If no COVID vaccine is confirmed, the Victorian Premier has vowed to prolong the State of Emergency for another 12 months-and even longer.
The first State of Emergency was proclaimed after the first outbreak of Victoria occurred in March, and has been extended six times.
Because of the new law, it can not be expanded past September 13 and Daniel Andrews has said the “logical” option is to maintain the legal structure.
He says the state of emergency is still required before a vaccine is available.
Since March 16, Victoria has been under a state of emergency, and has been extended six times.
But it can only run for a period of six months before expiring under existing legislation and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 which is on September 13.
The State of Emergency is the “legal tool” that requires regulations to be made including compulsory face masks, guidelines on work schedules for COVIDSafe, density restrictions in pubs and cafes, or a person with the virus who needs to be isolated at home.
The premier says he intends to introduce a bill to parliament next week to extend the State of Emergency until at least September 2021.
“I think we’re going to engage with all members of the Victorian Parliament quite soon to talk about those changes,” he said.
“It’s not an unlimited extension. It’s nothing more than a recognition that this virus won’t be over on the 13th of September.
“I would love for there to be no need for any rules on the 14th of September, but I don’t think that’s the reality we face.”
Unless the state of emergency is extended by 12 months, what will happen with the limits is still uncertain.
The limitations would focus more on the number of regular incidents, outbreaks and incidents of mystery, with the State of Emergency providing the legal basis to impose them.
“If there’s a vaccine before then, or circumstances were to change dramatically, well then you’d always adjust your rules accordingly,” Andrews said.
The Premier said the legal structure will ensure that Victoria’s opening remains secure.
“This is not an extension of power, these are the same rules.”