“We are really touched by the offer from everyone to pay the fines we may cop in Melbourne (we haven’t got them yet),” WAR said on Saturday.
“But we would prefer you direct the funds to the families directly impacted by deaths in custody. We have enough networks and community to deal with this internally (if we even get a fine).”
Dr van Diemen said large gatherings do “present a risk, and not an insignificant risk”.
“In terms of a potential outbreak, it will be at least a week or closer to two weeks before we know there’s any transmissions as a result of that [demonstration]. Please get tested if you have any symptoms,” she said on Sunday.
Four people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state on Saturday, but none were community transmission. There are just 70 active cases in Victoria. One of the four new cases in Victoria is a household contact linked to the Fawkner McDonald’s outbreak. The three other cases are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government had “always been consistent about our advice and the highly contagious nature of this virus”.
“Whilst the restrictions have started to ease, we still have active cases and low levels of community transmission,” she said in a statement to The Age on Sunday.
“We must remember that this still isn’t over – we should not become complacent – some measures remain in place only to keep the risk of transmission down and keep us all safe. We owe each other a collective responsibility to keep each other safe and stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
Melbourne’s demonstration follows unrest in the United States and a wave of protests around the world following the police killing of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Dr van Diemen shrugged off suggestions from lord mayor Sally Capp that the mass gathering could “possibly” be used to lift restrictions sooner if no coronavirus cases are linked to it, because it would show there are low levels in the community.
Cr Capp has said the protest should not have gone ahead during the pandemic, and on Sunday told radio station 3AW it would be “disappointing” if Victorians had to wait longer for restrictions to ease.
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Dr van Diemen said while it might be the lord mayor’s “opinion” that a cluster from the protest would mean restrictions would be lifted more slowly, health authorities had a “clear project of works looking forward, and there’s a number of different factors” when considering future action.
“A very large, widespread community outbreak is one of them, whether it is related to a rally or not,” she said.
“We remain vigilant across all cases, regardless of what their source might be. Obviously if there are a large number of cases, then that will make our jobs slightly more difficult, but we remain very much focused on finding every case and tracing every case.”
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.