Doctors allegedly attended lockdown gathering

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Australia’s top health regulator is investigating after two doctors allegedly attended an illegal engagement party in breach of Melbourne’s strict Covid-19 lockdown.

Sixty-nine people attended the private gathering in the St Kilda area last Wednesday, police say, but video footage of the event only emerged at the weekend.

The vision triggered an angry response from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who tightened restrictions and reimposed a curfew as a result.

As of Wednesday seven people who attended the party have tested positive to Covid-19 and health authorities remain concerned it will become a super-spreading event.

While Victoria Police is investigating the major breach of public health orders, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) revealed it was also looking into the matter.

The medical regulator said the probe followed a number of complaints about registered health practitioners who allegedly attended the gathering.

“We are aware that Victoria Police have stated that they intend to take action with respect to individuals who attended the event. We will liaise with them in relation to any registered health practitioners who were present,” a spokesman said.

“National Boards remind health practitioners their professional behaviour extends to acting in accordance with the law.

“All health practitioners should ensure that they are aware of their legal obligations and act in accordance with them.”

AHPRA possesses the power to suspend the licences of negligent health practitioners.

“National Boards can and will take action for failing to comply with legal obligations in your state or territory,” it said.

Video of the event showed the groom-to-be, a part-time teacher and law student, joking about holding a party in contravention of Victoria’s Covid-19 restrictions.

“Clearly this is legal because this is a group-therapy session,” he joked as the room full of maskless revellers soaked up the speech.

It sparked an outpouring of antisemitic rhetoric directed at the Jewish community as tougher restrictions were enforced hours after the damning video emerged.

The commentary was so appalling the Victorian Premier and chief health officer Brett Sutton called for the abuse to stop while addressing media at Tuesday’s Covid-19 briefing.

A Victorian hospital was even forced to sack a worker who had posted vile antisemitic slurs online.

“Anti-Semitism is unacceptable and evil and we have a zero tolerance approach to that in our state,” Mr Andrews said.

“The event that we spoke about at some length yesterday was not a function of being Jewish, it was a stupid function, it was an illegal function.”

Professor Brett Sutton said the abuse was “destructive” to the state’s public health response.

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