• Sat. Oct 22nd, 2022

Poor communication from the Victorian Health Department has left several Melbourne venue owners frustrated and concerned after coronavirus cases were connected with their premises.

Jan 3, 2021

“From then I shut everything down and we all got tested and thankfully a few have come back negative,” Mr Tei said.
The staff member returned a positive test on Sunday morning. Mr Tei said late on Sunday afternoon he still had not heard from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Nothing. Not a word. I have been in contact with the staff member and he found out this morning he was positive,” said Mr Tei. “The health of staff and customers is the priority and we will do the right thing. I’d love to get in contact with DHHS because I do need direction here. I’m not sure what else I need to do and I don’t want to jeopardise anything.”
The bar was added to the official list of exposure sites just before 9pm on Sunday.
Anyone who visited the venue on December 21 between 2pm and 10pm, December 22 between 10am and 6pm, December 24 between 1pm and 10pm, December 28 between 8.05pm and 8.47pm and December 29 between 12pm and 4pm is advised to get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure.
In a statement, DHHS said the interview with the positive case was “nearing completion” early on Sunday evning and as soon as that was done the department would contact relevant close contacts and any public exposure sites, and advise what action was needed.
It said the priority was to get all relevant information from cases to ensure the next steps could be taken quickly, including self-isolation, and that interviews with cases could take up to five hours, to document all movements and contacts from the preceding days and weeks.
The website would be updated once the information was confirmed with the case, the department said.
Mr Tei’s concern comes after Australian Venue Co chief executive Paul Waterson found out via the media on Saturday afternoon that his European Bier Cafe on Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s CBD was an exposure site after a confirmed case visited last week.
“We saw it on The Age website. That was the first we heard about it,” he said.
Australian Venue Co chief executive Paul Waterson.Credit:Wayne Taylor
“We knew that obviously the first thing the government would want would be the contact register, so we checked our messages in the reservation system because we wondered if we received the message, but we hadn’t.”
The Health Department originally listed December 21 as the exposure date, so all staff who worked on that day were told to isolate and get a test.
The date was then changed to December 28. Staff who worked on that date are getting tested and several have returned negative results.
Mr Waterson contacted Melbourne GP Vyom Sharma through Twitter, and the doctor was able to put him in touch with DHHS, which was a “great relief”.
“After a bit of back and forward they contacted me at 8.30pm last night,” he said.
“As a sector that was pretty severely impacted by the shutdown, we are all incredibly sensitive to what we need to do as an industry to make sure people stay safe during outbreaks, so we were hyper-sensitive to make sure people get info as quickly as possible.”
He said he considered calling patrons himself before he was able to reach the Health Department.
“I understand the argument that some businesses are on holidays and they can’t get to people, but I would have thought the very first opportunity should have been given to business to provide a contact register so DHHS can contact the implicated people immediately rather than reading it through the media.”
Anyone who visited the cafe on December 28 between 8pm and 9.30pm must get tested immediately and quarantine until they receive a negative result.
Mr Waterson called for better integration of systems so contact registers from venues could be accessed easily by contact tracing teams.
“That would be really helpful,” he said.
“Eveyrwhere I go I see everyone absolutely doing their best to maintain great contact registers, maintain social distancing, they’ve brought in IT systems to do online ordering.
“No one in the industry wants to go through what we went through last time and there is really a sense of vigilance and care around ensuring we provide a safe environment for patrons.”
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Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.