Andrews tight-lipped on business restrictions as mayor warns on “severe” economic impact

lockdown ends

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has sought to reassure SMEs that crushing COVID-19 business restrictions will be rescinded as soon as possible, but has so far declined to provide a timeline for when the state may open up again.

Victoria’s stage four coronavirus restrictions — including an 8pm curfew and forced shutdowns of thousands of businesses across the state — are due to expire in a little over two weeks, but Andrews says he’s still unable to provide any guidance about a possible extension or roadmap towards re-opening.

Asked about what was next for the state after more than a week of declining daily infection numbers, Andrews told reporters on Thursday he will soon have more to say on the topic.

“We’ll have many announcements to make about repairing the damage this global pandemic has done,” he said.

“There will be a singular focus on jobs, on making sure we look after those who lost work, we look after those who are really facing very difficult circumstances in terms of their business, and their prospects for the future.”

But when asked, Andrews repeatedly declined to provide any further detail about when such a plan may be delivered, or whether stage four restrictions will be lifted in early-September.

“There will come a time, hopefully soon, we’ll see those numbers in double digits and we can have with greater confidence a really clear discussion about what the back end of September looks like, what October, November, December looks like, pushing into 2021,” Andrews said.

Several hours after Andrews’ daily press conference, Melbourne mayor Sally Capp said she had asked for an “urgent meeting” with the Premier to discuss the “severe” economic impact the restrictions are having on businesses.

“Our combined efforts to support businesses and their workers are urgently needed. The economic impact of recent months has been severe, as today’s data reveals,” Capp tweeted.

The Victorian government is currently in talks with the crossbench to extend Victoria’s state of emergency — the legislative backdrop to many of the state’s coronavirus restrictions — for another six months in a bid to keep the pandemic under control.

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