HEARTBREAK DESCENDS AS MELBOURNE FALLS SILENT

The Victorian government’s desperate scramble to halt the spread of COVID-19 has prompted an unprecedented shutdown of the state’s most lucrative industries, with Premier Daniel Andrews introducing a raft of “painful” restrictions that will devastate the national economy for years to come. While the restrictions will see most retail, manufacturing and administration businesses close and strict limits placed on numbers of workers in settings such as abattoirs, warehouses and construction sites, many industries in which there have been significant coronavirus clusters will continue to operate, including health, aged care and takeaway food.

Mr Andrews said Victorians’ lives and livelihoods depended on the new stage-four measures being successful, but conceded that a further 250,000 workers would be stood down for at least the next six weeks, meaning more than a million Melburnians would be working from home until at least the end of September. Scott Morrison said it was “another heartbreaking day for Victorians” as he announced a $1500 pandemic leave disaster payment to ensure people required to isolate as a result of exposure to coronavirus could afford to stay home from work. “I know that across Victoria, many today, frankly, would have reached breaking point trying to come to terms with what has happened in their state, what it means for them, what it means for their family, what it means for their businesses,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister continued “They‘ve worked so hard for their jobs, for their livelihoods, for the care of their children and their education. It’s heartbreaking. This pandemic, this virus, is taking a heavy toll.” Business figures warned that the measures could be the “death knell” for hundreds of thousands of workers and businesses in the state, which represents 25 per cent of the national economy. Modelling from KPMG shows the imposition of stage-four restrictions across Melbourne will cost the state’s economy $830m in lost output in August alone, more than erasing months of hard-fought economic recovery since the lows of April.

Announcing the restrictions, Mr Andrews conceded they would effectively double the number of Victorians stood down from their jobs as a result of the coronavirus. “We estimate we have about 500,000 people working from home,” the Premier said. “We know there are about 250,000 people stood down in one form or another and this will add a further 250,000 in rough numbers. “But that is essential: the one million workers who are not travelling to and from work every day. “When you add in a million students together with teachers and staff, that is when you are radically, dramatically changing the number of people moving around the community, and therefore, the number of points at which the virus can be transmitted from one person to another.”

Editors note: Our hearts go out to all our Victorian readers as they shoulder the heavy responsibility that has been placed on them by the decisions of their Government. May God grant you His peace, assurance and hope in these difficult times and may you be sustained in part from knowing the prayers of your brothers and sisters around Australia are with you at this time.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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