A ‘STATE of disaster’ has been declared in Victoria with a series of harsh measures announced over the weekend aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19.

An 8pm to 5am curfew has been announced for the general community.

While the finer details are still being established, it is understood the work of logistics will be able to proceed as an essential service.

“This cannot be more serious. If we don’t make these changes then we are not going to get through this,” Premier Daniel Andrews said over the weekend.

“The time for warnings and cautions, that’s over.”

Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson praised the state government for prioritising supply chains.

“Transport is an essential service and it is encouraging that the Victorian government is doing a power of work and working with the freight industry to ensure we can continue to operate safely and productively,” Mr Anderson said.

“The Premier clearly gets that the nation cannot afford to shut down because of what’s happening in Victoria.

“Since coronavirus took hold in February, the transport industry has shown leadership and adapted its systems and processes to be able to safely and efficiently service the needs of customers and consumers and keep supply chains moving.”

Anderson also reassured Victorians the transport industry will continue to deliver fresh food and other essential goods.

“What we don’t want to see is a run on supermarkets over the next few days before the new restrictions come into effect because it is completely unnecessary,” he said.

Earlier there were talks between the Commonwealth and state governments about ensuring the smooth movement of goods across state borders, with confusion last week surrounding isolation requirements.

A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack said the Australian government was “continuing work to ensure measures in the National Cabinet agreed Domestic Border Controls – Freight Movements Protocol are implemented in a practical and coordinated way by state and territory Governments”.

Over recent days, two jurisdictions moved to implement regular testing for drivers in advance of the necessary practical arrangements being made to give effect to the agreed protocol.

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“We understand the South Australian Government has been working to better understand and communicate the implications of the COVID-19 testing arrangements it has put in place and is working on practical measures to ensure freight continues to flow,” the spokesperson said.

“The New South Wales Government has delayed the implementation of routine COVID-19 testing and is also seeking to resolve a number of practical issues identified by industry.”

Agencies from all Australian governments have met to continue to work through the issues the freight industry has highlighted. 

The spokesperson said last week’s discussions with industry stakeholders were “positive and productive” and the Australian government would “continue to work closely with states, territories and industry to implement this protocol and provide national leadership and appropriate support through this difficult time, to ensure freight continues to flow in a COVID-safe manner”.

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