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Victorian COVID-19 restrictions shows callous disregard for small business and people of faith

The revised COVID-19 restrictions announced by Premier Andrews reflect a callous disregard for small business and the rights of people of faith.

As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg reiterated today, the decision to keep most of Melbourne’s shops, cafes and restaurants closed is economically devastating for the Victorian economy.

There are now only 137 active cases in Victoria. On 1 June 2020, when there were 363 active cases in New South Wales pubs, clubs, casinos, cafes and restaurants were permitted to be open for up to 50 patrons.

While the Premier has abandoned his defective “roadmap,” he needs to move to the NSW model of CovidSafe management.

It is callous and unjust to prevent retailers like Harry Hutchinson, owner of Harry’s Clothing in Berwick, from opening while many large workplaces with hundreds of employees including in the construction and food production sectors are permitted to open.

It appears that union dominated workplaces are getting a much better deal in Daniel Andrews’ Victoria.

There are also arbitrary and discriminatory rules being applied to people of faith.

In Melbourne, the prohibition on indoor religious ceremonies remains, with five individuals allowed to attend solely for the purpose of broadcasting a service.  Outdoor services can only consist of five people and a faith leader and must be held adjacent to the place of worship.

In regional Victoria, there are also arbitrary and discriminatory rules imposed on people of faith. Why are outdoor church services limited to 20 worshipers when hospitality venues can welcome up to 70 customers outdoors?

This is incredibly upsetting for people of faith who have been denied the opportunity to attend their church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship for months.

Ms Danna Grills of Highton, Geelong, is a member of the City on a Hill Geelong Anglican Church who has been forced to meet on line since March. Her husband is the lead pastor at the church.  She told me today: “We have five children, all of whom are actively involved in our church, and miss very much the interaction, worship, youth activities and community support.”

19 October 2020

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