Borders Open a Bit - But Melbourne Is Locked Down
The states are playing tit-for-tat with the virus at the moment. Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, has decreed that any international flight that has a person on board with coronavirus or who needs quarantine will be diverted to another state. At the same time, the Premiers of Queensland and South Australia say that they will accept visitors from any state but Victoria.
Cases of coronavirus infection have surged in Victoria have surged in recent days with 71 cases on Monday and 64 on Tuesday. This has led to a lockdown in 10 key hotspots in Melbourne where the rate of infection is more than twice the state average. Daniel Andrews told the press on Tuesday that the outbreak was due to a lapse in health security involving quarantine of overseas passengers who passed the virus to local security guards. He has established an inquiry, headed by a retired judge, to investigate the breaches.
In the meantime, people in lockdown will only be able to go out of their houses except for essential reasons such as food purchases, health reasons, limited exercise, and essential work.
The lockdown has been caused by Victoria being at the limit of its testing and contract tracing ability. This is why it is not prepared to accept flight arrivals.
Mr. Andrews said Melbourne could no longer accept the additional risk of housing potentially infected people who needed to undergo two weeks of quarantine.
He said he had spoken to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to divert such flights from the Victorian capital for the next two weeks.
"I will have conversations with other state leaders to explain that and to thank them in advance of the extra load that they will carry," he said.
"That is for the abundance of caution.
"I would also make the point that just as we are having to focus exclusively on tracking and tracing these spikes in numbers and the enforcement of the stay-at-home stage three, in effect, restrictions we have imposed on those 10 postcodes, we need to have all of our focus on that."
Queensland premier, Anastacia Palaszczuk, was very touchy at her press conference on Tuesday. She pointed the finger at people who had criticized Queensland for keeping the borders closed. She said the closure had enabled Queensland to avoid the Victorian situation. This meant that it could now open its economy on July 10 to visitors from all states but Victoria, which would boost the Queensland economy by $1.8 billion.
If Victorians want to visit Queensland they will have to quarantine for two weeks at their own expense. This will apply from lunchtime on Friday.
Victoria has conducted 90,000 tests in the last few days. Unfortunately, 9,000 people have refused tests. Premier Andrews said it would be counter-productive to make tests compulsory. Health scientists say that this is not critical because the infection chains will be picked up anyway. The Victorian Government will provide $5,000 to businesses like cafes and restaurants to offset losses from the lockdown.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, commended the Northern Territory for its approach to tourists from Victoria. The NT has taken the approach that borders should be open but that people from hotspot postcodes would have to declare the fact and self-isolate for two weeks.