Victoria will enter its sixth lockdown for one week from 8pm tonight as authorities seek to stamp out the spread of "mystery" COVID-19 cases in the state.
It is expected Minister for Business Martin Pakula will make an announcement about business supports tomorrow, and the Premier is confident he can work with the Federal Government on a 50-50 split support program with automatic payments as per the recent lockdown.
"We know this will hurt a lot, and we will look to make those payments as quickly as we can using that automatic payment function that we've used before," Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Schools will close and there will only be five reasons to leave the house: getting the needed food and supplies, exercising for up to two hours, care or caregiving, authorised work or education if not possible from home, or getting vaccinated at the nearest possible location.
It comes after Victoria reported eight new locally acquired COVID-19 cases today, of which only three were connected to a known outbreak of the virus.
"We have some reason to believe that there is COVID either in that community or has been in that community," the Premier said.
Andrews said today's decision was a "difficult one" but there was "no alternative" to the snap lockdown.
"I want to make it very clear; we only get one chance to act fast," Andrews said.
"I'd much prefer to wait two or three days, I'd much prefer that we didn't have to make this decision now. But my fear is that if we were to wait a few days...there's a chance that instead of being locked down for a week, this gets away from us and we are potentially locked down until we all get vaccinated."
There has also been a positive COVID-19 detection at a sewage plant in Wangaratta, underscoring the decision to make the lockdown statewide rather than just limited to Melbourne.
"We have some reason to believe that there is COVID either in that community or has been in that community," he said.
"We don't get the luxury of assuming that we have all of the knowns, that we know everything about this. We've always got to assume there are more cases out there than we have positive test results, and with one sewage detection we have to assume that there are cases.
"That's why it's statewide...as painful as it is and as counterintuitive sometimes as it as it is, we don't want this taking a hold in country Victoria. We just don't."
Under the new restrictions, shopping and exercise must be done within 5km of home or the nearest location.
Face masks will remain mandatory indoors and outdoors unless an exception applies - this includes all workplaces and secondary schools.
Private gatherings are not permitted except for an intimate partner or nominated person visits. Public gatherings are not permitted. Exercise is limited to two people.
Childcare and Early Childhood Care will remain open. Schools will close, with primary and secondary school students returning to remote learning except for vulnerable children, and the children of authorised workers who can learn on site.
Updated at 4.30pm AEST on 5 August 2021.
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