Published: 00:48 EDT, 2 August 2020 | Updated: 04:06 EDT, 2 August 2020
Melburnians will not be allowed outside their homes after 8pm for almost any reason as a state of disaster is declared over the coronavirus crisis.
Premier Daniel Andrews brought in the escalated emergency level as the state’s worsening catastrophe shows no signs of ending.
Only 73 of the 671 new cases are linked to known and contained outbreaks, with 598 under investigation, and seven more people are dead.
Mr Andrews confirmed Melbourne will to go into strict Stage 4 lockdown from 6pm on Sunday until at least September 13.
Regional Victoria, which has 328 active cases, will go back into Stage 3 lockdown from 11.59pm on Wednesday as the virus spreads beyond hardest-hit Melbourne.
Melbourne’s curfew will be in effect between 8pm and 5am every day, the only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.
Victoria recorded 671 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday (pictured). A Stage 4 lockdown will see nearly all shops close and high school students back to learning from home
Premier Daniel Andrews brought in the escalated emergency level as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs of ending
State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issues, only $1,652 fines or court summons
Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 6am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising
Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day
Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away
Schools: All students learning from home from Wednesday unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare close on Thursday (same exceptions apply)
Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one
Only one person in a household can go shopping per day and exercise is limited to one hour a day – both must be within 5km from home.
All recreational activity is banned and no more than two people can be together outside, even if they are from the same family or household.
‘That means it’s fresh air. It’s a jog. It’s a walk. It’s in your local neighbourhood. It is staying close to home or in your home,’ Mr Andrews said.
He admitted the one-hour limit wouldn’t be enforceable, but that police would be vigilant about the 5km as ‘you are or you aren’t’ close enough.
The premier said the extremely tight restrictions was necessary to prevent to the lockdown dragging on until Christmas.
‘Six weeks versus a slower strategy. A much, much slower strategy that takes up to six months,’ he said.
‘I’m not prepared to accept that or accept days and days and days of hundreds of cases and more and more death.
‘All of those changes are about limiting the number of people we come into contact with.
‘Daily exercise is just that. It’s an opportunity to get some exercise. It’s not an opportunity to live our lives as if this pandemic was not real and not here.’
Partners who don’t live together will still be able to visit each other, even if they live more than 5km apart.
Weddings are completely banned and though funerals can go ahead, only 10 people can travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria to attend one.
‘Weddings will not be occurring in Melbourne unless there is a compassionate reason, and there are often circumstances where someone may not have a very long to live, for instance,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There are so many different things that have to wait because they pose an unreasonable risk.’
Melbourne school students – about a million children – will have to learn remotely unless their parents are essential workers, or they are vulnerable children who need to learn face-to-face.
They will go to school on Monday, have a pupil free day on Tuesday, and be learning at home from Wednesday.
The General Achievement Test for year 12 students will be moved from the end of term three to the start of term four.
The VCE exam dates will not change, finishing by December 2 as planned and ATAR results handed out by the end of the year.
Australia was the envy of the world when it flattened the coronavirus curve in April. Infections remained low throughout May and June, before a horror second wave hit Victoria
The looming harsher lockdown prompted thousands to flock to shops across Melbourne in a new round of panic buying
Kindy and pre-primary students will go home from Thursday, and childcare centres will be closed for children whose parents aren’t essential workers.
‘We know this will be a significant ask of parents with little ones – and big ones too. But I promise, as a parent to three, it’s an ask I don’t make lightly,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I want to ensure all Victorians supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings, there will be no impact there,’ Mr Andrews said.
The new restrictions are in some ways even harsher than the lockdown imposed by New Zealand.
Mr Andrews hoped cases could drop enough before September 13 that the restrictions wouldn’t be extended, and could even end early.
‘If everyone plays their part there is some prospect we can achieve our outcome before then,’ he said.
Mr Andrew warned that police would no longer issue cautions or show leniency, they will just fine people $1,652 or drag them before courts.
‘We always reserve the right not just to fine you on the spot but to take you to court and then it’s not $1,652, it’s actually $10,000,’ he said.
‘This will be over sooner if everyone does the right thing and plays the part they have to play.
Meet was one of the items people were trying to stock up on – likely freezing it for the weeks of lockdown to come
‘I’ve said it many times, I don’t want the selfishness of some to detract from the amazing work millions are doing.
‘These are the decisions made because anything short of this will not keep us safe. Anything short of this will see it go on for months and months and months.
‘That is not acceptable to me having to stand here every day reporting more and more people dying. We need to come down on this hard. This is what this strategy is all about.
‘We’ve avoided the worst-case scenario. Now we have to get to the covid normal and get there as quick as we possibly can.’
The looming harsher lockdown prompted thousands to flock to shops across Melbourne in a new round of panic buying.
Long lines and full trolleys were seen outside supermarkets as early as 7am – even though they would stay open under stage 4.
‘There’s a six-week period that we’ll need to go through but the things people require for their essential day to day living will absolutely be available,’ Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
‘There’s no requirement for panic. It’s a very human response. I can understand that people experience uncertainty when they don’t know the full details about something.
‘But I’m not going out doing anything in a state of panic today. They just need to understand what the requirements are from tonight, 6pm in terms of the state of disaster and the curfew kicking in at pm.
‘And to understand there will be some constraints from tomorrow in terms of work. But that all of the essential things that they need day to day will be available.’
However, many other businesses will have to close or operate only remotely, with the details to be announced on Monday.
‘Today, I’ve made some announcements that change how Victorians will live – tomorrow, I’ll have more to say about the way Victorians need to work,’ Mr Andrews said.
Cafes and restaurants will continue to provide takeaway services, but people will not be allowed to dine in.
‘I want to assure all Victorians, supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings, there will be no impact there,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I want to make the point there’s no need to be queuing up at the Coles or Woolworths or queuing up at the local baker or butcher, they’ll remain open.
‘They’ll remain able to provide you with the things that you need. Takeaway meals, home delivery meals, they’ll remain as they are now.’
Victoria extended the lockdown until September 13 (pictured, a clinical waste removal personnel at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, Melbourne)
Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations are expected to operate in a normal capacity (people wearing masks in Melbourne pictured on July 19)
Police will also step up their checks and increase patrols to stop potential breaches, and licence-plate recognition technology will be used to identify non-essential travellers.
Of the 671 new cases, 73 are linked to known and contained outbreaks, and 598 are under investigation.
There are 6,322 active cases all up, with 385 in hospital, and 38 in ICU. The active cases include 649 health care workers.
Six of the seven new deaths were in aged care homes, where more than 1,000 residents are infected.
The deaths include three women in their 70s, two women in their 80s, one man in his 90s, and one woman in her 90s.
‘I am not going to let this get into aged care in regional Victoria the way it has in aged care in Melbourne,’ Mr Andrews said
The Victorian government released a breakdown of active COVID-19 cases by postcode on Friday afternoon after recording the second highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began – another 627 cases and eight deaths
Military staff monitor a Melbourne aged care facility as it grapples with an outbreak of COVID-19
Mr Andrews explained the restrictions were being ramped up because existing measures were not working and hospitals would be overwhelmed.
‘Our health experts tell us the measures we’ve introduced are working. But too slowly,’ he said.
‘The current rate of community transmission – mystery cases that cannot be traced back to work or home – is far too high.
‘As they tell us, based on the current numbers, cases might begin to drop off not in days or weeks – but in months. Months more of lockdown restrictions. Months more of 300, 400, 500 cases a day.
‘And more Victorians – more grandparents, parents, sons, daughters, partners and loved ones – choked to death by an invisible enemy.
‘That’s not something I’m willing to accept. I don’t think it’s something any of us are willing to accept.’
A Melbourne local walks past Australian Defence Force personnel as the city continues to trudge through stage three lockdown
Mr Andrews claimed 20,000 cases were averted due to the Stage 3 lockdowns, but far more than that was necessary.
‘To look at the numbers every day through the lens of a healthcare worker, you could not tolerate 500 cases day in, day out,’ he said.
‘A dozen deaths day in, day out. A number of new outbreaks and a number of new nursing home residents infected. That is intolerable.
Dr Sutton said the outbreak was being led by younger people as 53 per cent of all patients were aged 15 to 40.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Saturday more than 200,000 police checks had taken place across the state while more than 452,000 car checks were carried out.
The current measures allow residents to leave their homes for essential reasons such as exercise, care, attending school or purchasing essential items.
It is also mandatory to wear a face covering in public and anyone flouting this rule risks a $200 on-the-spot fine.
The state continues to struggle to contain the outbreak and has consistently broken national records on both daily new covid-19 cases and deaths.
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