Victoria should lift restrictions ‘as soon as possible’ because children have missed too much school in the Covid-stricken state, says Scott Morrison
- Victoria is suffering its second week of lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak
- Children below year 11 have been banned from going to school for 23 weeks
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants them to go back as soon as possible
Victoria should lift its crippling coronavirus restrictions ‘as soon as possible’, Scott Morrison has said.
The Prime Minister particularly wants to see children at school after the state government only allowed students in years 11 and 12 to go back to class this week.
Since the start of the pandemic Victorian children have been stopped from going to school for 23 weeks, compared to just seven weeks in New South Wales, raising fears they will be left behind students in other states.
Students at Lysterfield Primary School return to school in Melbourne in October after a lengthy lockdown due to Covid-19
Students get off the the Sydney Light Rail at Moore Park on their way to school on May 25, 2020
‘Kids have lost enough time out of school, over the course of the last 18 months, and it’s very important we get those kids back to school as soon as possible,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
‘I am hopeful these restrictions in Victoria will be lifted as soon as possible… I would be urging that we move to lift those restrictions as soon as possible.’
However, Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has warned the state won’t ‘snap back’ to normal when lockdown is due to end in Melbourne on Thursday after a two-week shutdown.
On Monday the state reported just 11 new cases of Covid-19, all linked to known cases with eight already in isolation before testing positive.
The cases took the state’s latest outbreak – which originated in hotel quarantine in Adelaide – to 81 cases.
Health workers carry out tests to detect COVID-19 at the Montague Street Drive-Through Testing Facility in South Melbourne on Monday
Professor Sutton said it was too early to determine which restrictions would finally be lifted and what a lockdown-free Melbourne would like – but insisted some rules would remain.
‘It’s frustrating,’ he said. ‘People want to know what things will look like three days from now.’
‘We see different changes every day and they can be something from left field, there can be something very short in terms of new linkages, no wastewater deductions, no new exposure sides, we need to see it play out,’ he said.
When asked about the upcoming long weekend, Professor Sutton said it won’t look like a normal holiday weekend – as he urged millions to stay vigilant.
‘The long weekends should have the same messages for everyone,’ he said.
‘It is certainly not a snap back to large gatherings and a full MCG. People need to consider all of those key messages around isolating if they have symptoms and getting tested and all of the other messages that we have.’
In total, Victoria has suffered five and a half months of lockdown during the pandemic, costing the state an estimated $26billion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is joined by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian during a press conference in Richmond, Sydney on Monday
The government has been slammed over its struggling contact tracing system and for failing to implement a mandatory universal QR code check-in system until May 28, five months after New South Wales.
The Liberal-National Opposition has said it would only use lockdowns as a ‘last resort’ and would make them targeted and proportionate rather than across the whole state.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien also said he would publicly release health advice that lockdowns are based on if he were in power.
Premier Andrews – who is the nation’s best-paid premier earning $441,439 – intends to return to the job later this month after breaking his back in a fall at a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula on March 9.