State of emergency is extended

THE State of Emergency in Victoria is being extended for another four weeks to give the Victorian government powers to keep slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced at the weekend that the State of Emergency declared last month would be extended until midnight on May 11 to continue the measures designed to ‘flatten the curve’ of coronavirus and give the health system the best chance of managing the virus.

The State of Emergency was originally due to expire on April 13.

Under a State of Emergency, authorised officers, at the direction of the Chief Health Officer, can act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health by detaining people, restricting movement, preventing entry to premises, or providing any other direction an authorised officer considers reasonable to protect public health.

The month-long extension will ensure the government can continue its strict enforcement of social distancing, isolation and other directions put in place by the Chief Health Officer to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Andrews said there were positive signs efforts were working.

“But if we relax now, our hard-won gains will evaporate and people will die,” he said.

“This is an unprecedented crisis – we need to extend the State of Emergency to help slow the spread of the virus, protect our health system and save lives.”

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos described the pandemic as “the biggest public health challenge we’ve faced in our lifetimes”.

“That’s why it’s so important that these measures remain in place – without them our health system will be overwhelmed,” she said.

They thanked Victorians who were doing the right thing by staying at home.

There are only four reasons for people to leave their homes – food and supplies; medical care and caregiving; exercise; and work or education.

Police have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on-the-spot fines, including up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.

Under the State of Emergency people who don’t comply could also be taken to court and receive a fine of up to $20,000.

Companies face fines of up to $100,000.

Since March 28 Victoria Police have conducted more than 19,300 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services across the state and issued more than 900 fines.