All health factors need to be taken into account in VIC’s Sunday lockdown announcement

“When the Victorian Premier stands up on Sunday to announce changes to the State’s harsh lockdown laws, he needs to take into account health considerations…all of them,” Tim Piper, Victorian Head of the peak employer association Ai Group said today.

“Every day the Government justifies the lockdown as being guided by COVID health concerns. There are many other health factors beyond COVID that should be taken into account in the Government’s reopening planning and a broader approach that considers the overall impact of lockdowns on health, lives and livelihoods should be part of the Victorian Government’s balance-of-risk decision-making

“The plan to reopen Victoria should be informed by impacts of the shutdown on mental health; impacts of the shutdown on missed cancer treatments; impacts of the shutdown on the number of people avoiding visits to GPs and missing out on early diagnosis of countless life-threatening illnesses; and the real risk of suicide related to a loss of hope.

“We all need to take the risk of COVID-19 seriously. We also need to take a balanced approach to how we deal with it and not have the cure become worse than the disease.

“Ai Group members meeting in Melbourne this week expressed extreme frustration with the State Government’s uncompromising approach to dealing with this crisis. They see it as pushing our local economy towards the precipice and harming our community and condemning many to unemployment queues for years to come.

“Businesses want the economy open again and internal travel restrictions removed but at the very least our members have called on the Government to allow any business to operate outdoors. This would include businesses such as cafes and restaurants but also the remainder of our manufacturing and construction sectors which are still restricted despite virtually no transmission. The risk of working outdoors is clearly much lower.

“Regional businesses such a meat processors, need to be operating as COVID-normal, with a full complement of staff. The continuing restrictions in regional Victoria on these businesses seem nonsensical.

“We also encourage the Government to remove the need for businesses to police their customers’ place of origin. Requiring businesses to be the origin police under threat of a $10,000 fine is developing a police state mentality and one which businesses are very reluctant to continue with. It’s not their job!

“We need our Government to sell hope not fear. Our hospitals are virtually empty. As of yesterday there was not a single COVID case in intensive care. We should not fear the capacity of our health system to deal with this current risk. It is the people avoiding hospital because of the restrictions and lockdown and the risk to them which should also be of real concern to policy makers.

“On Sunday Victoria wants to be open again. We can do it safely and take restrictions seriously if the Government gives us a chance,” Mr Piper said.

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