While ‘clean’ states are set to celebrate, Victoria is headed for the doghouse

States that have successfully suppressed the coronavirus will soon allow their residents a taste of pre-pandemic-style freedom.

Jun 24, 2020, updated Jun 24, 2020
A man directs cars outside a COVID-19 testing site at Craigieburn Health in Melbourne, Tuesday. Victoria has recorded double-digit growth in new coronavirus cases for the seventh day in a row. (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

A man directs cars outside a COVID-19 testing site at Craigieburn Health in Melbourne, Tuesday. Victoria has recorded double-digit growth in new coronavirus cases for the seventh day in a row. (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

South Australia will join Western Australia in halving the density rules for people in restaurants, bars, shops and other indoor venues to two square metres per patron.

The move, which effectively doubles the capacity of each venue, has been welcomed by the hospitality industry.

But Victorians are contemplating the prospect of a return to tougher lockdowns amid fears about a spike in new virus cases.

A Victorian man in his 80s has died from coronavirus overnight, as the state enters its eighth consecutive day of double-digit case increases.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the man’s death took the state’s coronavirus death toll to 20.

Victoria has recorded 20 new cases, seven of which are linked to known outbreaks. There are 130 active cases in the state.

By contrast, Queensland has recorded another day with zero new cases and no community transmission. Six Queenslanders have died, however 1,053 patients have recovered, with only two cases still active.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Victorian situation would be discussed at a national cabinet meeting on Friday, ahead of the state deciding whether to lift border restrictions on July 10.

“We don’t want to see community transmission, we don’t want a second wave,” Palaszczuk said today.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said that while Victoria’s caseload was concerning, globally the situation was more dire and Australia had generally responded well to the pandemic.

Miles said Queensland had done especially well, allowing the government to ease restrictions and start to resume normal business and hospitality activities.

“That success in our efforts .. is what has built the platform for us to implement our unite and recover plan,” Miles said today.

Victoria’s hotels are under fire for failing to effectively quarantine people with coronavirus. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg called for the cordon to be tightened as Victoria rolled out more testing facilities.

“Certainly breaches of those quarantine rules are very serious and we know the broader implications they have for the health of the nation,” Frydenberg told Sky News on Wednesday.

“We do need serious rules in place to ensure that doesn’t occur.”

Health officials will begin doorknocking hotspots across Melbourne to ensure residents are sticking to government guidelines.

Information in languages other than English will also be provided for multicultural communities in heavily affected areas.

Earlier, Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told ABC Radio Melbourne the reproduction number, or R0 number, in Victoria had risen from below one to 2.5 in the past week.

The R0 number is the number of people a person with coronavirus infects on average.

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Ms Mikakos said 2.5 was “unacceptably high” and the R0 figure needed to stay below one.

She said the reproduction rate had increased “very suddenly” after restrictions were eased on June 1.

Victoria recorded 17 new infections on Tuesday, with the origins of 11 cases still being investigated.

By contrast, new cases in NSW have only risen by 19 in the past week.

Authorities have largely pinned the spike in cases on large family gatherings.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned people could not pretend the virus had gone.

“It doesn’t matter how many people are doing the wrong thing – everybody, everybody will pay the price if we get to a point where restrictions either localised or across the state need to be re-introduced,” he said.

The NSW premier has warned people from that state should not visit Melbourne and nor should Victorians head north.

“I call on all organisations not to interact with citizens from Melbourne at this stage,” Gladys Berejiklian said.

The national tally of cases is 7492, with close to 7000 recovered while 102 people have died.

It has been a month since the last recorded coronavirus death in Australia.

-AAP, additional reporting by ABC

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