"I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown. That's why we made this very difficult decision," says Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Victoria will enter its fifth lockdown since the pandemic began, with residents ordered to stay at home from midnight tonight as authorities scramble to trace contacts linked to two COVID-19 transmission chains.
The lockdown will last for five days until 11.59pm on Tuesday 20 July and is "essentially a repeat of the succesful strategy from just a couple of weeks ago", according to Premier Daniel Andrews.
"If you were authorised to work then, you will be authorised to work now. If you were closed then, you will be closed now," the Premier said.
"We're doing it the way we always do it."
The announcement confirms speculation this afternoon by the ABC and follows the detection of two new COVID-19 cases since an earlier press conference today - one linked to the AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG and the other to the Ariele Apartments block.
"We have 75 exposure sites, 1,500 primary close contacts and 5,000 secondary close contacts. That's how fast this moves - I want to assure all Victorians that our contact tracers, our public health experts, all the team are moving faster than they ever have," Premier Andrews said.
"But as fast as they're moving, they're just keeping pace with this virus. They're not getting in front of it, and unless they get in front of it we won't drive these numbers down. In fact, they will ultimately get away from us."
Support for businesses will be announced tomorrow, while parts of regional Victoria may be able to exit lockdowns earlier if test results show there is no community transmission.
Victorians are by now familiar with what's expected of them during a lockdown: the four reasons to leave the home are once again in place with the fifth if they go out to get vaccinated. People can only leave the home within a 5km radius, for the accepted reasons.
Masks will be mandatory, there will be no visitors to homes, and public gatherings are off the cards.
Restaurants, pubs and cafes will be allowed to open for takeaway only, while essential retail can open such as supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies. Other retail stores can provide click and collect.
Childcare and kindergartens will be open, approved professional sporting events will proceed with no crowds, and schools will move to remote learning except for vulnerable children and the children of authorised workers.
Hotels, clubs, TABs and casinos will be closed.
"You only get one chance to go hard and go fast," Andrews said.
"If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier.
There are now 18 cases of COVID-19 active in Victoria, of which six are associated with the Ariele Apartments and three linked to the AFL game over the weekend.
"We've got an AFL football game where it appears people who did not knowingly spend any time together and don't know each other, have infected each other," Andrews said.
Updated at 5:17pm AEST on 15 July 2021.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support