Covid 19 coronavirus: Fallout from Melbourne engagement party includes new cases and exposure sites

An Australian couple who hosted an illegal engagement party say they want forgiveness but the fallout from the potential superspreader event is just beginning.

Sixty-nine people attended the party in the St Kilda area last Wednesday but footage of the event only surfaced over the weekend.

Videos, seen by, show the groom-to-be telling jokes as those in attendance cheer him on.

“Clearly this is legal because it’s a group-therapy session,” he says.

Six people have so far tested positive from attending the party. One was infectious at the party and five attendees have since been infected.

Two doctors closely linked to the family were in attendance. One is seen laughing along in the videos. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is launching an investigation following dozens of reports on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said “many, many Victorians” are rightly upset about the footage.

“It shouldn’t have happened, some of the commentary in the video is just blatant, but what makes me really angry about it is that there are 69 people at that event, no matter what you are told or what you read … there has been transmission at that event.

“The only question is, will it be a superspreader event?”

Overnight, a number of exposure sites linked to the illegal gathering were revealed including the 7Eleven and 7 Apples Gelato at St Kilda, Coles, Haymisha Bakery and Lichtenstein’s Bakehouse at Balaclava and Ootoro at Port Melbourne.

Coles at Balaclava is a Tier 1 exposure site after a positive case visited between 12.45-4.20pm on Friday. So too is the Haymisha Bakery at 320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava. Anyone who attended either site during those times must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days.

Victoria Police are slapping everyone who attended with $5000 fines. The party is set to cost more than $350,000 in penalties for breaches of the chief health officer’s directions.

Melbourne is in lockdown and indoor gatherings of any kind are prohibited.

The couple say they are sorry, that they have been cyber bullied and want forgiveness. The mother of the groom told the Herald Sun: “We did wrong but the hate coming our way is just so mean … Look into your heart and try to find forgiveness.”

But many Victorians are finding forgiveness difficult. On social media, the hashtag #engagementparty continues to trend as people lament the things they have sacrificed during six lockdowns while a single act of defiance can bring all the good work undone.

“We cancelled my daughters engagement party. I can’t work during lockdowns, my sister is in her last weeks dying of cancer and is isolated but people are doing pub crawls and ignoring regulations. Beyond angry & devastated,” wrote one woman.

“Love that the engagement party family can joke about it being a ‘group therapy’ session, while I (and many others) haven’t been able to see a psychiatrist in person for over a month,” wrote another woman.

The president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Daniel Aghion, said he was “disappointed to learn that a small group have not been following mandatory lockdown restrictions”.

In a statement, he said members of the community needed to do better.

“We too feel the immense frustration at the current situation, and are focusing our support on significant efforts being made to contain the virus.”

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria said a small group of rule-breakers were letting everybody down.

“We implore anybody considering flouting the law to refrain from doing so,” the council said.

“We unreservedly condemn such actions, which bring risk and shame to the entire community.”

Former Labor MP Philip Dalidakis said he was “speechless” after watching the video.

“I am genuinely shocked at the brazen disregard for our laws,” he posted on social media.

Some members of the Jewish Orthodox community who have been reporting on the party and exposing those in attendance have been targeted by other members of the community.

“How dare you mention names and shame good people’s names, these are good Hashem fearing people. Wait till [sic] I see you, I’ll show you what is what,” wrote one person.

“If I see you, I’ll personally choke the sh*t out of you. Can’t wait to see your punk a** face to face. You’ve sold your sole [sic] to the devil.

“You’re going to have a very expensive dentist bill when I’m done with you.”

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