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Your views on the Victorian COVID restrictions

Our September survey sought readers' views on how governments have handled COVID-19The question relating to Victoria was:

Do you think the latest lockdowns in Victoria are too harsh?

The majority of readers (68%) thought that the latest lockdown was indeed too harsh, either because of the extremely low levels of cases required before easing or for fear of underestimated adversity (or both). 32% of respondents thought the strict measures were required given the circumstances.

The comments show that decisions made by any government in these difficult circumstances are never clear cut. We all want fewer cases and deaths but the personal and financial costs are extremely high.

Here is a sample of the comments

Morrison must step in and use whatever powers he has to take over all the states. We are currently in The Netherlands where life goes on pretty much as normal. There are 1,000s of people dying from influenza, suicides, and cancers because they are denied access to early treatment and Australia has the lowest infection rate of any major country.

The present system is one-size-fits all disadvantaging too many people unnecessarily.

Melbourne versus other areas should have been treated separately.

Should have focused on older citizens and freed rural areas.

I believe the response to covid overall is wrong. we are in our seventies and retired but believe that herd immunity is the natural method of dealing with this pandemic. the data supplied by our state gov (vic) is wrong and slanted the way they would like us to see it (scare tactics) most deaths are from elderly who would have died soon anyway and while this sounds unfeeling on my part it is just a reality, some sensible precautions eg: isolation, testing and masks in crowded areas are fine but to wreck the economy is criminal. 

We need to get the virus as under control as possible, otherwise people's confidence in going out, etc will be severely reduced. There needs to be short term pain for long term gain.

This result will no doubt be skewed by responses by people who do not live in Victoria. Recent polls indicate that 70% of Victorians support the measures put in place by the Vic Government. People in other States may not necessarily appreciate the gravity of the situation in Vic when second lockdown was instigated.

Human beings in general are idiots as has been evidenced by idiots ignoring self-distancing and state premiers. Targeting hot spot outbreaks and education instead of locking down the entire country would be more appropriate.

Lack of parliamentary overview. Apparent lack of epidemic health plan. No oversight of hotel quarantine plan in victoria.

There should be a few exceptions based on absolute need and compassion. Letting footballers and their families go to Queensland is not one of them

The effects on the majority is mild, however the elderly should be looked after. Let people manage the risk. We don’t need the heavy hand of government to make these decisions. We should learn to live with the virus

Even in the most incompetent jurisdiction (the US) more than 99% of the population has not been infected with Covid and more than 99.9% of the population has not died from it. Victoria has managed the pandemic far more effectively than the US even before the current lockdown was instituted and it is unnecessary and damaging to financial and mental health.

It's just a virus! we've lived with corona-type viruses for centuries. admittedly this one is a bit more deadly, but people must be allowed to develop immunity rather than hide away from it. and of course it will mutate and so we must develop more natural resistance. Why have we succumbed to the 'pandemic' buzzword when we have been dealing with other pandemics forever? And in any normal year, the flu accounts for more deaths than covid19 has.

Dan Andrews keeps saying their plan is the only plan that will work. That is not true. Another plan that took into consideration mental health and long-term business impact, should have been taken. Yes it would have taken longer to get the numbers down, But much lower impact on society.

Yes the imminent health consequences of cov19 were looked at too narrowly and needed a team to look at adverse health effects. I unfortunately witnessed two suicides during cov19 of family. If the state is going to pause businesses then it should be compensated for, lots of families are doing it tough.

There should have been no lockdowns. The focus should have been on protecting those in aged care and vulnerable groups. The rest of society should have been left to go on as normal as there is an incredibly low mortality rate for those under age 70. The pollies have ruined our economy and there will be a spike in deaths due to other causes that far outweigh deaths from Covid 10.

Victorian government has underfunded health for too long (so mishandled) & the current Labor government isn't engaged sufficiently with business (mistrusted & so mishandled). Ditto to the last point on Queensland borders. 

Victoria did not have low enough numbers and had community transmission when it opened last time, forced by the federal government by measures such as forcing private schools to open early. This time the Victorian government will open slowly as the numbers show that each change is safe.

Case and death rates are already low enough for sensible, gradual reduction of the rules. More emphasis should be placed on protecting aged care.

53 postcodes in Melbourne have zero active cases, yet we are six weeks away from partially reduced restrictions!!!

We need to get a very low figure so we don't go into lockdown again.

New daily cases are now down to 40 or so. Curfew and business restrictions are too strict. Economy needs support.

We should be using proven & cheap medications such as Ivermectin & hydroxychloroquine to treat people early & minimise health impacts to all. Letting people become seriously ill before treatment is poor health policy at best.

Unfortunately the general populace cannot be trusted not to go silly once lockdown is lifted. The example is when the first lockdown was lifted; crowded 1000 steps, large shopping centres and Daylesford.

Better to come out of lockdown when numbers are very low to enable better management of cases and also allow business to stay opened. Cannot afford to have a large outbreak of virus then have to close business down again.

Although perhaps the below 5 number is too low.

The total of nursing deaths for this year are less than for the same time last year. We need to start being realistic about this virus. They have come before and will again.

You can't get the economy back to 'normal' until people feel safe going out and spending as they used to do. Aside from the hotel quarantine debacle, Victoria's big mistake was not getting on top of the problem quickly when it first manifested. NSW has managed well with less than 20 new cases for the past two months i.e. numbers haven't gone up. You have to get numbers down to that manageable level, with excellent testing and tracing in place, before you open up again, otherwise you just end up with a massive third wave.

We all have to learn to live with this thing. The decisions have been made on the basis of having power over the population, not for health reasons. If the contact tracing were adequate and testing of asymptomatic people were allowed, we could have opened up long ago. As it is, neither is fixed. I'm seeing people on the verge of despair, particularly those who live alone and young parents. (I live in Melbourne.)

Unfortunately mistakes were made that require these harsh measures and the consequential impact on mental health and business. We are now seeing 2nd waves in other countries that are worse.

This is our last chance in Victoria to control COVID-19. But at the latest we have to start relaxing restrictions from 30 September or we won't have any economy or State left. The vultures interstate are waiting to swoop on all the great events that Melbourne runs.

There is an apparent imbalance between the negative direct health impacts (Covid infections, hospitalisations ad deaths), the indirect and secondary health impacts (suicides, assaults, depressive episodes, increased stress, other serious health issues (cancer treatments, cardiac episodes)) and the short and long term economic impacts (businesses closing, increased unemployment, increased foreclosures, lower GDP, lower standard of living leading to negative health impacts...).

I can't see the rationale of the curfew. If people are wearing masks and social distancing, what difference does it make what time it is?

The harsher the measures the faster the control.

The sooner infections are controlled the sooner the economy can be re-opened and a Covid normal status is possible

How can Victoria implement a plan that would currently have NSW in lockdown and Queenslanders not allowed to go to work. There is also a total disregard for the mental health and preventative health impacts. Cancer screenings are way down. People are afraid to go to hospital when may have a stroke.

And families - there will be large numbers of broken families which hardly gets spoken about.

The experts tell us that Covid isn't likely to disappear any time soon. Given that over 40% of carriers are asymptomatic, it may keep spreading around the world. Rather than indefinite shutdowns, at some stage we may need to learn to live with case numbers that are manageable by the health system.

Once fear was used to try and get a quick elimination of the virus it was hard to stop the fear when cases increased. Now the truth cannot be told as reputations would suffer.

My answer is "probably" but your 4 tick-boxes are too un-nuanced. A better question, to my mind would have been "is the trickly path NSW is following a good bet or too high-risk to be comfortable?" And an ancilliary question should have been "Are the targets being demanded by Queensland (and in effect SA, Tas and WA) unrealistic and effectively trying to achieve elimination when the goal all along has been suppression?"

Physical health was the early priority as health services were put under pressure. More emphasis must now be placed on long term economic and mental health.

Aside from Andrews' desire for control, the overall not stated philosophy seems weak and very much planning on the run. Leaders should be more focused on the longer term not on day to day events. What is the target?

If you lived in a country where it was out of control your opinion may be different - we are lucky and can afford to lock down.

I would rather do this just once and get it over with rather than going back and forth repeatedly. Do it properly and then move on as we can open up in confidence. The economy will bounce back at that point.

National borders will not reopen until we virtually have elimination, in spite of what the PM wants. The Australian public expects elimination, not controlled outbreaks. The risk of community spread is not acceptable to the "quiet Australians".

Better containment, isolation and mask-wearing requirements would focus on the risk-critical groups without penalising the entire State

I never thought I'd see the day when there was a curfew in Australia. The extent to which hospitals are coping with case load should drive restrictions.

Clear evidence that Victoria has not appreciated the significance of the problem either because material ethnic speaking people were not able to understand dangers/requirements or poor communication and oversight of remediation by Vic government or both.

Better to err on the cautious side. If a third lockdown comes soon, it won't work due to lockdown fatigue.

My comments about the Victorian premier aren't complimentary so I will not go there (I'm originally from Victoria). How long can people cope with such restrictions before they crack both mentally and financially?

I strongly support the lockdowns, I think is necessary and although I do not live in Victoria if it would happened in the State where I live I would support it too.

It's not a perfect world. More emphasis should have been given to protecting the more vulnerable and more done to protect the economy

Economy is being trashed with ridiculous restrictions. Dan is a control freak with a total inability to listen

I think they have overcooked it... Hopefully they see this and relax the restrictions sooner than planned.

As Victoria's initial lockdown was harsher than other states this meant that people did not have the regard for a second wave. The truth is that elimination in the short term is impossible all states need to manage the virus not hide from it

The lockdown fails to take into account the huge negative economic impact of restrictions whilst the health benefit is over-hyped. The fear it has created in the broader community is worrying. Surely Australians can live with some risk whilst sensibly self-managing themselves! Dan Andrews has never worked in private enterprise - he is an embarrassment to sensible Australians.

Andrews is not taking Health advice as he so often states, and has clearly lied about his role in this debacle.

The rewards for all the pain of the first wave quickly evaporated when the second wave hit. Do we want to see this cycle continually repeating? The adverse impact on mental health and closed businesses will be far worse if we have third, fourth, ... waves.

Some aspects only ...one cannot really be allowed to cherry pick. If the young are leading the 'death to granny' charge curfews should stay - barely, but if social distancing and masks were enforced in this cohort curfews could go.

5 & zero are ridiculous targets!

If Daniel Andrews wants two weeks of ZERO infections, from a population who clearly thumb their noses at any social distancing requests, well this just naive to be kind. Let's face it if everyone did 'the right thing' we would need a lot less laws than we have. Speeding, drink driving etc. as simple examples of poor social etiquette.

We do need to reduce the number of infections, but the level suggested before easing may be over stepping what is required

The economy may already be too badly damaged to easily come back from. It was a ridiculous exercise of power gone to the head of the premier coupled to extreme risk-averseness.

Economy will not improve unless the virus is well controlled. It is not a choice between public health and the economy - good public health will support the economy long term. An early sugar-hit by re-opening too soon will just result in further restrictions long term. Do the job right, the second time at least.

The problem for Vic was that the lockdown was not enforced in the early stages. Too many people flouted the rules which led to the spread of the disease. After the initial reaction you need to manage the situation. Vic bureaucracy wasincapable of this.

Most cases are in Aged Care facilities, which could have been isolated from the rest of the community.

Plus more people are likely to die from mental and other illnesses caused by not seeing their health professionals or being operated on early. Death rates rise when people become poorer.

The Victorian roadmap exit plan out of lockdown, is far too disproportionate for the risk at hand. Take for example the threshold to get back to stage 2, of "no more than five new cases per day". Where did "five" come from? Just plucked it out of the air like the 8pm curfew, no doubt. It is an indictment on the contact tracing process if it can't handle more than five new daily cases. The federal government, business, and health officials outside Victoria, need to hammer this point. Work backwards. Work out the the capability of a decent contact tracing team beefed up with interstate support, and by all means, build in a little conservatism. Then surely you still end up with a number many multiples of five. It's quiet apparent that no decent risk analysis has taken place on developing the so-called roadmap. It appears that only the most risk-averse approach has been considered, on the most onerous of assumptions. And for a plan to have such far-reaching adverse consequences both socially and economically, surely another set of eyes is required to scrutinise the modelling, and the plan of attack set as a consequence of that modelling. In any case. If Victoria could get up to speed with Australian best practice, à la NSW, you wouldn't need a model to predict outcomes. You would only need to look to live experience already unfolding north of the border, to see that a state can function quite well while NOT locked down, and managing case numbers of more than five per day.

We have to learn to live with the virus, I would follow the Swedes' model.

The economy in Victoria is keeping the whole country back economically. They could have extended the distance limit to 10km and opened cafes and restaurants to outside only

People must start to take the situation seriously and do the right thing and if they had done so the current restrictions would maybe not harsh. Mr Andrews seems to love his power.

Victoria seemed slow in getting on top of the containment strategy. When compared to what is happening in NSW, you can only assume that Victorians are paying the price for mismanagement. The lockdowns seem to be working but I wonder why it had to get so out of control?

Contrary to global and local health recommendations. Governments don't like giving freedoms back

People have demonstrated inability to take serious precautions without lockdown measures, so they are unfortunately necessary.

Until Victoria has more effective contact tracing, I think they need to continue with strict lockdown. Once there is clear evidence that cases and deaths are under control I.e similar to NSW or QLD, they can relax restrictions. Hopefully this will be in weeks not months

It is absolutely insane to lock people down and absolutely destroy businesses for a small number of cases. Keep it out of the aged care homes and let the rest of us get back to work.

Every jurisdiction ex China that has released its lockdown measures have seen a spike and look headed toward further lockdowns. Unless people are willing to give up freedoms (digital tracking) I see no alternative to locking down until contact tracing efforts are manageable.

Understanding virus distribution (Governments and Individuals) and individuals taking responsibility for personal behavior will lessen distribution an allow an earlier return to easing lock downs and border closures which now being discriminate against those who do the right thing.

How many others in Dan Andrews' position would have done as well? Look at Boris, Trump et al.

They have set unrealistic targets because they are terrified of another wave and being of socialist bent don't see the problems they are causing financially. The fact that many in government have never had a real job but went to politics from university means they have no real world appreciation of what they are doing.

Nowhere is the economic cost of shutdowns being even addressed. To have shut down at the start without even a second thought was ignorant and despotic.

Despite the lockdown people are being irresponsible by protesting in these Covid times. The Government should take a firm stand by stopping their jobseeker / jobkeeper payments. They are endangering the lives and livelihood of those who are paying taxes to support them.

I think there should be greater scope for people to still work, particularly in industries where contact with the public can be extremely minimal if not contactless.

Judgement is only appreciated in retrospect, but government and leader must make it forwards. I would not like to be there. Andrews is doing well overall.

we are going to have to manage and live with Covid19. Eradication is not a realistic objective

 

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