Hours before Melbourne’s lockdown kicked in, Premier Daniel Andrews can’t rule out measures lasting longer than six weeks.
Hours before Melbourne’s lockdown kicked in, Premier Daniel Andrews can’t rule out measures lasting longer than six weeks.

Premier ‘can’t rule out’ longer lockdown

Hours before Melbourne's stage three lockdown is reinstated, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews appeared on The Project to issue a dire warning about the length of the reimposed measures.

Speaking to the panel as the embattled city prepares to close up shop for a further six weeks from midnight Wednesday, Mr Andrews asserted that Melburnians "can't rule out" that it could be longer.

He said that while the advice from the state's chief health officer was that six weeks would be sufficient to "get control of the virus again", it may need to be extended if they were unable to succeed in the battle against the outbreak.

When asked by panellist whether six weeks would be enough, Mr Andrews said: "Well, that's the advice from our chief health officer, that six weeks will give us the time we need to get control of this virus again, to see some stability and then to drive down the case numbers.

"We can't rule out that it may be longer, but that's the advice of the Chief Health Officer, after a lot of thought, a lot of analysing of that data, we couldn't go on as we were. We needed to take this painful and difficult step and six weeks is the time we need," he said.

There are currently 860 active COVID-19 cases in Victoria and 456 of those are suspected cases of community transmission.

The response from the state government comes as the rate of community transmission in Victoria is one of the highest the state has seen throughout the entire pandemic.

Addressing the events leading up to the outbreak on The Project Wednesday night, Waleed questioned whether Mr Andrews had "made a mistake" in the way Australians returning from overseas were quarantined in hotels.

"Do you think it was a mistake not having ADF personnel running or overseeing the hotel quarantine program?" Waleed asked.

Waleed grilled Dan Andrews on The Project Wednesday night. Picture: Channel 10
Waleed grilled Dan Andrews on The Project Wednesday night. Picture: Channel 10

"Well, there are a couple of points to make, Waleed: ADF personnel are involved in transportation in some states and other states they have no role at all. We have other problems and we've set up a judicial inquiry because you've got to being accountable, yes, but I would put it to you with the greatest respect, it is not appropriate for politicians to sit in judgment of themselves," Mr Andrews said.

"It should be at arm's length, should be done properly and former Justice Coate has all the powers she needs to give the answers that all Victorians are entitled to."

He went on to confirm that Corrections Victoria were "absolutely in control" of the hotel environments now.

"They are the people who run our jails, the people who are perfectly skilled and suited to do this.

"We've also got a freeze on additional flights coming back to Melbourne. That will only resume if we are completely confident, if the corrections commissioner is completely confident that we have all the processes in place."

Elsewhere, Waleed asked if the premier's apology to Melburnians today was "admitting fault", to which Mr Andrews gave an impassioned response.

"The job that I do means that I am the leader of the state, and it is for me to accept responsibility for all of these things … I've never run away from that," he said.

"These are not easy calls, but it is not about being popular. It is about doing what has to be done. I am deeply sorry that we find ourselves here, but words are not the most important thing. It is acknowledging, of course, being accountable, of course, but then taking the tough calls and getting on to get this job done and that's what I intend to do."

“It is about doing what has to be done,” Dan Andrews said on The Project. Picture: Channel 10
“It is about doing what has to be done,” Dan Andrews said on The Project. Picture: Channel 10

Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Melburnians have to "tough it out" until the six-week lockdown period is over.

"The job if you're a Melburnian is to tough it out - and it will be tough - but know the rest of the country is with you. The rest of the country knows that the sacrifice that you're going through right now is not just for you and your own family, but it's for the broader Australian community."

He said he was grateful to people in Victoria for their handling of the new virus spike.

"I want to thank Melburnians for how they're dealing with this. I can imagine the frustration. You can imagine a business that had just started opening up again and now they got to close down again. Heartbreaking. Frustrating. Talking to their staff, kids were about to go back to school, the uncertainty that is attached to all of that - we all understand.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation was “heartbreaking”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Taylor
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation was “heartbreaking”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Taylor

"But this is a virus that doesn't communicate itself in terms of its intentions or how it's going to behave. We're dealing with a lot of unknowns here and that means that there will be circumstances like this and how we respond is what we have control over.

"We don't have control over the virus as such, but we do have control over how we respond and I think how Melburnians, in particular, and Victorians more broadly, are dealing with this very hard news is commendable and I thank you very, very much for it."

Originally published as Premier 'can't rule out' longer lockdown


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