Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has again defended Melbourne’s tough curfew restrictions, as Victoria Police and the state’s chief health officer play hot potato over who actually called for the drastic measure.
Speaking in Melbourne this morning, Andrews said the curfew, which keeps most Melbourne residents inside between 8pm and 5am, is an effective measure to stem the spread of coronavirus – even if it is “regrettable” course of action.
“If you don’t reduce movement, and the number of people that you come in contact with us, then of course you don’t reduce the risk of this virus spreading,” Andrews said.
“And of course, whilst you have a high risk of the virus spreading, then the rules stay on for longer. And you can’t open up.”
The Premier reiterated his view that the benefits outweigh the burden, describing curfews as a “sacrifice” that is “worth it when it comes to limiting movement and limiting case numbers.”
Not everyone agrees, leading the curfew to become a pretty hotly contested topic.
Earlier on Friday morning, Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton told ABC Melbourne the restrictions weren’t his idea.
“As far as I know, [it was] the chief health officer’s [idea],” Patton said. “As far as I’m aware, it’s in the chief health officer guidelines that were issued… presumably under the direction, and with the endorsement of the CHO.”
“The reality is, we, from a Victoria Police perspective, enforce and support the directions the CHO makes,” he added.
NOW | Chief Commissioner Shane Patton confirms police were NOT consulted about Melbourne's COVID-19 curfew.— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) September 9, 2020
"I was never consulted.
"We had never requested a curfew."
That’s a hot take, considering Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton told 3AW he was consulted on the crackdown, but the decision to enforce came from “a separate decision-making pathway.”
Andrews himself hasn’t really clarified who came up with the idea. Instead, he’s put forward the concept that having a one-and-done rule makes it easier for Victoria Police to go about their jobs.
.@DanielAndrewsMP says he "can't pinpoint" whose idea the curfew was…but defends it on the grounds it has made the job of police "somewhat simpler". Both Vic Police and Chief Health Officer have said the curfew was not their idea.— David Speers (@David_Speers) September 10, 2020
None of that helped to dispel the idea the wide-reaching measure came directly from police brass, instead of being a health-based recommendation from Dr Sutton himself (Dr Sutton said he did see the benefits of curfew from a public health standpoint, for what it’s worth.)
The Victorian Government is taking a lot of flak for the decision to enforce the curfew on top of the state’s pre-existing lockdown restrictions, and the state opposition has labelled the crackdown a “captain’s call.”
The curfew, which came into effect in early August, is slated to continue until October 26 at the earliest.
The measure will be eased by one hour to 9pm-5am from September 14.