Mr Andrews cautioned owners of shops and restaurants – some of which had been hoping for an early reopening next week – not to bank on a significant easing of restrictions on Sunday.
“We are in a very good position and if we can proceed tomorrow we will,” Mr Andrews said. “But I don’t think many Victorians would think very highly of me making decisions … when there are literally thousands of tests from a part of Melbourne where we have seen a series of clusters and a series of outbreaks … sitting in the lab.”
The Ipsos online poll, conducted from October 19-21, asked 858 Victorians aged over 18 if they supported or opposed the updated lockdown restrictions announced on October 18. The data was weighted to represent the state demographic profile.
The closure of shops until November 2 was the most divisive measure, with 45 per cent in support and 44 per cent opposed. (The others neither supported nor opposed.)
The ban on Melburnians visiting family or friends at home until November 2 (with the exception of people living alone, who can form a social bubble with another person) was also contentious. It was supported by 46 per cent of those surveyed and opposed by 40 per cent.
And 47 per cent were in favour of restaurants and cafes remaining closed until November 2 except for takeaway and delivery, while 41 per cent thought they should open earlier.
Mr Andrews has come under increasing pressure from business groups, restaurateurs, the federal government and the state opposition to fast-track the easing of restrictions.
In a joint letter this week, seven of Australia’s top chief executives including from BHP, the Commonwealth Bank and Wesfarmers, warned the current restrictions were unsustainable.
The compulsory wearing of masks outside was the measure with the most support among polled Victorians, with 72 per cent in favour and just 20 per cent against. Victorians aged over 55 and ALP voters were the most emphatic supporters, with 80 per cent and 83 per cent respectively backing the health measure.
The so-called “ring of steel” separating Melbourne and the regions also enjoyed majority support, with 61 per cent in favour of Melburnians being banned from visiting regional areas and 28 per cent opposed.
Victorians were also fairly comfortable with Melburnians having to stay within 25 kilometres of their homes, with 56 per cent in support and 31 per cent opposed.
Mr Andrews warned on Saturday the 25-kilometre travel limit may not be lifted on Sunday amid concerns popular spots such as the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenong Ranges would be flooded with crowds.
“What it is about is making sure that for instance, [with the] problem in the north, we haven’t got people in the north travelling literally to the other part of the city, potentially taking the virus with them,” Mr Andrews said.
The research found support for all of the restrictions was consistently higher among both Labor voters and those who lived regionally.
Ipsos director Jessica Elgood noted the COVID-19 caseload had been much lower in regional Victoria and those who lived there were keen for it to stay that way. “They are wanting to keep controls in place so the virus doesn’t spread.”
She said the poll showed Labor voters still strongly backed the restrictions. “There was not blind adoration – there was critical analysis – but clearly there is political alignment in terms of how people are responding,” Ms Elgood said. “Coalition voters were consistently more negative.”
Ms Elgood said once people got used to wearing a mask it was not a big imposition and the preventative health benefits were widely accepted. She also said most Melburnians did not frequently visit the regions.
However the more divisive measures were those that impacted on employment and personal freedoms, such as retail and restaurants being closed and visits to homes.
“The hardest restrictions to comply with are not having contact with family and friends,” Ms Elgood said. “It ties in with the question of mental health, what makes us happy, what really matters to us.”
Ms Elgood said what interested her as a pollster was how emphatic people’s opinions were.
“This has been a really intense experience for Victorians day in, day out,” Ms Elgood said. “These are really well informed opinions. People are clear what they think.”
Tomorrow: The Age/Nine News Ipsos poll – Your view on the performance of Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien.
Jewel Topsfield is a senior reporter at The Age. She has worked in Melbourne, Canberra and Jakarta as Indonesia correspondent. She has won multiple awards including a Walkley and the Lowy Institute Media Award.