Daniel Andrews declares a STATE OF DISASTER and introduces an 8pm curfew for Melbourne from TONIGHT after 671 new Covid-19 cases with seven deaths – as panic buying begins across state
- Melbourne goes into Stage 4 lockdown from 6pm on Sunday and rest to Stage 3
- Curfew bans anyone being out 8pm-5am unless working or on medical grounds
- Weddings banned and exercise and shopping can only be done 5km from home
- Almost all businesses will close and students will return to online learning
Melburnians will not be allowed outside their homes after 8pm for almost any reason as a state of disaster is declared.
Premier Daniel Andrews brought in the escalated emergency level as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs of ending.
Only 73 of the 671 new cases are linked to known and contained outbreaks or complex cases, with 598 under investigation.
Mr Andrews confirmed Melbourne will to go into strict Stage 4 lockdown from 6pm on Sunday until at least September 13.
Regional Victoria 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.
Premier Daniel Andrews brought in the escalated emergency level as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs of ending
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
What Stage 4 lockdown means for you
State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issues, only fines or court summons
Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 6am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising
Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home
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
Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day
Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc
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
Weddings: Completely banned
Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night
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.
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.
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
The panic was unnecessary as supermarkets would stay open under stage 4
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.
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
A line outside Aldi in Melbourne – which will stay open even under strictest lockdown
‘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.
Melbourne locals pictured wearing face masks during a walk along Morell Bridge on July 24
‘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.
Victoria extended the lockdown until September 13 (pictured, a clinical waste removal personnel at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, Melbourne)
Police will also step up their checks and increase patrols to stop potential breaches.
Licence-plate recognition technology will be used to identify non-essential travellers, the Herald Sun reported.
Victoria recorded 397 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths on Saturday.
Mr Andrews announced the latest figures with 37 linked to outbreaks and 360 currently under investigation.
Australia’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 201 after Victoria on Saturday reported the deaths of a man and two women aged in their 80s and 90s.
The fatalities bring Victoria’s death toll to 116. There are currently 5,919 active coronavirus cases in Victoria.
At least 1,008 active cases have been connected to outbreaks in aged care homes.
Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations are expected to operate in a normal capacity (people wearing masks in Melbourne pictured on July 19)
More than 100 cases have been referred to Victoria Police for breaching stay-at-home lockdown rules.
Experts have been working over the weekend to analyse infection data from the first half of Victoria’s six-week lockdown and determine if harsher measures are necessary.
Mr Andrews admitted further restrictions, based on state and national modelling, could prove a ‘circuit breaker’ for rising COVID-19 cases.
‘What we have at the moment are numbers that are too high of community transmission and that is a concern to us.
‘It is not a tap you can just turn on or off.’
He admitted further restrictions could have a devastating impact on the economy.
‘They are not decisions that would be taken lightly because there are significant costs … even minor changes have a significant cost,’ 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
A Melbourne local walks past Australian Defence Force personnel as the city continues to trudge through stage three lockdown
Mr Andrews said community transmission remained a top priority and cited 49 ‘mystery’ cases.
‘Those community transmission cases are of greatest concern to us.
‘The challenge is that they are a mystery and this is all about trying to know as much as you possibly can, as much intelligence and evidence and data as you possibly can.’
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.
She noted some Victorians were still breaking restrictions and labelled the behaviour as ‘appalling’.
‘The overwhelming majority of Victorians every day are doing the right thing,’ she said.
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.
Military personnel patrol the Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne
Military staff monitor a Melbourne aged care facility as it grapples with an outbreak of COVID-19
COVID-19 cases in Victoria
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced 397 new coronavirus cases had been recorded on Saturday.
The state continues to struggle to contain the outbreak and has consistently broken national records on both daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
August 1: 397 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths
July 31: 627 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths
July 30: 723 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths
July 29: 295 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths
July 28: 384 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths
July 27: 532 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths
July 26: 459 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths
July 25: 357 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths
July 24: 300 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths
July 23: 403 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths