Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has shared a heartfelt message thanking Melburnians for their support during their stage-four lockdown – but been met with a wave of criticism from his electorate over the state’s COVID-19 second wave.
With hundreds of businesses deemed non-essential forced to shut and citizens locked in their homes during a curfew, the city’s streets have been left deserted.
On Tuesday night, Mr Andrews tweeted three photos showing the city’s normally bustling streets empty, and thanked Victorians for sticking to the rules.
The premier shared seven photos across two posts – including those showing the Tullamarine Freeway and the M80 Ring Road.
Both are normally filled with traffic and act as major arteries going in and around central Melbourne.
In the caption, Mr Andrews wrote simply: ‘Thank you.”
While his message received some support, other Victorians were angry about the second coronavirus outbreak.
Some called on their premier to stand down or take a pay cut in the wake of allegations he mishandled the state’s hotel quarantine process.
‘Now take responsibility for all your stuff ups and inconsistencies, take a pay cut and send the excess back to those who actually need it and have done nothing to suffer from your incompetence,’ one Twitter user responded.
Another said: ‘A better caption would have been: “Sorry that this was necessary. I promise to do better next time”.’
A third social media user said: ‘Another 12 weeks lockdown that was avoidable. Virtually half the year p***ed down the the drain thanks to your incompetence. Yes thank you – not.’
Not everyone agreed with the negative comments directed at Mr Andrews – with others praising him for making the ‘difficult decisions’.
One social media user said: ‘No, thank you! Thank you for being a great leader being able to make such difficult decisions! Thank you for being so compassionate, having so much composure each and everyday!’
A second said: ‘You’ve got this and we’ve got you! It’s a small sacrifice for life.’
One said Mr Andrews looked tired and wished the best for him and his family.
A fourth person said: ‘So grateful to you Dan for all your hard decision making…you have done an outstanding job.’
Stage four restrictions came into place for six weeks at 6pm on Sunday after the declaration of a State of Disaster. This included a curfew from 8pm to 5am every day.
Residents are only allowed to leave the home for one of four reasons: to shop for essential goods, to exercise, for medical care, to work in an essential industry or visiting a partner or child.
Anyone directed to self isolate is not allowed to leave their home to exercise.
Victoria recorded 439 new infections on Tuesday, out of a total 12,335 cases of COVID-19 confirmed since the pandemic began.
There were 11 deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 147.
Of the new cases, 63 are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 376 are under investigation.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Andrews lashed out at some Melburnians for their ‘unacceptable’ and ‘selfish’ behaviour.
‘Stay at home means stay at home for all of us, but it certainly it means stay at home for those who have the virus or those who have been directed to isolate,’ he said on Tuesday.
Mr Andrews announced the introduction of the harshest penalties across the country for individuals breaking laws around COVID-19 – a $4,957 on-the-spot fine.
‘If you are supposed to be at home and you are not, then you face the prospect of a fine of up to $5,000,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘We don’t want it to come to that. We want people to be where they are supposed to be. Because that is how we will all get past this.’
He also indicated authorities would take legal action against those putting lives at risk.
‘If there were particularly selfish behaviour, like for instance going to work when you have the virus, then there is the alternative pathway and that is of course taking you to the Magistrates’ Court where the maximum penalty that can be applied to you is $20,000,’ he said.
‘Every single positive case will be door-knocked multiple times, random and repeat door knocks.
Stage three lockdown will come into effect in the rest of Victoria at 11.59pm on Wednesday.