Melbourne will return to stage three lockdown for six weeks from midnight tomorrow as the state continues to grapple with its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The return to lockdown was announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today, after the state recorded its highest ever number of COVID-19 infections overnight, 191 new cases
The startling figure is the second day in a row Victoria has recorded triple-digit figures, with 127 cases revealed yesterday.
However, residents living in regional Victoria have dodged the strict lockdown measures, the tough restrictions will only apply to metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
READ MORE: What do these lockdowns mean for Melbourne?
"The public health team have advised me to re-impose stage three stay at home restrictions, staying at home except for the four reasons to leave, effective from midnight tomorrow night for a period of six weeks," Mr Andrews said.
"These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases."
Only four reasons to leave home
Victorians living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will only be able to leave home for one of the four reasons permitted:
- food shopping
- exercise, and
- to study or work (if you can't do it at home).
Residents will not be allowed to stay at holiday homes like last time – and Victorians will not be allowed to leave metropolitan Melbourne for exercise.
Restaurants and cafes will also return to takeaway and delivery services only.
Beauty and personal services, entertainment and cultural venues, gyms and sporting centres will also close.
Elective surgery across Victoria will continue as per normal.
Mr Andrews said the measures would ensure the lockdown did not need to be extended to encompass the whole state.
"Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases," Mr Andrews said.
"This is designed to keep it that way."https://twitter.com/DanielAndrewsMP/status/1280372803363991552
How the restrictions will be enforced
Victoria Police will put in place roadblocks and other measures to ensure the boundary between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is not breached under the state's new restrictions.
"It will not be every car being stopped, it will be similar to the approach Victoria Police have taken in those 12 postcodes that are locked down," Mr Andrews said.
"It will be booze bus-type arrangements on main thoroughfares and I'll appeal to Victorians, don't for a moment think that you could flout these rules and travel into country Victoria.
"There will be every chance you'll be stopped and asked. If you don't have a lawful excuse, then there are significant penalties that will apply.
"Victoria Police have always taken this seriously and they'll continue to."
A further 260 Australian Defence Force personnel have also been requested to help with enforcement.
"They will essentially support Victoria Police, as Victoria Police put in place roadblocks," Mr Andrews said.
Rate of COVID-19 outbreak takes authorities by surprise
Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the return of lockdown restrictions would be "painful" but are "absolutely necessary" to contain the virus.
"We've got six very difficult weeks ahead of us," he said.
"But we have been through this before and we did it successfully. We turned the tide with our first wave of infections in Victoria and we drove infections right down again. We're facing as significant a situation this time around."
Prof. Sutton said the "rapid increase" in infections has been faster during the state's second wave of the pandemic.
"In many respects it is faster than in some other waves across the world," he said.
"I think that's a measure of some of the social disadvantage that's been intersecting with the transmission in this wave."
Prof. Sutton said if the state did not act now, "catastrophic outcomes" could follow.
Mr Andrews warned Victorians to take the state's rise in coronavirus infections "as seriously as [a] bushfire".
"It is life and death. That's what these next six weeks have got to be about," he said.
"When we get to the other side of the six weeks and I know it seems a long way off ... we'll have to recommit ourselves as we open up to that sense of vigilance."
School holidays in Victoria extended
School holidays will be extended for a further week in Victoria in a bid to control the spike.
However, VCE Year 11 and Year 12 students, including Year 10 students completing VCE subjects, will return to normal face-to-face learning from Monday.
"That's seen as a much lower risk and every day at school is important for those Year 11 and Year 12 students," Mr Andrews said.
"We want to make sure their VCE is not any more disrupted than it already has been. We want the certificate of education to be meaningful across both regional Victoria and metro and having two very different settings would potentially cause us issues there."
Specialist schools will also reopen as per normal from next week.
Children who can't learn from home in Victoria, including those of essential workers, will be able to attend a supervised school holiday program next week.
Mr Andrews said plans for remote learning had not yet been finalised.
"We will finalise what our plans are for flexible and remote learning at the very latest early into next week, giving parents as much notice as possible," Mr Andrews said.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-victoria-melbourne-and-mitchell-shire-locked-down-for-six-weeks-as-stage-three-restrictions-reimposed/7da4e63f-9485-4108-bfa7-a5e03aa2cd4d