Australia’s top medics had not called for – or even discussed – using curfews to slow the spread of Covid-19 before Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews imposed one.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth revealed on Monday that Melbourne‘s 8pm curfew was not backed by the AHPPC, the group of state and federal public health doctors advising politicians during the pandemic.
He said the strict curfew was brought in by the Victorian government to reduce the movement of people during the state’s second wave.
Australia’s top medics have never called for – or even discussed – using curfews to slow the spread of Covid-19. Pictured: Melbourne under lockdown
Victoria on Monday recorded 35 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, as Melbourne takes its first tentative steps out of lockdown. Pictured: Premier Daniel Andrews
Asked for his opinion on the curfew, Dr Coatsworth said the AHPPC has never discussed using a curfew as a method of reducing movement.
He told ABC News: ‘Well, the curfew obviously was intended to restrict movement as were all stage four restrictions.
‘Unfortunately I’m not able to talk about it in too much detail as it wasn’t something discussed at the AHPPC.
‘It hasn’t been a policy that we have discussed or promoted at the AHPPC level, it was clearly a policy that the Victorian government chose to introduce with the overall aim of lowering movement which we know slows the spread.’
On Thursday Premier Andrews admitted that he made the decision to introduce the curfew.
‘That’s a decision that I’ve made,’ he said. Mr Andrews said governments are ‘free to go beyond’ advice given to them by doctors.
On Wednesday Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he did not recommend the curfew.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth (pictured) revealed on Monday that Melbourne’s 8pm curfew was not backed by the AHPPC
Daily exercise: Cyclists riding at Albert Park in Melbourne during the city’s strict lockdown
‘It was a separate decision-making pathway,’ he told Melbourne radio 3AW.
The state’s police commissioner Shane Patton also said he did not make the decision.
‘I was never consulted,’ he said. ‘I’ve made enquiries to determine if anyone in the organisation was briefed on the matter.’
Victoria on Monday recorded 35 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, as Melbourne takes its first tentative steps out of lockdown.
The figures bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 730 and the national figure to 817.
From Monday, people living alone or single parents will be allowed to have one other visitor as part of a ‘social bubble’.
Outdoor exercise is extended to two hours split over a maximum of two sessions, allowing social interaction with one other person or household members.
Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment will reopen and the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm before finishing at 5am.
Under Mr Andrews’ road-map out of lockdown, regional Victoria and Melbourne must have fewer than five cases per day before restrictions can be significantly eased.
Professor Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne who helped the government with its modelling, said this target was ‘ambitious’ and that ten or 15 cases per day would be more realistic.
‘With ten cases per day on our model you only have a 10 per cent risk of a resurgence by Christmas,’ he told the ABC’s 7.30.
‘But I think we can even go higher than ten… and use expert judgement to perhaps release a little bit earlier.’
Large numbers of police continue to patrol Melbourne streets looking for anyone breaking the rules