Dan hits back against lockdown criticism
It was a big day for locked-down Victorians, who discovered restrictions in the state will finally ease from as early as 11.59pm overnight.
But not everyone is happy - lashing out at Premier Daniel Andrews over some of the decisions surrounding business closures and home visits announced on Sunday.
Anticipating to the backlash, Andrews made it clear he's aware not everyone would be impressed - issuing a warning to naysayers in the process.
"For those who are pleased, I'm pleased for you," Andrews told media on Sunday.
"For those who aren't, please understand this: these are not easy decisions to make, there is a lot at stake," he added.
"If we do too much too fast, then we'll be where none of us ever want to be again. Doing this again, back where we were."
His warning came as criticism erupted from the retail industry - with Mr Andrews accused of "ignoring" businesses that hoped for reprieve before the end of October.
"You cannot fix the economy and repair the damage that this virus has done to the economy until you deal with the virus," the Premier told reporters.
"To go further than we have announced today is not safe and every person in business who is not pleased - well, no-one is enjoying this. It is not like we have made a decision and we had all of these perfectly equal options and we chose one rather than the other. No, that is not what we have done.
"We will get you open when it is safe to be open. For you, for your staff, for your customers and for every single Victorian."
While the Australian Retailers Association said the plan to reopen stores on November 2 was an "enormous relief", Chapel Street Precinct general manager Chrissie Maus labelled it "an unjust joke".
"This is no longer acceptable or sustainable for our businesses," she said.
"I would rather have kept the 5km limit and the shops opened."
Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott said there was no point to easing any rules if nothing was allowed to open.
"This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses who are hanging on by a day, not a week," she said.
"Simply being allowed to go for a haircut or outside a bit more when you have no job, no money and your business has failed is just not good enough."
"I would rather have kept the 5km limit and the shops opened."
Similarly aggrieved on Sunday were AFL fans banned from visiting friends to watch the game on the weekend.
"Grand Final, fantastic day, important day, don't go to your mate's place," Mr Andrews said.
"Now, the Grand Final is very different this year, very different for obvious reasons, and while I know that many people would normally spend time with family and friends to celebrate that day, whether their team is in the Grand Final or not, it is a big part of who we are.
"But your household and only the members of your household, that is how Grand Final Day has to be. You cannot have friends over. Into your home. You cannot pretend that it is over because we all desperately want it to be.
"As important as it is, in a cultural sense, in a very passionate way, for every single football fan across our state, it is not worth risking all that we have done, all that we have built, all that we can do in just a few days' time by having gatherings that are unsafe."
Footy-mad Victorians hoping to cheer on Geelong or Richmond with their mates did not take the news well, with Blues star Brendan Fevola among them.
No Grand Final party or BBQ’s with friends 😭 I’m officially done. Might have to get hammered for Brownlow tonight 💪🥃— Brendan Fevola (@BrendanFevola25) October 18, 2020
Questions have also been raised over the point of Daniel Andrews expanding the distance Melburnians are allowed to travel from 5km to 25km.
Infectious diseases expert Catherine Bennett, of Deakin University, said she was surprised by the government's decision to keep the restriction in place - given the original rule was meant to be scrapped when Victoria moved its third stage of restrictions easing.
"I thought we were ready for step three," Professor Bennett said.
"I'm not sure what 25 kilometres gives us and I don't know how you'd police that.
"Frankly, if you're worried about popular beaches or the Dandenongs getting flooded (with visitors) it would be a much more efficient use of police resources to manage these locations."
Australian National University's Professor Peter Collignon echoed the opinion that extending the rule to 25km "doesn't do much".
"Provided people are keeping to the rules when they go out, it doesn't matter if they travel 25km or 50km or 100km as long as they stay within that defined boundary," he said.
"Remember it's people crowded in staffrooms, in workplaces, essential workers, that's where the virus has spread.
"And the five kilometre limit hasn't made any difference in regards to that."
Concluding his announcement on Sunday, the Premier thanked Victorians for their hard work and urged them to keep following the rules.
"Yes, these lockdowns have come with pain and damage and hurt but the strategy is working and will continue to work," he said.
"Not so long ago we had 725 cases and there was simply no way we could have a debate, a perfectly legitimate debate about how to open, when to open, how to do that.
"It was not an option available to any of us. But Victorians, in every community, from every background, every circumstance, have stayed the course and we just have a little longer to go, just a little longer to go in order to see off the second wave, defeat the second wave, and then to find the normal and to begin the process of rebuilding - not just repairing damage but making sure our state, individuals, families, communities, the economy, is stronger than it has ever been."
Originally published as Dan hits back against lockdown criticism
So Grand Final day will be a lonely affair.— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) October 18, 2020
For everyone asking.. no, you can’t have people over for the Grand Final. The Premier says it must be different this year. Home visits don’t resume until Nov 1 (with restrictions). Former Premier Jeff Kennett isn’t happy about it... https://t.co/qneLwPylI7— Candice Wyatt (@CandiceWyatt10) October 18, 2020