Why stage 4 lockdown might not end
Melbourne residents have been issued a grim warning about the city's tough stage four restrictions, with concerns the lockdown could be extended beyond the September 13 deadline.
Though Victoria's COVID-19 case numbers dipped below 100 on Saturday for the first time in two months, Premier Daniel Andrews said the figures were still "too high" for Melbourne to move down to stage three.
"At 100, 94, at 114, whatever the number, we simply could not open up," he said on Sunday.
"Those numbers would explode, we would finish up and perhaps an even worse situation than we have been in recent months. We cannot fritter away all that good work and sacrifice.
"Once we see these numbers fall further, we will be able to talk in more definitive terms. We all wanted this second wave to be defeated but it needs to be defeated properly."
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Mr Andrews said it was still too early to say whether restrictions could be eased at the end of the six-week lockdown, but assured residents a plan would be in place "soon".
"These case numbers are too high for us to open up, and they are still too high for us to put forward a definitive plan," he said.
"There will be a plan. It will come soon. But it will be one that we can be confident of, not something that potentially gets a few of people being happier, but then ultimately has to be revised because it didn't mean much when you first announced it."
The premier said the government is aiming to give Victorians a "clear sense" of the different stages that will be implemented over the next few months.
However, if Mr Andrews wants to keep any restrictions in place he will need support from Victorian crossbenchers to extend the government's state of emergency powers beyond 11.59pm on September 13.
Mr Andrews has been pushing for a 12 month extension of the state of emergency powers to allow the government to keep the COVID-19 rules in place they deem necessary.
Though he has continually assured Victorians the restrictions won't be in place longer than they need to be, he has copped fierce backlash since announcing his plans last Monday.
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett blasted Mr Andrews as a "megalomaniac", labelling his plans a "grab for dictatorial power".
The Andrews government has reportedly backed down on the 12-month extension, agreeing to push for a six-month extension instead.
The vote will be put to the Victorian parliament on Tuesday, though it is still unclear whether the extension will have enough crossbench support.
Mr Andrews said "very productive" discussions were taking place on the issue, adding that he was confident the parliament would come to an agreement.
"I'm confident that as parliament sits next week we'll get both a set of arrangements that protect public health but also give us the legal certainty to have a plan to open up," he said.
"A plan that runs for a considerable period of time."
Mr Andrews also said it was likely Victoria's state of disaster would be extended before it ends on September 2.
The state of disaster has a different purpose to the state of emergency and was brought in on August 2 to allow the government to introduce some of the strictest rules associated with Melbourne's stage four lockdown.
The 8pm to 5am curfew and the ban on travelling more than 5km from your home are some of the restrictions the state of emergency powers allow for.
"I haven't got that advice yet but I think it is likely we will extend those arrangements. They are the ones that sit behind curfew and a number range of stage four measures," Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
Victoria recorded 114 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Sunday.
Nine of the 11 deaths were linked to aged care outbreaks, with the state's death toll now at 524.
Originally published as Why stage 4 lockdown might not end