Goya Dmytryshchak and Benjamin Millar
Police have made more than 4000 spot checks in local streets as Victoria’s coronavirus cases climb, stage 3 restrictions came into effect and the Federal government revealed a $130 billion wage subsidy scheme to help keep businesses from folding.
There were 821 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria by Tuesday and 4364 nationwide, with four Victorians among 19 virus-linked deaths across the country.
Department of Health and Human Services figures released on Monday show 10 confirmed cases in Hobsons Bay and seven in Maribyrnong.
In surrounding municipalities, there were 21 confirmed cases in Wyndham, 23 in Moonee Valley and 16 in Brimbank.
Western Health has put out an urgent call for new nurses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced that visitors will no longer be admitted to Footscray Hospital’s intensive care unit.
“This decision has been made in the best interests of our patients and staff as well as visitors,” it said in a statement.
Under stage 3 restrictions, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday night, people are only to go out for essential shopping, medical care, exercise and work or eduction that can’t be done remotely.
Public social gatherings of more than two people are banned, excluding people from the same household.
Playgrounds, skate parks, outdoor gyms and Altona and Williamstown beaches are closed.
On-the-spot fines of $1652 for individuals and $9913 for businesses may apply for those ignoring the rules on which businesses can open, 14-day quarantine requirements and social gathering.
There is a six-month moratorium on evictions for tenants who can’t pay rent because of coronavirus and commercial tenants and landlords are advised to negotiate.
The federal government announced on Monday a Jobkeeper subsidy payment of $1500 a fortnight for all employees.
Hobsons Bay council has introduced measures to support local businesses including full rental rebates until June 30 for tenants of council-owned buildings, refunds of food premises registration fees and outdoor trading permit fees, and interest-free deferrals of the May and September rates.
Sporting clubs and community groups are also being offered financial relief.
Maribyrnong council is discounting the May quarterly rate payment for businesses by 50 per cent and allowing all eligible businesses affected by the COVID-19 virus to defer May and September payments without charging interest.
Rent for affected commercial tenants of council-owned properties will be halved until June 30.
Police last week conducted spot checks on businesses to ensure they were adhering to tough new operating regulations.
In Altona, hairdresser Doris Fiore cut a customer’s hair while wearing a mask.
“Our job is hands-on – you can’t do it 10 feet away or 1.5 metres away so I’ve got to protect myself [and] I’m going to protect the next person that we do,” she said.
“I’ve been here for such a long time that my clientele are probably older … they’re all worried about what’s happening.”
Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday said that while most Victorians are doing the right thing, there have still been instances of people gathering in significant numbers.
“Life is going to look very different for a while but if we don’t make these changes now, the virus will continue to spread, and our health system will be overwhelmed.”