As Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak set an unwanted new record with 2,297 cases and 11 deaths announced on Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews still couldn’t resist having another crack at Sydney.
Mr Andrews claimed Sydney and NSW had only emerged from lockdown this week because they got more help from the federal government with doctor accreditation and vaccine supply.
It was another unnecessary comment from the Victorian premier, who has a long history of saying things about the pandemic and Sydney that end up coming back to haunt him.
Two months ago, on August 16, Mr Andrews said ‘We don’t want to be like Sydney when there are hundreds and hundreds of cases a day, and thousands of cases across the outbreak, and then hundreds of people in hospital, many of them needing a machine to breathe.’
In the same press conference, the premier also said ‘I don’t want us to finish up like Sydney where it has fundamentally got away from them, they are not reopening soon, they are locked in until they get pretty much the whole place vaccinated.’
This has turned out to be very wide of the mark. Sydney got out of lockdown this week with a 70 per cent vaccination rate, and is on track to soon get further freedoms upon reaching an 80 per cent fully-vaccinated rate.
Meanwhile, Melbourne is in its sixth lockdown and Victorian case numbers are going up again.
The grim reality the world’s longest lockdown is having on Melbourne, its people and Victoria’s economy more broadly is starting to show with 123,000 jobs across the state lost in September alone.
NSW lost just 25,000 jobs in comparison, while Queensland enjoyed an increase of 31,000 in September after recovering from a short lockdown in August.
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics paint a sad picture for the country, with the national unemployment rate edging up to 4.6 per cent largely due to huge falls in employment in Victoria.
Daniel Andrews (pictured) has a long history of saying thing about the pandemic that come back to haunt him, often aiming his criticism at New South Wales
Melbourne CBD is all but empty as Victoria records its first day with over 2,000 Covid cases (pictured, a woman walking through the desolate city on Thursday)
Lockdown is bad for the world, but it has its benefits for a skateboarder in Melbourne (pictured on Thursday in an eerily empty road)
MELBOURNE’S LITANY OF LOCKDOWNS
Lockdown 1: March 31, 2020 to May 12 May 2020 – 43 days
Lockdown 2: July 9, 2020 to October 27, 2020 – 111 days
Lockdown 3: February 13, 2021 to February 17 2021 – 5 days
Lockdown 4: May 28, 2021 to June 10, 2021 – 14 days
Lockdown 5: July 16, 2021 to July 27, 2021 – 12 days
Lockdown 6: August 5, 2021 to unknown – 71 days as of October 14
On August 9 last, Mr Andrews also had some unprompted advice for NSW, saying ‘I’m not here to be a commentator on Sydney, but if you want to see whether locking down some local government areas works, have a look what’s happening up there.’
A couple of weeks before that, on July 23, he trotted out one of his favourite phrases – calling for a ‘ring of steel’.
‘If Sydney has been declared a national emergency then my message is very clear. On behalf of all Victorians, I’m saying there’s a national responsibility to put a ring of steel around Sydney,’ he proclaimed.
Eight months ago, on February 14, Mr Andrews had a Valentine’s Day message for Victorians, saying its latest lockdown would be ‘a short, sharp, circuit breaker’.
He was partly right on that occasion – that lockdown, Melbourne’s third, lasted just five days. But there have been three more lockdowns since then and the latest, the sixth, is ongoing.
But Mr Andrews has previous form in being overly optimistic about what the future holds when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic and his state’s handling of it.
On September 13, 2020 he said: ‘I’m so proud of Victorians for the way we are all working together to beat this virus – it means we can take our first safe and steady steps towards a Covid normal tonight.’
There was nothing normal about Covid that night, and there is nothing normal about Covid now either.
But despite the surge in cases, Victoria is on track to reach its 70 per cent double vaccination target before its planned date of October 26 – meaning the end of Melbourne’s gruelling lockdown may come early.
‘Now, let’s just finish this off so we can open the place up,’ Mr Andrews said.
Sydney is back in business, having emerged from lockdown on Monday after reaching a 70 per cent vaccination rate (pictured, a bustling Pitt Street Mall on Tuesday)
But Melbourne is still in lockdown and its streets are near empty with shops, bars and restaurants all forced to keep their doors shut
A lone man walks the eerily empty streets of Melbourne amid the city’s sixth Covid lockdown (pictured on Thursday) with businesses and workers desperate for some relief
There is plenty of room to move around Melbourne CBD as the city goes through its latest lockdown – its sixth since the pandemic began (pictured on Thursday)
A high vaccination rate is the key to allowing states to reopen. Sydney is on track to be 80 per cent fully-vaccinated over the weekend (pictured, a healthcare workers gives out a vaccine)
WORDS THAT WILL HAUNT DANIEL ANDREWS
September 13, 2020: ‘We can take our first safe and steady steps towards a Covid normal tonight.’
February 14, 2021: Victoria’s third lockdown will be ‘a short, sharp, circuit breaker’. Melbourne is now on its sixth lockdown.
July 23, 2021: ‘There’s a national responsibility to put a ring of steel around Sydney.’
August 9, 2012: ‘I’m not here to be a commentator on Sydney, but if you want to see whether locking down some local government areas works, have a look what’s happening there.’
August 16, 2021: ‘We don’t want to be like Sydney when there are hundreds of cases a day, and thousands of cases across the outbreak, and then hundreds in hospital, many of them needing a machine to breathe.’
Covid Live analyst Anthony Macali said Victoria would probably hit the 80 per cent double dose milestone three days earlier than the official timeline on November 2, allowing for further opening up of the state and its economy.
Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett urged her fellow Victorians not to be disappointed by Thursday’s soaring case numbers.
She said it is encouraging the reproductive rate of cases has now dropped to 0.9.
‘You can get a burst in cases just because the Health department has had a number of new people coming forward to get tested and it might dip again tomorrow,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Today’s numbers looks larger but in fact the rolling 3-day average is not as high as our last peak a few days ago.
‘I’m not panicked today because that 3-day average allows for the fact you have these odd days (of high case numbers).
‘It’s really about what happens over the next days and beyond which will help us understand if it’s starting to plateau.’
Prof Bennett said the situation escalated in Victoria due to a lack of control on the outbreak with a series of protests and the AFL Grand Final sparking more cases.
Victoria’s worst day of Covid crisis coincided with huge crowds queueing up outside a regional medical clinic in the hope of securing a Covid-19 vaccine medical exemption – with police called to disperse crowds.
Up to 300 people gathered outside a doctor’s office in Colac in regional Victoria on Wednesday, followed by a further large crowd on Thursday.
Witnesses claimed many in the crowd travelled to Colac amid rumours a GP was providing exemptions – something the doctor dismissed in a message published on his website.
The bizarre rush comes as about a million authorised workers in Victoria have a deadline of October 15 to secure one dose of the jab or a valid medical exemption.
People walk the Tan in Melbourne on the day Victoria had its first day with more than 2,000 Covid cases – a record for any Australian state or territory
Taking a phone call in Melbourne is easy these days, with very few pedestrian and car noises making it hard to hear (pictured on Thursday)
Melbourne is so empty that shop workers moving racks of clothes have no problem crossing the empty streets (pictured on Thursday)
There are a few people around in Melbourne, even if there isn’t a whole lot to do with the city still in a Covid-19 lockdown (pictured on Thursday)
People enter a vaccination centre at Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton on October 12, in Melbourne as the state desperately tries to reach its 70 per cent fully-jabbed rate
A healthcare worker prepares Covid-19 vaccinations at the vaccination centre at Sandown Racecourse in Melbourne (pictured on Thursday)
A lone person is seen exercising along the Yarra River in Melbourne. Lockdown restrictions remain in place across metropolitan Melbourne and areas of regional Victoria as new Covid-19 cases continue to emerge across the state
Despite the record number of Covid cases, some in Melbourne still found time to exercise and get coffee (pictured on Thursday)
The good weather brought some people out for a walk in Melbourne (pictured on Thursday), despite the record number of Covid cases