Business Unimpressed by Andrews’ Slow-Motion Lifting of Restrictions in Victoria

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
October 18, 2020Updated: October 19, 2020

Business groups are unimpressed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ slow-motion lifting of restrictions in Victoria.

Andrews has been able to ease some of his state’s stiff COVID-19 restrictions after reporting just two new cases on Sunday after one on Saturday.

Among the relaxation of conditions from Monday, Melburnians will be allowed to travel 25 kilometres from home, while there will be no limits on time spent away from their residence.

But the state capital’s businesses must wait longer, with changes to retail, hospitality and “personal care” services scheduled for Nov. 1.

“This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses,” Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory.”

Andrews has indicated further easing could be brought forward to Sunday if COVID-19 infections remain low across Victoria next week.

Even so, the Australian Industry Group’s Victorian head Tim Piper said these were plodding steps, when businesses and Victorians expected more.

“There is still no long-term coherent plan to rebuild a shattered Victorian economy,” Piper said.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt urged a rethink on the timeline for businesses reopening.

“Every day Victoria remains under restrictions to get the second wave in Victoria under control comes at a heavy cost,” the trio said.

“Throughout the lockdown more than 1000 jobs have been lost, on average, every day.”

Andrews is also at odds with a number of federal ministers over the travel bubble with New Zealand, which the premier insists he didn’t want to be part of at this time.

He said he was told 55 New Zealanders had now arrived in his state after initially landing in NSW, rather than the 17 he was originally informed about.

Victoria’s health department confirmed on Sunday afternoon that all travellers had been contacted, while clarifying three hadn’t even entered the state and one had since returned to NSW.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge argues the Victorian government was fully aware of the travel arrangements.

There were also 23 New Zealanders that have ended up in hotel quarantine in Western Australia, which was also not part of the original travel bubble that was supposed to be confined to NSW and the Northern Territory.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said it wasn’t an “ideal situation”.

McGowan wants more Commonwealth assistance to ensure proper manifests and advice are provided about Kiwis travelling west.

Meanwhile, NSW recorded five new infections, four being returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

The fifth was locally-transmitted and linked to a cluster in southwestern Sydney’s Oran Park, which has grown to 19.