COVID-19 Community Update: what's different in this lockdown, a note from me and feedback from you (15 February)
15 February 2021
I’m writing to answer some of the key questions I’ve had about restrictions since Daniel Andrews announced a snap five-day lockdown on Friday.
This lockdown is vastly different to what we have had previously. It’s the strictest lockdown the Premier has imposed in Victoria so far, coming as a surprise to many businesses and workers given Victoria has just 13 active cases.
In addition to the information I provided Friday (see here), I wanted to share some of the key differences of this lockdown compared to the last, in the hope that it will help provide some further clarity.
I have avoided editorialising in these community updates. That was a very deliberate decision because I felt you needed clear information about what changes the government was making when. But this latest lockdown has got me pretty riled up. For the record, this is my view:
- The entire state has been locked down, even though there are no cases or exposure sites in regional Victoria. This is not a proportionate, sensible response. Those of us in regional Victoria did not have these restrictions placed on us when there were 700 cases a day – so why now, when there are 21 active cases in Melbourne?
- After the virus escaped hotel quarantine the first time, Daniel Andrews told us it was fixed. We were told (repeatedly) that Victoria's hotel quarantine and contact tracing were "the gold standard" and other states were trying to copy us. This simply isn't true.
- Since the virus escaped from hotel quarantine, the Andrews Government has been at pains to tell us that we are now dealing with a UK strain that is “wildly infectious”. This language seeks to abrogate the government of policy failings which resulted in the virus escaping in the first place. Infectious diseases experts this morning have said that the latest outbreak is due to poor infection control, not the fact that the new strain is more infectious.
- Daniel Andrews’ decision to sideline the Parliament and his refusal to establish an oversight committee has led to poor policy outcomes and resulted in a lack of rigour in decision-making.
- Victoria’s performance should be benchmarked next to NSW, where contact tracing can be trusted enough to manage outbreaks without putting the entire community into lockdown.
What will I be doing?
- I am pushing for compensation for small businesses which have been hit hard by this latest lockdown.
- I will continue to press the government to fix its contact tracing, to protect Victorian businesses from shutdowns.
- I’m going to Parliament this week and I will not be voting for the government’s plan to extend the State of Emergency until December. The bill gives the government the power to detain individuals, restrict movement and any other direction considered necessary to protect public health. I acknowledge that there are some powers the government needs in its public health response to COVID, however this can be done via specific legislation or by obtaining the approval of Parliament on a monthly basis to extend the State of Emergency.
The health and safety of our communities is paramount. That’s why scrutiny of the failures that keep occurring with contact tracing and hotel quarantine are more important than ever.
The government’s restrictions have impacted people in many different ways. I would be grateful if you would share with me your thoughts and feedback by completing this short survey. This is also your opportunity to tell me if you wildly disagree with me!
Hearing and understanding your experience will help me to best represent you when I head to Parliament this week.