The class action is being led on behalf of Victorian businesses and seeks to force the government to pay for losses suffered during the state’s second lockdown.
Victoria’s second lockdown began in July 2020 after coronavirus spread from the state’s quarantine hotels into the community.
Victoria’s Supreme Court Justice John Dixon today ruled the class action could proceed.
Lawyer Damian Scattini from Quinn Emanuel Trial Lawyers, who is leading the class action, is arguing a second lockdown could have been avoided if the “hotel quarantine program had been handled competently by the people in charge”.
“When the Victorian Government decided to run a mandatory hotel quarantine program, it took on a duty to ensure it was managed properly,” he said.
Scattini said the class action was representing tens of thousands of businesses that suffered financial loss because of Victoria’s second lockdown.
“We are in the early stages and already, we’ve been inundated with calls and emails from thousands of business owners across Victoria, from hospitality and retail to fitness and beauty, who are desperate for help.
“One gym owner went from earning $10,000 a week to $50 a week. The lead plaintiff is a restaurant owner who, like many hospitality venues, had to pivot to a local take-away offering and was forced to cease dine in operations. These businesses are still struggling.”
WorkSafe has already charged Victoria’s health department with 58 breaches of the Occupation Health and Safety Act over the quarantine program.
The watchdog has alleged the Department of Health failed to provide a safe working environment for employees and non-employees and put them at risk.