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Victorian Premier Rejects Australian Health Minister’s Call to Open Up

World Ava 3days ago 3Views 0Comments

Victorian Premier Rejects Australian Health Minister’s Call to Open Up

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has rejected federal pressure to ramp up the easing of restrictions as Melburnians eagerly await regaining some freedoms this weekend.

The state on Saturday reported one further case of COVID-19 and no deaths, which Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton described as a “remarkable achievement”.

Saturday’s statistics show the 14-day rolling average of new cases up to Friday stands at 8.1 for metropolitan Melbourne and 0.5 for regional areas.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt urged the Victorian government to ease restrictions in line with NSW.

“The epidemiological conditions for a COVID-safe reopening of hospitality, movement (and) family reunions among others, have now been firmly met,” Hunt posted on Twitter on Oct 17.

“Victoria should now be able to move to the next step in line (with) NSW.”

However Andrews said Hunt was not an epidemiologist and accused him of “playing games”, before adding that he would not be rushed in reopening Victoria.

“Everything that’s been done, everything that’s been given needs to count for something,” Andrews told reporters on Saturday.

“We are not going to risk everything that Victorians have sacrificed. And that’s why this strategy is not about racing to open up (and) running to COVID-normal – it’s about safe and steady steps.

“We are right on the edge now of defeating this second wave. It’s not occurred in many countries, if any, across the world.”

Melbourne residents are expecting restrictions to be eased on Sunday but it is unclear how much freedom will be regained.

Andrews has confirmed Sunday’s announcements will be “much more in the social space than in the economic space”, dashing the hopes of those in retail and hospitality industries.

Health authorities continue to investigate Victoria’s 17 cases for the fortnight up to Wednesday which have no known source.

Meanwhile, Sutton stood firm when asked whether he misled Victoria’s hotel inquiry about his knowledge of private security being used in the hotel quarantine program.

The Age on Friday revealed Department of Health and Human Services had been asked to supply documents relating to questions over the accuracy of his testimony.

“My statement to the inquiry was true,” Sutton told reporters on Saturday.

“I provided it honestly, I was under oath – I take those obligations extremely seriously. I was not aware. That’s what I said to the inquiry (and) that’s what I stand by.”

Andrews said Professor Sutton had his full confidence.

He also lashed out at the fact 17 federal trans-Tasman bubble travellers had reached his state from New Zealand via Sydney on Friday despite Victoria not being part of the arrangement.

However acting immigration minister Alan Tudge dismissed Andrews’ complaints as a distraction from the business of delivering social and economic normality.

Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus, which resulted in more than 18,000 new infections and 750 deaths, can be traced back to outbreaks at two Melbourne hotels used in the quarantine program.

The $6 million inquiry is led by retired judge Jennifer Coate.

Victoria’s death toll remains at 816 and the national tally is 904.

Gus McCubbing in Melbourne

 

Focus News: Victorian Premier Rejects Australian Health Minister’s Call to Open Up


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