Coronavirus Melbourne: 439 COVID-19 cases, new fine, penalties for breaches

Coronavirus Melbourne: 439 COVID-19 cases, new fine, penalties for breaches

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Victorians who do not self-isolate when instructed will be fined $4957 under a new crackdown to stop breaches of restrictions.

It comes as the state recorded 439 new cases of coronavirus overnight and 11 more lives were lost.

All of the deaths were linked to aged care outbreaks, with ages ranging from above 70. There are 1186 active cases in aged care.

The new offence will be created for breaching the direction of the Chief Health Officer and targeted at those who are testing positive and are not at home when authorities doorknock their property.

This will be boosted by an extra 500 ADF personnel and 300 authorised officers to join crews who are already on the ground.

They will allow authorities to have 4000 household visits every day from next week.

Of the more than 3000 doorknocks done by the ADF, more than 800 Victorians meant to be self-isolating could not be found.

Over the last 24 hours, Victoria Police have conducted more than 6000 spot checks and issued 161 fines for breaches of restrictions

This included 60 fines for failing to wear a mask.
There are 456 Victorians battling the virus in hospital, including 38 in ICU.

Victoria has recorded 439 new coronavirus cases in past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 12,335.

Victoria Police set up a random vehicle checkpoint outside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Wharf. Picture: Mark Stewart
media_cameraVictoria Police set up a random vehicle checkpoint outside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Wharf. Picture: Mark Stewart

NO MORE EXERCISE IN ISOLATION

From now, people isolating in their homes will not be allowed to leave for exercise.
Mr Andrews said those self-isolating would need to stay in their home and on their property.
People can get fresh air at their front door, front yard or backyard.
Alternatively, the Premier said they can open a window.

CURFEW DOESN’T STOP RULE BREAKERS

A “bored” person going for a drive and someone who decided to buy a car after 8pm are among the latest Victorians caught breaching the state’s strict curfew.

Others who were fined included Airbnb partygoers, a driver travelling to a bottle shop at 3am for booze and people going on Macca’s runs during curfew.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said people are also picking up their friends from other households.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said there were about 1500 police and PSOs patrolling and enforcing coronavirus restrictions every day.

“I have committed another 250 PSOs and will be enforcing everything on a daily basis but importantly at night time as well,” he said.

“In the last week, we’ve seen a trend, an emergence if you like of small groups of people — but nonetheless concerning groups — who classify themselves as “sovereign citizens”, whatever that might mean.”

In the past week police have been forced to smash the windows of up to four cars and pull the driver out because they have refused to provide their name and address.

”So they could provide their details because they weren’t telling us where they were going,” Comissioner Patton said.

Vic Police forced to smash car windows over non-compliance

Police have been forced into the extraordinary measure of smashing car windows to get Victorians to comply with second wave COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

COP ASSAULTED BY ANTI-MASKER

An anti-masker has allegedly assaulted a young officer on the job near Bayside shopping centre.

The 26-year-old officer was on patrol in the Frankston area when she approached a 38-year-old woman about the offence.
The woman refused to co-operate with police and a scuffle broke out.

The woman allegedly hit the young police officer’s head into the concrete several times.

“That behaviour is just totally unacceptable. That’s someone who thinks they’re above the law, they’re not wearing a mask, they’re approached and they’re asked the reason why … then to react like that is just completely over the top,” Commissioner Patton said.

“It’s this type of irresponsible behaviour that we’re going to address.”
The 38-year-old woman was charged with “significant offences” and bailed.

“But nonetheless it just goes to show how these things escalate from non-adherence to the smallest things,” the chief commissioner said.

Renee Buckingham and Elsa Mangan mask up before heading out for a quick walk around their community. Picture: David Caird
media_cameraRenee Buckingham and Elsa Mangan mask up before heading out for a quick walk around their community. Picture: David Caird

MASK FLOUTERS PUT ON NOTICE

The state government will consider a tougher stance on masks in response to rule breakers lying to police about medical exemptions.
Mr Andrews said Victorians needed to wear a mask and police would target those who fail to do so.
“Is there anything worse than someone pretending to be unwell in order to get out of wearing a mask? Like, seriously,” he said.

“If I have to go further, then of course we will. We are not going to have police being lied to.

“We’re not going to have people just flouting these rules.”


REVIEW INTO ST BASIL’S OVER OUTBREAK

A formal review into the devastating COVID-19 outbreak at St Basil’s has been commissioned after it was revealed there was a five-day delay between the first case being identified and federal authorities being alerted to the outbreak.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the report would be provided to the federal COVID committee, along with reports into major outbreaks at Sydney aged care facilities.

Senator Colbeck said “things didn’t go as we would have liked” at the facility, where 139 cases have been recorded so far.

“Some of the residents didn’t get the care they deserved,” Senator Colbeck said.

“There’s no point me trying to pretend it went well when it didn’t.”

He said lessons had been learned about communication and staffing issues, including the standing down of all staff at once, had presented significant challenges to authorities.

As of 9.30 am Monday, 108 aged care and home care recipients have died from COVID-19 in Victoria.

The last remaining residents at St Basil's Home for the Aged at Fawkner were relocated. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
media_cameraThe last remaining residents at St Basil’s Home for the Aged at Fawkner were relocated. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy said that number would “tragically” continue to rise until community transmission stopped in Victoria.

Professor Murphy told the committee there was a five-day delay between the first known case at St Basil’s and when the facility informed the Commonwealth.

“It wasn’t on our radar,” Prof Murphy said.

The first case was diagnosed in 9 July but that case was not reported to federal authorities until 14 July.

Prof Murphy said community transmission was largely to blame for the outbreaks in facilities and further outbreaks would be impossible to prevent until case numbers were lower in Victoria.

“The only way we will control completely this outbreak in Victoria is to control community transmission, and that’s why we so strongly welcome the Victorian government’s decision to impose those very serious lockdowns,” Prof Murphy said.

There have been 97 separate outbreaks across aged care facilities in Victoria, with 657 residents and 594 staff members testing positive.

A further 25 home care services have recorded cases.

Seventeen home care recipients and 24 staff members have tested positive.

Victorian authorities stopped using the COVIDSafe app to find and trace contacts “for a period of time”, Prof Murphy told the committee.

He said the public health unit ceased using it “because they were so pressured” and they did not find value in it during the first wave.

He said they had since “committed” to using it after reports of successful tracing in NSW.

– Tamsin Rose

CHANGES TO MELBOURNE BUSINESSES

Melbourne businesses are closing their doors ahead of crushing restrictions that come into force in a last-ditch attempt to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the state recorded another 429 new cases and 13 deaths on Monday, Premier Daniel Andrews emerged from cabinet crisis talks to announce a wide-scale shutdown affecting the retail, manufacturing and construction sectors.

“As heartbreaking as it is to close down places of employment … that is what we have to do in order to stop the spread of this wildly infectious virus, this deadly virus,” Mr Andrews said.

At least 250,000 Victorians are believed to be directly affected by the new restrictions, joining 250,000 stood down since the pandemic began and another 500,000 working from home to stop a million people moving across the state.

Hairdresser Marie Uva will have to close her Uva Salon under stage four requirements Picture: Jason Edwards
media_cameraHairdresser Marie Uva will have to close her Uva Salon under stage four requirements Picture: Jason Edwards

Under the new restrictions, which take effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday, shops, some manufacturing and administration must close.

Cleaners and gardeners will be banned, as will tradespeople — except in limited emergency situations.

“You need to have the minimum number of people coming to your house under any circumstances. Under any circumstances,” Mr Andrews said.

“In every way, you have to be limiting the number of people that come to your home. And you should, ideally, have no one coming to your house.”

Hardware shops — including Bunnings — will be open to tradespeople only.

The new restrictions are likely to affect big retailers such as Myer, David Jones, Kmart, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman, which will only be able to operate click-and-collect and delivery services.

Supermarkets, grocery and bottle shops, pharmacies, service stations, banks, newsagents and post offices will be allowed to operate.

Police patrol Fitzroy Gardens for rule-breakers on Monday. Picture: David Crosling
media_cameraPolice patrol Fitzroy Gardens for rule-breakers on Monday. Picture: David Crosling
More soldiers arrive in Melbourne during the stage four lockdown. Picture: Tony Gough
media_cameraMore soldiers arrive in Melbourne during the stage four lockdown. Picture: Tony Gough

Newspaper home delivery will continue.

The construction sector will be scaled back and workforce quotas enforced. Big commercial projects will be allowed no more than 25 per cent of their workforces on jobs, while residential construction will be capped at five people per site. Large-scale government projects will continue with limited workers.

A permit system for essential workers will be announced this week, and Mr Andrews is expected to announce tough new enforcement measures on Tuesday.

Workers from Melbourne will be allowed to continue travelling to regional areas to work, providing they have no symptoms.

Mr Andrews said it would take Victoria years to recover from the economic damage caused by the pandemic, but he had no choice.

“There is no stage five. We have to make this work,” Mr Andrews said.

“Because we’re, at best, uncertain what the next steps would be. We’ve got to focus on this. Lives and livelihoods are counting on it”.

Macard Built form construction workers Kamnoosh, Matt, Kim and Nick are worried about their jobs. Picture: David Caird
media_cameraMacard Built form construction workers Kamnoosh, Matt, Kim and Nick are worried about their jobs. Picture: David Caird
Few shoppers braved Highpoint shopping centre on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
media_cameraFew shoppers braved Highpoint shopping centre on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was confident the tough measures would work and said stage five was inconceivable.

“We’re not thinking about a stage five,” Prof Sutton said.

“We’re thinking about a successful stage four.

“We need everyone to do what’s required now in order to get to where we want to be.

“I think we can drive down to a point where we’ve got very minimal new cases.”

Prof Sutton said stage three restrictions had worked to flatten the curve but had not driven down the number of cases.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a “terribly devastating” day for Australia.

“I know that across Victoria, many today frankly would have reached breaking point trying to come to terms with what has happened in their state, what it means for them, what it means for their families, what it means for their businesses,” Mr Morrison said.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne will be eligible for up to $10,000 in government grants.

VIRUS OUTBREAK AMONG HOMELESS
An outbreak of coronavirus cases is believed to have broken out among homeless people accommodated in hotels during the pandemic.

It’s understood that at least 10 cases have been identified and people have been isolated in special houses organised by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The state government has funded the hotel stays until April for about 2000 homeless, rough sleepers and other vulnerable Victorians.

The program is supported by welfare agencies who provide food and other services to those in hotels who normally would have visited venues like the Salvation Army’s night cafe in Bourke St, which is currently closed.

It’s previously been reported that while most rough sleepers accepted the offer of hotel accommmodation, about 50 refused, with severe mental heath issues the reasons.

DHHS has been contacted for comment.

– John Masanauskas

SCREAMING, CRYING: QUARANTINE HOTEL’S CRAZY FLOOR

Poorly trained security guards on a so-called “crazy floor” of the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne’s Swanston Street may have let COVID-19 escape into the community, after they became overwhelmed by hysterical guests who were screaming, crying and banging on walls, begging to be let out.

This week’s independent inquiry into the spread of the virus is expected to hear evidence that guests were begging, pleading and even offering money to security guards for a cigarette, a lighter, Valium or a breath of fresh air.

Many of those travellers, especially in the early days of the virus, were infectious, and the guards seemed unable to control them, with mental health professionals eventually called in.

Read the full story here.

An almost-deserted Swan St in Richmond on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Andrew Henshaw
media_cameraAn almost-deserted Swan St in Richmond on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Andrew Henshaw
Quiet streets in Brunswick as people rush home to adhere to the 8pm Melbourne curfew. Picture: Jason Edwards
media_cameraQuiet streets in Brunswick as people rush home to adhere to the 8pm Melbourne curfew. Picture: Jason Edwards

MORE PPE FOR AGED CARE

Face shields and masks have been sent to 767 aged care facilities across Victoria over the last week in an effort to prevent further deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.

More than 50 staff are now working in the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, including from the state and federal health departments, the aged care watchdog and the Australian Border Force, along with 30 Defence Force personnel.

Two specialist AUSMAT responder teams have also been deployed, with five high-risk facilities receiving extra support after they were not able to guarantee continuity of care for residents.

Residents are removed from St Basil's home for the aged in Fawkner. Picture: Stefan Postles
media_cameraResidents are removed from St Basil’s home for the aged in Fawkner. Picture: Stefan Postles

“Our first week in operation has been one of the most challenging in Victoria’s history, but a tremendous amount of work is underway to respond as rapidly as possible to immediate and emerging challenges,” response centre executive officer Joe Buffone said.

“There will continue to be significant challenges, no more so than for aged care workers and aged care residents and their families.”

“But with the response centre up and running, bringing together federal and state government agencies and providing additional support on the ground in Melbourne, we’ve taken a significant step in the right direction.”

– Tom Minear

SUPERMARKET WORKER’S PLEA FOR LAW-BREAKERS

A Victorian supermarket worker has made an impassioned plea to Melburnians to heed the new COVID-19 restrictions, after she saw people flouting the rules less than 24 hours after they came into effect.

Olivia Crockford penned an open letter Facebook where she called out customers for doing the wrong thing.

“To the fearful, we are not counsellors or psychologists but I hope we were able to ease your fear a little bit,” she wrote on the Mamamia Outlouders Facebook page.

“To people panic buying, please just stop unless it’s toilet paper. We have loads out the back and could use the space.

“To the people complaining about the panic buyers but also having a trolley full to the brim of items, you don’t fool us.

Melbourne panic-buyers emptied out this supermarket’s meat fridge. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
media_cameraMelbourne panic-buyers emptied out this supermarket’s meat fridge. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

“To the people asking in a panic when we’re getting more meat, tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Please buy responsibly.

“To the old lady who stuck her hand under her mask to lick her finger so she could separate her notes, I hope my delivery was kind yet stern enough that you now know that that practice is unacceptable in the current climate. (Well, really at any time. It’s super gross.)

“To the people I served more than once today, did you really need to come back again?

“To the regulars I serve every day, sometimes twice a day, same question.”

Ms Crockford worked from 6am on Monday, the day after Premier Daniel Andrews announced a stage four lockdown would start from 6pm on Sunday.

Traffic on the Monash Freeway was predominantly made up of trade and industry vehicles on Monday. Picture: Mark Stewart
media_cameraTraffic on the Monash Freeway was predominantly made up of trade and industry vehicles on Monday. Picture: Mark Stewart

But on the first day of the tough new measures, Ms Crockford told the NCA NewsWire she observed several people flouting the rules.

Only one member of a household is now allowed to visit the shops per day and they can only go once.

“I think it’s that thing of people have their routines and they find it really hard to break them,” she said on Monday.

“They wear their mask so they think they’re OK.”

The 32-year-old — who works at Patterson Lakes — said she didn’t want to sound like she was having a go at her customers, but at the same time seeing people blatantly ignore the rules was taking its toll.

WARNING OVER BIZARRE ‘DUMMY MASKS’

Rogue designers chasing a “quick buck” are creating and selling face masks with in-built dummies for young children, sparking choking and suffocation concerns.

The “hazardous” masks are being sold online on Facebook marketplace amid the state’s wild spread of coronavirus and Melbourne’s dreaded plunge into strict stage four lockdown.

Melbourne mother-of-three and Mamma and the Doc co-author Maria Ligerakis also discovered the homemade masks with an attached dummy. and masks made from socks with “loose strings and elastic”.

A face mask with a built-in dummy, which has been slammed as unsafe.
media_cameraA face mask with a built-in dummy, which has been slammed as unsafe.

She conducted further research and found 60 per cent of 37 parents surveyed had used face masks on their children between the age of two and 12 despite the chief health officer saying they weren’t recommended for young children.

“Parents are doing everything they can to prioritise and protect the health and wellbeing of their children against a backdrop of so much uncertainty, angst and concern in the world at the moment,” Ms Ligerakis said.

“The last thing they need is to see products that could be potentially dangerous and unsafe being marketed online in response to the current COVID-19 crisis.

“This can create even more stress, confusion and worry.”

— Anthony Piovesan

WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO DURING STAGE FOUR

The raft of new rules and restrictions has forced Melburnians to once again adapt to a re-imagined way of life for at least the next six weeks.

We’ve compiled a list of questions raised by readers yesterday and answered them, based on the government’s guidelines announced by Daniel Andrews on Monday.

Click here for the answers.

WHAT STAGE FOUR MEANS FOR REAL ESTATE

Property inspections will only be able to be conducted online under Melbourne’s tough stage four restrictions in a move experts say will essentially grind the market to a halt.

A post on Premier Daniel Andrews’ Facebook page last night listed “property and real estate” among businesses that will close for at least six weeks from 11.59pm Wednesday, with “online inspections and auctions permitted”.

A Victorian Government spokeswoman has confirmed this as correct, noting auctions will also need to shift online in regional Victorian property markets under its stage three lockdown. But private one-on-one inspections will still be allowed regionally.

Read the full story here.

A runner braves Melbourne’s cold snap for a run at Albert Park Lake on Tuesday. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
media_cameraA runner braves Melbourne’s cold snap for a run at Albert Park Lake on Tuesday. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

TROUBLED AGED-CARE HOMES COULD BE STRIPPED OF FUNDING

Several of Victoria’s coronavirus riddled aged care homes could be stripped of their federal funding after intervention by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

St Basil’s in Fawkner, Epping Gardens, Menarock Life in Essendon, Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes and Hostel in Kilsyth, and Estia Health’s Ardeer and Heidelberg West facilities were each slapped with a Notice To Agree (NTA) by the aged care watchdog.

The NTA requires the aged care facilities to appoint an independent adviser.

The homes will also not be allowed to accept new residents under the conditions of the notice.

If the homes don’t agree to the NTA, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission can revoke their approval to be a provider – meaning they would no longer be eligible to receive Commonwealth subsidy.

– Sharon McGowan

MORE NEWS

HOW STAGE FOUR WILL CHANGE DAY-TO-DAY LIFE

SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS’ PLEA BEFORE HARD LOCKDOWN

WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO DURING STAGE FOUR

HOW STAGE FOUR CHANGES MELBURNIANS’ DAY TO DAY LIFE

As Melbourne’s stage four lockdown restrictions transform the way we live for at least the next six weeks, here’s your guide to best navigate which good and services will — and won’t — be affected.

HERE IS A LIST OF WHAT IS OPEN AND WHAT WILL SHUT

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