State of emergency now extended to August 16

Victorian’s masking up

VICTORIA’S state of emergency has been extended, a workplace “enforcement blitz” is underway and visits to aged and health care settings will be restricted to “carers only”, under the government’s latest roll-out of directives.

Victoria’s state of emergency has been extended until 11.59pm on August 16.

Under the state of emergency, the Chief Health Officer’s directions must be followed, the same as laws, and police can fine people who do not follow these directions.

This means metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents can only leave the home for four reasons (shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, and work and study – if not possible from home), and must wear a mask, or else they face a fine.

Melburnians cannot have visitors to their homes – except for caregiving, compassionate reasons or receiving services – and cannot visit friends and family outside their homes, except to see intimate partners, for shared care arrangements, for caregiving or compassionate reasons, or providing services.

Melburnians should only exercise with members of their household or one other person, and should stay as close to home as possible.

The government has updated its directives after it was made aware of a number of people deliberately moving their weddings from Melbourne to regional Victoria to avoid restrictions.

Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents can no longer attend weddings in country Victoria, unless they are working as the celebrant, in which case they must wear a mask.

People who live in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire cannot hold weddings outside these areas, even if bookings have already been made.

Restrictions across regional Victoria are less strict, but those who break them can still face fines.

Outside of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, only five visitors can be in a person’s home at any one time, in addition to the normal residents of the household, and up to 10 people are allowed to gather in public places.

More information about other directives which currently apply is at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au.

There has been a decrease in the number of cases spread between families, with the majority of outbreaks now coming from settings where people are working closely together.

To address this increase, an inspection and enforcement blitz will be carried out in workplaces across the state.

WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police will focus on at-risk workplaces, including distribution centres, call centres and meat processing centres.

And with a spike in cases in aged care settings, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have introduced a range of measures.

As the risk of transmission in aged care and health care settings remains high, from Wednesday, visits will be restricted to those defined as carers only, with a limit of one hour per day.

Locally, Central Gippsland Health has already implemented a one visitor for an hour per day rule, also requiring visitors to wear a mask.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the decision to introduce more visitor restrictions to health care and aged care settings was tough.

“We know this will be difficult for Victorian families, but ultimately this is about keeping the people we love safe,” she said.

Aged care staff will be able to access free testing, even if they don’t have symptoms.

The state government’s one-off $1500 worker support payment is still available to support workers, including those in aged care, instructed to stay home because they have tested positive to COVID-19 or need to self-isolate as a close contact.

The federal government will give “workforce funding support” to ensure aged care employers can cover any additional entitlements to enable employees to work at a single site, engage and train additional staff where existing employees are unable to work, and provide alternative accommodation so workers who live or work in hotspots can continue to work.

Other introduced measures include more infection control training, enhanced surveillance and contact tracing, and opening private hospital wards to care for aged care residents who can’t appropriately isolate in their normal facility.

The government will continue to monitor data during the next fortnight, with Premier Daniel Andrews warning compliance and the rate of community transmission would decide what move the government makes next, and whether the state will move into stricter stage four restrictions.

For information about coronavirus or to find your nearest testing site, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or phone 1800 675 398.