As Victoria reports 12 more cases of COVID-19 and one death, Premier Daniel Andrews has threatened to close beaches over the coming summer if citizens refuse to follow lockdown rules.
“Spending time at the beach without a mask, without social distancing now, will just mean that you won’t get to go to the beach for all of summer,” Mr Andrews said.
“No one has the right to break the rules and potentially put at risk everything that good, decent, law-abiding Victorians have created, have built.”
The stern warning comes after much-publicised news footage of large crowds milling at St Kilda beach, many without masks and appearing not to observe social distancing.
In one TV news report, people kissed a journalist on the head and jumped on his back while he was holding a live cross in front of a big group.
Yesterday there were 12 new cases & the loss of 1 life reported. Our thoughts are with all affected. The 14 day rolling average is down from yesterday as we move toward COVID Normal. Info: https://t.co/pcll7yB2RZ #COVID19VicData #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/W6KvDaIDJF
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) October 3, 2020
The 14-day rolling average of daily diagnoses up to Saturday came in at 11.9 in Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria.. Mr Andrews again thanked all those who had been tested – nearly 12,000yesterday – and said the numbers were “pleasing”.
However, he pleaded with Victorians to stay safe and keep observing social distancing rules.
“If you want to spend summer at the beach, then there will be time to do that, if we don’t do anything silly or anything selfish right now,” the Premier said Sunday.
“We are so, so close. Let’s not any of us do anything that might undermine the very positive numbers, the very strong performance we have seen in recent days.”
Don’t risk everything. What we can hold back now means a truly normal summer. Please – Hold. The. Line. https://t.co/4nFM5EypBM
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) October 2, 2020
Mr Andrews encouraged Victoria to stick with the plan, saying “the trend is with us” and promising “we can keep [numbers] low and we can open up again.”
Across Australia, 894 people have died from COVID-19.
Several of Sunday’s cases are linked to a growing cluster at a butcher shop at the Chadstone shopping centre.
With fine weather forecast in Melbourne, police will patrol at beaches – reinforcing Mr Andrews’ message there will be severe consequences for all Victorians if the laws are flouted.
St Kilda Beach will be a particular target of police.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday posted a simple warning: “No matter what the weather is like, it is important that we follow public health advice”.
No matter what the weather is like, it is important that we follow public health advice. It has taken an incredible effort from every Victorian to get to this point, please continue to protect yourself & your community as we move toward COVID Normal.
Info: https://t.co/CTpfySGzXZ pic.twitter.com/AxrVAmxQX9
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) October 3, 2020
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said disobeying restrictions was “an insult to everyone who’s done it tough for months and months and months”.
He and the premier have repeatedly urged the Melbourne population to remain disciplined, especially as warm, spring weather tempts people out of their homes.
Professor Sutton stressed that “outdoor activities are actually fine, if you do them safely” but warned people to adhere to the rules around the number of people and households which can gather together.
“We know that we focused on lawbreakers yesterday, but I have
seen many examples of people doing absolutely the thing, enjoying the outdoors,” he said.
“We know that it is good for emotional well-being, psychological well-being, so it is important to get out.”
This is great. We can, and should, enjoy the outdoors. Safely. Well done. https://t.co/xo6k8Jk4De
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) October 3, 2020
Mr Andrews also fielded a question about whether people in Melbourne could travel to regional Victoria – which has different COVID rules – to carry out fire preparation work, such as on holiday homes, ahead of the bushfire season. The Premier said his government would “have more to say about that quite soon”, but said that not travelling there right now would be “the best thing to do.”
“We’re trying to limit the number of people from a high virus community, that is Melbourne, higher, to a low virus community being regional Victoria,” he said.
“We’ll get people in there to do that work but it’s got to be done at the appropriate time and there’ll be rules to follow, processes to follow, and as soon as we can update people on that, we will.”
A significant easing of restrictions may occur on October 19, but authorities are looking for the daily case average to drop to five.
Police continue to nab people who refuse to obey health directions.