Victoria records 627 new COVID-19 cases, eight deaths as aged care crisis continues; Queensland border closes Greater Sydney as Australian death toll jumps to 197

At least, on this morning, the pandemic seems to be behaving itself: a manageable 13 new cases. Among Australia’s current premiers, he is the longest-serving – almost six years – and is still being lauded nationally for steering Victoria through COVID-19 and the summer bushfire crisis before that. His approval ratings, which will dive abruptly within the coming month, are still sky-high. For now, it seems everyone is a Dan fan.

“Mate!” A man shouts at us from the window of a passing car. “Mate! You are doing a great job! Can we get a photo?” Two dark-haired men in fluorescent orange fleeces leap out of a plumbing van with the elastic energy of cartoon figures. “You have to be COVID-safe!” the Premier warns, manoeuvring into his selfie position, 1.5 metres behind them.

Andrews smiles when I ask if the tradies are on his payroll. “It happens quite often,” says his media adviser Stephanie Anderson. And sure enough, two minutes later, another man shyly approaches, phone in hand.

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