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Melbourne wakes to unprecedented day as non-essential businesses close

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

But some businesses weren’t informed about whether or not they could stay open until after 11pm, less than an hour before the tightened rules were to take effect.

The city of Melbourne is waking to its first morning in full lockdown with all non-essential businesses now closed, the streets falling silent from midnight.

But some businesses weren't informed about whether or not they could stay open until after 11pm, less than an hour before the tightened rules were to take effect.

"It's still a bit of a disaster to be honest," Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, told Today.

"We're now on the first morning of the new lockdown, and business still aren't clear on what they can and can't do,"

"We had new guidelines released some time after 11 last night."

From 11.59pm, affected retailers were ordered to close as Victoria fights to stem a coronavirus second wave.

Stage four restrictions are now in place, forcing an expected 250,000 people out of work for at least six weeks unless they are part of a permitted industry or sector.

A full list of the affected businesses was released by Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services.

"The new guidelines were issued last night around what were permissible businesses and what wasn't," Mr Willox said.

"Things are changing by the hour and that's part of the frustration for business. There's no clarity here for a lot of people, a lot of business owners, or a lot of employees. 

"But really, businesses having to make it up as they go, fly by the seat of their pants, and they face the prospect of having to explain themselves to police officers today around what they do, why they do it."

Essential services, such as food and healthcare, have escaped the sweeping orders and will operate business as usual.

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A city-wide curfew is in place from 8pm to 5am.

Essential workers who need to leave their homes to go to work in Melbourne must now carry a permit in case they are stopped by police on roads or public transport, including between the curfew hours.

The worker permit must be on the employee at all times when travelling to and from work, including photo identification.

Fines of up to $19,826 for individuals and $99,132 for businesses will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the scheme or breach its requirements.

Workers who breach the scheme requirements or do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work could also face on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 and up to $9913 for businesses.

Yesterday, Victoria recorded its darkest day of the COVID-19 pandemic, registering 15 additional deaths and 725 new cases.

The state's death toll now stands at 162, and one of the virus' latest victims is a man in his 30s.

Of the 15 deaths yesterday, 12 are linked to aged care.

You can  get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348

For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News

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