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Coronavirus Victoria: Premier defends 'hypocritical' hotspot decision

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

Premier Daniel Andrews has again defended the controversial decision not to fine people caught in Victoria's Casey coronavirus cluster, saying it has saved billions of dollars.

Health authorities have decided against fining people caught in the southeast Melbourne cluster, which is now steady at 43 cases, even though they breached health rules by travelling more than 5km and visiting other households.

The premier continues to be criticised for the decision, with the argument that it is hypocritical when thousands of fines are being issued in Victoria for rule breaches.

Premier Andrews offered a full-fledged defence of the decision on Monday. Source: Getty
Premier Andrews offered a full-fledged defence of the decision on Monday. Source: Getty

While most appreciate the logic of the decision, it hasn’t stopped the backlash from some Victorians.

“If Daniel Andrews won’t fine [Casey hotspot breaches], then NOBODY should get fined. Don’t be hypocritical Dan,” one person insisted on social media.

Meanwhile others suggested there was a double standard given the fact that Victorian police have handed out about 20,000 fines for coronavirus breaches during the pandemic, the state’s police minister told a Covid-19 inquiry late last month.

Mr Andrews went further in his defence on Monday, saying they needed the truth from people who had tested positive.

He said if there was the threat of a fine, you did not have to be a Rhodes scholar to realise people would be less inclined to co-operate with health authorities in the contact tracing.

"Maybe we would all feel better if those people got a fine but I think we will feel better again, better still, when we control these outbreaks," he said.

"What is more valuable, a $1652 fine for someone who went to visit someone or the true fortune that comes from them telling us when they went there, who they spent time with, who we should be going and tracing, testing and locking down?

"This is not thousands of dollars. That is billions of dollars. Because that is the (cost) to getting us opened up."

Victoria announced two coronavirus deaths on Monday, taking the state toll to 763 and the national figure to 851.

There were only 11 new cases as Melbourne's 14-day case average dropped to 34.4, while the regional figure came in at 1.6.

It is the lowest daily COVID-19 case number since June 16, when it was nine – before the start of the state's second wave.

‘A great day for Victoria’: Andrews

"This is not just a good day, this is a great day," Premier Daniel Andrews said of the case numbers. "Ultimately, these are very good numbers."

Melbourne's daily average is well below the target of 50 to lift some virus restrictions later this month.

But the premier remains adamant it is not yet time to ease Melbourne's stage four restrictions.

"If we were to open up right now, these numbers are still too high and, as has been noted many, many times ... you won't see the impacts of that for two to three weeks' time," he said.

Mr Andrews said Monday's low testing number of 7164 is "acceptable" but it must remain "robust" so authorities could be confident about what was happening with the virus.

The 14-day average for cases with an unknown source is down to 47 for Melbourne and there have been none in regional Victoria.

Education Minister James Merlino announced school camps will resume in term four for regional Victoria.

But they will be limited to single schools and can only happen outside Melbourne.

Prep to grade 6 students in standalone regional primary schools will return to on-site learning from October 5.

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