PREMIER Daniel Andrews has foreshadowed that some coronavirus social restrictions will remain in place after the current Victorian state of emergency (SOE) end date on May 11.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Mr Andrews said that the government won’t be lifting any restrictions before that date, and while it is likely some restrictions will be lifted as of May 11, significant restrictions will remain.
“It won’t be a situation where we wind all the way back to where we were before stage one,” he said.
“Because of the unacceptably high risk, there will still need to be some significant restrictions in place no matter what this testing shows, but there will be options for us to ease some of the restrictions.”
Mr Andrews was referring to a massive expansion of coronavirus testing announced today, in which the government aims to test another 100,000 over the next two weeks, a program he described as the biggest ever public health testing program in Victorian history.
Ramping up coronavirus testing is in line with the prerequisites set out by the national cabinet for a potential easing of restrictions.
More than 104,000 Victorians have been tested since early January.
Mr Andrews said any decision to ease restrictions after the current state of emergency will be informed by public health experts and modelling, combined with international experience.
The testing blitz will be carried out through a combination of drive-through and walk-up clinics, as well as new mobile screening clinics to visit homes and workplaces.
“Data from testing will underpin the options we will have,” Mr Andrews said.
“The strategy is working but it’s fragile, so we have got to stay the course.
“We have seen a number of cities and countries around the world who have eased back restrictions, and they may have made themselves popular temporarily, but they have then seen a resurgence of cases.
“If it gets away from you there will be no getting it back, with thousands of people dying.
“I know it is frustrating, challenging and difficult, but the stability of our numbers should be a point of pride for all Victorians.
“I’m so proud of every Victorian who has followed the rules and I need you to keep doing those simple but powerful things - staying at home, keeping your distance, washing your hands.
“And get tested, even if you have the mildest symptoms such as a scratchy throat or runny nose, getting tested will be a powerful contribution towards us fighting this virus.”
Mr Andrews said, after the May 11 deadline, Victoria will continue a program of ramped-up testing for weeks and months to come, though not at the same level as is planned over the next fortnight.
“The more data we have the more options we will have, that’s what we are working towards. We will use that data to make sound judgements for the future.”