On Sunday, a state of disaster was declared in Victoria, along with a step up to stage-four restrictions and a curfew in Melbourne, and the reintroduction of stage-three restrictions in regional Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews spoke again at press conference this afternoon. “Today is about workplaces,” he said, before outlining how stage-four restrictions would affect businesses across several industries.
Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne will be divided into three categories, though there will be some statewide exemptions.
“The group of businesses that will not close, will not change ... [are] supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, news agencies, post offices,” Andrews said. “Plus, of course, everybody involved in our frontline response.”
You’ll still need to stay within five kilometres of your house, ideally going to shops “that are closest to you”. Only one person can shop per household per day. The premier emphasised that people don’t need to stock up on groceries because supermarkets and food shops will be operating as usual.
The second group, which includes retail, “some manufacturing” and “some admin”, will cease on-site operations on Wednesday.
“These businesses, unless they have specific requirements to safely shut down on a slightly longer timeline, they will have to close by 11.59pm on Wednesday night,” Andrews said, before adding that click-and-collect services will still operate.
“To give you the retail example ... you will no longer be able to go into a Bunnings store but you will be able to collect goods without making contact with anybody.
“The home-delivery model will be able to continue in a number of different retail sites. But retail will look very different than it’s looked – and it’s critically important to have many, many people at home rather than at work and moving to and from work each and every day.”
The third category of businesses – which includes meatworks, abattoirs and construction (“which in many respects is the lifeblood of the Victorian economy”) – will remain open, but companies will need to scale back dramatically.
“We know that meatworks are a really significant challenge for us ... they’ll move to two-thirds production,” Andrews said. “And those workplaces will look very different. There will be some of the most stringent safety protocols that have ever been put in place in any industrial setting.”
Builders that are constructing apartments, factories, warehouses and other commercial buildings taller than three stories will need reduce the number of workers on-site by 75 per cent.
Major government construction projects have had their workforce reduced by about half, and construction sites for domestic homes can have no more than five people on-site at any time.
“I know there will be substantial pain that comes from that,” Andrews said. “But unless we have literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people at home and not going to work ... we will not pull this virus up, we will not see the number reduce.”
Public transport schedules will also be reduced, and non-essential home services such as cleaning and gardening will need to cease.
“There’ll be no one providing anything other than emergency support,” Andrews said. “If you need a plumber because a pipe has burst, then yes, you can have a plumber come and do that work. But it’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen.”
Meals on Wheels and other community-care services relating to welfare and wellbeing can continue, but PPE must be worn.
The government estimates about 250,000 more people will be working from home under stage four, which will be in place for six weeks, until 11.59pm on September 13.
“The alternative is a six-month strategy, not a six-week strategy, and then even at that point [there is] significant doubt that that would work,” Andrews said. “We can not continue to have 400 to 500 cases a day and so many people in hospital, so many people dying.”
In regional Victoria, rules relating to meatworks and abattoirs will apply, and a new $5000 grant will be made available to restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and gyms that have been forced to close.
“As heartbreaking as it is to close down places of employment, while I never thought that I would be telling people not to go to work, that is what we have to do in order to stop the spread of this ... deadly virus.”
More announcements will follow this week with regards to fines and penalties, and mental-health support and other services.