Melbourne children and their stressed parents face another school holiday period in lock down amid government plans to extend the city’s Stage Four restrictions.
School holidays in Victoria are set to kick-off on September 18, which under current lockdown laws would have fallen four days after Stage Four was scheduled to end.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is set to announce his ‘road map’ out of Melbourne’s isolation nightmare on Sunday.
Children have been unable to use playgrounds across Melbourne for much of the year
Melburnians leave a miserable winter of isolation and enter a spring the same way. But as the sun begins to shine longer, there is fear Stage Four lockdown will continue into next month
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been labelled a totalitarian despot by large sections of the Victorian community fed-up with his imprisonment of the state
A preliminary leak of the plan has suggested Mr Andrews has no intention of allowing Melburnians out of their homes come September 14 and will extend the harsh Stage Four conditions to at least the end of September.
Even then, Melburnians are unlikely to be allowed to return to anywhere near normal, with restrictions on movement and gatherings expected to roll well into October and beyond.
The plan, which was leaked to Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, has already been panned by the premier, who on Thursday stressed that the draft plan leaked to the publication was out of date.
‘We know every Victorian wants certainty about the future – for them, for their family and for their work. By the end of the week, we will lay out a plan to reopen our state,’ an Andrews government spokesman said.
Top international psychiatrists have warned lockdown is putting children’s mental health at risk.
In a letter signed by more than 100 specialists in psychology, mental health and neuroscience sent to authorities in the United Kingdom, bureaucrats were warned isolation of lockdown was harming already vulnerable young people.
‘As experts working across disciplines, we are united as we urge you to reconsider your decision and to release children and young people from lockdown,’ they wrote.
‘Allow them to play together and continue their education by returning to preschool, school, college and university, and enjoy extra-curricular activities including sport and music as normally, and as soon, as possible.’
The doctors, which included a range of experts from the University of Cambridge, Glasgow University and Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College in London warned continued lockdown threatened ‘lifelong consequences’ for kids and society in general.
Melbourne children forget what it is like to enjoy a playground slide after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews deemed them a risk to the elderly
A deserted beach in Port Melbourne in August. It will continue to be empty as Melbourne heads into the warmer months
Melbourne psychologist Sabina Read told Daily Mail Australia Melburnians were facing a ‘marathon and not a sprint’ when it came to lockdown
For Melbourne parents already going out of their minds with home schooling, frustration has turned into anger.
Under the current COVID-19 State of Disaster, Melburnians are only allowed to leave their homes to shop for essential items, exercise within a 5km radius from their homes and must adhere to an 8pm-5am curfew unless they have a work permit.
Melbourne father of two Michael Fogarty, who along with his long suffering wife has battled working from home while home schooling, slammed the plan to lock kids up even longer, labelling it a ‘world of pain’.
‘It’s disgraceful that after six months the best our leader can offer us is shut up and stay inside,’ he said on Thursday.
‘Where is the vision nuance and skill to guide us back on path of normality, even if that is a new normal from what we once knew? The lifetime effect will be ruinous to an entire generation kids.’
Melbourne psychologist Sabina Read told Daily Mail Australia Melburnians were facing a ‘marathon and not a sprint’.
‘I think the goal posts keep changing and that’s hard for all age groups,’ she said.
Ms Read said isolated children were impacted by the ’emotional tone’ of the household.
‘It’s infectious and I think our children are carrying the brunt of that contagion effect,’ she said.
‘They’re not only missing their social contact that they have with their friends, the rituals a usual school day used to bring, incidental exercise and social touch points, sport – all of these building blocks of well being – on top of losing those, they’re locked in the house with people who generally have pretty short wicks.’
Victorians have been effectively in lockdown since March 16 when the COVID-19 virus sent shockwaves around the planet.
Since then, Melburnians in particular have been kept isolated apart from a brief period in June when restrictions were eased.
Even then, the respite was only brief before restrictions were promptly re-instated as Victoria’s second wave hit following the premier’s hotel quarantine blunder.
Melbourne kids have been unable to have a real holiday since the January summer break.
The Easter break came and went, with many shattered Melburnians forced to cancel getaways even within their own state.
Police patrol a playground in Melbourne in July. Children are still unable to use them across Melbourne with fear of fines and arrest
Bec Judd’s version of home schooling while hectic, is probably more pleasant than how many other Melburnians are doing it
For months, children have been confined to their bedrooms and reduced to interaction with friends via electronic device.
While more fortunate kids, such as those of Melbourne celebrity Bec Judd, are able to study in style, many parents have endured their kids’ working alongside them on the kitchen table.
Ms Read said Melbourne parents needed to focus on each day as it came and what may have worked well.
‘Because our children take their leads very much from their parents and no more so than now because we’re all living under the one roof with no breaks, no contrasts, no new information.’
On Wednesday, a group of Australia’s top doctors, headed by Box Hill Hospital urologist Dr Geoff Wells, slammed the premier for failing to release Victorians for their isolation nightmare.
‘Ordinary sensible people if properly informed, should inevitably conclude that the current government policy is ill focused, heavy-handed, and unjustifiable as a proportionate response to the risks posed by COVID-19 to the public’s health,’ they wrote.
A protest against the lockdown is expected to see thousands of people march through Melbourne on Saturday.