
Daniel Andrews: (01:08:49)
Yeah, I haven’t those comments, nor have I seen the announcements that Premier [inaudible 01:08:53] made, but I’ll look at those when I’m finished answering your questions.
Speaker 28: (01:08:57)
[crosstalk 01:08:57] On contact tracing efforts in May, early June when numbers started to go down?
Daniel Andrews: (01:09:03)
No, that team is a very big team, and it’s grown pretty steadily as cases of grown. We’ve always had people in reserve. I’ve said many times, it’s a big team, bigger than it’s ever been, if it has to grow further it will.
Speaker 29: (01:09:16)
[inaudible 01:09:16] One week on Saturday, number of large hospitals who changed into a paperless record keeping system. There’s quite a lot of [inaudible 01:09:26] from some of those doctors about training that’s it’s going on, it’s face to face. There’s even been a COVID case in that way. Is it appropriate for this to still go ahead at this time, with doctors under so much pressure?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:09:37)
So there’s been a very long, concerted effort to move to electronic medical records, just to increase efficiency and the ease of which clinicians and other healthcare workers can access patient records in our hospitals. These processes take a very long period of time, to both put the IT systems in place, but also to then train all the healthcare workers. So these processes have now been in place for a number of months, and we’ve been working very closely with health services who are very confident that we can make that transition across in a safe way.
Speaker 28: (01:10:17)
Is it appropriate at this time with the hospitals under so much pressure, with 536 people I think you said today are in hospital with this virus, on top of everyone else who’s in hospital. Is this an appropriate time to do this? Can it not be delayed?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:10:30)
So health services make those assessments about their capacity to be able to respond to both demand, as well as putting these systems in place. These have been systems that have been designed, and the training and all the preparation that’s gone into moving to those EMR systems have been in place for a long period of time. So health services make that assessment. The advice that they’ve given my department is that they continue…. They’re able to continue to make this transition. I should add, of course, that look, I am very concerned by the increasing number of hospitalizations.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:11:07)
We now have more than 500 patients in hospital due to Coronavirus. Today we’ve seen 15 deaths, including a young man in his 30’s. This is deadly serious. And I just want to acknowledge the huge work that is going on by our health services to respond to this, both those working in our hospitals, public and private hospitals, as well as our paramedics. And doing incredible work responding to this challenge, but they can only be supported in this effort if all of us do the right thing. All of us need to take the chief health officer’s advice. I seriously… Follow all that advice, follow all the rules, and make sure that we can drive these numbers down.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:11:54)
I don’t want to see more families grieving. I don’t want to see more families having a loved one in hospital. I don’t want to see our hospitals stretched, but the increasing numbers, in fact, we’ve had an increase of more than 80 just overnight in our hospitals. It will start to put strain on our hospitals. They are also working to support our private aged care facilities. As the premier said before, thankfully that situation has now started to stabilize, but with all of these pressures, the challenging environment, we need to turn this around. This is why we’ve had to make those difficult decisions about moving to a state of disaster, putting all these additional restrictions in place.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:12:38)
We know that families, Victorians, businesses are doing it tough at this time. We know that these additional restrictions that start from midnight tonight, the impact on all Victorians way of life is really, really challenging. But we can only turn this around if everybody does their bit and follows the advice, the public health advice, as well as follows all the rules.
[inaudible 01:13:01] it up to parliament yesterday and refused to give verbal answers to questions. You made it clear that you didn’t think that parliament should be sitting in the first place. If that was the case, why did you turn up at all? What was the point of turning up?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:13:14)
So firstly Rachel, as you know, I have been fronting up just about every day, since the first case in Victoria back in January, I’ve been attending media conferences to answer all of your questions and to brief Victorians about this pandemic, this global pandemic, that is a once in 100 year event. So I have made myself available to answer questions just about every day since the start of this year.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:13:39)
Now the chief health officer, in line with the state of disaster, the fact that we now have a really heightened risk in our state, particularly in Melbourne, issued advice to the presiding officers on Monday urging that the parliament be delayed. And this is why the lower house did not sit this week as was originally scheduled. But the only reason that government members including myself were present in the upper house yesterday, was because Michael O’Brien and the Liberal Party forced the upper house to sit. And that was the only reason I was there. [crosstalk 01:14:15] and the-
[inaudible 01:14:17] Crossbenchers who represent a very wide range of perspectives, who also thought that it was necessary, and the Victorian people deserved for the parliament to sit, and for the government to be held account. That’s really the only way other than the media holding you guys to account, the Victorian people have [inaudible 01:14:35]
Jenny Mikakos: (01:14:36)
So Rachel, you know that the government does not have a majority in the upper house, and let’s not kid ourselves here. If I had not attended yesterday, the upper house would still be sitting today. It would probably be sitting tomorrow, putting MP’s, their staff and all the parliament staff at risk. There was very clear advice from the chief health officer to pause the delaying of the parliament. That’s what should have happened.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:14:59)
I made it very clear that I did not want to be there, that I thought that all politicians, all MP’s, just as we expect of every single Victorian, should be abiding by the chief health officer’s advice, and that included for the parliament not to sit. So look, I do think it’s really important that MP’s, as leaders in our community, set an example. This stage four in Melbourne and stage three in Victoria, that is only going to work, we’re only going to bring the numbers down, if everyone follows the rules. And I do think that as MP’s, as community leaders, we do need to demonstrate some leadership here. We do need to set an example, and this is why the parliament should not have sat this week. And the questions that were asked as I committed yesterday, all of those answers will be provided in accordance with the house’s rules today. As I said, I’ve been here answering your questions and informing the community since January, and I will continue to do so.
Speaker 27: (01:15:58)
[crosstalk 01:15:58] [inaudible 01:16:02] yesterday, Minister?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:16:03)
Well, I think you need to ask Michael O’Brien those questions, because of forcing the upper house to sit in contrary to the advice of the chief health officer really needs some explaining. I think Victorians are entitled to ask why. A whole lot of upper house MP’s thought that their job is far more important than bringing down the case numbers, and actually seeing fewer Victorians succumbing to tragedy at this moment. There is nothing more serious than what’s going on with this pandemic. My focus since day one has been supporting Victorians, to respond to this global pandemic. And that’s exactly what I will continue to do.
Speaker 27: (01:16:45)
[crosstalk 01:16:45] disrespectful to the legislative council.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:16:49)
Well, I was there because the numbers in the upper house force that situation. Michael O’Brien and Liberal [inaudible 01:16:57] made it very clear that they were going to insist on the upper house sitting. I thought that if I was not there, that the staff of the parliament, MP’s, and everyone involved, and we’re talking about more than 100 people were present in that building yesterday, would still be there today. And most likely tomorrow. So I think they have some explaining to do.
Say that you need to provide a [inaudible 01:17:22] response by midday, the day after questions are asked in parliament. Your department hadn’t provided a response still, after 12 o’clock today. Do you know when the opposition, and when your department-
Jenny Mikakos: (01:17:34)
Sumaiya, I committed yesterday to providing written answers by today. And they will all get those written answers today. They will get them today.
What time though?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:17:42)
Sumaiya, they will get them today.
[inaudible 01:17:45] they needed to be provided by midday today.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:17:45)
If the house is sitting. And I committed to providing those answers and they’ll all get those answers today.
But the rules say that they needed to be provided by midday today, so why haven’t they been provided today?
Jenny Mikakos: (01:17:57)
Sumaiya, I think you need to go back and look at those rules. That relates to the house sitting. And I made it very clear, despite the house not sitting, that I would be providing written answers today. And they will get those written answers. And I’m sure that if I hadn’t been at parliament yesterday, the same headlines would have appeared. I’m sure that if I had provided answers yesterday, the same headlines would have appeared. So look, I have been prepared to appear and provide information to the community as is appropriate since January.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:18:27)
And I will continue to do that. I am focused on a deadly serious situation here. We have had to move to stage four restrictions in Melbourne, and put Victorians through just unprecedented restrictions in their way of life, how they go about living their lives, their way of business. Impacting on people. It’s important that all of us work together to address this issue.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:18:52)
I’ve spoken about the science. This is not from the government. This is medical researchers, those who work in this field, who have said that we can only respond to this in an effective way if the overwhelming majority of people follow the rules.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:19:07)
So as politicians, as community leaders, we need to set the example here. We need to be listening to the chief health officer’s advice, and clearly that didn’t happen yesterday. And I’m really disappointed by that. [crosstalk 01:19:24]
Speaker 30: (01:19:24)
So Alan, or? [crosstalk 00:01:19:28].
Alan, just so I’m completely clear. Of current staffing levels for [inaudible 01:19:38] , what level do you want that to be reduced by, to be comfortable for the safety of Victorians?
Look, that’s a matter for discussion with the industry. I think what we want to do is to try and make it as safe as possible. That includes reducing the number of people that work there, personal protective equipment, and all those sorts of things. But it is a package and I can’t give you a figure. I think that’s a matter, as I previously indicated, that’s a matter for discussion with the industry.
Speaker 27: (01:20:05)
So do you accept that one third level may not be [inaudible 01:20:07].
Look, I’m not going to get in a discussion of exactly how many, but I think… The obligation is really for individuals to say, if you go out, do you really need to go out? Is this really essential? And for employers, it really is what do we need to do to make your workers as safe as possible?
I think the exact number is going to be a matter for discussion.
Speaker 27: (01:20:31)
Premier, things are obviously pretty [inaudible 01:20:34] What’s your sense of the mood of the state at the moment?
Daniel Andrews: (01:20:42)
Well look, I’ll leave the mood analysis to others, but I think what I know, what is a fact, is that this is very, very difficult. And if we’re going get those numbers down, then we have to significantly limit movement. They’re the decisions I’ve made. This is the plan that I’ve put in place. And I’m asking all Victorians to be part of that. I can’t do this on my own, the big team that I lead can’t, thousands of people can’t do this on their own. We need everyone to play their part and [inaudible 01:21:10].
Daniel Andrews: (01:21:10)
I’m so proud of those who are, so grateful to those who are, and that’s why Victoria police have got not only the will and the determination, but they’ve got the resources and the rule book to deal with anybody who isn’t. This is very challenging for everybody. And the higher the degree of compliance, the more we all invest in this and play our part, then the quicker we’ll bring those numbers down. There’ll be a lot of pain, a lot of hurt today, there already is. But I have no choice, but to put these measures in place. I’ve no choice, but to make those very difficult decisions. Because if I don’t, then we just won’t see the numbers come down. [crosstalk 01:21:56]
Speaker 28: (01:22:00)
[inaudible 01:22:00] What was your view on [inaudible 01:22:00]
Daniel Andrews: (01:22:01)
To be honest, I can’t influence what happened in the legislative council yesterday, [crosstalk 01:22:06] and I’ve got much better and much more important things to focus on. With the greatest of respect to all members of the upper house, with the greatest of respect to everybody concerned, I, and thousands of others, have got very, very important matters they’ve got to get on with. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. I think if you want to know my view on-
Speaker 28: (01:22:26)
I just want to know, do you think it sends the wrong message at Victoria’s health ministers, acting in breach of the [inaudible 01:22:34] directions.
Daniel Andrews: (01:22:38)
I think what you need to appreciate, or what I would ask you to appreciate, is that as the acting leader of the government, if the chamber decides to sit… I’ve got no interest in prolonging a debate about something that frankly has very little to do with our fight against this virus, none whatsoever. But I think you would have been equally critical if she’d not gone. So in any event, none of us here today can change that. If that’s the most important thing that you and your newspaper want to write about, then that’s a matter for you. I’ve got far, far more important things to be focused on. And I am focused on that, exclusively. On fighting this virus.
Daniel Andrews: (01:23:19)
I’ve always been supportive of more voices rather than less. I’ve always been completely supportive of you doing your… Whatever you think you need to do. But I think I’m entitled to make the point to you, that I’ve got many more important things to focus on and that. With the greatest of respect, acknowledging that you are doing your job, but frankly I wouldn’t be doing mine, if I was to get into this esoteric commentary, this political commentary. This is not about politics. It’s about life and death. It’s about getting those numbers down, and the only way we’ll do that is if reduce movement… If we reduce movement across our state.
As you said, we are in the greatest health and economic crisis this state has seen. Was it appropriate for the health minister to refuse to answer questions in parliament about that crisis?
Daniel Andrews: (01:24:08)
I think she’s answered your question, and I’ve got nothing to add to those answers. Other than to say, those answers will be provided in accordance with the rules. But if anyone thinks that we’re going to be taking frontline staff in the health department away from contact tracing, for instance, to deal with those issues, they’d be wrong to think that.
Daniel Andrews: (01:24:27)
Everyone is focused on what they should be focused on, and that is saving lives, stopping the spread of this virus, and getting to the other side of it as quickly as we possibly can. You all got a job to do, so have I. I’ve always reserved my right to make the point to you as politely as I can. Some things I’m prepared to invest time and energy in, and some things I’m not.
Speaker 31: (01:24:46)
Can I just ask the Minister one more question [inaudible 01:24:48].
Daniel Andrews: (01:24:49)
You certainly can. Any more for me? Sure? If you’ve got one, you can ask it anyway. That’s fine. I’ve tried that before. It never works. So there you go.
Speaker 31: (01:25:02)
Maybe you’d like to comment on my question as well. Opposition MP, Bernie Finn, who posted some pretty violent, derogatory comments about you on social media last night. I was just wondering if you’ve seen it and if you have any comments to make.
Jenny Mikakos: (01:25:12)
No, I haven’t seen it. And I take no interest in anything that Bernie Finn has to say.
Speaker 31: (01:25:17)
And maybe one for the premier then, do you think it’s appropriate-
Daniel Andrews: (01:25:23)
I’ve only just said to you that I’ve got things I need to worry about and things that frankly I’m not concerned about. Whatever that person says and does, is deeply irrelevant to the work that I do.
Speaker 31: (01:25:33)
The question was going to be, do you think it’s appropriate for elected politicians to be making such violent, derogatory-
Daniel Andrews: (01:25:40)
I think you would have a good sense of my views on some of those matters. I’m just not prepared to invest any of my time, or our collective energies, in commenting on someone who is deeply irrelevant to the work I’m doing. I’m just not prepared to do that. Any other issues? Thanks very much. We’ll see you tomorrow.