Victoria has recorded its darkest day yet, with 725 cases and 15 deaths confirmed, while the Premier has announced a permit system for childcare.
A man in his 30s is among the deaths, while 12 of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities.
Premier Daniel Andrews described the death of a man in his 30s, who succumbed to COVID this week, as a "tragedy".
He confirmed the man was not a healthcare worker.
"This is not just something for those who are frail and aged," he said.
"It can be deadly and it has been deadly – here and overseas."
Three men and one woman in their 70s, three men and three women in their 80s, and three men and one woman in their 90s are among the deceased.
There is a cumulative total of 13,035 cases in Victoria and the death toll stands at 162.
Of the 7227 active cases, 1435 are linked to aged care.
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There are 538 Victorians in hospital with the virus, of which 42 are in intensive care
PREMIER FLAGS PERMIT SYSTEM FOR CHILDCARE
Childcare and kindergarten will be made available to workers who have no other way of looking after their children while they worked, Mr Andrews announced.
Mr Andrews flagged a permit system would be enforced, and acknowledged the new system would be frustrating for many Victorians.
"There will be many, many families who will not be able to access child care as they normally would and that is essential to driving down movement, it is essential to driving down these numbers," Mr Andrews said.
"What I can say though is there will be a further permit system as simple as possible, a simple process, but if you are a permitted worker, regardless whether you are working in person or from home and you attest that there is no-one else in your household that can look after your children you will be able with that very simple permit to access child care.
"I know that that will mean that many people who have been using child care and rely upon child care will not be able to do that, these rules, I should stress, also apply to kinder and they will essentially apply to primary school students attending school and basically doing remote and flexible learning in a supervised environment outside their home."
Mr Andrews said access to the permits would be made available on Wednesday afternoon, but warned there would be no grace period for parents navigating the permit system.
"It is so difficult to write a rule book that takes into account the circumstances of hundreds of thousands of families," he said.
"They're all different and we're asking people to approach this in good faith."
He said it was a "very simple document."
"It will simply be the person indicating that they are doing permitted work and attesting that there is no one in their home that can look after the kids," he said.
"We're trying to make this as simple as we possibly can."
Mr Andrews warned there would be penalties for anyone caught fudging the declaration.
"There will be penalties if people were to make a false statement that they didn't have an alternative to home childcare arrangement and then sent their kids to child care," he said.
"If we see unacceptably high numbers of children in childcare or kinder, and we believe that there are people who aren't going to every effort to try to provide an alternative arrangement or change their own arrangement in their home to keep their child out of childcare, then I'll have no choice but to look at these measures in the weeks to come."
Mr Andrews said there would be further clarity provided about in-home babysitters and family members, such as grandparents, later on Wednesday.
Mr Andrews said parents would have to be honest and make a judgment call on their own work situation.
"I'm asking families to work with me to do that," he said.
He said vulnerable children would still be permitted at kinder and childcare.
He predicted if the measures worked to drive down numbers, more children could be allowed back at childcare.
High Street Northcote is empty as stage 4 restrictions come into place in Melbourne. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/NCA NewsWire. Source:News Corp Australia
MENAROCK HIT WITH WARNING A COVID-19 affected aged care facility in Highett has been slapped with an official warning from the Commonwealth after it was found to pose immediate and severe risks to its residents.
The Menarock facility was issued a Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Notice to Agree on Tuesday for endangering the health, safety and wellbeing of care residents.
The 60-bed nursing home was audited by federal authorities amid surging cases across the city.
"On the Rosehill facility – the delegate determined there is an immediate and severe risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of care recipients at the service following information about the COVID-19 outbreak that has been communicated to the Commission on 3 August 2020," the notice read.
"The delegate is particularly concerned about assessment and planning, personal and clinical care and organisational governance."
The facility is expected to immediately appoint an independent Adviser to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents and communicate weekly with the Commission on its progress.
The home has also been wanted to communicate with the families of residents.
If Menarock fails to comply with orders from the Commission, it would lose federal government funding for the facility.
On Wednesday, 67 cases had been linked to the Menarock facility in Essendon.
– Tamsin Rose
FURTHER RESTRICTIONS ON ELECTIVE SURGERY ENFORCED
Mr Andrews also announced there would be further cuts to elective surgery in regional Victoria.
He said the reduction – which will allow only Category 1 and urgent Category 2 procedures – was to ensure hospitals had enough staff and equipment to deal with further coronavirus patients.
VICTORIA'S BIGGEST OUTBREAKS
159 cases – St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner
155 cases – Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping
139 cases – Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer
114 cases – Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth
93 cases – Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg
78 cases – Arcare Aged Care Facility in Craigieburn
74 cases – Baptcare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee
72 cases – Glendale Aged Care Facility in Werribee
68 cases – Aurrum Aged Care in Plenty
67 cases – Menarock Life Aged Care Facility in Essendon
189 cases – Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown
164 cases – Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham
80 cases – Australian Lamb Company in Colac
81 cases – Melbourne Health Royal Park Campus
57 cases – Woolworths Distribution Centre Mulgrave
28 cases – Golden Farms Poultry in Breakwater
36 cases – Catholic Regional College in Sydenham
44 cases – Linfox warehouse in Truganina
39 cases – Nino Early Learning Centre in Bundoora
29 cases – Ingham's Thomastown
29 cases – Respite Services Australia in Moonee Pond
HEALTHCARE WORKERS ON THE MEND Two healthcare workers struck down by COVID-19 are now recovering at home after spending days in ICU.
A spokesperson for Northern Health on Wednesday confirmed the pair had been discharged and were recuperating.
"Both of the health care workers in the Northern Hospital ICU over the weekend are now recovering at home," the spokesperson said.
It is understood one of the workers, believed to be in their 30s, is an emergency department registrar at the hospital.
– Alanah Frost
CURFEW STILL APPLIES TO INTIMATE PARTNERS
The Premier said intimate partners should treat their partner's home like their own when they were visiting, and observe the citywide curfew.
"Intimate partners can visit each other but when you are with your partner, or they are with you, depending on which home you are visiting, that is essentially your home and the rules apply to you as if you both live in that premises," he said.
"So, if you at 8pm are at your partner's house, then the curfew applies to you from that home.
"If you are out 4 in the afternoon, if you are visiting your partner, the rules around only going shopping once a day, no further than 5km away, that applies to you.
"Exercise once a day, no more than 5km from that premises, that applies to you."
Police and ADF personnel patrol the Treasury Gardens in Melbourne. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/NCA NewsWire. Source:News Corp Australia
MAJOR CUTS AT UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
About 450 academic and professional jobs are to be cut at the University of Melbourne as the coronavirus pandemic knocks a $1 billion hole in the institution's bottom line.
More casual and fix-term employees will lose their jobs too in the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and the loss of revenue from international students.
Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the cuts were unavoidable and a last resort.
AGED CARE CASES CLIMB BY 249
The number of cases linked to aged care settings now stands at 1435, an increase of 249 cases since Tuesday.
Mr Andrews said the outbreaks at aged care homes were now "stable"
"There are now a number of settings that were in crisis that are now being handed back… but we are also exploring the notion of some blended teams," he said.
"None of us should underestimate the trauma of those patients… but clinical need drives it and it will continue to."
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said more than 800 shifts at aged care homes had now been filled by public and private healthcare staff.
She said residents would continue to be transferred to hospital if needed.
"We do have some capacity to absorb some more patients from aged care facilities," she said.
"(But) it can be very traumatic for our aged care residents to be transferred from what is their home… but we will do that where necessary."
WOMAN'S ALLEGED ASSAULT OF POLICE OFFICER AMONG NEW FINES
A drug driver who allegedly assaulted a police officer in Coldstream faces a mandatory six month jail sentence for her alleged actions.
The 41-year-old Chum Creek woman was arrested after she failed to complete a drug test and allegedly assaulted a police officer at the Maroondah Highway vehicle checkpoint about 8.45am on Tuesday.
She was taken into custody and it is expected she will be charged on summons with assault police and drug driving related offences.
The police officer sustained a minor graze in the incident.
The woman was one of 155 disobedient Victorians who were fined in the past 24 hours for breaching strict stage four stay at home orders.
Of those 36 were fined for refusing to wear a face mask or covering and 25 were fined for curfew breaches.
Other flagrant breaches of the rules included:
A MAN on board the 9.46pm train heading to Flinders Street Station with no exemption;
THREE PEOPLE who had been drinking together between 5.30pm and 8.50pm in the Docklands;
A MAN who was not wearing a mask at Flinders Street Station who lives more than 5km from the CBD;
A MAN who was clothes shopping in Airport West despite living in Mernda;
A MAN who walked to a petrol station at 4am to buy food in Maribyrnong and
A WOMAN who travelled to a shopping centre more than 5km away to purchase makeup.
– Brianna Travers
CHILDCARE BOOST FOR VICTORIAN PARENTS
A further 30 days of absence for childcare services will be provided for Melbourne families during the stage 4 lockdown.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan urged parents to keep their kids enrolled in childcare centres and use the absence days so they could rejoin the service when they returned to work.
Childcare services will be urged to waive the gap fee so there would be no cost to parents in the scheme, to come in effect on Thursday.
"For all Victorian parents, for all Victorian families, you will be getting an extra 30 days of allowable absences," Mr Tehan said.
"That means if you're not in a position to be able to send your child to care, you can use those absences, providers can waive the gap fee so there will be no cost to you for keeping your child enrolled while you can't access child care for the next 30 days.
Read the full story here .
– Tamsin Rose
A man waits in line for a haircut at Urban Man Barber in Glenferrie Rd before hairdressers are shut down under stage four restrictions. Picture: Ian Currie/NCA NewsWire. Source:News Corp Australia
COURT GOES VIRTUAL
Melbourne's magistrates courts have turned virtual with accused criminals and their lawyers advised they can now only appear remotely due to COVID-19.
In the latest sweeping changes to meet stage 4 restrictions, the state's chief magistrate, Lisa Hannan, has announced no practitioners or accused should be attending courts in the Melbourne metropolitan shire.
They would need to seek permission if they want to enter the court building, she said.
But magistrates and prosecutors will remain working from inside the court.
The court will also only focus on urgent matters including new remands, bail applications and family violence cases, with all others being adjourned.
The move will apply while stage 4 restrictions are in place.
As of Thursday, anyone charged at either Werribee, Frankston, Sunshine, Broadmeadows, or St Kilda police stations will remain at the station and have their court matter heard via video conferencing platform, WebEx.
If there is not enough room at the station, or they are at a facility where they can't be locked up, then police will continue to bring the accused to court.
Judge Hannan said the courts would remain open, but it was necessary to reduce the number of people in court buildings "to ensure the health and safety of our judiciary, staff and all court users".
"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the court must continue to adapt its procedures to maintain access to justice in a manner consistent with emergency health measures currently in place," Judge Hannan said.
"All matters should now be listed with the online magistrates court."
– Rebekah Cavanagh
PM URGES ANDREWS TO REASSESS CONSTRUCTION SHUTDOWN
The federal government is seeking urgent changes to the stage four shutdown of Melbourne businesses to protect the construction industry and ensure distribution centres can continue operating.
Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning that several issues had been raised with Daniel Andrews because it was "so important that they get these restrictions right".
"These are very real issues and we'll look to see their responses," the Prime Minister said.
"Some of them are very urgent, particularly around distribution centres. The issues around major construction projects, there's some serious issues raised there and we'll be relaying those further on today. I know the Premier was working on these last night."
Mr Morrison also had a blunt message for Victorians disobeying the tough new rules.
"The report that I saw of a Victorian police officer being assaulted by someone pretending to do this in the name of liberty was just disgusting," he said.
"People have got to get real. I know this is tough. I know it's frustrating. I know it's hard to understand and it's confusing. I understand all that. But we've got to make this work and we've got to push through that and I know there's going to be things that really test people's patience."
"We're going to try and put everything we can to support Victoria to get this right as best as they can. But we've also got to do the right thing by each other, and that's up to us."
The Prime Minister is urging the state government to reconsider its stance on construction. Picture: Mark Stewart Source:News Corp Australia
MIKAKOS DUCKS QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has been called a "shameful disgrace" and is facing calls to resign after attending parliament but refusing to answer any questions about the government's pandemic response.
Ms Mikakos and about 10 other MPs disregarded medical advice from the state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who recommended they did not attend parliament.
A "smug" Ms Mikakos then ignored questions about the government's coronavirus response, including the bungled hotel quarantine program that sparked the state's disastrous second wave.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos attends parliament despite the Chief Health Officer's advice. Picture: Andrew Henshaw Source:News Corp Australia
Members of Victoria's Legislative Council sit despite the Chief Health Officer's advice. Picture: Andrew Henshaw Source:News Corp Australia
Ms Mikakos dismissed six key questions, prompting questions about why she bothered to defy the advice not to attend, only to refuse to answer queries.
"It was just extraordinary and it looked smug and arrogant," said Opposition upper house leader David Davis.
"People are entitled to answers and all she had to do was stand there and answer truthfully."
A government spokesman blamed the Liberal Party for ignoring advice from Mr Sutton and putting "staff at risk".
"Given Michael O'Brien and the Liberal Party's dangerous move – the Government had to ensure it had the numbers in the upper house that blocked them from taking any further irresponsible action."
Sources close to the government said it felt it had to send some upper house MPs to parliament amid fears the Opposition and crossbench would otherwise push through "wild" motions. But only a small number of politicians — five from Labor — entered the chamber.
Front page of the Herald Sun Wednesday, August 5. Download the digital print edition Source:Herald Sun
Given Labor has 17 Legislative Council members, critics said the Health Minister did not need to be among those ignoring health advice.
In the chamber, Ms Mikakos slammed the Opposition, saying: "The position that the government has been forced into in relation to today's sitting has been one that has set a very dangerous position — not just in terms of putting staff at risk but also sending a clear message to the community that the Chief Health Officer's advice can be ignored."
But Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid hit out at all the MPs who disregarded Prof Sutton, saying there was "nothing special about politicians".
"They're not immune from COVID. They haven't been vaccinated and they, and their staff, can certainly transmit this virus around the country," Dr Khorshid said.
"It is very disappointing that the Victorian upper house is sitting against the Chief Health Officer's advice."
After Ms Mikakos's refusal to answer questions, Opposition MPs Georgie Crozier and Bernie Finn, who labelled her a "shameful disgrace", called for her to resign.
Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick said it was surprising Ms Mikakos showed up as "she never intended to answer a question".
A quiet Emporium shopping centre on Tuesday. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images Source:Getty Images
Police officers and soldiers on patrol at The Tan. Picture: William West/AFP Source:AFP
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten said it showed "complete disdain for the Victorian public".
"She had a platform to talk through some of the most important issues facing this state right now, and refused to do so," said Ms Patten.
It comes amid growing frustration among government members over the decision to release minimal data about Victoria's COVID-19 cases, instead hiding behind the ongoing judicial inquiry.
A handful of ministers have also expressed annoyance with Daniel Andrews' move to create a "Super Cabinet" of eight, including himself, Ms Mikakos, Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville and Industry Minister Martin Pakula.
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews has thanked Melburnians for abiding by the new coronavirus curfew and staying home.
Mr Andrews sent out a short but sweet message last night, sharing photos of the city's empty roads with the words "Thank you" via his social media.
The photos show the usually busy streets of Punt Road, Royal Parade and the Nepean Highway without any traffic as a result of the Stage 4 restrictions which came into effect this week.
PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, WE'RE IN A BAD STATE
Fitness trainer Michael Ramsey owns two pilates/rowing studios called Strong and fears for the future of the fitness industry. Picture: Mark Stewart Source:News Corp Australia
Michael Ramsey says the fitness sector has had its heart ripped out.
The trainer and owner of Strong pilates studios has grave concerns for people's health and wellbeing without their exercise routines.
"We've got absolutely nothing now, they've pulled personal training completely," Mr Ramsey said.
"Probably the very last thing we could do was train people outside but that's been taken away. The only thing we can do is online and apps.
"When we came back from the last isolation everyone had gained weight and people were well out of their routines.
"There's been a lot of mental health talk but not a lot of solutions."
Mr Ramsey opened in Elsternwick and Mornington nine months ago, and has plans to open four studios interstate and in New Zealand.
He will launch an app next week but is considering moving his headquarters to the Gold Coast.
"Victoria is riddled with coronavirus and I can't see us operating until November or December,'' he said.
"We're not in a great place."
TRACING APP NOT HELPFUL IN VICTORIA
Victorian authorities stopped using the federal government's COVIDSafe app for two weeks during the deadly second wave of the pandemic, it has been revealed.
Federal Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy on Tuesday told the federal COVID committee Victoria's public health unit stopped using it "because they were so pressured" and were not finding it helpful. He said they had since "committed" to using it after reports of successful tracing in NSW.
Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng, confirmed the app was being used to trace contacts again.
He said it had not proven as useful for Victorian authorities during the second wave, as most people contracted the virus at work or at home, and their contacts were easily identifiable.
Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng says the COVIDSafe app has not proven as useful for Victorian authorities during the second wave. Picture: Getty Images Source:Getty Images
The Herald Sun believes the app's use was limited for a fortnight while interstate contact tracing teams were brought in and information- sharing procedures changed. A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said the app would "continue to play an important role in the response to the pandemic" and people were encouraged to download it.
It comes as Australians worried about their privacy revealed they were lying on contact forms, including at cafes and restaurants.
A poll of 1500 Australians, given exclusively to News Corp, found one in 10 Victorian respondents had provided incorrect or incomplete details on contact forms.
Almost a quarter of Melburnians were concerned their details would not be destroyed, and about a fifth were concerned business would use the data for marketing.
— Tamsin Rose and David Aidone
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