Minister’s Statement

On 20 June Victoria hit what was then the highest number of cases the state had seen in two months, and a decision was made to delay the planned easing of restrictions. Since then, acting on advice from the chief health officer that there is a continued serious and potentially catastrophic risk to public health arising from COVID-19, the Victorian government has phased the implementation of greater restrictions and I have extended the state of emergency until 11.59 pm, 13 September 2020. This will work alongside the state of disaster that was declared on 2 August and introduced stage 4 to metropolitan Melbourne and returned regional Victoria to stage 3 restrictions. The state of emergency allows us to keep in place crucial restrictions like gathering limits and isolation requirements.

After the introduction of stage 3 in metro Melbourne and Mitchell shire the health experts told us the measures that we had introduced were not working as quickly as they should. Modelling coupled with the local evidence of outbreaks now moving from household transmission to workplace outbreaks, aged-care facility outbreaks, increasing regional cases of transmission and increased evidence of cases of unknown transmission clearly indicated the need for stronger measures. This prompted the move to these stringent restrictions to ensure that we can continue to drive infection rates down. In addition the most recent modelling suggests that in the absence of stringent control measures, over 18 500 Victorians would have been infected each day during the peak of the pandemic. Recognising this move to workplace transmission, from 28 July the government also introduced temporary regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 that specify when employees and self-employed persons must notify WorkSafe of a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Each of these decisions have been guided by the very best medical advice based on the epidemiological data. These are strong and unprecedented measures, but they are absolutely critical to protect the Victorian community. We thank those Victorians who are doing the right thing, but we must keep at it to save lives and we must continue to all work together to stay safe.