VIC LOCKDOWN BEGINS: Harsher new restrictions, night curfew in effect

The premier declared a state of disaster from 6pm tonight in addition to the state of emergency and said he had been left with “no alternative” but to impose the harsher restrictions on Melbourne.

“I know these are difficult decisions. This is a very difficult day. These are the decisions I’ve made because these are the ones that will keep Victorians safe,” Mr Andrews said.

Metropolitan Melbourne will start its curfew from 8pm tonight however was placed under stage four restrictions two hours earlier at 6pm. The curfew will run from 8pm to 5am every day.

“The only reason to be out of your home between the hours of 8pm and 5am is to get care, to give care, or to go to and from work or be at work. We can no longer have people visiting others. We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever,” Mr Andrews said.

Supermarket shopping has been limited to one person per household from 6pm and can be no further than five kilometres from home.

Recreational activity has been banned and outdoor exercise limited to one hour each day.

Regional Victoria will also go into stage three restrictions from midnight on Wednesday.

The restrictions will apply for six weeks. 

Meanwhile, Queensland recorded one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday after a man who returned from overseas but was granted an exemption to fly domestically from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast tested positive. There were 12 new cases in NSW where Premier Gladys Berejiklian said masks will be encouraged in certain circumstances from Monday. 

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Live Updates

Lockdown is officially on in Victoria after the new restrictions came into effect at 6pm tonight with the state of disaster declaration.

Metropolitan Melbourne is now under stage four restrictions and face the following rules and restrictions:

  • A curfew – from 8pm to 5am – starting tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.
  • The Night Network will be suspended, and public transport services will be reduced during curfew hours.
  • Exercise will be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five kilometres from your home. Group size will be limited to a maximum of two – you and one other person – whether you live with them or not.
  • Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day. Again, the five-kilometre rule will apply.
  • Study at TAFE and uni must be done remotely.
  • Weddings will be banned – unless on compassionate reasons.
  • Face coverings will continue to be compulsory.
  • All Victorian students across all year levels will return to at-home learning.
  • Non-essential businesses will be forced to close.

There will be some common-sense exceptions. For example if you live more than five kilometres from your closest supermarket or if you have children that can’t be left at home.

Regional Victoria will move to stage three restrictions meaning you must stay at home unless leaving your house for one of four reasons – shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study and work, if you can’t do it from home.

All restrictions for Victoria will remain in place until at least September 13.

Before announcing the new restrictions, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews admitted today was the hardest day he’d faced in his six years in the job.

“I’ve had the job of leading this state for almost six years – more than 2000 days. And today is by far the hardest day – and the hardest decision,” he said.

“But it is the decision I’ve made to keep our state safe.”

Despite that, Mr Andrews said Victoria had been left with only one option.

“There’s discussions within our government but also with the federal government about assistance and support. We have not done any modelling because it’s not a matter of having any option,” he said.

“This is the only option we have. The only choices that can be made unless this continuing for six months and in some respects 500, 600 cases every day for six months, the system will be overwhelmed, it becomes not dissimilar to thousands of cases a day. And adds and adds so much.

“The amount of resources and the number of people that would be required would be beyond us. There is no alternative.

“I know these are difficult decisions. This is a very difficult day. These are the decisions I’ve made because these are the ones that will keep Victorians safe.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced more mental health support as Victorians face at least another six weeks in lockdown.

“It’s understandable for somebody to be feeling depressed or anxious, isolated and that we understand and there is support,” Mr Hunt said.

“We think we need more because this is a deeply stressful time.”

Mr Hunt announced any Australian living in a lockdown area under a public health order will be able to access an additional 10 sessions under Better Access Psychological Support Services through Medicare.

“That will apply right across Victoria and if more areas in Australia were to face this, it would apply to them,” Mr Hunt said.

“So this expansion of services is a $7.3 million investment but it’s not the money. It’s the support for individuals who are facing additional challenges.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is also giving an update from Melbourne, saying “today is one of the hardest days in Victoria’s history”.

Mr Hunt described the new restrictions as “regrettably necessary”.

Across Australia there are now 17,921 cases and 208 lives lost.

There are 408 people in hospital, 46 in intensive care and 30 are on ventilators.

There are around 1500 Australian Defence Force members helping with the country’s coronavirus fight and 315 of those are working in Victoria’s contact tracing team.

Premier Dan Andrews said the government was still working through the “complex task” of defining essential and non-essential businesses but listed a handful of shops that would obviously be staying open.

“I want to send a message to all Victorians that there’s no need to be stocking up on things at the supermarket,” Mr Andrews said.

“Supermarkets will remain open. The butcher, grocer, bakery will remain open. Pharmacies and petrol stations will remain open.

“It’s a number of other sites that will have to modify the way they work and some will close or go to but a fraction of their normal work.

“They are not easy decisions to make.

“That’s why taking a bit more time to make sure we have full visibility and understanding of what the impacts of those decisions would be, not just on workers and the business, but on those who rely upon the goods.

“Intricate and complex supply chains. Often supply chains that go well beyond Victoria, given we have the biggest container port in the country. We’re a hub for so many things.

“Anything that’s shut down here can have knock-on effects and consequences well beyond our state. Knowing that, understanding that and getting the detail right is why we’ll be making those announcements tomorrow.”

Victoria is also working on how it can provide mental health support as people living alone or with mental illness face another six weeks of isolation.

“We will have further announcements to make whether it be vulnerable communities, those who are experiencing family violence, those who have a mental health condition for instance,” Premier Dan Andrews said.

“Those who by virtue of these circumstances are under enormous strain and pressure and business support and cash flow support.

“We’ll have much more to say about all of those items. I’m pleased to say the Commonwealth Government will join us as a partner in many of those and that’s a very, very important thing.”

Premier Dan Andrews said he knew parts of regional Victoria, especially those that have few cases, would be unhappy with being put under stage three restrictions.

But, “I am not going to let this get into aged care in regional Victoria the way it has in aged care in Melbourne”, he said.

“We can’t guarantee that it doesn’t get into aged care in regional Victoria, but I think when you think about it in those terms, as the chief

health officer said, look at it through the eyes of a health worker, look at it from the perspective of a family member burying a loved one out of aged care in Melbourne. If you think about it in those terms, I think at that point we all understand these are the necessary decisions to take.”

Restrictions around funerals will not change and some weddings will be allowed on compassionate grounds.

In Melbourne, only 10 people – in addition to funeral staff – are allowed to attend funerals.

In regional Victoria, up to 50 people can attend.

“Weddings will not be occurring in Melbourne unless there is a compassionate reason, and there are often circumstances where someone may not have a very long to live, for instance,” Premier Dan Andrews told reporters this afternoon.

“We will be as generous as we can be. Those matters need to wait.

“There are so many different things that have to wait because they pose an unreasonable risk.

“I know people will say, well, surely, all of these different activities and give lots of examples, they are all low risk. But let’s always remember that cumulative impacts.

“We can’t have a situation where everybody wants to keep going, ‘no impact on me, no change to the things I am doing’, because what that means is you have got risk everywhere and you don’t really have a set of rules. But we will try and be as fair as we possibly can.”

Mitchell Shire, which was hit with stage three restrictions the same time as Melbourne, will stay in stage three.

Premier Dan Andrews said the shire, located north of Melbourne in Victoria’s Hume Region, would have easier restrictions because of “the number of cases and chains of transmission”.

Despite the massive influx of cases in Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews said hospitals were still coping quite well.

“It’s not in a critical situation. There have been great surges in terms of mobilising other staff. There are obviously staff coming out of furlough and quarantine who have needed to be there because they’ve been a close contact or had a test and needed to wait for that result,” he said.

“It is a challenge.”

The premier said there’d also been a “small ray of hope” to come out of the lockdown.

“If there’s any good that’s come out of the restrictions that have been in place right throughout, it’s that our flu numbers in Victoria as for the rest of Australia are through the floor.

“We have probably averted hundreds of deaths from influenza because of the physical distancing that’s been in place and much greater scope of immunisation people have taken up.

“That’s a small ray of hope for our health system as well in terms of the pressures from flu. There’s literally no flu going around.”

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