Ex-health minister Jenny Mikakos slams Daniel Andrews for delaying the end of lockdown
Former Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has taken aim at Premier Daniel Andrews for his controversial decision to prolong Melbourne’s lockdown.
Mr Andrews on Sunday refused to ease lockdown restrictions as planned following a cluster of seven new cases in Melbourne’s north.
He described it as a ‘cautious pause’ to rule out there wasn’t widespread community transmission linked to the cluster.
The premier had previously promised to scrap the four reasons for leaving home and the 25 kilometre travel limit from November 1.
Ms Mikakoks took to Twitter to slam Mr Andrews on Sunday as he was grilled over his backflip in a press conference.
‘Vic has met the under 5 threshold which some thought was unachievable. This was a very cautious target,’ she tweeted.
Former Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has taken aim at Premier Daniel Andrews for prolonging Melbourne’s lockdown
Ms Mikakoks took to Twitter to slam Mr Andrews on Sunday as he was grilled over his backflip in a press conference
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the crushing announcement on Sunday as the state awaits results of at least 1000 tests from the northern metropolitan outbreak
‘6/7 of new cases are related to a known outbreak so the risk is manageable. The set reopening is gradual & safe so any delay is unnecessary. It’s paralysis in decision-making.’
Ms Mikakos resigned from parliament last month – one day after the embattled premier pointed the finger at her over the state’s quarantine hotel blunder that led to the second wave.
She told the hearing that ‘to the best of my recollection’ she did not know private guards were enforcing the scheme until late May when the Rydges hotel suffered a coronavirus outbreak.
But a video of a press conference on 29 March – two days after the quarantine scheme was announced – shows Ms Mikakos standing alongside jobs minister Martin Pakula as he said: ‘Passengers returning will now undergo mandatory two-week quarantine at those Melbourne hotels with security guards in place.’
In a written statement to the inquiry, Ms Mikakos wrote: ‘I believe I first became aware of the use of private security guards… after the Rydges outbreak occurred in late May 2020.’
Speaking at the inquiry last month she added: ‘That’s to the best of my recollection… because I would have had no reason to turn my mind to issues around security guards until we had that first case and the first outbreak at the Rydges hotel.’
Opposition MPs accused Ms Mikakos of fabricating, including shadow housing minister Tim Smith who said she ‘is a liar and must go’.
In her response to closing submissions, Ms Mikakos said Mr Andrews’ evidence about private security should be ‘treated with caution’.
She said it was ‘implausible’ to suggest no one made the decision to use private security guards in the botched program.
Ms Mikakos took a swipe at Mr Andrews following her September 26 resignation.
‘I have never wanted to leave the job unfinished but in light of the Premier’s statement to the Board of the inquiry and the fact that there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with, I believe that I cannot continue to serve in his Cabinet,’ she said in a statement.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews could walk back on his promise to lift more lockdowns next weekend over fears of a COVID-19 cluster in north Melbourne
‘I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined.’
The $6 million inquiry, being led by retired judge Jennifer Coate, will hand down its findings on November 6.
Mr Andrews on Sunday told Melburnians his decision to delay reopening the city is ‘not a set back’.
‘This is not a set back this is simply waiting and being led by the data. We have been careful and cautious,’ he told reporters. ‘This is a pause, nothing more than that.’
‘We had hoped today to be able to announce that metropolitan Melbourne would take significant steps, not from today but from midweek, around retail, hospitality and a whole range of other, important next steps.
‘We are not in a position to do that today because we have at least 1000 test results from that northern metropolitan outbreak that are in the labs.
‘We are not, for the sake of being popular, going to ignore the fact that we asked people to be tested for good reason for they have done that and we do not have the results yet.’
The premier acknowledged continuing lockdown is ‘frustrating’ for Melburnians.
‘I know people are keen to have a long and detailed list of changes to the rules. It is not appropriate for us to do that now.
‘I know it will be frustrating for people. We have all come so far, done so much, we have all achieved so much, now is not the time to let our frustration get the better of us.’
The all-important two-week rolling case average is at 4.6 for Melbourne, below the trigger of five that Victorian authorities have coveted to trigger the next step out of lockdowns.
The regional average is at 0.2, while there are nine cases with an unknown source in the city.
Mr Andrews had previously promised to scrap the four reasons for leaving home and the 25 kilometre travel limit from November 1
The premier acknowledged continuing lockdown is ‘frustrating’ for Melburnians, but insisted health authorities are following a ‘cautious approach’
The premier had earlier backtracked on previous indications of an easing of restrictions on Sunday after seven cases were also reported on Saturday.
His tone had been optimistic on Friday after reporting a single fresh case, saying Victoria was ‘very well placed’.
But 24 hours later the message had changed.
‘I just want to caution people from banking that tomorrow I’ll be making a whole series of detailed announcements about opening up,’ he said on Saturday.
There was some good news for regional Victoria on Sunday, however, with restrictions to be wound back for some businesses and activities.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday, gyms and fitness studios will be able to open with up to 20 people – 10 people per space – with density limits.
Up to 20 people plus a faith leader will be allowed to attend indoor religious gatherings, with that number rising to 50 if outdoors.
The outdoor funeral capacity in regional areas also rises to 50.
Indoor community sport, for non-contact games that can properly socially distance, will return and indoor swimming pools will be able to have up to 20 people.
Greater Shepparton, the site of a recent outbreak, will also be brought into line with the rest of regional Victoria from 11.59 on Sunday.
On Saturday, a student and two parents of the East Preston Islamic College tested positive to COVID-19.
The nearby Croxton School was also put on alert and both schools have been closed for two weeks.
More than 9,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Preston alone.
Health authorities have also gone door knocking urging residents to get tested.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there should be no barrier to Victoria opening up at that level of community transmission.
‘We hope and commend to Victoria that the Commonwealth will support them in moving to those next levels of reduced restrictions in line with NSW,’ he told reporters ahead of Sunday’s announcement.
A student and two parents of the East Preston Islamic College tested positive to COVID-19 on Saturday
The nearby Croxton School was also put on alert and both schools have been closed for two weeks
Just two people walk on a near-deserted street in Melbourne’s normally busy CBD. The business executives called for a ‘safe and staged’ return to work in the city
‘We have seen how a strong testing, tracing and isolation system can allow a state to manage through the challenges of this.’
No new deaths on Sunday kept the state’s toll at 817 and the national figure at 905.
He warned against businesses and staff getting ahead of themselves before any official announcements are made.
‘I have been abundantly clear, when I stand appear and make the announcement, that is when people can start planning for it,’ he explained.
‘Beyond that, think there is a risk of preempting whatever it is we are doing.
Victoria’s Commander of Testing and Community Engagement Jeroen Weimar said authorities were working with faith leaders to send the message across to get tested.
‘I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to keep people safe,’ he said.
‘I have held several sessions over the last two days to listen and act on the advice from leading community members.
‘We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.’
Residents of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire have been trapped at home since the second lockdown began on July 9.
VICTORIA’S PATHWAY OUT OF LOCKDOWN
The state government has mapped a new pathway out of lockdown for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria that depends on stamping out COVID-19 cases in the community which have an unknown source.
STEP ONE: From 11:59pm Sunday October 18
* Two-hour outdoor time limit scrapped
* 5km travel restriction extended to 25km
* Outdoor gatherings up from five to 10
* Face-to-face allied health appointments to resume
* Tennis courts, golf courses and skate parks will reopen
* Outdoor swimming pools open to a maximum of 30 swimmers
* Hairdressers can reopen
* Outdoor real estate auctions permitted with up to 10 people, plus staff
STEP TWO: From 11:59pm on November 1:
* Up to two people, plus dependents, allowed to visit a home per day
* All retail shops can open
* Hospitality: maximum of 20 indoor seated customers (subject to one per four sqm), maximum of 50 outdoor patrons (subject to one per two sqm)
* Beauty and personal care services open
* Wedding groups of up to 10 permitted
* Up to 20 mourners allowed at funerals
* Outdoor religious gatherings and ceremonies capped at 20 people
MAJOR RESTRICTIONS REMAIN:
* Approved face masks must be worn at all times outside home
* Work from home if possible
* All businesses must have a COVID-safe plan
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk