JACINTA Allan will hand the state's top job in the next few days after a whirlwind two weeks as acting premier.
The Bendigo East representative is finishing her holiday fill-in role as parts of Victoria grappling with severe storms and the state braced for more potentially record breaking spikes in COVID-19 case numbers.
"The omicron strain has come on very, very quickly around the country, which has resulted in it being a really challenging time, particularly for our healthcare workers," she said on Friday after arriving back in Bendigo after a day in Melbourne.
The government had been expecting a COVID-19 spike post-Christmas and had modelled predictions based on the Delta strain.
It had not completed similar work for Omicron, though it was expecting that strain to gain traction in the state over the summer.
The opposition declined to comment on Ms Allan's handling of the acting premiership but has been critical of the wider government's handling of COVID-19 issues this week.
Shadow health minister Georgie Crozier pointed to testing centre delays at a crunch time in the reopening process and a scarcity of rapid antigen tests.
"Images of desperate Victorians being turned away from emergency departments and testing centres is deeply distressing," she said on Tuesday as COVID-19 case numbers climbed.
"It should not be happening. The virus was first detected in Australia nearly two years ago and yet here we are."
The government this week ordered 44 million rapid antigen tests to deal with emerging problems, along with ordering changes to social distancing restrictions and the way potential cases are tracked.
It is an example of the adaptability an acting premier needs, former Bendigo West member Bob Cameron said.
"That means changes in policies, changes in practices and changes in rules," he said.
"With Jacinta in the driver's seat, we've seen more of that in the last couple of weeks."
Ms Allan's two weeks in the acting premiership is now coming to a close but the work of government tackling the latest COVID-19 surge may only just be beginning.
New South Wales - a state Victoria has been watching given it reopened its economy earlier - gathered its cabinet on Friday following weeks of mounting pressure on its health system.
That state's premier Dominic Perrottet later revealed new modelling showed the health system could withstand increasing pressure in coming weeks as peak omicron cases arrive.
He announced that singing and dancing would now be banned in hospitality venues, along with "minimising mingling where possible" and new mandatory vaccination requirements.
Mr Cameron said it would be incorrect to characterise Victoria as a state in crisis even as events moved rapidly.
He said Ms Allan was clearly picked for acting premier because she was a safe pair of hands while other government leaders were away.
"There'll always be an occasional conversation with the premier but you've always got to appreciate that the premier is on holidays," Mr Cameron said.
"You have to balance up how much to ring and how much not to."
Ms Allan has served as acting premier two other times in recent years.
On both occasions the premier cut short his holidays, once because of the pandemic and the other due to major bushfires.
"What doesn't change is the ongoing reporting of the premier's department to provide that daily support, whether it's the premier or acting premier," Ms Allan said.
"That's really important for the continuity of government."
Regardless of what is happening in the state, an acting premier must set the tone on the issues of the moment, Mr Cameron said. The wrong tone can box governments into decisions they don't want to make.
Just this week, simmering uncertainty about unvaccinated tennis players erupted into an international news story when world number one Novak Djokovic was denied a visa to enter Australia.
Ms Allan was asked if Mr Djokovic's actions were selfish when she fronted reporters on Wednesday that touched on everything from surging COVID-19 numbers to preparations for potential bushfires.
"What I will say about that one particular player, Novak Djokovic, is that it's the government's expectation that when he does arrive [in Australia] he explains to the Victorian community what the circumstances [are]," she said.
"He can then explain the motivations behind his actions and his intentions in playing here in Australia.
"It's only the decent thing to do, isn't it?"
Mr Cameron said part of the reason Ms Allan was left in charge was her "deep understanding" of the state.
"She understands the country and she understands the city, so she is in a pretty good position to assess things and how they will impact people," he said.
The third-generation Bendigonian was elected in 1999 during Labor's victory over the Coalition's Kennett government.
Mr Cameron said that even as Ms Allan grappled with the demands of the premiership, she was still keeping a close eye on Bendigo East.
"She likes to keep in touch, no matter what," he said.
"She always has her hands on the levers of what is going on around Bendigo."
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