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Premier stands firm on early exit from coronavirus lockdown

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Premier Daniel Andrews has stressed the importance of “staying the course” on the roadmap out of restrictions as optimism grows following plummeting daily coronavirus cases.

“This is not just a good day. This is a great day,” he told reporters after Victoria announced just 11 new cases on Monday, a day after 14 daily infections.

“This shows us the strategy is working and I want to thank and congratulate every single Victorian that is following the rules.”

But Mr Andrews moved to clarify the state government’s stance on easing restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne early.

“It is very tempting and I appreciate why everybody wakes up today, sees a low number, and everyone is hopeful and positive and that is a good thing, but we have to stay the course on this,” he said.

"There is a conservatism to this because the stakes are so high.”

Daniel Andrews has stressed the importance of seeing out the current roadmap. Source: AAP
Daniel Andrews has stressed the importance of staying the course on the roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions. Source: AAP

Step Two will almost certainly go ahead on September 28 with the current 14-day rolling average of 34.4 much lower than the required target of being below 50.

Yet Mr Andrews said Step Three would be triggered by which variable came last – either the date of October 25 or a 14-day rolling average below five.

Step Three will see the end of the city’s curfew, allow public gatherings of up to 10 and would remove restrictions on leaving the home.

“What I am saying is that the formal position is clear – the numbers or the date,” he said.

The premier said it would take significantly impressive numbers to change that position.

“Let me be clear. If circumstances change, if we find ourselves ahead of schedule, not for one day but in a manifest sense, common sense always guides us. We will look at what sits behind the numbers and then we will have to make a judgement.

“Has enough time passed for us to be confident that the numbers we are seeing are a true reflection of how much virus is out there? They are very difficult judgements to make.”

Mr Andrews said the current advice, data and science says there should currently be no changes made to the plan.

Pressed on whether people will be allowed to gather for the AFL Grand Final on October 24, a cryptic Mr Andrews said again changes would be made if safe to do so.

“The trend is with us,” he said.

Premier’s warning after testing dip

Mr Andrews reminded Victorians to get tested with processed tests in the previous 24 hours dropping to 7,164.

While he said the number of tests was “still acceptable”, he warned it cannot drop further.

“If test numbers were not to be maintained at a robust level, at a level we thought was a good proxy for how much virus is out there, that is what will hold us back from taking future steps,” he said.

Mr Andrews faced tough questioning on whether such low testing gave a clear picture of how much virus is in Melbourne.

Despite last month Chief Health Officer suggesting 20,000 tests was a daily target, he once again reiterated that was not the case.

“We always want people to get tested if they have symptoms but it is difficult to put a hard and fast number on that.

“The best measure is people who are positive as a percentage of the total number of tests taken and that number remains within a band that does not cause is great concern.”

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