“If we can see these transfer chains being checked, there is a fair chance of a slow and steady but graduate return to the workplace,” he said.
“But it’s not going to be a whole lot on a particular day, it’s an idea of what it means to go to workplaces and maintain that distance and not be stuffed into office spaces, you know, obviously more risk in the interior system,” he said.
Asked if office workers would return to their terminals by Christmas, he said: “Some, I think some will come back, but again, always, depending on the numbers. An economic function is clear by coming back, especially to work here at CPT, so that’s an idea. Yes, but it must be safe and secure, of course. “
Professor Sutton said this year’s experience could “change workers forever.”
“People have found things about how they can support themselves in long-distance work arrangements, and people choose it for certain flexibility and well-being issues …” he said.
That’s how it should be negotiated in every workplace, he said.
“Based on how much physical distance is possible on public transportation and how much physical distance is possible in the office space, I think there is an advantage for people working from home,” he said.
“So for those who are comfortable and happy again and can support working from home, it’s not unreasonable to be constantly embedded.”
Professor Sutton said “a lot of preparations” are underway on how to reopen office workplaces.
“There will be a modified workplace in this regard. Public transport, elevators – there are some pinch points, they should work, but I think, again, if the numbers are low, those risks are very low, even in the office space,” he said.
Health Minister Martin Foley said they need to strike a balance between the businesses that manage their employees and the health consequences.
“As the chief health officer points out, how employers and their employees negotiate these matters should be set against health rules, but against the real-world distribution and economic impact of business plans,” he said.
Do not be afraid
Saturday comes as a single case as Melbourneers enjoy a long weekend – the first weekend when restaurants, cafes and retailers are open since July – home visits are now allowed.
Melbournees are two people from the same household and dependents can go to their home. Only one ‘attendance event’ per person per day occurs.
Professor Sutton said it would be understandable if some Melbournees were nervous about going out again.
“We deserve to enjoy ourselves now. We’ve come to this incredible place where case numbers are so low, there are actually days when there are no real lawsuits, so we have to go out, with all the precautionary measures we ‘ve talked about, but after three months we have to really enjoy a controlled activity.
“I can not speak for someone’s personal concerns, but I have confidence in going out. We know how to protect ourselves. It does the right thing, wearing a mask, keeping distance, ensuring that those around us are not feeling well, we do not interact with them.
“Hygiene, cough etiquette, wearing masks, we can go about our lives, we should not be afraid.”
Professor Sutton said Europe has been hit by a second wave after experiencing a easing of rules in the northern hemisphere in the summer, and awareness needs to stop happening here.
“We need to be vigilant because countries that were in a celebratory mood in Europe a few months ago are now going through the worst times because we need to be vigilant as long as this virus exists and make sure we continue to be on top of it,” he said.
“It’s our job, but with those changing behaviors people can talk about their lives, I think people do it, I hope people do not feel great worry and burden about going back to that normal lifestyle, but these are hard habits.
“We’ve been in our homes for a long time, so I think we need to gradually return to the new normalcy.”
The case may be false positive
Professor Sutton said on Saturday that the new case was a case of “low positivity and isolation” and that an expert panel would go through the process to determine whether the result was a false positive.
Melbourne has reported 10 cases since Monday and two “mystery cases” with unknown evidence in the first fortnight from October 28, while regional Victoria has zero overall cases in the last fortnight.
Four COVID-19 cases were released on Friday, two of which are considered ‘weak positives’ and may be removed from the daily count after an expert panel hearing. Another case may be a historical case, while one case is under investigation.
‘No plans’ for single hospital isolation
Age And The Herald On Saturday, the Victorian government said it was in talks to establish a “corona virus hospital” to treat all COVID-19 patients.
The proposal to use a site to treat all corona virus patients, and to isolate Victorians who test positive for COVID-19 in the hospital instead of hotels if they cannot safely self-isolate at home, was discussed at this week’s meetings on health and human services and safe care Victoria.
On Saturday, Mr Foley underestimated the chances of the system being introduced.
“We are always in conversations with our healthcare professionals, AMA and other stakeholders about how we can best respond to cover-ups and COVID events, and the plans we have with those teams are clearly working,” he said.
“We have no plans to implement that particular decision. Of course, we’m always talking. We’m always looking for better ways to manage these very important issues and how to best respond to some of those conversations. These issues are ongoing.”
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Ashley Macmillan is a leading news correspondent for The Age. Got a story? Email me at [email protected]
Matthew Dungley is the digital editor at The Age. Based on our Melbourne newsroom, he was previously the Business Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and Head of the Melbourne Bureau for The Age and Australian Financial Review.