Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in Victoria will go into stage-three lockdown for a second time amid continued coronavirus outbreaks.
“It is simply impossible, with case rates at this level ... to continue to suppress this virus without taking significant steps,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront. We have to be clear with each other that this is not over.”
For a period of six weeks commencing 11.59pm on Wednesday night, Melburnians and residents of Mitchell Shire (a local government area about 40 kilometres north of the city) will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for food and other supplies; to exercise; to study or work (if you cannot do so from home); and for caregiving and compassionate reasons.
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But there are some differences to the stay-at-home order this time around.
“Daily exercise will be treated differently. You can’t leave metropolitan Melbourne to get your daily exercise,” Andrews said.
“You can’t be going on a four-hour bushwalk hundreds of kilometres away from Melbourne. You can’t be going fishing outside the metropolitan area, down into regional Victoria. Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way.”
Restaurants, bars and cafes that had reopened for dining in will now only be able to serve takeaway.
The announcement comes after 191 new cases were recorded across the state overnight, the biggest increase since the beginning of the pandemic.
Twelve Melbourne postcodes are already in stage-three lockdown, while nine public-housing estates have been under unprecedented “hard” lockdown – with residents unable to leave their homes for any reason – since Saturday, with 69 known coronavirus cases reported.
“If we were to fail to take those steps, then it won’t be a couple of hundred cases per cay, it will be many more than that and it will quickly spiral well and truly out of control,” Andrews said. “I think each of us know that we’ve got no choice but to take these very, very difficult steps.
“It was a long night and we have been working throughout the day to get all the data we possibly could to make the best evidence-based, science-based decision about what the next steps should be.”
Authorities are also preparing to close the border between New South Wales and Victoria starting 11.59pm tonight.
“The alternative is to pretend it’s over, just like some Victorians have been wanting it to be over,” Andrews said. “But we can’t pretend it’s over. It is not over in so many parts of the world, and it’s not over in metropolitan Melbourne. And to a certain extent right across Victoria.”
Metropolitan Melbourne includes the Mornington Peninsula, while Mitchell Shire in Victoria's Goulburn River Valley region includes towns such as Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour and Tallarook.
Visit Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services website for updates.
For restaurants, bars and cafes across Melbourne now offering takeaway and delivery, check out Broadsheet’s live list.