Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are due to go back into stage 3 lock-down restrictions for six weeks, from midnight Wednesday in an effort to contain the growing momentum of the second wave of the pandemic in Victoria.
The stage three restrictions were announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews after the state recorded 191 new cases overnight, the highest ever number since the pandemic began.
Only four reasons to leave home
As of Thursday, Victorians living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will only be allowed to leave their home for one of the following four reasons: shopping for food, care-giving, exercise and to study or work (if you can’t do it from home). Restrictions will not apply to regional Victoria
“The public health team have advised me to re-impose stage three stay-at-home restrictions,” Mr Andrews said, as “these are unsustainably high numbers of new cases.”
Mr Andrews emphasised that residents will not be allowed to stay at holiday homes or leave metropolitan Melbourne for exercise. “Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way.” Mr Andrews said.
Restaurants and cafes will also return to takeaway and delivery services only, whilst beauty and personal services, entertainment and cultural venues, gyms and sporting centres will also close. Elective surgery will continue as per normal.
The boundary between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will be patrolled
Under the state’s new restrictions, Victoria Police will put in place roadblocks to ensure that citizens do not cross the boundary between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.The Victorian government has requested for a further 260 Australian Defence Force personnel to support Victoria Police in their efforts to enforce restrictions.
The “rapid increase” in infections are concerning
The return of lockdown restrictions would be painful but absolutely necessary to contain the virus, according to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.
“We’ve got six very difficult weeks ahead of us,” he said. “But we have been through this before and we did it successfully. We turned the tide with our first wave of infections in Victoria and we drove infections right down again.” The rapid increase in infections has taken the health authorities by surprise, who believe that drastic measures to control the spread are absolutely necessary. Prof. Sutton said if the state did not act now, the outcomes would be “catastrophic”.
Mr Andrews urged Victorians to take the state’s rise in coronavirus infections as a ‘life and death’ situation. “That’s what these next six weeks have got to be about,” he said.
School holidays in Victoria extended for a week, as plans are made for the new term during lock down
School holidays will be extended for a further week in Victoria. However, VCE Year 11 and Year 12 students, including Year 10 students completing VCE subjects, will return as per normal from next week normal face-to-face learning from Monday, and so will Specialist schools.
“We want to make sure their VCE is not any more disrupted than it already has been. We want the certificate of education to be meaningful across both regional Victoria and metro and having two very different settings would potentially cause us issues there, ” Mr Andrews explained, adding that students from the other grades who can’t learn from home, including those of essential workers, will be able to attend a supervised school holiday program next week.
Mr Andrews said plans for remote learning will be finalised in the next few days and announced at the very latest early next week “giving parents as much notice as possible.”