What does this six-month extension mean for lockdown restrictions?
What were you doing at 1:56am this morning? Well in the case of Victorian Parliamentarians, it was when an amended bill to extend Victoria’s state of emergency powers by six months passed the Upper House.
And in a surprise plot twist, Greens MP Samanatha Ratnam (who is on maternity leave) made an appearance to vote in favour of changing the bill. The bill passed the upper house by just one vote: 20 to 19.
"Obviously, I wasn't intending to be here this week because I'm still on maternity leave but I felt like this decision that we have before us in the Parliament was just too important for the health and wellbeing of Victorians, Ms Ratnam told reporters with her 2-month-old baby in tow.
The change was also supported by Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick.
While Victorian Premier Dan Andrews wanted to extend state of emergency provisions for 12 months, the proposal got pushback from politicians (and the public) who didn't see such a long extension getting through Parliament.
So what does all that mean for restrictions?
We won't know until Sunday. At the moment, stage four restrictions are set to expire on September 13. Under an extended state of emergency, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton can continue to issue legally binding health directives after that date – like social distancing, mask wearing, density quotas and ensuring that patients with COVID-19 stay away from the community. Dan has said that he will run through two roadmaps for getting out of lockdown – one for metropolitan Melbourne, and one for regional Victoria.
The Premier stressed it's “very, very challenging for us today to predict with any certainty where we are going to be in a week or two weeks”.
“If we open up too quickly, then we will lose control of this. The numbers will explode and all the sacrifice and hard work that I’m so proud of Victorians for making and contributing will have been worth nothing", he continued.
Ah, the suspense! Let's talk again on Monday, shall we?
If your head is a little scrambled, make sure you pop over to WHO.int to get all of your official COVID-19 updates.
Main Image Credit: Licensed By Getty