Another two Victorians have died, bringing the state’s death toll to 802.
Health authorities have identified more high-risk exposure sites linked with the Chadstone outbreak, including Leo’s Fine Food and Wine Supermarket in Glen Iris.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng revealed on Thursday that the Chadstone outbreak had been linked to a large Frankston household cluster.
Mr Robinson said members of the Frankston family were cleaners at his butcher shop. “They’ve been working there for six to eight months. This is the family,” he said.
“On Monday of last week, only one of the family members came to work. Our manager sort of questioned that – thought it was a little bit strange. She said nobody else wanted to come this week. She worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
“Then she made a call to us on the Thursday and said police had attended and explained that the whole family should be isolating, so they [were] unable to come to work. It seems like they should have been isolating and she made a bad decision, clearly.”
On Friday, Chief Health Officer Sutton said 11 cases have been linked to the Butcher Club outbreak. It is not clear whether the woman was asymptomatic when she worked.
“The cleaners have been with us for some time, they’re good people, they’re hard workers … I think financially she’s made a poor decision,” Mr Robinson said.
“I sort of wonder should we be doing more, or should the government or somebody be doing a little more to maybe educate anybody that’s in that scenario that there is financial support available. For one person to drive from Frankston to Chadstone to fulfil a cleaning contract it’s not a large amount of money – it just doesn’t make any sense financially.”
Victorians who test positive to COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact and need to self-isolate and do not have sick leave are eligible for a $1500 payment from the federal government. Those who must self-isolate while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test can receive a $450 from the state government.
Mr Robinson said the Butcher Club store at Chadstone had been deep cleaned twice and has reopened with new staff.
“We had all of our ducks lined up when we were contacted by DHHS. We had Spotless cleaning come in and do a deep clean. We were able to open up the next day and the store was inspected, [but] they weren’t happy with Spotless – with the level of the deep clean – so they made us close again sadly and another deep clean was performed yesterday.”
Profesor Sutton said all the original staff members of the Chadstone Butcher Club were in quarantine.
“They are considered close contacts for the purpose of contact tracing,” he said.
Testing has been arranged for other asymptomatic staff at Chadstone who were there for “prolonged periods of time over multiple days”. Testing is also being carried out for symptomatic individuals who were visitors to Chadstone.
“The butcher seems to be – or the setting seems to be a subsequent site of infection or transmission,” Professor Sutton said. “But who the index case was in this whole cluster is unclear.”
Premier Daniel Andrews suggested that the situation would have been considerably worse if there had been more people in the shopping centre and reminded people of the importance of being tested.
“Imagine for a moment what a normal Chadstone would have looked like with … hundreds of thousands of people moving through that setting.
“It is not safe to open up now. It will be soon when we have driven these numbers down even further.
“This weekend, if you have got symptoms, do not wait until Monday to get tested. Please go and get tested. Saturday, Sunday, you will get your results as quickly as we possibly can.
“This is critically important.”
More stores at Chadstone have been identified as high-risk exposure sites by the Health Department.
Woolworths, Aldi and Jasper Coffee have been added to the state’s list of high-risk locations, as well as Chemist Warehouse on Toorak Road in Burwood.
Victoria’s 14-day average falls
Friday’s figures bring the state’s 14-day average, tied to the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions, to 13.2 new cases per day, due to the inclusion of three cases listed as “overseas, interstate or no fixed address”.
For Melbourne to move to step three of the government’s road map out of lockdown, the statewide 14-day average needs to be five or less.
There also needs to be fewer than five “mystery” cases statewide – those without a known source of infection – over the prior two weeks for restrictions to be eased further.
Professor Cheng said mystery cases have emerged far and wide across Melbourne, although they have been halving week-on-week for the past four weeks.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services website on Friday morning, the number of mystery cases from September 16 to September 29 was 14.
The last time the daily case tally was consistently in the single digits was in the first week of June. Victoria’s daily tally fell into the single digits on September 28 when five infections emerged, but the numbers bounced back up this week.
Meanwhile, the City of Melbourne is painting three-metre diameter “physical-distancing circles” in four inner-city parks to encourage social distancing during spring and summer.
The circles will be painted on the grass in Princes Park, Flagstaff Gardens, Kings Domain South and Buluk Park in Docklands from Friday morning.
Under current Melbourne’s current lockdown restrictions, groups of up to five people from two different households can spend two hours together outside.
Geelong is already trialling the measure and earlier this week Stonnington council painted circles in parks near its Chapel Street precinct.
Marissa Calligeros is a journalist at The Age
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org