‘This is the first step’: Premier announces restrictions

Gregor Mactaggart and Kate Withers

VICTORIAN Premier Daniel Andrews has introduced “step one” of restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking this morning, Mr Andrews announced a raft of businesses impacted by bans effective from noon and in place until midnight on April 13.

“The businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, and licensed venues in hotels and pubs,” Mr Andrews said.

“It also includes gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas and entertainment venues.

“Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

“This list represents a very big step, a massive step that is essential.

“This is painful, but it is absolutely appropriate.

“This is step one, there is almost certainly a step two and maybe beyond that.

“We needed to take a big step and that’s exactly what we have done.

“I apologise for that, this is the only way we can keep people safe by flattening the curve, keeping people safe from coronavirus.”

Mr Andrews said the school holidays have been brought forward to tomorrow with the support of the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton.

“These are not ordinary school holidays,” he said.

“Every Australian has been advised not to undertake non-essential travel and I’m advising every family that school holidays where kids might be staying at friends places, going to shopping malls … that is not appropriate.

“If we don’t start taking these things seriously then we will be talking about quite amazing tragedy. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made.”

Mr Andrews said common sense applied for companies that are not on the list of “closed” businesses, including enforcing social distancing and working from home when possible.

He added decisions regarding whether trades such as hairdressers, barbers and dentists should continue trading would be made down the track.

Mr Andrews confirmed the borders would remain open, pointing to the example of Albury-Wodonga as a key reason why Victoria would not follow in the footsteps of South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory.

He also announced a 500-strong Victoria Police taskforce.

“(The) taskforce is all about enforcing the coronavirus rules that have been put in place,” he said.

“It is disappointing that it has come to this. It’s unacceptable, it will cost lives. No matter what you call it, no matter what motivates you, do the right thing for everybody.”

Mr Andrews said Victoria had an additional 59 confirmed cases, lifting the total to 355 and stressed the importance of personal responsibility.

“If we have a situation where this virus fundamentally gets away from us, we will have thousands of people that will only be able to breathe with a machine, and we will not have enough beds, nurses and doctors to provide that care,” he said.

“There are many Victorians who are acting selfishly and they are not taking this seriously, they are doing the wrong thing and if that continues then people will die.

“It is easy to do the right thing for your family and people you’ve never met.

“Whether you call it mateship … civic duty… just do it.

“You won’t be able to go to the pub and you won’t be able to get on the beers with your mates at home. It will spread the virus.”

Mr Andrews said business owners could visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au to get information on whether their business needs to change under the newly-introduced restrictions.

Victoria’s restrictions followed the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night.

Earlier in the day, the federal government revealed a $66 billion ‘survival package’ aimed squarely at keeping the economy afloat.

It follows the first $17.6 billion announced more than a week ago and takes the total economic assistance package to about $189 billion.

Under the package, small businesses are set to receive cash payments of up to $100,000, while the jobseeker payment (previously called Newstart) will temporarily double.

People will be allowed to access $10,000 per year from their superannuation in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.