Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has defended opening every public school in the state today for the students who cannot be taught at home.
He has also announced half a billion dollars in relief for struggling landlords after the eviction moratorium.
“There will be some bumps in place today,” he said.
“There’s always a few bumps on the first day of any new term anyway.”
But while schools will be open, most students should be learning from home.
“If you can have your kids educated at home, that’s exactly what you must do,” he said.
“That is essential to avoiding the spread of this virus. If you think about it, common sense simply dictates if you’ve got a million kids getting to and from school, a full complement of teachers, parents moving around the community, dropping kids off, picking them up, that is not at all consistent with social distancing rules.
“We do acknowledge, though, that there are some families where that simply won’t be possible.”
Mr Andrews said the state would not be compiling a list of students who could or couldn’t send their kids to school.
“We want to be as flexible as possible and acknowledge that everyone’s circumstances are different,” he said.
Vulnerable and special needs children and those whose parents are essential workers may need to be sent to school.
“People who are stacking shelves, running checkouts, driving trucks, public transport, cleaning hospitals, all the way through to critical care, are critical roles and we’re thankful for the work they’re doing,” Mr Andrews said.
“Some of them will not able to have their kids at home. They’ll need to send them to school.”
Support for landlords
Mr Andrews also announced a $500 million package to support landlords left out of pocket by financially strapped tenants.
The premier said commercial and residential landlords would be eligible for $420m in land tax relief.
“There are many, many very good landlords out there who do the right thing by their tenants,” he said.
“And they rely, some almost solely, on the rental income they get each fortnight, each month.
“So it’s important that they be supported also.”
The remaining $80m will go towards rent assistance for tenants.
“Those tenants, after a negotiation, if they’re still in rental stress, if they earn less than $100,000 a year, less than $5000 in savings, then we will make available to them up to $2000 in rental assistance,” Mr Andrews said.
It comes after a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic lockdown.
Mr Andrews said there would be an emergency sitting of parliament next Thursday to pass a series of previously announced bills and laws.
There will be a Question Time, but the lower house will only be meeting for three to three-and-a-half hours.
Victoria Police conducted more than 800 spot checks on homes, businesses and non-essential services yesterday.
Fifty-two fines were issued yesterday.
Police reported many cases of private gatherings at residences that breached the social distancing rules.
Youths had to be dispersed from a skate park in Greater Dandenong, and from a closed school.
Six people were also caught playing tennis on a closed court in Maribyrnong.
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