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Victoria has recorded 71 new local coronavirus cases as restrictions tighten for childcare and more exposure sites are identified.
Of the cases, 49 are linked to the current outbreaks. Authorities are investigating the acquisition source for the remaining 22 cases.
Mass confusion reined at the weekend over who was eligible to send their children to childcare.Credit:Michel O’Sullivan
Victoria recorded no new cases in its hotel quarantine in the past 24 hours. More than 46,440 COVID-19 test results were received on Sunday and nearly 22,200 vaccine doses were administered.
The figures come after a weekend of “confusion and bewilderment” for parents as authorities repeatedly gave contradictory advice on the decision to restrict access to childcare centres to essential workers.
One school principal told The Age he had struggled all weekend to get clarity and information from government officials about which children would be allowed to attend childcare and kindergarten from Monday.
The Chief Health Officer’s initial directions, published on Saturday, stated both parents would need to be authorised workers to send their children to childcare or kindergarten.
But late on Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews’ office announced the directions would be redrafted to say childcare access would be permitted if just one parent was deemed an authorised worker.
In a further direction even later on Sunday, the Department of Health said that parents would be allowed to work from home.
More exposure sites in Shepparton
Victorian health authorities identified a dozen new COVID-19 exposure sites in Shepparton on Sunday.
They included several tier-1 sites, which require anyone who attended them during the specified timeframes has to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test result.
The tier-1 sites included fresh food shops, a chemist, and a university campus in Shepparton.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police on Monday morning confirmed they received a report about a potential breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions at a funeral in Shepparton on August 11.
“This report was received days after the event,” a spokeswoman said.
She urged anyone with information about the event to contact Crime Stoppers.
Surge in calls to police about COVID-19 rule breaches
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Monday that there was a big surge in people reporting potential breaches of COVID-19 rules.
He said the police assistance line fielded nearly 3000 calls on Saturday, telling 3AW Breakfast it was the most calls he has seen “in a long, long time, if ever”.
On Sunday, Mr Patton said that, in addition to those fined for anti-lockdown protests, 130 people were fined for lockdown breaches across the state in the preceding 24 hours.
He said police had seen an “alarming escalation” in private gatherings at homes in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
The chief commissioner described the weekend’s anti-lockdown protests as probably the “most violent protest we’ve seen in nearly 20 years”, with six police officers hospitalised, and one facing leg surgery.
Mr Patton said he was investigating whether public transport could be shut in the lead-up to future protests to prevent large numbers of people from taking part.
On Monday morning, Victoria Police’s Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent reiterated the warning.
“Having that sort of event occur, with the possibility of someone in there being COVID-positive and the potential of a super spreader, just undermines all of what is being done in the state to keep everyone safe,” he told the Today show.
“We’ll continue to do our planning around protests to mitigate the numbers that come in. If we have to look at shutting down public transport systems and preventing access to the city, that’s what we’ll do.”
With Erin Pearson and Broede Carmody
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