Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews caused widespread disappointment as he failed to announce an early reopening of Melbourne’s hospitality venues.

The Premier said that a cluster of new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne’s northern suburbs meant the city’s venues would have to stay closed.

“I know plenty of people were looking forward to some good news today. And soon, very soon, we’ll have some,” the Premier said.

“But for now, we need to do again what we’ve done throughout this pandemic: follow the advice of our public health experts. That means there can be no changes to restrictions in Melbourne today.”

He added: “In the last 24 hours, over 3,000 Victorians from our northern suburbs did a profoundly powerful thing and got tested. With thousands of tests comes thousands of results. We have around 1,000 swabs currently being processed – and we’re expecting even more today.

“We’ll use the next couple of days to review those results and understand exactly how this virus is travelling.

“Put simply: this is a couple of extra days that might put us weeks ahead of this virus. To not only get on top of this outbreak – but to stamp it out.

“I know everyone will be disappointed we’re not making that move today. I get that. I am too. But I want to reassure you, this is not us taking a step back. This is us making sure we can take a step forward – and stay there.

“We can’t let everything Victorians have sacrificed, everything we’ve given up, simply slip away.”

The news was met with widespread disappointment, with the Business Council of Australia calling the delay inexplicable and devastating for Victorians.

“We cannot go on like this. Victorians cannot hang on week to week. People are at a financial and mental breaking point,” said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.

“This isn’t about politics – it’s a desperate plea for clarity to outline and stick to a plan to safely reopen the state to protect lives and livelihoods. We support the Federal Treasurer’s call for a clearer and more rapid plan to get people’s lives back on track.

“Workers, small business owners, students and families in Victoria look over the border to NSW and cannot understand why they are being robbed of hope and the ability to get on with their lives in the same way.

“We repeat our long-standing offer to work with the Victorian Government to find a way to unlock the state and keep it unlocked.”

The current proposed timeline for reopening allows for Melbourne’s hospitality venues to bring staff back to work from Wednesday, ahead of reopening from 2 November. It was hoped these dates might be moved forward, but the Premier said he and health experts were now waiting for the results from the northern suburbs testing.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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