IN THE 24-HOUR reporting period before July 19, there were 244 new COVID-19 cases reported in Manningham, taking the active caseload up to 1,322.
In Nillumbik, there were 131 new cases, totalling 656 active cases.
These numbers are consistent with what is being reported in our neighbouring Local Government Areas (LGAs) and in LGAs across the state — Coronavirus is everywhere.
There were 12,201 new cases state-wide, with 9,953 of those detected through RAT kits. In Victoria, as of July 19, there are 65,416 active cases of COVID-19 that have been reported.
With pandemic measures significantly relaxed and, in many situations, mask-wearing a recommendation instead of a mandate, vaccination is one of our most effective defences against this virus.
While first and second dose uptake hit 95–97 per cent, the uptake of the boosters (third and fourth doses) has slowed since the end of March, when the eligible population (16+) raced to 64 per cent in three months.
Reporting figures on July 19 indicate in Victoria that 73.5 per cent of the eligible population has received three or more doses; nationally, that figure is 70.9 per cent.
Residents of Manningham and Nillumbik who have been able to and have received at least three doses should be proud as our municipalities are ahead of the curve at 75.7 and 78.2 per cent respectively of those eligible vaccinated.
There is some concern in the community regarding the three-month window between being infected with COVID-19 and getting a booster and the new understanding that the current Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 can cause reinfection of those who have had the virus within 28 days (four weeks).
Reports from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) address this issue.
AHPPC notes in its COVID-19 winter update:
“BA.4 and BA.5 are associated with increased immune escape, and we are likely to see rates of reinfection rise among those who have previously been infected with an earlier COVID-19 variant and those who are up to date with their vaccinations.
Vaccination continues to be the most important protection against severe illness.
Given reinfections may occur as early as 28 days after recovery from a previous COVID-19 infection, the AHPPC advises that the [official] reinfection period be reduced from 12 weeks to 28 days.
People who test positive to COVID-19 more than 28 days after ending isolation due to previous infection should be reported and managed as new cases.”
On July 13, ATAGI agreed with the AHPPC report but still recommended interval between infection and vaccine remain at three months.
“Evidence suggests that BA.4/5 is associated with a higher re-infection rate compared to previous variants, and this is likely to be due to immune evasion,” the ATAGI statement said.
ATAGI explains there is not a lot of data on the additional protection a booster provides in the short term, if it is administered soon after infection, adding:
“Immunologically, a longer time interval between vaccines enhances the ‘booster response’ and subsequent clinical protection, particularly against severe COVID-19 disease.
The COVID-19 vaccines have a modest, short duration of impact against infection and as the primary aim of the program is optimising protection from severe disease, a three-month interval, therefore, remains optimal.”
(Public Safety) Order 2022 (No. 3), which came into effect on July 12 and will be in effect until October 12, states that masks must be carried at all times and people should wear a mask when visiting hospital and care facilities and when using public transport.
All levels of government and healthcare professionals are also recommending that people wear masks indoors in a public place (such as a supermarket or shopping centre) or in a situation where it is not possible to social distance.
In addition, the Victorian Department of Education and Training, Independent Schools Victoria, and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria sent a joint letter to parents and carers stating they are asking students and staff to mask up for the remainder of winter.
“Students won’t be required or expected to wear masks when outdoors, and this expectation won’t stop student participation in the full range of school activities, including music, sport and performances.
We are asking for your support in explaining to your child or children the importance of this simple step that will help keep our schools as safe as possible.
We also ask that you make sure your child (or children) takes a mask to school (and wears it if they are travelling on public transport) or collects a mask when they arrive at school.
We all appreciate how important it is for students to be back at school.
This action will help make sure as many students and staff as possible are protected from COVID and other winter illness.”
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government reinstated the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments, which, in accordance with the COVID-19 Disaster Payment (Funding Arrangements) Act 2021, which expired on June 30, 2022.
Following a meeting of the National Cabinet in mid-July, the following statement was released:
“In recognition of the risks associated with more infectious new variants through the winter period, the Commonwealth agreed to reinstate the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment to 30 September 2022.
Eligibility for the payment will be backdated to July 1, 2022, to ensure that anyone unable to work owing to isolation requirements in this period, without access to paid sick leave is supported.
Access to these payments will commence from Wednesday, July 20, with existing eligibility requirements to continue.
We have agreed to share the costs of the payment 50:50, between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.”
These payments are targeted to help those on lower incomes and casual workers maintain a basic income while sick with COVID-19. To apply and to check your eligibility, visit Services Australia at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au.
REMOTE LEARNING has been a major component of schooling for students at all levels during the past 18 months.
For Year 12 students it has been especially stressful as not only do they have to deal with the stress of exams, but they have had to do it, via computer, in the isolation of their own home.
But with vaccination ramping up and the agreed National Plan now in effect, our students at the most critical part of their education journey can finally get back to the classroom.
With 70 per cent of the eligible adult population at least single dosed, our society has already begun to open up.
Note, these changes are in addition to children of authorised workers and vulnerable children who are already still participating in on-site learning. On October 5, Students sitting the GAT (General Achievement Test) will be able to do so in the classroom. This will be followed by on-site learning for VCE Unit 3/4, and final year VCAL and IB students on October 6.
From October 18, Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students will return to part-time on-site learning, with Prep on-site Monday — Wednesday, and Grade 1 and 2 students on-site Thursdays and Fridays.
When the eligible adult population reaches 70 per cent double vaccinated, which is expected to be around October 26, on-site learning will open up for all Primary and Secondary aged children — to some extent.
Phase B of the National Plan sees a continuation of existing arrangements plus:
Grades 3 and 4: on-site Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Grades 5 and 6: on-site Thursdays and Fridays
Year 7 students will be full time Monday to Friday
Year 8 and 9: on-site Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Year 10 students on-site Thursdays and Fridays
Year 11 students full time Monday to Friday
On around November 5, it is expected the eligible adult population will reach and pass its 80 per cent fully vaccinated target and all schooling will return to normal.
The three Vs of the education sector
In addition to the roadmap, Minister for Education, James Merlino announced the State Government’s three Vs for a safe return to school. The three Vs; ventilation, vaccination, and vital CovidSafe steps is part of a $190M+ initiative to provide schools with equipment needed to reduce the chances of Coronavirus spreading in our schools.
Mr Merlino said the introduction of air purification devices will help keep kids safe once they are back in the classroom.
“I know Victorian families can’t wait to see their kids back in the classroom — but we need to keep them safe once they’re there, and we’re delivering ventilation devices to prevent as much transmission on school sites as possible.
“With a roadmap in place to get all students back to school safely, we’ll make sure every single Victorian child is supported when they’re back in the classroom — whether that’s with their schoolwork or their wellbeing,” he said.
Term 4 will see 51,000 air purification devices rolled out to all government and low-fee non-government schools and installed in “high risk” areas such as staff rooms, hallways, music rooms, and “sick bays”.
Additionally, these schools will be entitled to a grant of up to $25,000 as part of the School Shade Grants Program, to create outdoor learning spaces.
In addition, State Government has mandated that all staff in schools and early childhood services will be required to have had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine by October 18, or have a booking within one-week of that date, and to be fully vaccinated by November 29.
METROPOLITAN Melbourne braced for bad news on Wednesday, June 2 when the inevitable announcement came that they would have to endure another seven-days of lockdown.
The highly infectious “Kappa” variant of COVID-19 arrived in Melbourne via a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia, in early May.
In in the last week of May, the outbreak reached 60 cases, encompassing exposure sites numbering more than 350 across Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
Locally, there have been no reported cases in Warrandyte, although a burger bar in Doncaster Shoppingtown and a popular petrol station in East Doncaster were listed as exposure sites as part of the outbreak.
Following the announcement, Acting Premier James Merlino highlighted just how frighteningly contagious the Kappa is.
“To date, the approach has been to track the spread through friends, family and workmates.
“People spending time together for minutes and hours — not seconds.
“What we’re seeing now is something else — something even more serious. “At least one in 10 current cases have caught this virus from a stranger. “People brushing against each other in a small shop.
“Getting a take-away coffee from the same cafe.
“Being in the same place, at the same time for mere moments.
“Just walking past someone you’ve never met can mean the virus is jumping to a whole new network.
“And when you don’t know someone — you don’t know their name or where they live — you’re looking for one person in 6.6 million,” he said.
Local businesses, such as Warrandyte IGA and Grand Hotel Warrandyte were both impacted by the 2020 lockdowns, both financially and emotionally.
This latest lockdown is throwing new challenges at Melburnians on a daily basis, as we go to press, there are more than 70 active cases related to this latest outbreak and recent news that the Delta variant of COVID-19 — which is also highly infectious — has also been detected.
As we enter the final five days of the extended lockdown, health authorities race to link mystery cases in this outbreak.
For the local Warrandyte economy, lockdown is particularly hard.
Our bustling restaurant and café strewn high street is eerily quiet and new rules around the mandatory requirement to check in with the Government QR code system is causing additional queues at cafes and supermarket entrances.
It is now mandatory for all customer facing retail businesses to record whoever enters their premises, even if it is only for a few minutes — businesses can take paper records if a customer is unable to use the QR code system, and businesses who are found in breach of following the new mandatory QR code tracking rules could face a fine.
Five reasons to leave home
Under the new lockdown rules, locals have to, once again, adhere to:
10 kilometre radius
Some school students on remote learning
Limits on weddings and funerals
Playcentres, gyms, entertainment venues, hair and beauty and tourism closed.
Community sport cancelled
Restaurants and cafes restricted to take away service
Visitor restrictions on aged care facilities and hospitals
There are now five reasons to leave home; essential shopping, exercise (two hours maximum per day with one other person), care and caregiving, authorised work, and vaccination.
As of Friday, June 4, the lockdown of late May changed slightly — once again Melbourne and Regional Victoria (RV) were separated by rules and although the “ring of steel” has not been reinstated, retail businesses close to Melbourne are being asked to check IDs of all their customers to ensure people aren’t, effectively, breeching Melbourne quarantine.
Checking into the Government’s QR code system will now also be mandatory anyone who enters any retail premises for any duration, even if it is less than 15 minutes.
The Acting Premier acknowledged this was going to be tough, but stated it was necessary.
“No one wants to be here.
“And I know this news is tough for every Victorian, every family and every business in this state.
“But the Chief Health Officer has no choice but to give this advice.
“And the Government has no choice but to follow it.
“If we don’t, this thing will get away from us and people will die.
“No one wants to repeat last winter.
“To stop that from happening, we need every Victorian to follow the rules, to get tested and to get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
“We can do this, but we need to do it together,” he said.
Some good news
While we settle into the second week of lockdown, Years 11 and 12, as well as any student taking a Unit 3 / 4 VCE or VCAL subject have returned to the classroom at this most crucial time and some outdoor businesses, such as landscaping, gardening, painting, et cetera have been reclassified as “authorised” businesses for the extended lockdown.
The State Government has also added an additional $209 million to its business support package, raising the funding to nearly $450 million to support businesses impacted by the lockdown in the form of a series of grants.
New support package for businesses The aptly named Circuit Breaker Business Support Package aims to help up to 90,000 businesses affected by the current lockdown.
However, there is a catch, one of the requirements for accessing the Business Costs Assistance Program funds is that the business must be registered for GST, as of May 27, 2021. As many businesses know, if your annual turnover is below $75,000 then registering for GST is optional.
Not-for-profits which have an annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 and meet the other grant requirements can also apply for the Business Costs Assistance Program. The package is divided into three initiatives:
Business Costs Assistance Program •
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
Support for events operators
In its original form, the package would see $190M funnelled into a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program, offering grants of $2,500 for eligible businesses directly affected by the lockdown’s industry restrictions; this includes restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers, and non- essential retail.
A new round of the Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund will see $40.7M provided to businesses with a liquor license and food certificate, distributed in grants of $3,500 per premises.
With the extension of the lockdown and an additional $209M package, eligible businesses, who find themselves in a second week of lockdown will have access to additional funds.
Businesses which are still unable to open will be able to apply for a $5,000 grant while licenced hospitality venues applying for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund, who find themselves still unable to operate, will be able to apply for $7,000 per premises.
It is important to note, if you were unable to open for the first week of lockdown but are now able to operate, you will still be able to claim a share of the business support package, but only for the original amount.
For operators in the events industry who have been impacted financially by the lockdown, they will have access to a share of a $20M support scheme.
At the announcement, Mr Merlino said this new package will help businesses stay open in the long term. “The circuit-breaker action will keep Victorians safe and protect businesses and jobs — but we know it’s not easy shutting your doors and putting your plans on hold.
“This support will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can, as we work together to get through this challenge,” he said.
Minister for Small Business, Jaala Pulford added: “small businesses are crucial to our economy and beyond dollar and cents, important contributors to local communities — we’re proud to stand with them and their workers.”
Emergency essentials in Warrandyte
Warrandyte Neighbourhood House is launching its new food relief service on Wednesday, June 9.
Any locals who are struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic can collect an essentials hamper on Wednesdays, at Warrandyte Neighbourhood House, Webb Street, from June 9.
See story Page 14 for further details.
Eligible businesses can visit business.vic.gov.au/grants-and- programs/circuit-breaker-business- support-package for further information and to register for a share of the package — most grants opened for application on Thursday, June 3, and are open for three weeks.
Nillumbik unveils pandemic recovery plan
By SUSAN FOREMAN
AS WE ALL stand together during the ongoing battle with COVID-19, Nillumbik Shire Council has released a critical new “roadmap” to support the community in its recovery from the pandemic. The Nillumbik Community Pandemic Recovery Plan 2021-22 was endorsed at last week’s Council meeting, just prior to the Shire going into its fourth lockdown in a bid to contain the latest outbreak of the virus.
The plan outlines Council’s initial response, along with the actions it will take to ensure the Nillumbik community can recover as restrictions continue to evolve and life shifts to a “COVID normal”.
The plan is based on four main themes which guide the recovery process:
Employment and Education
The plan’s actions span across several areas of Council, and will be supported by State and Federal Government initiatives, and those delivered by community organisations and local partners.
While this plan addresses the short to medium term approach to recovery, Council says it recognises there will be longer term pandemic impacts, which will be addressed through the Council Plan and Municipal Health & Wellbeing Plan.
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said Council’s approach throughout the pandemic had been comprehensive and collaborative, and would continue to be so.
“Collaboration is a key principle of any work we do, and is especially the case for pandemic recovery,” Cr Perkins said.
He said Council’s approach is reflected in this plan, which highlights
Council’s critical role in service delivery and in advocating to other levels of government on behalf of our community.
“It will be a critical roadmap as we, alongside our community, navigate what continues to be a highly volatile and unpredictable environment.”
Cr Perkins acknowledged the resilience and resourcefulness of the Nillumbik community, which has come to the fore on many occasions over the years, whether in the face of fire, flood or now, pandemic.
“Nevertheless, the challenges of the past 18 months have been like nothing we’ve previously experienced and have, not surprisingly, taken their toll,” he said.
“Council recognises that pandemic response, relief and recovery are all dynamic.
“Therefore, Council is committed to shift and adjust its approach where required, based on local need and the direction of the State Government.”
The plan was largely developed based on the survey results from the Together in Nillumbik survey, conducted last year with healthAbility, an independent, community health organisation. To view the plan visit nillumbik.vic. gov.au/pandemic-recovery-plan
Keeping our community safe
By STEPHEN BENDLE
WE HAVE ALL heard a lot about vaccines lately.
They have been around since the late 18th century when used to fight smallpox.
There is a pretty strong push for all Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they can.
Some in our community might choose not to; but to avoid future lockdowns, protect the vulnerable among us, ease the stress on our health system and enjoy the wonders of international travel again, we are being encouraged to line up and get the jab.
There are a million websites to review, but the Diary thought we would go straight to those in our community who know best, our doctors, starting with Dr Garth Cooze, GP at Warrandyte Medical Centre, just prior to the latest outbreak.
“It is understandable that some people are apprehensive about a vaccine which has not been around for a long time.
“It is important to note, when making decisions about COVID-19 vaccination, that the risks posed by the vaccinations are infinitesimally small and are by far outweighed by their inherent benefits.
“Vaccinations have been hailed by infectious disease experts as one of the safest forms of medicine.
“As we are heading into the winter months, we face a significant and very real threat in this country, as we have seen across Europe, of virus surge in the community again.
“This virus, as with most respiratory viruses, thrives during the colder months.
“In light of this, it is important not to be complacent — this pandemic, is still very real and we remain in a precarious position (notwithstanding Australia’s clear successes).
“Our principal exit strategy remains en-masse vaccination.
“I would urge people not to delay or be complacent with this.
“We encourage members of the community to get vaccinated, to protect ourselves, our families and also the wider community.
“This will pave the way to some sustainable semblance of normality.”
Dr Paul Proimos from Goldfields Family Medical Centre told the Diary their practice is proud to be part of the biggest vaccination rollout in Australian history.
He encouraged all locals to be vaccinated as soon as they can.
“Goldfields Medical Centre commenced their COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in April and are currently working through our waiting list.”
The Diary also asked one of Warrandyte’s most celebrated scientists, Professor Doug Hilton AO, who is the Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and Head of the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne.
Coincidentally, when we spoke to him, he had just received his first vaccine.
“For me, growing up in Warrandyte meant being looked after by the whole community, which was such a privilege.
“In 2021, by the far the best way we can look after everyone in our community is to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines against Sars-Cov-2 are among the safest and most effective vaccines ever developed.
“The side-effects that have been reported so prominently in the media are incredibly rare — much rarer than the side-effects of medicines we use routinely.
“Please get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible — through your GP or at a mass vaccination centre.
“Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will reduce your likelihood of getting infected by Sars-Cov-2 and they will reduce the severity of illness if you are infected.
“A single dose of either vaccine is more than 80 per cent effective at preventing admission to hospital and preventing death from COVID-19.
“The second booster dose will greatly increase this protection.
“In addition, both vaccines greatly reduce the chance of passing the virus on to someone else.
“Vaccination is a win for you and a win for the community,” said Doug.
For further information about vaccines, where to get tested or current exposure sites, visit: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
A symbol of community spirit and optimism
By JAMES POYNER
JOAN DENISION’S fence post Iso Chooks have returned to the streets of Eltham, Warrandyte, St Kilda, and beyond, as a symbol of community spirit. Last year, Joan, who has a passion for art and fashion, began painting chicken characters on old fence palings.
These cheerful Iso Chooks became an overnight success and what started as a distraction for her street soon saw Joan painting thousands of Iso Chooks which now adorn gardens and shop fronts all over Eltham.
The Diary asked owners of Iso Chooks to send in pictures of their proudly placed pictoral poultry.
Marg and Michael Weston’s “Three Tenors” from the Woodridge area of Eltham told us a little about the journey their three Iso Chooks have been on. “We are a very theatrical and musical family and love working in and attending the Opera. We couldn’t resist calling our chooks The Three Tenors (they cost $10 each). Each of our four adult kids have an Iso Chook, so they are bringing smiles in St Kilda, East Malvern, Ivanhoe and Elizabeth Bay NSW. Another was gifted to a dear friend in Windermere, Tasmania and is greatly loved down there!” Joans Chooks are also being given to new Australian Citizens at Nillumbik Citizenship ceremonies.
AS OF 6pm on Tuesday, May 25, mandatory mask wearing is back for everyone in metropolitan Melbourne.
Melbourne residents will have new restrictions on private indoor and outdoor gatherings and masks are mandatory — unless with a valid exemption — in indoor settings.
On Wednesday 25, the cluster has grown to 15 active cases with a growing list of exposure sites across Melbourne and in Bendigo.
In the 24 hours between May 25 and May 26, there were 26,180 tests and 15,858 vaccine does administered.
At the Wednesday, May 26 Coronavirus briefing, Acting Premier James Merlino highlighted the importance of getting tested by foreshadowed more restrictions may be on the horizon.
“These new cases underscore the importance of people coming forward for testing”.
“We are concerned by the number and the locations.
“I cannot rule out taking some further action.
“The next 24 hours are going to be critical if we are going to have to make any further changes,” he said.
The restrictions are a reaction to an error in the contract tracing investigation of a Wollert man who, after undergoing hotel quarantine in South Australia, subsequently tested positive in early May.
On the original investigation, the wrong Woolworths supermarket was listed as an exposure site.
As the new cluster — currently at five — is gnomically linked to the earlier Wollert case, and following the correction to the Woolworths exposure site, the new restrictions have been introduced to help contain a potential Coronavirus outbreak.
Presently, private indoor gatherings will be limited to five and private outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30.
Masks will also be mandatory in indoor settings, which expands mandatory masks from public transport, health facilities, airports and ride share vehicles, to indoor spaces such as supermarkets, pubs, wedding venues, and schools.
A present, there are no further restrictions in place.
The Diary asked local supermarket owner Julie Quinton about what these new restrictions mean for her staff and the community.
“We have instructed our staff that it is now mandatory for our staff, from 6pm tonight, to wear masks when working at Quintons IGA.
“So as to help protect them from any possibly infected people.
“We ask that customers please follow the government guidelines and also wear masks when shopping at Quintons, so we may all help protect one another.
“At this stage we will be allowing leniency, however, we will be monitoring the outbreak and may adjust our conditions of entry accordingly.
“We also ask that people check in with the QR code when entering our store, as well as sanitising their hands, observing the electronic customer counter at our door, social distancing and following our one way aisles, to best enable social distancing,” she said.
The good news is all current active cases in this cluster have been linked, but as Melburnians are all too aware of, we still have a long way to go.
The Diary will continue to update this story as more details emerge.
From midnight on September 13, metro Melbourne begins Step 1 of the State Government’s five step plan to get Victoria out of lockdown. With curfew still in effect and the majority of Melburnians confined to home overnight, the updated restrictions will effective come into effect at 5am on Monday, September 14. This is what the next two weeks look like for metro Melbourne, all the activities and restrictions listed below come into effect at 11:59pm on Sunday, September 13 and not before. Curfew will continue to be a feature of our lives until we reach Step 3, which is currently projected to begin October 26, but the duration of the nightly curfew has been shortened to give Melburnians an extra hour in the evening, meaning curfew is now in effect between 9pm and 5am nightly. As with conditions of curfew in the preceding six weeks, the only reasons to leave home during curfew are if you have a work permit to do so, or if it is an emergency. Leaving your home to pick up take-away during curfew is not a permitted reason to leave home. You are still able to purchase and consume food after 9pm, but by delivery only.
The five-kilometre bubble will also continue, until we reach Step 3 but a major change is in leaving home to exercise and social bubbles. The time allocated to exercise, off your premises, has been extended to a maximum of two hours and can be taken in either one or two sessions per day. The type of activities that you can do, and who with, has also been expanded. Whereas a feature of the previous six weeks was that, regardless of whether living in the same household or not, you could only exercise outside with one other person, this has been expanded to be either one other person, or the persons who live in the same household with you. Outdoor playgrounds are allowed to open, but sports facilities and skate parks are still closed and activities such as reading a book or having a picnic in the park are allowed but must be with your household or one other person only.
For people living on their own and/or single parents, Step 1 introduces the “social bubble” concept. This additional measure will allow those living on their own to have one other person over in their home. However, singles need to nominate their social bubble buddy now and must keep the same buddy until we enter Step 3. You can visit your buddy and they can visit you as often as you like but, if they live in a shared household, then the other householders need to be out whenever you visit them. Social bubble buddies can also spend the night at each other’s homes, but masks must be worn at all times and travel cannot happen during curfew hours. However, if you and your bubble buddy are both living in metro Melbourne, the 5km limit does not apply. This is different to an “intimate partner”, the rules of which continue from Stage 4. Regional Victoria is still off limits.
NUMBERS IN STEADY DECLINE
When reporting on Saturday’s figures, the Chief Health Officer’s daily update stated the 14-day average for metro Melbourne was at 61.6. This number is promising, alongside data which shows this is the first time the state has gone seven days with new active cases below 100. The daily active cases condition for progressing to Step 2 for metro Melbourne is a 14-day average of 30-50 daily active cases and fewer than five per day for Step 3. Regardless of which way the active cases in Victoria go, the slightly relaxed Stage 4 restrictions will likely be in effect until at least September 28, so enjoy the extra hour in the sunshine, stay COVID Safe and look out for further updates in September’s WD Bulletin (Monday, September 21) and October.
FOLLOWING days of record high numbers in Victoria, the State Government has taken steps to further restrict movements in an effort to halt the spread of Coronavirus.
As it stands today, of the 6,322 active cases in Victoria, there are 760 mystery cases — cases which investigators are unable to determine the source of infection.
In response to this, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced restrictions which severely reduce movement around metro-Melbourne and rural Victoria for the next six weeks (until September 13).
For residents of Warrandyte and surrounding suburbs, as of 6pm tonight (August 2) the following restrictions will be in effect:
Curfew from 8pm-5am
Shopping is limited to one person per household, per day, and must be within a five-kilometre radius of your home.
Exercise is limited to a maximum of one hour per day, must be within a five-kilometre radius of your home and can be with a maximum of one other person — regardless of whether or not you live with them.
From Wednesday, all students will return to remote learning.
Remember, if you can wear a mask or face covering, you must.
To help enforce this, the State Government has declared a State of Disaster which enables the Government and other authorities to lawfully enforce restrictions of movements and gives all relevant agencies the powers needed to effectively enforce these restrictions.
There are, as always, nuisances around people with young families, compassionate and medical reasons and which businesses can and cannot operate during Stage 4 restrictions.
The Government will release more information about these areas in the coming days and the Diary will update this story, as necessary.
Remember to read our comprehensive COVID-19 update in August’s Warrandyte Diary, which will be published on Monday, August 10.
MELBOURNE returns to Stage 3 lockdown from midnight tonight (Wednesday, July 8) for a minimum of six weeks, as authorities attempt to curb the rising numbers of Coronavirus and avoid the numbers of infections and deaths that have been seen in other parts of the world.
The rules are mostly the same as in April-May, so we should be familiar with them, but as a reminder: Stage 3 restrictions mean we return to stay-at-home orders with only four reasons to leave home:
To buy food and other essential goods;
for mental and physical health, safety or compassionate reasons (i.e., to give or receive care);
for work or education;
for daily exercise.
In accordance with Stage 3 restrictions, unless it is for one of the four purposes listed above, the maximum number of visitors (people who do not usually reside there) you can have at your property is 0 (zero).
The number of people who can meet up in public is 2 (two) i.e. yourself and one other person; there are few exceptions to this, the most common exception is groups who usually reside together — such as family groups — but if you are out walking with your family, you will not be able to meet up with a person from outside your household.
The maximum group size of two also applies to organised outdoor bootcamp activities, [EDIT: the latest Health Department Directions state this means two plus the instructor], so one-on-two personal training along the river is back on the agenda for the time being. [Note that Manningham Council has closed all of its sporting venues, both indoor and outdoor, to sports training, including boot camps]
The return to more stringent restrictions is also a big blow to local wedding venues, cafes, restaurants, hair and beauty salons and, of course grassroots sport.
Weddings are back down to the bare minimum of 5 (five), cafes and restaurants need to return to take-away only, which means from Wednesday Cocoa Moon, Now and Not Yet, Warrandyte Café and White Owl are again offering take away only.
Ember Dining will be offering its take away and essentials menu from Friday, July 10.
Unfortunately, this also puts a pause on our local pubs grand reopening and locals will have to endure another couple of months before they can have a glass of beer at the Grand Hotel.
Warrandyte Basketball Association made a decision on Monday evening to withdraw the Redbacks from a contracted EDJBA 2020 Season and have since suspended all competition and training for all three participation tiers within the club (Redbacks, Venom, Big V) until further notice.
Warrandyte Junior Football Club were excited about the restart of competition this Saturday but the 2020 YJFL 12 Round season has officially been postponed until further notice.
Term 3 is also looking a lot like Term 2, as of Monday, VCE students (Years 10, 11 and 12) will be back to face-to-face learning, whilst all other Grades have an additional week of school holidays as teachers prepare for the possibility of remote learning, once again.
With metro Melbourne locked down and escape to Regional Victoria or interstate a firm “no” for some time, it is likely — as seen previously — that families from inner Melbourne suburbs will flock to the greener fringes for their exercise, which means popular nature spots like the Warrandyte riverside, Westerfolds Park and the Main Yarra Trail are likely to be extremely busy.
What this will mean for Warrandytians is there will be cues at the cafés, bakeries and supermarkets, and the river will feel like Bourke Street.
At time of publication, there are 11 active cases of COVID-19 in Manningham and one case in Nillumbik.
Remember to adhere to the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule and to limit your risk of exposure to this extremely contagious virus.
The community of Warrandyte is a special place, with a community connected through community groups, clubs and businesses.
The next six weeks — and possibly longer – will be tough, but we are here to support each other.
VICTORIAN PREMIER Daniel Andrews today announced some restrictions would be eased as of 11:59pm on Tuesday, May 12.
Following a National Cabinet meeting on Friday and a COVID-19 testing blitz which recorded 160,000 COVID-19 tests in two weeks, the Premier outlined the beginning of the road to a state of “COVID normal”.
“Today – thanks to the efforts of Victorians – I can announce our cautious next steps,” said Mr Andrews.
The Premier went on to say: “from 11:59pm this Tuesday night, there’s now a fifth reason to leave home: visiting friends and family — with a maximum gathering of up to 10 outdoors and having up to five visitors in your home.
“I know this will come as a welcome relief, but I need to be clear — although these are our first steps back towards normalcy — they are not an invitation to host a dinner party every night of the week.
“It’s not about having a rotating roster of acquaintances and associates — or your third best friend from primary school — over for a visit.
“This is about seeing those you need to — if you need to.”
These modified restrictions will be in effect until at least Sunday, May 31, with the State of Emergency being extended until that time.
Under the new restrictions, the following can occur:
Outdoor gathers of up to 10 people.
Indoor gatherings at home are permitted, with up to five people allowed to visit another household.
The ability to leave the house for exercise will be expanded to include outdoor recreational activities.
These activities can occur in groups of up to 10 people outside, but the requirements on physical distancing remain.
10 guests, plus the couple and the celebrant can now attend weddings.
For funerals, 20 people will be allowed at an indoor ceremony and 30 people at an outside ceremony.
This is in addition to the minimum people required to conduct the funeral.
Religious gatherings and ceremonies will be permitted with up to 10 people, plus those required to perform the ceremony
There is also light at the end of the tunnel for grassroots sport.
The measures allow training to take place, with groups of no more than 10 — as long as physical distancing measures and “common sense” are adhered to.
Many clubs will now be waiting for an update from their respective governing bodies before announcing a restart of some sort of training regime.
However, the Premier made it very clear that competition was still off the table.
For many, the way of life in which they have adapted to in the past two months will continue to be the normal for the time being.
With fresh outbreaks in South Korea and Germany, and news from overseas showing huge opposition to the easing of restrictions and change of messaging in the United Kingdom, this pandemic is far from over.
With restrictions easing, it is even more important to be vigilant and practice good hygiene and physical distancing, a sentiment summarised by the Premier in this morning’s statement to the press.
“With more freedom comes more responsibility.
“I’m asking Victorians to use common sense — you should only spend time together if it’s safe.
“And you should only be undertaking these activities if you really need to.
“If it’s integral to your health and wellbeing.
“Use your judgement and think about the health of your fellow Victorians, because right now, staying apart is what’s keeping us together.
“And none of us want to squander everything we’ve achieved, none of us want to have to take a backwards step,” he said.
The State Government reiterated its message that if you can stay home, you should and if you have any symptoms, if you feel unwell in any way, go and get tested.
Drive thru testing clinics will continue to operate at major metropolitan shopping centres which include Eastland in Ringwood and Doncaster Shopping Town.
The Diary will continue to monitor the situation and provide an update in its mid-month bulletin, which will be published on Monday, May 18.
Back to school by June
On Tuesday, May 12, the Premier. Daniel Andrews outlined the plan to move away from remote learning, with Preps, Grades 1 and 2 and Years 11 and 12 scheduled to return to the classroom on May 26.
My Andrews recognised the challenges families had faced and thanked them for following the rules.
“As a father of three kids who have been learning from home, I know this has been a really challenging time for many families but thanks to everyone’s efforts in sticking to the rules and getting tested, we’re now able to start getting our kids back into the classroom.
“Having most of our kids learning from home has made a big contribution to limiting the number of people moving around the community and reduced the spread of the virus,” he said.
Following a pupil free day on Monday, May 25, the shift back to school grounds will begin
Students through Years 3 to 10 will continue to learn remotely until June 9, giving the government and health officials time to evaluate the return to school and to make decisions on how to proceed.
Starting today, all Victorian school staff will be prioritised for voluntary Coronavirus testing for a two-week period from both mobile and fixed testing sites.
This will enable school staff to seek testing during the preparation period before the return to on-site schooling.
Schools will be encouraged to implement a staggered drop-off system to reduce the number of adults congregating outside the school at any one time, as well as staggered break times to manage the number of students mixing across year levels.
Schools will also implement social distancing measures for all adults.
The strict health protocols that are already in place will be followed if a member of the school community tests positive for Coronavirus.
To keep the spread of the virus at bay, the Government is also investing $45m in enhanced, daily cleaning routines that will occur “every day, at every school across the state for all of Term 2 and Term 3”.
PEOPLE ACROSS the State are waking up to the new reality of even tougher physical distancing restrictions.
Stage 3 restrictions came into effect at 11:59pm on Monday, March 30.
In a statement issued on Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews explained the reasons for the new restrictions.
“My message to every Victorian is that there are only four reasons to leave your home: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education.
“Most Victorians are doing the right thing and I’m grateful to them.
“But we continue to see instances of people gathering in significant numbers so we must do more.
“That’s why we are also restricting gatherings to no more than two people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education.
“We will not be breaking up household family dinners — but BBQs with the neighbours cannot happen anymore.
“Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms will also close.”
The new restrictions mean, outside of the people you live with in your household, you are not allowed to mass, socially, as a group of more than two people.
Victoria Police has been given the authority to issue on the spot fines to anyone breaking the restrictions with individuals facing a fine of $1,652 and businesses $9,913 who breach this or any of the restrictions currently in place.
The roll out of restrictions has been complex with the restrictions targeting specific businesses and activities.
It is still okay to go to work, if you are able to and if you are able to comply with physical distancing rules, it is still okay to go shopping to buy essential supplies, it is still okay to leave the house (if you are not unwell or under quarantine) for daily exercise, but government and health officials at every level are reinforcing the message that if you do not need to leave your house, you should not.
The Diary would also like to reflect this message.
The staff and volunteers at the Diary are limiting their physical presence in the community, but that does not mean we are not still here working to keep you informed, engaged and entertained.
If you have something to tell the community, and to tell history, the Diary is a time capsule that will tell the story of how we got through this together.
Send your stories to the Editor and look out for the next Diary, which will be going to print next week.
To combat the spread of COVID-19 and to help sustain our local economy it is imperative we all respect the advice from government and minimise our movements to those which are deemed essential (food, health, and work).
To keep up to date on the latest developments, the Federal Government has released an app on the Apple App Store and on Google Play as well as set up a What’s App bot to help members of the community access the most relevant details regarding this pandemic.
The app is a straightforward and simple way to get the information they need to keep informed and is readily accessible from their smartphone and, like the Vic Emergency app, should be part of everyone’s app arsenal.
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