‘No evidence’ Melbourne’s draconian curfew keeps coronavirus cases down – admits the senior bureaucrat who extended the policy
- Curfew extended despite no evidence it would slow spread of virus on its own
- Only removed Monday evening amid rapid decline in transmission of COVID-19
- Medical adviser said in court there was no evidence curfew alone slowed spread
- Measure was ‘part of a package of directions’ that as a whole could be effective
- Court case brought by a Mornington Peninsula cafe owner suing the government
Melbourne‘s night-time curfew was extended despite there being no evidence the measure would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own, according to the senior health official who renewed the draconian rule.
The city’s five million residents were on August 2 banned from leaving their homes between the hours of 8pm to 5am except for work, medical or care-giving reasons.
Health officials extended the curfew on September 14 but with shortened hours from 9pm to 5am.
The curfew – which was only removed on Monday evening amid a rapid decline in daily case totals – was one of a range of sweeping coronavirus restrictions brought in as part of Victoria’s state of emergency powers.
Department of Health and Human Services senior medical adviser Michelle Giles admitted at a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday there was no physical evidence the policy alone reduced transmission.
Bourke Street is pictured deserted after a citywide curfew was introduced in Melbourne on August 2. The bureaucrat who signed off on the measure has admitted there was no evidence it would slow the rate of COVID-19 infection on its own
‘What I say is the curfew is part of a package of directions that aim at reducing movement and interactions between people and there is evidence that reduces transmissions,’ she said.
But Associate Professor Giles – who had final say on the extension while standing in as Victoria’s Deputy Public Health Commander – told the court there was no proof the policy by itself would be effective.
Professor Giles also said she disagreed with the premier’s assertion when the curfew was announced it would help Victoria Police enforce the lockdown.
‘I actually considered the curfew in relation to public health,’ she said, according to The Australian.
‘I don’t agree with those comments, particularly the law enforcement one.’
The Supreme Court case has been brought by Mornington Peninsula cafe owner Michelle Loielo – who is suing the government claiming COVID-19 restrictions have caused a 99 per cent drop in her revenue.
A heavy police presence is seen at the Queen Victoria Market on September 13, 2020 in Melbourne as anti-lockdown protesters organised a ‘freedom walk’.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the curfew was introduced to help Victoria Police enforce lockdown restrictions – but the top bureaucrat disagreed, saying she made the decision to bring it in based on public health considerations
‘Every time I see the premier, Daniel Andrews, on the television and every time I hear the premier speak, I feel a sense of dread and anxiety,’ she said.
Last month, Mr Andrews said he decided to bring in the unprecedented 8pm curfew even though it was not recommended by scientists.
‘That’s a decision that I’ve made,’ he said on 10 September, adding governments are ‘free to go beyond’ advice given to them by doctors.
The curfew, which affected metropolitan Melbourne, originally required people to stay home between 8pm and 5am
The previous day Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he did not recommend the curfew.
Ms Loielo, a Liberal Party supporter, claims the curfew violates her rights to freedom.
She says her business in Capel Sound used to bring in up to $20,000 a week in earnings.