Absent Premier Daniel Andrews has been criticised for saying Victorians are having ‘another week off work’ in his first social media post since April 18.
After calls from Opposition MPs to send a message of support to Victorians who have been locked down since last Thursday, Mr Andrews finally posted a statement on his accounts.
‘I won’t talk about how hard this is, or why it matters so much. You all know that,’ he wrote in his customary dramatic language after the state’s fourth shut-down was extended for another week.
Absent Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured with his wife) has been criticised for saying that Victorians are having ‘another week off work’ in his first social media post since April 18
A closer look at the message posted by Daniel Andrews on Wednesday as he recovers from a back injury
A sign on the door of a business in Melbourne after the extension of lockdown was announced
‘But I did want to send a message to Victorians facing another week off work, away from school, or with the kids at home.’
That second sentence sparked fury from opponents who claimed Mr Andrews was failing to grasp the damage caused by lockdowns.
David Hodgett, shadow education minister, wrote: ‘This is a Premier completely out of touch with ordinary Victorians.
‘No, Premier, these workers are not having ”another week off work”. They are being financially ruined by your government.’
Mr Hodgett’s comment sparked a mixed response from Victorians online.
‘No surprise Premier Andrews has no idea about how tough ordinary Victorians are finding it,’ wrote one resident.
‘This is from the Millionaire Premier who is still collecting his $8,400 weekly salary despite preventing many Victorians from working and earning even $1.’
But others, however, said shadow minister was just finding ways to criticise the government.
‘Are you a bit thick or is it just a temporary condition bought on by feeling an urgent need to sledge people on the opposite side of politics,’ wrote one.
Dan Andrews (pictured with daughter Grace, 18) in April as he recovers from a serious back injury
Daniel Andrews issued this message to Victorians on social media on Wednesday night after weeks of silence
The Liberal-National Opposition has said it would only use lockdowns as a ‘last resort’ and would make them targeted and proportionate rather than across the whole state.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien also said he would publicly release health advice that lockdowns are based on if he were in power.
Premier Andrews – who oversaw Melbourne’s 112-day lockdown last year – promised to reveal when he intends to return to the job after breaking his back in a fall at a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula on March 9.
Andrews was hospitalised on March 9 and spent 10 days in hospital. This is one of just two pictures the usually prominent politician has appeared in since the accident – with conspiracy theorists claiming it was photoshopped
‘I have more scans and a meeting with my medical team next week. I’ll let you know how that goes and exactly when I’ll be back on deck later this month,’ he wrote.
Premier Andrews suffered at least five broken ribs and an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra in his spine, putting him on extended sick leave.
There were six new cases reported on Wednesday, bringing the cluster associated with the Indian double mutant strain to 60.
But there was some relief for regional Victorians who from Friday will enjoy an easing of restrictions with shops opened back up and limits relaxed, with the majority of cases centered in the capital.
Restaurants and cafes outside Melbourne were ordered to check customers’ IDs when they reopen to ensure no one from the city sneaks out into regional towns, and a uniform QR code system has also finally been put in place.
Despite the dreaded lockdown extension, the travel limit for Melburnians for exercise and shopping will extend from 5km to 10km, but compulsory wearing of masks both indoors and outdoors will remain in place.
Victoria’s Chief health officer Brett Sutton hinted some of the restrictions could even stay in place beyond the next week.
Sidelined Premier Daniel Andrews posted a message to Facebook about his return to work after a serious fall
Sources revealed that Melbourne’s lockdown could continue for weeks to come (pictured, mates exercising on Wednesday)
That’s because Victoria are pursing an ‘aggressive suppression’ strategy, with the intent of bringing cases back down to zero.
‘We can’t have one or two cases out there and open back up to the kind of settings we had before,’ Prof Sutton said.
‘That’s what led one case from South Australia to lead to 60 cases and thousands of primary close contacts within a month.’
But with stay-at-home order costing the state about $150 million a day, according to KPMG modelling, and no JobKeeper subsidies in place, it remains unclear how vulnerable Victorians will be supported if the draconian measures continue.
The lockdown is the fourth for Victoria since the lockdown took hold in Australia.
There are fears the outbreak may have spread to NSW after a family from Melbourne went on a roadtrip
In contrast, the NSW Government has been reluctant to impose border restrictions or lockdowns even after it was discovered on Tuesday that a Victorian family who later tested positive for the virus went on 1,765km roadtrip across the state.
The man, his wife and their two children were some of Victoria’s six new locally acquired infections recorded on Wednesday.
Their trip prompted urgent Covid health alerts for numerous venues in NSW.
The family travelled from Melbourne across the NSW border to Jervis Bay, Hyams Beach, Vincentia and Goulburn while potentially infectious on May 23 and 24, just before the city was plunged into lockdown on May 27.
The father had some symptoms on May 25 after driving back to Melbourne on May 24, and tested positive on May 31 – almost a week later.
Last year, Victoria was shut down for 112 consecutive days as the state racket up 800 Covid deaths.
Acting Premier James Merlino announced an extension to the lockdown on Wednesday
An eerily empty Melbourne is seen on Wednesday (pictured) as the city faces another week in lockdown
Earlier on Wednesday Mr Merlino confirmed Victoria’s initial seven-day lockdown, sparked by a Covid cluster arising in May, would be extended for another week in the Melbourne area.
‘Just because we’ve had to do this before, doesn’t mean it’s easy to do again,’ Mr Andrews wrote.
‘Some of us will be tired. Some stressed. Some sick to the back teeth of this pandemic. Maybe a mix of all three.
‘But please know that every individual effort you made today, and everything you’ll do tomorrow and every day after will save lives.’
Restaurants, pubs, and cafes in Melbourne can provide takeaway only but can open for dining in regional Victoria (pictured, a closed cafe in the city on Wednesday)