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High Court challenge to lockdown could be heard as soon as November

The documents state that in April 2019 he had sales of about $250,000, however in April of this year sales dropped to $25,000 amidst the state’s first lockdown.

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In submissions, lawyers for Mr Gerner seek to have the matter dealt with expeditiously, noting that “Victorians have been restricted in their movements since at least 30 March” and the deadline for lockdown being lifted has been changed several times.

“The determination of the lawfulness of the restrictions on movement imposed upon the 6.6 million Australians currently residing in Victoria is urgent,” the submissions say.

“Mr Gerner is suffering the ongoing adverse effects upon his mental health of having his movement restricted, which, in his circumstances, amounts effectively to a state of confinement.”

Mr Gerner’s barrister Michael Wyles QC told the High Court on Friday that it’s “difficult to impress the urgency” of the matter.

Victorian solicitor-general Kristen Walker QC said the state has not yet decided if it will file a demurrer, a document objecting to the challenge on legal grounds only, a full defence, or both.

Ms Walker said some time would be needed for the state to gather evidence, including evidence on COVID-19, before informing the court of its decision next week.

“It’s necessary for the state to turn its mind to the contents of any defence,” Ms Walker said.

Justice Virginia Bell, sitting in Sydney, said if a demurrer was filed the hearing will be expedited and heard on November 6, with the possibility of spilling over to November 9.

“I appreciate there is a novel dimension to aspects of the claim,” Justice Bell said.

Ms Walker said she expects a number of third parties to become involved in the case as intervenors, describing a one-day estimate for the hearing as “optimistic”.

The matter will return to court on Tuesday.

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