2月12日年初一, 維州州長安德魯斯公佈, 有病毒從酒店隔離檢疫通過工作人員, 走進了墨爾本社區, 整個維州在午夜12時後立刻停擺, 所有人都要留在家中, 進入第四階段隔離, 為期5 天。作出這決定的原因, 是因為政府認為病毒是來是英國的變種毒株, 以極快的速度, 現行中的檢測及密切接觸者追蹤, 無法把它控制下來。州長相信只有立時實施隔離政策, 才能阻截病毒的傳播。
我無法認同州長安德魯斯的說法。英國的變種毒株, 早前亦在布里斯本及悉尼出現。布里斯本只用了3天隔離, 悉尼只實施部份地區短暫隔離, 病毒的傳播, 就被控制下來。維州採取的強硬手段, 當然有效, 卻是漠視了大部份維州居民, 過正常的生活的權利。無數小生意東主, 投訴即時的隔離, 令他們在農曆新年及情人節的生意全毁了, 餐飲業的損失更為鉅大, 大批訂購了的食材都被浪費,血本無歸者比比皆是。
維州一直以來實施全澳洲最嚴格的隔離政策, 違反守則者罰款高出其他州份多倍, 是最嚴苛的政策, 不過絕大多數的維州居民仍然守法, 忍耐了全球最長112天的隔離。令人氣憤的是使用了數百萬元公帑的酒店調查委員會, 提交了一份是結論是沒有人需要負上責任及接受懲罰的報告, 提出一些建議後, 然後, 重開了酒店隔離檢疫, 卻仍出現病毒走進社區的情況。維州政府重覆犯上同樣的錯誤, 比起其它州在面對同樣處境, 卻能使社會維持正常運作, 不禁令人對安德魯斯政府失去信心。
政府在控制疫情時不斷犯錯, 要由封閉隔離人民來解決, 只突顯出維州政府的無能。
在未有足夠經驗及準備下, 病毒第一次走出隔離酒店, 可以說是情有可原。第二次出現同樣情況, 只反映出政府的不負責任, 維州人民絕對有理由追究責任。在早前的調查委員會中, 見到官員們以失去記憶, 互相推搪責任, 而委員會沒有權力追究責任, 明顯是政府護短包庇。我相信在下一次大選時, 維州工黨將要付出沉重的代價。
維州的緊急狀態會維持到2月26 日。在這之前, 戶外活動只能最多有20人參加。本刊原於萬年興巿政廣場在27 日會舉辦的新年慶祝活動, 在這情況下, 只好取消, 由網絡慶祝活動取代。本刊今期全面介紹。
新冠常態生活的重點, 大概就是指我們要與病毒共舞, 會隨時爆發而準備在生活上作出改動吧。
The Victorian State government failed us
On the first day of the Lunar New Year 12th February our Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew announced a five-day stage 4 lockdown of the entire state by midnight, because a hotel quarantine worker was infected with the possibility of a community spreading. The Premier believed a hard lockdown must be needed to prevent community spreading given that was a UK-strained case beyond our capabilities of testing and tracing.
I cannot agree with him. The same strain of virus had appeared before in Brisbane and Sydney. Brisbane responded with a 3-day complete lockdown while Sydney closed on a regional basis to have come out of it. Our hard measures could serve the purpose but certainly had neglected the right of our daily lives. So many business owners suffered so much from the sudden lockdown amid the lunar new year and Valentine Day, especially for the catering industry with tonnes of food stock going down the drain.
Victoria all along exercises the toughest covid measures in the country, with the highest penalty imposed. Vast majority of the state population have been submissive enduring the longest 112-day lockdown in the world. It is very frustrating to see a multi-million enquiry report on the hotel quarantine system but ended up with nobody taking up any responsibility or being reprimanded. The report recommendations were taken but ended up with another round of community spreading. Comparing to the other states in the same pandemic while people mainly stay in their normal lives, the Andrew’s government is indeed failing its people with its repeated mishaps.
This government has been repeatedly slipping during the pandemic, only resorting to locking up the community. This is plain incompetency.
It could be forgivable if it was a first time loophole due to lack of experience and preparation. A repeated mistake pointed to an accountability problem that the government must face. In the previous Enquiry Panel we could see how government officials losing memory, shedding responsibility etc without facing any consequence under the cover of the government. This Labor government will pay the price in the next state election.
The imposed restrictions would last till 26th February with outside gathering limited to 20 peoples. Our scheduled Lunar New Year Fun Fair at the MC Square would have to be cancelled. Celebrative activities will now be done online as we detailed in this issue.
The gist of covid-normal is for us to live with the virus, ready to respond in our daily life as changes go.
Raymond Chow, Publisher