All residents of metropolitan local government areas (LGAs) in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will face Stage 3 stay-at-home restrictions as of midnight tomorrow for six weeks, as authorities scramble to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks from spiralling out of control.
After recording 191 new cases today, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said new infections were recorded in postcodes currently covered by the orders, but contamination was also "leaking" into other parts of the capital.
There are now 772 active cases in the state, including 35 people in hospital of whom nine are in intensive care.
"These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases," he said, noting it was now impossible to have the contact tracing staff and resources to tackle the virus at current rates without taking significant steps.
"Let's not say this is simply an inconvenience; it's much more than that. This is a pandemic, and it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us."
Once the restrictions are in force, residents in the affected area will only be able to leave their homes for four reasons: work or study; care (including elective surgery) or caregiving; daily exercise; food and other essentials.
Unfortunately, the new measures mean food and beverage venues that were cautiously opening up will have to go back to takeaway service only.
"Other businesses that had opened will have to close. I know and understand how significant that will be, I know and understand there'll be a big job for us to continue providing support," he said.
"Tim Pallas and Martin Pakula as the responsible ministers will have more to say quite soon about further business support, and I'll be having further conversations with the Prime Minister about some of the very special needs that Victorian businesses are going to need met over these coming weeks and months."
Premier Andrews said people would not be allowed to leave Melbourne for exercise, emphasising there were still very few COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria and his intention was to keep it that way.
"You can't be going on a four-hour bush walk hundreds of kilometres away from Melbourne, you can't be going fishing again outside the metropolitan area down into regional Victoria," the Premier said.
"Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way, and I hope very soon to be able to be before you again talking about further easing of restrictions in original Victoria."
He added Melburnians needed to stay in their principal place of residence, so holiday homes or second homes were off the cards.
"Don't for a moment think that you could flout these rules and travel into country Victoria - there'd be every chance that you would be stopped, you will be asked and if you don't have a lawful excuse then there are significant penalties that will apply."
Andrews said a sense of complacency had crept up on Victoria, but no matter how challenging this period will be people cannot let their frustrations get the better of them.
"We have to be clear with each other that this is not over, and pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer - it is indeed the problem, a very big part of the problem," he said.
"We do have a chance to change that in the decisions we make, in the way we conduct ourselves, in the way we reset.
"I think that each of us know someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have. I think each of us know that we've got no choice but to take these very, very difficult steps."
Key restrictions for all of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire:
- Cannot leave primary residence except for four reasons: work or study; care (including elective surgery) or caregiving; daily exercise; food and other essentials.
- Restaurants, cafés and bars will need to either close or return to takeaway-only operations.
- Exercise not permitted outside of Melbourne for residents in stay-at-home areas.
- Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours must not operate.
- Auction houses are only permitted to conduct auctions remotely.
- The closure of: Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites, zoos, wildlife parks, petting zoos, aquariums and animal farms, outdoor amusement parks and outdoor arcades, indoor cinemas and drive-in cinemas, concert venues, theatres and auditoriums.
List of restricted LGAs:
Banyule, Bayside, Boroondara, Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Melbourne, Melton, Monash, Moonee Valley, Mitchell Shire, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Yarra, Yarra Ranges.
Victoria's Chief Health Minister Brett Sutton said there was a unanimous view that these measures were required to avoid "absolutely catastrophic outcomes".
"I know that we will already see deaths from the cases that we have occurring every day. What I do not want to see is any more deaths than are already predicted," he said.
"We have to drive our daily numbers down. What's happened has been a very significant upturn in the last few days."
Sutton put his support behind the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee's (AHPPC) position that where community transmission isn't negligible, masks are a "reasonable thing to wear where we can't physically distance".
There are now 69 cases that can be linked to the high rise towers in North Melbourne and Flemington, up from 53. There have also been 12 new cases linked to the Al-Taqwa College outbreak, with the total now at 90.
Some 438 cases may indicate community transmission, and by the end of today it is likely more than one million tests will have been conducted.
The LGA of Hume has the highest number of active cases at 145, followed Wyndham (105), Melbourne (97), Brimbank (77), Moonee Valley (50), Moreland (38) and Whittlesea (36).
Updated at 3:39pm AEST on 7 July 2020.
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