Victoria records 423 new COVID cases and two deaths, as public transport shutdown planned

Police will suspend part of Melbourne’s public transport system for six hours on Saturday in an attempt to thwart planned anti-lockdown protests.Key points:The bulk of Victoria’s 423 new cases are not yet linked to existing outbreaksA roadmap will be unveiled on Sunday, detailing a plan to ease restrictions over the next few monthsUnion leaders say they would support mandatory vaccination if a public health order made it compulsoryTrains, trams and buses will not run into the CBD between 8:00am and 2:00pm, and extra police will be stationed in the city to fine and arrest people trying to take part.Meanwhile, the City of Ballarat will re-enter lockdown at 11:59pm tonight and remain under those restrictions for at least seven days after recording four positive cases and multiple wastewater detections and exposure sites.Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown was necessary because if the outbreak got away from health authorities in one part of regional Victoria, “then all of regional Victoria will be closed”.”People don’t just stay in one part of the regions, they move, they travel, they work.”The Premier said there would be additional testing resources and vaccines for Ballarat.By contrast, the community at Shepparton, which was in lockdown, will have its restrictions eased at 11:59pm tonight to match the rest of regional Victoria.He said the example of Shepparton’s success in containing its Delta outbreak showed the approach could work for Ballarat too.Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 3 minutes 6 seconds3m 6s Daniel Andrews announces Ballarat will enter a seven-day lockdown from 11:59pm.Victoria has recorded 423 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, as more organisations announce vaccine mandates for staff.Of the new cases, contact tracers have linked 149 to known outbreaks.There were 54,649 test results received on Tuesday, and 41,856 doses of vaccine were administered at state-run sites. The work of photographer Aida Muluneh exhibited in the main street of Ballarat.(ABC Ballarat: Rhiannon Stevens)Public transport shutdown planned to thwart protestsPolice are planning to temporarily shut down public transport this weekend to prevent protesters from travelling into the Melbourne CBD for anti-lockdown protests.Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said public transport would be closed between 8:00am and 2:00pm on Saturday, based on health advice about the risk of people converging as the state’s outbreak worsened.”What that means is that any buses will bypass the city, any trams will be stopped before the city … and trains will not come into the city during that period of time,” he said.Commissioner Patton said people who did travel in would be arrested and fined if they refuse to comply with restrictions.”It’s our intention, in the first instance, to prevent this protest occurring as much as we possibly can, to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.”The risk is so great from a convergence of thousands of people, as we saw recently.”He said the city would effectively be locked down as well using hard barricades, traffic management points and roving patrols.”For those who do get through, we will have significant police numbers in here to make sure that we are dealing with them, that we are holding them to account and we will arrest those people and issue infringements where we can,” he said.He said there would be exceptions for authorised workers, who would need work permits to prove they had a legitimate reason to be in the CBD.Last month 218 people were arrested and six police officers were hospitalised during violent anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne.The Victorian Council for Civil Liberties has criticised the decision in a public statement on Twitter, describing the shutdown as “military-style”.”As COVID numbers continue to rise, we do not support large public gatherings that don’t engage in mask-wearing and social distancing, including protests,” the statement said.”However, we are concerned that Victoria Police’s military-style tactics could be normalised and deployed against future responsible protests.”Mr Andrews earlier addressed calls from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to immediately end the state’s curfew and announce a roadmap out of lockdown earlier than this Sunday.Earlier in the day, an opposition release was issued that called for the lockdown to be lifted, but Mr Guy later clarified that he meant the curfew that remained in place in greater Melbourne.”The notion of opening up now is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous,” Mr Andrews said.He also said Victorians were “fast approaching” the target of having 70 per cent of people aged over 16 vaccinated with at least one dose and would likely meet it in the next day or two.More Ballarat cases expectedChief Health Officer Brett Sutton said wastewater detections in Ballarat dated back to September 8, which meant it was likely there had been undetected positive cases.”There’s probably been more widespread transmission than has been detected thus far,” he said.He said the widespread nature of the detections, in different parts of the city, were key to the decision to put the Ballarat community back into lockdown.Professor Sutton said he did not believe Victoria’s outbreak had reached its peak yet.”We haven’t peaked, unfortunately,” he said.”The Burnet [Institute] modelling and everything we know in relation to our current vaccination coverage would suggest that cases will continue to increase.”He said the fact the figures were “being held” in the 400s was testament to everyone isolating or quarantining doing the right thing, as well as the work of contact tracers.When asked if daily case numbers could surpass 1,000, he said it was “very hard to know”.”The risk of it getting to a thousand is real so we have to press on with vaccinations at the fastest possible rate for that reason alone,” Professor Sutton said.Victorian COVID-19 snapshotActive cases: 4,083Patients in hospital: 173ICU patients: 44Those requiring a ventilator: 23Deaths in recent outbreak: 8Updated 3:00pm, September 15, 2021COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said 88 per cent of cases remained concentrated in Melbourne’s north and west.Of today’s cases, 274 were in in northern suburbs and 112 cases were in the western suburbs.Mr Weimar said there were four outbreaks of particular concern to health officials at the moment, including transmission at a Box Hill construction site that has resulted in 146 cases.The other outbreaks he named were the outbreak at Fitzroy Community School, which has resulted in 38 cases, a cluster spread among V/Line staff that has resulted in eight positive cases and major disruption to regional public transport and seven cases linked to the Oporto fast food restaurant at Coolaroo.Five regional cases were detected, including two in Ballarat, one in Geelong and two in the Mitchell Shire. The Geelong and Mitchell Shire cases were close contacts of previous cases.Mr Weimar urged people not to rush forward to get tested in Ballarat unless they were symptomatic, and said it was a priority to get symptomatic people tested.He said there were still 61 active COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria and viral fragments had been showing up in the wastewater at Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven, on the Great Ocean Road, between September 7 and September 13. COVID-19 fragments have been detected in wastewater from Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven on the Great Ocean Road.(ABC News: Nicole Mills)The government plans to unveil a detailed roadmap out of lockdown on Sunday.”There will be a map that talks about what we are going to do in the rest of September, what we’re going to do in October and November,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.”It will be subject to all sorts of things including how many people are in hospital.”Melbourne has been under stage 4 lockdown restrictions since August 5, while most of regional Victoria has enjoyed relaxed restrictions since September 9.LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemicUnion leaders back vaccination public health orderUnions have so far resisted calls for mandatory vaccinations, especially if imposed by employers.Racing Victoria and St Vincent’s Health Australia are among the latest organisations to announce mandatory vaccination for workers.But union leaders have would told the ABC they would be supportive if it was made compulsory as a public health order by the Chief Health Officer, Professor Sutton.Victoria is preparing to make vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers, with discussion due on Friday at National cabinet about how it will work.Unions and some businesses would prefer government make rules, or at least provide guidelines, for mandatory vaccinations rather than employers.“Unions have been supportive of public health measures throughout the pandemic,” Trades Hall secretary Luke Hilakari said.“If the Chief Health Officer makes an order requiring workers to be vaccinated to do a job, we will support that order. Getting vaccinated is the best way we can keep each other safe and open up Victoria.”Professor Sutton said he was not against making vaccines mandatory in high risk settings if industry suggested it.Hospital network and Racing Victoria announce vaccine mandatesSt Vincent’s Health Australia says it will mandate vaccinations for all staff, volunteers and contractors at its facilities.St Vincent’s is Australia’s largest not-for-profit health and aged care service provider, operating 16 hospitals and 23 aged care facilities across the country. St Vincent’s Health Australia Group CEO Toby Hall said the policy would add to the already high vaccination rates across their organisation.”Over 70 per cent of our people across the organisation are already fully vaccinated. It’s been terrific to see staff doing their bit to protect each other and the health and aged care communities in which they work,” he said.”Similarly, many of our facilities and staff already operate in mandatory vaccination environments.” More organisations have begun making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for employees.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)Mr Hall said only around 200 of St Vincent’s 25,000 staff had outright refused vaccination, some with valid medical reasons.He told ABC Radio Melbourne some employees could be terminated if they did not comply with the mandate.”If someone is absolutely adamant they’re not going to get vaccinated, it’s very clear in the state mandates, that we won’t have any choice but to stop them working for a period of time in the frontline health space,” Mr Hall said.”There may be some situations where we do have to part ways with people. We absolutely want to avoid that, it’s the last thing we want to happen.”Victorian COVID-19 exposure sitesMore than 1,000 exposure sites are listed by Victorian health authorities, with dozens more added yesterday.Read moreIt follows Racing Victoria announcing its own mandate for all trainers, jockeys and staff to be vaccinated with at least one dose by the day of the Caulfield Cup on October 16.Racing Victoria has also mandated that all staff must be fully vaccinated by November 27 when the Zipping Classic is due to be held at Sandown Racecourse.The organisation’s chief executive Giles Thompson said the mandate could be affected by external factors.”I want to let our participants and staff know that whilst we have set important deadlines for compliance, we will continue to monitor vaccine supply in the weeks ahead and retain some flexibility if issues arise, particularly for the younger members of our workforce,” Mr Thompson said.”The possibility of crowds at our major race days later in spring and beyond that into 2022 is an important target for our industry and we need to ensure that we’re appropriately placed to welcome spectators back in a safe manner at the earliest opportunity, whilst protecting our staff and participants, and continuing to race.”Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 29 minutes 27 seconds29m Outbreak: How Australia lost control of the Delta variantWhat you need to know about coronavirus:Loading form…

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