Premier Daniel Andrews has come under fire for ‘toxic double standards’ after refusing to fine five families behind a COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne while punishing protesters as Victoria’s case numbers continue to fall.
Victoria recorded 14 new cases and five deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since June and the tenth day in a row the state has recorded a daily infections increase below 50.
Five households in Clyde, Cranbourne North, Hallam and Narre Warren South are linked to 34 active cases, with the families believed to have sparked the cluster by breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Andrews has been blasted for defending his decision not to penalise those at the centre of the outbreak while anti-lockdown protesters were fined and arrested during rallies in Melbourne on Saturday.
Daniel Andrews (pictured) has been slammed for double standards after fining anti-lock-down protesters but refusing to punish those behind a COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne’s southeast
Victoria recorded just 14 new infections on Sunday, but has 34 active cases linked to five Melbourne families believed to have breached coronavirus restrictions
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien has slammed the move as ‘hypocrisy’.
‘Andrews shouldn’t be protecting those who spread the virus while fining others … Labor’s double standards are as toxic as this virus,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘It’s a disgrace that Labor has locked up innocent Victorians under a curfew while those who break the law and spread the virus get off scot- free.
‘This is the same Andrews hypocrisy that saw teenagers fined for learning to drive while 10,000 Black Lives Matter protesters were ignored.’
Victoria Police issued 21 fines and arrested 16 demonstrators as up to 150 people clashed with officers during rallies in Elsternwick and Elwood, 11km from Melbourne‘s CBD, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mr Andrews told reporters at a press conference fining the families linked to the cluster in the city’s southeast may prevent them from being co-operative during contact-tracing interviews.
‘I’m happy to concede that might seem a counter-intuitive point. Perhaps we would all feel a bit better if they got slapped with a fine, but the value of the information that allows you to take one test result and then find the 33 other people who’ve got it, is much more than $1652,’ he said.
A woman is arrested by police at a anti-lockdown protest at Elwood Beach on Saturday
Up to 100 people gathering at Elsternwick Park in Brighton dispersed to Elwood when faced with a long line of officers at the site, 11km from Melbourne’s CBD. Pictured: Protesters and officers at the Saturday demonstrations
A woman could be seen yelling out as two officers pulled her hands behind her back at the rally
Despite the new cluster, Victoria’s overall case numbers are continuing to decline.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday said the state’s latest coronavirus numbers are cause for great optimism as the state heads towards new a COVID-19 normal.
‘That is proof positive beyond any question that this strategy is working. These numbers are coming down thanks to the hard work of every single Victorian,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
‘We will continue to see them come down in accordance with our roadmap to COVID normal.’
‘Ultimately these numbers are a cause for great optimism and positivity right across metropolitan Melbourne.’
Metropolitan Melbourne’s 14-day average down to 36.2, well below the state’s target of 50 to lift some virus restrictions later this month.
On Saturday, Victoria recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 and a further seven deaths.
Daniel Andrews urged covidiots not to gather at planned protests on Saturday across the city or ‘do anything to undermine’ its progress with tackling COVID-19.
Protests were announced by rally organisers about 10.30am – half an hour before kicking off at the State Library, and a second closely following at 12pm.
Law enforcement teams circled Elsternwick Park included officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit, Air Unit and Highway Patrol.
Shouting about Premier Daniel Andrews and coronavirus restrictions was heard throughout the disjointed protests, which were described as ‘chaotic’.
Victoria recorded 14 new cases and five deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since June and the tenth day in a row the state has recorded a daily infections increase below 50
The cluster which has impacted the five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, first emerged on September 4
One photographer said there was ‘a lot of running and not much protesting.
It comes as Mr O’Brien last week introduced a motion of no confidence into parliament in a bid to oust the Premier, arguing the Andrews government had lost support of Victorians over its handling of the pandemic.
Lower house MPs will vote on the proposal next month.
Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown – limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew.
Multiple rallies have taken place in Melbourne the past few weekends.
Victoria Police have responded with a heavy presence – handing out dozens of fines and making arrests.
‘Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this week we have seen, day after day, not the 725 cases we had five and a half weeks ago – we have made very significant progress,’ Mr Andrews told reporters on Saturday.
‘We’ve got regional Victoria opening up. People should be positive and optimistic this strategy is working, and therefore, let’s not any of us do anything to undermine that.’
A surge of cases in the Casey and Dandenong area, on Melbourne’s southeast rim, has been linked back to five households in the Afghan community.
As residents in the city are still under strict Stage Four lockdown, it is thought the infected group may have breached the stay-at-home orders.
Public health authorities are racing to stop infections growing in the two council areas, which now have 90 active cases.
‘Members of those households visiting other households,’ Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.
‘It is that limited amount of contact, relatively infrequent contact between these five households that has now meant that we have 34 people in five houses experiencing or living with a very real threat of the coronavirus.’
The cluster in the city’s southeast first emerged on September 4, with cases now having spread to Dandenong Police Station and a number of industrial work sites.
The Casey and Dandenong cluster is testing the capacity of COVID-detectives. Pictured: Heath workers are seen at a coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17
The success of Melbourne’s ongoing lockdown could be at risk with a new cluster in the southeast of the city. Pictured: A coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17
A man with a dog is seen being questioned by two police officers in the Dandenong area
Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the actions of the family’s involved in the cluster was ‘disappointing’.
‘Five kilometres is one thing and visiting others is the real issue here,’ he said.
‘The rules are in place for a reason and anyone who undermines this, undermines the entire strategy and it means the rules will be on for longer.’
‘I know many Victorians, when you see examples of people not following the rules, that’s disappointing, it makes you angry,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘You need to look at the bigger picture here.
‘We don’t want a situation where people don’t have a sense of confidence and indeed, you know, the sense they’re obliged to tell us the full story as quickly as possible. That’s what we need.’
Victoria Sunday figures bring the state’s toll to 762 and the national count to 849.
There are only 26 active infections across regional areas while the number of active cases in Melbourne has fallen to 743.
Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell
Mr Andrews urged people to stay the course and cautioned against any push to lift restrictions ahead of schedule.
‘There’s no good opening up too early. There’s no good letting our frustrations get the better of us.
‘All that will mean is that every metropolitan has given, everything that everyone has done to produce these low, but still not low enough, numbers will count for nothing.
‘Because we’ll be open, yes, but not open for very long.
‘This is a good day though. A day Victorians can be proud.’
The next step on Melbourne’s roadmap out of lockdown is from September 28 when some on-site work will return, child care will reopen and some school students will be allowed back into the classroom.
People will be able to meet outdoors for up to two hours with members of one other household, though the five-kilometre travel limit will remain.
State health chief Brett Sutton said on Saturday the five-household cluster of 34 cases in the city’s southeast was “under control”, with no new cases linked to the cluster on Saturday.
Contact tracers have acted quickly to contain the outbreak, with government officials speaking with community leaders and members.