By Colin MacGillivray
STATE Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has defended the government’s roap map for reopening after stage four COVID-19 lockdown restrictions after several groups criticised the plan.
Groups such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Hotels Association, and Real Estate Institute of Victoria were critical of the road map to ‘COVID normal’ announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, saying a prolonged lockdown would further harm the economy.
Under the plan, the City of Whittlesea, along with the rest of metropolitan Melbourne, will enter the first step of the reopening process on Monday.
Curfew will be pushed back an hour from 8pm to 9pm and people may have one nominated visitor allowed to come to their home if they live alone and are not in an intimate relationship.
Whittlesea would enter the second step of the plan some time after September 28 when Victoria’s daily average number of new COVID-19 cases had been between 30 and 50 for two consecutive weeks.
Victoria recorded 41 new cases of the virus yesterday – the fewest new cases recorded in a single day since June.
The number of active cases within Whittlesea also continued to plummet, falling to a near two-month low of 74.
In the second stage of the road map, up to five people from a maximum of two households could meet outside and prep, grade one, grade two and VCE and VCAL students would return to onsite learning at school.
People will not be allowed to leave their home without reason until October 26 at the earliest, and the soonest possible time Victoria could hit its ‘COVID normal’ target is November 23.
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry labelled the road map a ‘massive blow for business’, saying many businesses would be forced to close and lay off employees with no exact timeframe for an easing of restrictions.
The Australian Hotels Association also warned many publicans faced a ‘debt cliff’ if licenced venues were not reopened soon, and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria said the plant kept ‘the property market shut down for an uncertain period’.
Ms Green said she understood the frustrations of the groups and the general public, but believed the economy would be worse off in the long term if restrictions were eased prematurely.
“I’m not surprised [people are frustrated],” she said.
“Everyone wants to get back to work. I want to get back to work.
“Now at least we have a road map and we have clear milestones that we need to pass for the various stages of coming out of lockdown.
“I think the business community needs to understand too that even when restrictions are lifted, it doesn’t mean consumers are going to vote with their feet immediately.
“Having a road map and some restrictions lifted is part of the equation, but another part of the equation is having the consumers and the community feel safe again.
“We’re all going to have to work hard to get their confidence back.”
Ms Green commended the people in the City of Whittlesea for continuing to abide by lockdown restrictions, and said better times were on the horizon if everyone continued to work together.
More information on the Victorian roap map out of lockdown is avialable at www.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-roadmaps.