Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has been fined $ 400 for twice failing to wear a mask outside Melbourne’s parliament as the state reported a record 1,838 local Covid cases and five more deaths.
Andrews apologized Friday for violating the state’s mask mandate Wednesday and Thursday morning as he walked across a parking lot to speak to reporters.
Both days, the prime minister wore a mask when he was driven to parliament, but took it off before walking through the parking lot.
“Police in Victoria can confirm that it has issued two violation notices to Prime Minister Daniel Andrews for violating the Chief Health Officer’s instructions,” a police spokesman said. “Premier Andrews today received two fines for not wearing a mask, each worth $ 200.”
All Victorians over the age of 12 must wear a mask when leaving their home – both indoors and outdoors.
Journalists and politicians are allowed to take them off while working, to answer questions or broadcast news segments.
Before the fines were issued, Andrews apologized for not wearing a mask, saying it was an “oversight” and promised to donate the same amount if he was not fined. “Even though this was an oversight, supervision matters, everyone has to follow the rules, and I’m sorry that happened,” he said.
Victoria on Friday reported the highest daily Covid case number in any state or territory. At the same time, it was revealed that the Andrews government had been forced to dilute its vaccination mandate for workers.
Vaccination directions were changed to exclude Commonwealth employees or litigants from being listed as fully vaccinated workers.
Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said it had become “more and more apparent” that there were restrictions when it came to mandate vaccinations among the cohort, which includes state MPs.
“There is a question of separation of powers that goes to the courts and parliament, but … we are working on mechanisms to ensure that each Member of Parliament complies with the same requirements that the public is expected to comply with through the mandate,” he said.
The controversial mandate was announced by the government and aimed to cover more than 1 million authorized workers.
The growing strain on the healthcare sector has led to the deployment of Australian Armed Forces personnel next week to drive ambulances and triathletes outside Melbourne hospitals.
In a condition first, two paramedics will no longer be deployed to each ambulance in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the strained hospital system. Instead, a paramedic will be joined by a driver from ADF, St John Ambulance Australia, State Emergency Service or a student paramedic, the newspaper Age reported on Friday.
The state health chief, Prof. Brett Sutton, warned Victorians to prepare for higher numbers of cases and deaths in the coming days and weeks, but expected the summit to be “close”.
“We are not going up at the same pace as in previous weeks and I think that is a good sign,” he said.
“We are on our way to the top, if today is not the top, and I do not think so, but I think we are close. Today is a record number, but it is important to reflect that our ICU admissions for the number of active cases are two-thirds of 1%. ”
Ambulance Victoria had been flooded with a record number of calls, the Guardian Australia reported, with the fleet running at only 5% capacity last Friday night amid rising Covid-19 pressure.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt said the state’s rising Covid-19 caseload was “confrontational,” but the vaccination program provided “real reasons for hope in Victoria.”
“As the first doses and second doses increase, the protection increases, and this has not only led to the flattening of the curve, but the decrease in numbers,” he said.
On Friday night, the head of health, Professor Brett Sutton, announced that the regional city of Mildura would be locked up for seven days from midnight on Friday after 12 cases had been discovered.
The current rules for Melbourne apply to Mildura, but there will be no curfew.
The regional cities of Shepparton and Moorabool come out of the lockdown from midnight Friday.
The Victorian health department also announced that people would be allowed to remove their masks to consume alcohol outdoors from midnight on Friday, and students attending school in years 3 and above should wear masks indoors. It was also highly recommended for children from prep to year 2.
Friday’s new cases were discovered based on 77,554 test results, in which 36,600 vaccine doses were administered across state-run sites.
Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said she expected the number of cases in Victoria to be “much higher” than NSW when the 70% double vaccination dose target was met.
“Our hospital system will be under considerable strain – so further cases especially in those who have not been vaccinated will add to an already congested healthcare system,” she said.
“I’m worried that Victoria will not be able to contain hospitalizations and deaths, even with the restrictions – our numbers are rising and the strain is seen in healthcare.
“Even though we make plans with 70%, there are still risk groups that are not in that vaccination rate, including Aboriginal communities and people with disabilities. These people, who are at greater risk of developing severe Covid, will be unprotected. ”
The number of critically ill Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization in Victoria continues to rise. There were 620 people hospitalized on Friday, including 114 people in intensive care and 76 in need of ventilation.
Those treated at the hospital included a positive Covid-19 police officer. Another police officer had recently tested positive but did not require hospitalization.
It is not known where they got the virus, but one of the two officers who tested positive was working on a recent CBD CBD protest, the Police Association of Victoria confirmed.