Melbourne MPs have been urgently advised to fly or drive to Canberra before midnight to attend parliament next week with the Victorian government weighing up a snap lockdown in Melbourne.
There are fears that Melbourne is on the brink of its third lockdown as a cluster of cases linked to Victoria’s hotel quarantine system grows to 13. The Premier and Health Minister will hold press conference at 1pm eastern time.
An email seen by NCA NewsWire that was sent to MPs on Friday said it was “highly recommended any Members who are in the greater Melbourne area bring forward their travel plans to arrive in Canberra today, Friday, February 12.
“There are currently no border restrictions for Victoria with the ACT, except for individuals who have been in the exposure sites connected with the (Holiday Inn) outbreak.
“We understand that chief health officers are meeting to discuss the developing situation. We will circulate any relevant updates on the situation from ACT Health when available.”
Federal MPs based in the state’s capital were on Friday morning urgently booking seats on commercial flights to get to the ACT in time for the sitting fortnight of federal parliament.
Federal Labor MP Julian Hill is among the members making the dash from VIC to the ACT. He is in the middle of a seven-hour drive to the nation’s capital and said there was considerable traffic.
“I packed a bag last night just in case,” Mr Hill told NCA NewsWire. “I’m on the road at the moment in central Victoria and it seems like a pretty crowded highway.
“We have an obligation to be present for the sitting periods of national parliament so I agree with the recall to Canberra.”
Premier Daniel Andrews is reportedly considering a lockdown of up to a week, with a five-day option being canvassed, to try and contain the spike in COVID-19 cases caused by a leak in the state’s hotel quarantine system.
Mr Andrews is currently in a cabinet meeting considering the COVID-19 containment options, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison supporting calls for a “short, sharp” lockdown.
The PM was in Melbourne on Friday, but insisted it was not his role to “run commentaries on premiers”.
“He said he had not been briefed by the Victorian government on Friday, and refused to speculate on Premier Andrews’ announcement.
“I will let the Premier … weigh up the things that he has to weigh up in making any decisions here in Victoria,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think it would be fair for me to be making comments in advance of what he may or may not announce.
“I think that is the right thing for public confidence.”
He denied the outbreak would prompt the Therapeutic Goods Administration to issue emergency approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine.