Daniel Andrews announced he has 'no time for politics' as he faced tough questions on his 'road map' out of coronavirus lockdown on Sunday.
The Project host Lisa Wilkinson grilled the Victorian premier on the mental health risks of extending Victoria's lockdown by two weeks.
'How are you deciding the balance between the covid health risk and the mental health risk, particularly with today's extension of another two weeks?' Wilkinson asked.
'Because isn't there a real danger of the mental health cost of COVID leaving a much deeper scar for generations to come?'
Disturbing footage of Victorians being arrested for rebelling against coronavirus restrictions - including of a pregnant woman who allegedly organised a protest on Facebook - has been uploaded in recent days.
'Freedom Day' protests broke out in Melbourne on Saturday and Premier Andrews was criticised when police cracked down on the anti-lockdown demonstrators because they had let thousands of people gather for Black Lives Matter rallies in June.
Premier Andrews acknowledged lockdown trauma could exacerbate mental illness and said his government would 'double and redouble' its efforts to support people experiencing it for the first time because of lockdown stress.
'The need is greater because of the pressure of these last months,' he said.
Earlier on Sunday Mr Andrews revealed the Stage Four coronavirus lockdown would be in place over metropolitan Melbourne until September 28, an extension of two weeks.
Project host Lisa Wilkinson (left) grilled Victorian Daniel Andrews (right) on the mental health costs of extending the lockdown on a community that is clearly tiring of it
After that, a four-step program out of restrictions would gradually reopen the state as daily new infection numbers fall.
The Victorian Premier has been heavily criticised in recent weeks for his tough lockdown including by business lobby groups and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.
Mr Kennett called Premier Andrews 'a megalomaniac' who was 'destroying' Victoria's economy and urged independent senators to join the opposition to block legislation extending the State of Emergency, calling it a 'grab for dictatorial power'.
The extension passed last Wednesday, however, giving Victoria's Parliament the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions without a Parliamentary vote for an extra six months.
Ms Wilkinson said there had been 'strong and varied' reactions to the extended lockdown announcement, and asked why businesses that had covid-safe plans and no transmissions couldn't open.
Premier Andrews said Victoria could not pretend the pandemic was over and simply reopen as that would doom the state to unnecessary future lockdowns.
'It's not so much whether a business has had a history of infections, we simply can't allow their customers out of their homes as if this virus didn't actually exist,' he said
'It's about how many customers, how many citizens, can we have moving freely throughout metropolitan Melbourne, throughout regional Victoria, and that point seems to have been missed.
'We can't ignore the reality we face. Just because we want this to be over, we can't pretend that it is.
Peter Van Onselen (left) also pressed the Victorian Premier (right) on the tough issues, asking why NSW was so different to Victoria, and why the numbers hadn't fallen enough to open up
'There's a lot of pain out there, I understand that, but there'll be even more pain if we're open for just a few weeks and then shut down again for months.'
Co-host Peter Van Onselen asked the Premier why his approach was so different from NSW, saying: 'If you were running NSW it would be locked down right now ... how do you explain the difference?'
Premier Andrews said it was because Victoria had much more community transmission than NSW, and they had many mystery cases where tracers cannot work out how they got it or who they got it from.
Victoria announced 63 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, while NSW reported 10 in the 24 hours to 8pm Saturday.
However Peter Van Onselen pressed the Premier on his covid performance, saying people had been mostly doing the right thing.
Premier Daniel Andrews delivers the hard news about the extended lockdown and the four-week roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions on Sunday
An empty shopping mall in Melbourne on Sunday. Business groups are among those who have criticised Victoria's premier in recent weeks as the lockdown cuts into the economy
'Why haven't the numbers gone down?' he asked.
The Premier said they had.
'Well look, the numbers have come down from over 700 to some 63 cases today, that is a mighty effort,' Premier Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said the virus was 'wildly infectious' and it was a 'dynamic environment', and that if people let frustration get the better of them, and demanded the state open too early, then repeated lockdowns next year would be the result.
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