Yesterday, Daniel Andrews announced a snap five-day lockdown, in place until 11.59pm on Wednesday, as Victoria grapples with a new outbreak of coronavirus, which originated from the Melbourne airport Holiday Inn.
Many in Melbourne fear that the lockdown could be extended, and indeed, the official wording of the Stay Safe Directions, issued by the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton yesterday, sets out a mechanism for it to remain in place for up to two weeks.
Dr Luke Beck, a constitutional law professor at Monash University, noticed this detail in the document, and alerted Twitter to the fact. The relevant section of the directions reads:
“For the purposes of these directions, the stay safe period is the period beginning at 11:59:00 pm on 12 February 2021 and ending at 11:59:00 pm on 26 February 2021.”
The ‘stay safe period’ is the period in which people are required to stay home other than in specific circumstances, such as shopping for necessary goods, care and compassionate reasons, work or exercise.
“Victoria’s new lockdown Directions are in force for 2 weeks (not 5 days), unless further new Directions are issued to end the lockdown earlier,” Beck said in his tweet.
Victoria's new lockdown Directions are in force for 2 weeks (not 5 days), unless further new Directions are issued to end the lockdown earlierhttps://t.co/MCCzp50TeW#auslaw #lockdown #springst #vicpol pic.twitter.com/ZDX1RN9b8d
— Luke Beck (@DrLukeBeck) February 12, 2021
While it’s certainly surprising to see the lockdown mechanism in place for fourteen days, rather than the five that were announced, it’s not necessarily a reason to worry just yet, as these directions are frequently revoked and replaced by new ones.
This extra nine days could have been added out of an abundance of caution, allowing the state government to extend the lockdown if there proves to be further community transmission of coronavirus as a result of the Holiday Inn outbreak.
If the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the outbreak is contained, however, and there is no further fear of community transmission, then presumably, the state government will give directions for the lockdown to end at 11.59pm Wednesday, as planned.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced one Victoria has announced one new locally-acquired case of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of known active cases in the state to 20.
Nothing else is known about the case as yet, but more than 20,000 tests were processed yesterday.
Image: Getty Images / Diego Fedele
Yesterday there was 1 new locally acquired case reported. There are currently 20 active cases. 20,166 test results were received. Got symptoms? Get tested, #EveryTestHelps.
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) February 12, 2021