Victorians protest against social distancing rules


Protesters appear to breach the 1.5 metre social distancing rules as they gather for speeches. Source: Luke Valentine

Victoria saw its first protest to the strict lockdown rules on ANZAC Day, when about 100 people including ex-servicemen and families gathered at Trafalgar Station Park in Gippsland.

While police were in present, they permitted the event to run its course, and no fines were issued.

Event speaker Topher Field said it was the first time he had broken the strict social distancing rules but believed the justifications for the restrictions were getting shakier every day.

“The economic impact of the lockdown is that it has hampered production and our ability to transport food around the world,” he said.

“The UN has warned that 150 million more people are going to be on the brink of starvation by the end of the year as a result of the pandemic.”

Mr Field said he was also concerned by the passing of the Omnibus Bill last Thursday, giving the Andrews government unprecedented powers until September 30.

“We have never had in Australia a premier who has given themselves six months to make any rules they want, spend as much money as they want, without input from any of the other elected representatives that we have voted to represent us,” he said

This adds to the pressure mounting on the Victorian Government to reopen schools in line with the advice of Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

This week, Opposition leader Michael O’Brien called on Mr Andrews to follow the national advice.

“Too many families are feeling the pressure of having to simultaneously work and home school their children,” he said.

“The expert medical advice is that schools are safe.”

Schools are open in South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory, while Tasmania is set to reopen this week and NSW on May 11.

Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino, issued a response on Twitter saying Victoria would not be opening schools until advised to do so by Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

“The situation is very fragile. A move back too early could see a spike in cases” Mr Merlino said.

“We will only transition back to face-to-face teaching for all students when that is the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer”.

The current advice of Prof Sutton is that the schools stay closed for Term Two.