Victoria and New South Wales could both go into lockdown as early as this weekend if the coronavirus crisis continues to deepen and Scott Morrison’s restrictions don’t flatten the curve.
The two states have the highest infection rates in the country, with confirmed cases in NSW exploding to 1,405 on Friday – almost half the national total of 3,050.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was ‘looking very closely’ at the impact of the Federal Government’s closure of pubs, restaurants and other businesses – and is prepared to declare a state-wide lockdown by the weekend if infections didn’t tail off.
‘If we don’t see things shifting in the numbers because of [the Federal Government’s] actions, NSW will have to go further,’ she said on Thursday.
‘I’m saying to the community that if we’re not convinced we’ve had a sufficient amount of success, NSW will have to take further action and that’s a position I’ve been clear on from day one.’
Ms Berejiklian warned NSW residents to ‘be prepared’ for state-implemented restrictions, which could include confining people to their homes and only allowing them to leave for basic necessities.
‘There’s no need to panic,’ Ms Berejiklian said. ‘Supermarkets and essential things will still be available.’
It is believed state-enforced restrictions will be discussed at the National Cabinet meeting on Friday.
Ahead of the meeting, Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos indicated the state was looking to implement its own measures to stop the virus from spreading.
‘Everybody must understand that it is time to make some sacrifices if we are to save lives,’ Ms Mikakos said.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton refused to confirm or deny she’d advised Premier Daniel Andrews to plunge the state into lockdown.
‘The Premier will take that case to National Cabinet and they’ll make a call. I think if any of us failed the elderly, youth in one suburb or another, in regional Victoria or metro Melbourne, then we all fail ourselves,’ he said.
As the states consider moving ahead of the Commonwealth towards lockdown, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said they were jumping the gun.
The full effect of the second stage of Federal Government shutdowns – in place from Thursday – wouldn’t be known for some days, he said.
‘It does take us at least seven and possibly 14 days to really get a picture… remember we also have to take out the fact we have returning travellers come in with disease,’ Dr Chant said on Thursday.
The number of NSW coronavirus cases jumped on Friday to 1,405.
Some 16 patients are in intensive care, with 10 requiring ventilators.
Two more children in NSW on Thursday – girls aged one and two – were confirmed to have COVID-19, taking the number of child cases to four.
Meanwhile, five people in NSW, including a returned traveller from Bali, have been issued Australia’s first infringement notices for breaching COVID-19 public health orders.
Police from Thursday had the power to hand out fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.
The 65-year-old woman returned to Sydney from Bali on Saturday and was told she was subject to a public health order and was required to quarantine for 14 days.
Police received information she has contravened the public health order and on Monday visited her home in Redhead, south of Newcastle, and issued her with a warning for breaching the order.
Officers received further information she had left her home on Thursday morning and was in breach of the order.
At about 1.45pm on Thursday officers returned to the woman’s home and issued her with a $1000 penalty infringement notice.
A massage parlour on Sussex St in Sydney’s CBD was identified on Thursday as still operating, in contravention of a public health order.
The female owner of the business was issued with a $5000 penalty infringement notice.
Three female staff members were also given $1000 notices.
‘No one is above the law. If you decide to ignore a direction, you will be caught, and you may very well find yourself slapped with a hefty fine,’ Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said in a statement on Thursday.
‘The fact that people are still not complying is the reason why we have police out in full force enforcing these directions.
‘This behaviour is not only reckless and stupid, but potentially deadly.’