Letter sent to residents sparks fears over real length of 'hard' lockdown

| 06.07,20. 09:38 AM |

Letter sent to residents sparks fears over real length of 'hard' lockdown

Thousands of residents of nine Melbourne tower blocks have started the the week in lockdown - with confusion over the length of the quarantine period.

The areas, in Flemington and North Melbourne, are home to 3000 people who are not allowed to leave for at least five days, in Australia's first 'hard' lockdown.

It is the second full day of lockdown with massive operation underway to ensure nobody leaves.

However, that lockdown could be extended for up to 14 days in total depending on the results of the residents' COVID-19 tests.

Documents received by residents say the "detention directions" apply from 3.30pm on Saturday July 4, to the same time on Saturday July 18.

The paperwork is from the Deputy Chief Health Officer.

Victoria's virus cases continue to grow, with more than 70 more recorded yesterday.

Dozens of cases have been linked to the towers.

Mark Feenane from the Victorian Public Tenants Association questioned why the lockdown came suddenly, unlike some others across Australia where people were given adequate warning strict measures would come into place.

"You kind of wonder what would the reaction have been if this would have been done in a high-rise, say a private high-rise in Docklands," Mr Feenane told Today.

"Would they just give no people notice? What would be the reaction be? So there's a few issues with that. People were saying; 'what have we done wrong?'"

He said some people have called a helpline but have not got an answer, and he hopes police will be sensitive to the anxiety tenants have.

"These people will be very anxious. They will be very confused about what's going on," he said.

"Hopefully people are getting out to them in their own languages so they can explain it and they can talk about what the testing process involves so that the tenants are prepared to engage rather than just say, 'no,"

Mr Feenane said tenants are asking how long the five days could be

extended for, with coronavirus symptoms taking as long as 14 days to appear.

Last night some claimed they were being left without essential supplies including food, despite officials organising deliveries.

Foodbank trucks arrived at the towers with 3000 meals cooked by FareShare chefs to be delivered to the residents.

"We've got lots of wet meals, casseroles, roast chicken and vegetables," Crickette Derjeu from FareShare, said.

Despite that, some of the deliveries left residents confused after they received boxes including air freshener, in packages that were supposed to help entertain children, and Weetbix products without milk.

Resident Ahmed Dini said people were unhappy.

"For me to sit here and say people in the community are not upset about this – I'd be lying," he said.

"I'm really concerned for parents. There's a lot of trauma that's going to come out in the next couple of days."

Mum Melissa Whelan lives with her autistic son and told 9News she doesn't have access to her anxiety medication due to the lockdown.

"I can get a family member to pick it up, but from what I understand, they won't be able to bring it to me," she said.

Residents getting $1500 hardship payments and don't have to pay rent for two weeks.

There were some confrontations between residents and police after a protest yesterday, with the towers compared to 'vertical cruise ships'.

Meanwhile, has emerged airline staff have replaced security guards to take care of quarantined travellers in hotels.

The new outbreak in Victoria has been linked to security guards sent to work at the hotels, who are accused of taking the virus home after breaking the rules.


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