Victoria "at a tipping point": lockdown extended by two weeks, curfew imposed

Victoria "at a tipping point": lockdown extended by two weeks, curfew imposed

"We are running alongside this virus at best, we are not in front of it," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The Victorian Premier has today unloaded on Melburnians caught breaking COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend - behaviour that forced the state's health authorities to recommend strengthening the lockdown rules and extending it for another two weeks.

Those recommendations have been accepted by Premier Daniel Andrews who today announced a two-week extension of the state's lockdown until at least 2 September, the introduction of a curfew from midnight tonight as well as additional restrictions on workers and gatherings.

It comes as the state recorded 22 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with just 14 of those in isolation for their entire infectious period.

"We see too many cases, we see too many mystery cases, we now have 12 or 13 different chains of transmission - the origins of some are unknown to us," Andrews said.

"That means this is spreading in undetected way across the community.

"We are at a tipping point."

Victoria's Chief Health Officer has declared that from tonight the lockdown restrictions will be strengthened and extended in metropolitan Melbourne, until 11.59pm on Thursday, 2 September.

The strengthened settings will see a curfew imposed from 9pm to 5am every night. This will operate as it did last year, with very limited reasons to leave the home during this time.

In addition, at large scale construction sites, staffing must reduce to 25 per cent or five workers on site, whichever is higher.

Authorised workers will be required to carry permits when working, and when travelling for work, from 11:59pm on Tuesday August 17. The permits need to be certified by an employer. Permits will be available on the coronavirus website before these directions come into effect.

Permits will also need to be carried by higher education students who are on the Authorised Provider list.

The Premier also highlighted how a small number of people have been making "selfish choices" recently, including people going on pub crawls and gathering in large numbers in parks around Melbourne.

"Every time even a small number of people make really bad choices, selfish choices, it takes away from the hard work that so many millions more are doing, and it extends these lockdowns," Andrews said.

"We've seen people turning the footpath into an impromptu beer garden and doing pub crawls. We've seen people gathering in parks in large numbers. We've seen lots of people flouting these rules not doing as they should, making really poor choices.

"That's not good for anybody."

Andrews also highlighted a particular engagement party during which it has been confirmed there was transmission of COVID-19.

"I'm angry about that event," he said.

"What makes me really angry about it is that there were 69 people at that event. And no matter what you're told or what you read, the facts are these: there has been transmission.

"We'll have to spend literally thousands of hours dealing with hundreds and thousands of people connected to that engagement party. That is the work they must do. But it's all entirely preventable."

As a further strengthening of restrictions there will be a closure of playgrounds, basketball hoops, skate parks and outdoor exercise equipment.

People will not be able to remove their masks to drink alcoholic beverages in public.

Exercise will be limited to just two people from the same household, plus dependants if they can't be left at home.

To monitor compliance, police will be conducting a blitz this weekend with $5,500 fines per adult caught breaking the rules. At that rate, Police Commissioner Shane Patton expects the engagement party would have clocked up about $350,000 worth of fines.

"Last night I was made aware of an engagement party that occurred last week, whereby there was 69 people in attendance...I expect that every one of those people will be getting an infringement," Patton said.

"We've been trying to apply discretion, we've been trying to be fair, and we have been fair with a mixture of enforcement, infringements and warnings. If anyone gets a warning moving forward from here on in, they're going to be very lucky.

"The time for discretion is over. We will be issuing infringements. I am advising all of my officers today that that's an expectation where it's a deliberate and blatant breach."

Andrews reiterated that these restrictions are tough, but necessary to combat the spread of the virus in Victoria.

"This is a tough time, no one is enjoying this lockdown," Andrews said.

"I know people are weary. I know people are sick and tired fo this. But each of us have to find it in ourselves to make good choices for these next couple of weeks to drive down these case numbers and to be in a position that we can reopen."

Updated at 1.06pm AEST on 16 August 2021.

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