“If we rush this, it will not be safe”: Melbourne to stay the course on October roadmap

Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP/James Ross.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne are preparing for a further easing of restrictions in the coming weeks as lower numbers of coronavirus infections buoy confidence in Victoria’s reopening roadmap.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged “significant announcements” on how businesses will progress through the second step of eased restrictions next Sunday, as Melbourne’s 14-day case average fell to 34.4 on Monday.

That’s within the target threshold a further easing of restrictions that will allow larger public gatherings and outdoor recreation activities to resume, with the gateway date of September 28 coming up next week.

“We’re confident that come Sunday, we’ll be able to make some significant announcements, because we’ll be in that 30-50 band,” Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

There have been calls to fast-track the roadmap so retail and hospitality businesses can emerge from current trading restrictions before the end of October, as is currently planned.

Andrews has not ruled out making changes to the roadmap, but said on Sunday he would not be moved by calls from business groups for eased restrictions in the wake of falling case numbers.

“If I was to say, ‘I will open up these 10 different settings because we are ahead of schedule’, we would not see the results of that for two to three weeks, and if it was the wrong call, you have a very significant problem,” Andrews said on Monday.

Under existing plans, most businesses won’t see significant relief until the 14-day average case numbers fall below five, and there are less than five cases with an unknown source.

After this threshold is reached, authorities will consider allowing retail businesses to reopen and hospitality to host outdoor diners in groups of up to 10.

“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,” Andrews said.

“Circumstances can change, advice can change, models will be rerun, and we will have more to say about what we believe is safe.

“But ultimately, safety has to guide us, and while we would all like to bring forward things a month, that is not the advice, not what the data and science says.

“If we rush this, it will not be safe.”

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