Melburnians have been subjected to a strict curfew under the threat of fines for nearly two months, but the Victorian government will not reveal who it consulted, or how the restrictive plans were made.
Victoria Police confirmed on Thursday that the plan to implement the 8pm to 5am curfew was not its idea, nor was it consulted about it.
Premier Daniel Andrews has defended its efficacy, despite unclear health advice, as he continues to face growing criticism over Victoria’s coronavirus response and the roadmap back to normality.
He told reporters he didn’t know where the curfew advice originated, while chief health officer Brett Sutton said it wasn’t his proposal.
It comes after business leaders complained they were cut out of the process on Wednesday, and confusion grows over whose advice the state has been following in the fight against the coronavirus.
Does curfew work?
Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, said the curfew was “pretty extreme”.
“I’m not convinced the curfew and the shortening of shopping hours is going to make a big difference, but we just don’t know either way,” she told The New Daily.
“We’re not saying it didn’t work, but did we need to do all of this to get the same outcome? [In terms of] The curfew, was that an added extra that’s actually done nothing?
“We need to know which bits of the strategy actually made the difference. Just because case numbers came down, it doesn’t mean it added anything.”
She said nowhere else in the world did government implement curfews in areas with case numbers as low as Victoria’s.
“To have the size of the outbreaks we’ve had, people wouldn’t have gone into curfew – and certainly not maintaining it now with the numbers we’ve had,” she said.
Professor Bennett added the curfew wasn’t just about squeezing in a jog or grocery shopping before 8pm, it also made lockdown “more complicated” for intimate partners.
“If you’ve got to be home before 8pm, you can’t even have dinner or a proper evening together if you need to get back to your other house,” she said.
What do Melburnians think of the curfew?
Despite all the heavily concentrated fury, the majority of Victorians still back Mr Andrews, according to a recent Roy Morgan poll.
A Roy Morgan survey of 2325 Victorians found 63 per cent supported the curfew.
It was conducted earlier this week, five weeks after the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne and only days after Mr Andrews announced a two-week extension to the lockdown.
A similar survey taken a week earlier had support for the curfew at 61 per cent. Of those surveyed this week, 70 per cent also said they supported Mr Andrews’ work as Premier.
Some Melburnians told The New Daily the curfew hadn’t been a problem given they could only leave home for one of four reasons anyway under stay-at-home restrictions.
But for many others, like busy parents or shift workers, the rule has been a major burden.
“I work from home with a pregnant wife and a one-year-old son,” said Steve, who did not want his real name published.
“With COVID work pressures, I’ve often been working 8am to 8pm or later. Being able to duck out to the supermarket at 10pm is important.”
Steve said he empathised with nurses or aged-care workers who finished their shifts at 10pm and couldn’t get their errands done.
People seem to forget how much life can occur after 8pm for normal people who are still obeying the rules,’’ he said.
Victoria Police has dished out 3831 fines to people for breaking curfew under Stage 4 lockdown, amounting to more than $6.3 million.