Australia’s second coronavirus wave has crashed and is rolling gently up the beach. One new COVID-19 case and a 14-day average of 8.1 on Saturday points to a victory of sorts. While Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is being relentlessly cautious, the only thing that can mess this up now is more government incompetence. Or, perhaps, a Victorian community, once set free, that collectively runs amok, pants down and drinks in hand, gaily spreading the virus around the countryside.
Source: John Ferguson, News Corp
Point of no return and no excuses for Daniel Andrews
While there are some mystery cases, we are reaching the point of no return and no excuses; the government is either ready to ease restrictions or it has failed manifestly in its preparations.
I’ve never been someone who has supported an uncontrolled, uncontained reopening of Victoria, given the overseas evidence.
Having made a mess of hotel quarantine and contact tracing, there was no option for the government but to cut off the virus and hit control, alt, delete.
While this has been at enormous cost to the national economy, it would be hard to justify the human toll of a European-style surge of the pandemic in our second-biggest city. This is not how Australians roll.
Now that the numbers have subsided so dramatically, however, we are in very, very different political and policy territory, particularly given the hotel quarantine inquiry has become so difficult to read.
It is hard to imagine Victorians being able to endure anything like another hard lockdown, such has been the psychological toll on just about every household.
Andrews will know this; there will be no going back to this awful, months-long shutdown. People will not tolerate it.
He will also know that if there is a third wave, which is possible, it’s most unlikely he will be the Premier of Victoria, certainly if the government is to blame in the way that it is for the second wave.
But it’s still too early to be definitive about how the politics will play out. It’s odds-on that the tens of thousands of people running businesses starkly affected by the second wave will find it very hard to back Labor at the 2022 election.
Yes, the opinion polls so far have been kind to Andrews, but unless he gets his skates on he will have to wear the backlash over lives so manifestly interfered with.
In many ways, the Victorian community has been absolutely heroic in the way it has endured 2020, broadly adhered to draconian rules and got on with life.
I suspect, however, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime sacrifice.
A third wave, should it come, would look very different indeed.