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Victorian COVID-19 cases near 700, stage three looms

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Coronavirus cases in Victoria are nearing 700 as Victoria Police were bestowed with powers to slug individuals and businesses with fines for flouting social distancing measures.

Coronavirus cases in Victoria are nearing 700 as Victoria Police were bestowed with powers to slug individuals and businesses with fines for flouting social distancing measures.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews on Saturday said there were 685 COVID-19 cases in the state, up 111 on the previous day.

Addressing the developments, Mr Andrews again warned about the near-certainty of stage three restrictions in Victoria, and possibly NSW and parts of Queensland.

Premier Daniel Andrews said coronavirus cases in Victoria are nearing 700. Victoria Police have been bestowed with the power to slug individuals and businesses with fines for flouting social distancing measures

He said more stringent stage three rules "will come at an appropriate time".

In the meantime, harsher measures have already been established to stop people from gathering in large groups and leaving home unnecessarily.

Victoria Police would from Saturday be able to fine individuals up to $1652 and businesses $9913 for ignoring medical advice, including for failing to self-isolate where required.

Mr Andrews again implored Victorians to stay at home.

Victoria Police has already established a 500-strong squad to ensure COVID-19 containment and compliance with government orders.

"We're going beyond simply an infringement notice and a court-based process for the enforcement of these very important issues. We're moving to an on the spot fine system," Mr Andrews told reporters.

Coronavirus: Army to enforce strict social distancing measures around Australia

Hint stage three needed in Victoria, NSW, Queensland

Mr Andrews said tougher stage three measures in Victoria, New South Wales and some parts of Queensland would help flatten the curve of infection.

"The national cabinet understands what is going on in Victoria is very different to what is happening in the Northern Territory," he said.

"What is happening down the eastern seaboard is a different magnitude. It poses a different threat and risk than other parts of the country."

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Mr Andrews said he had "the full support" of the national cabinet for a "differentiated approach".

At 1405 coronavirus cases, NSW accounts for almost half of 3291 infections in Australia.

There are 555 cases in Queensland and 255 in WA, including a five-month-old baby.

South Australia has 257 cases, ACT 62 and Tasmania 59.

The Northern Territory has 14 cases, after a police officer and his wife became the first people in a remote Indigenous community to test positive.

Rule cheats may force St Kilda to be closed

Port Phillip City Council has clamped down on large groups accessing its beaches including the popular St Kilda Beach.

The council on Friday said in a statement its beaches must not be used as gathering places and visitors must maintain social distancing.

Dog walkers, swimmers and joggers will still be able to use beaches as normal, however strict social distancing rules are in place.

The beach restrictions come ahead of a sunny Saturday with Melbourne expected to reach 25 degrees.

Mr Andrews previously said he would not hesitate to close beaches if people continued to disregard the rules.

"The fact it's sunny, the fact it's school holidays ... this is no ordinary school holiday, this is no ordinary autumn day," Mr Andrews said.

"This will be the case for weeks to come."

The stage two measures come as it was revealed two Victorian men who on Thursday died of coronavirus were cancer patients in the Alfred Hospital's oncology ward.

The men were two of four diagnosed with the virus in the ward.

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The two other coronavirus patients remain in hospital and are in a stable condition, an Alfred Hospital spokesman said.

Three staff members have since tested positive for coronavirus, with others now self-isolating.

Mr Andrews put the heavy spike in COVID-19 case numbers in Victoria down to the continued return of Australians from overseas.

Those returnees will from midnight on Sunday be obliged to spend 14 days self-isolating in hotels, guarded by police.

"There's so many parts of the world where this is running rampant and I think every returned traveller is a significant risk," Mr Andrews said.

With AAP

Source: 9News

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