Melbourne residents have returned to a gut-wrenching lockdown, with the state’s opposition leader Michael O’Brien lashing the new restrictions and declaring “Victorians don’t deserve this”.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced stage-four restrictions – and a state of disaster – for Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, including a curfew from 8pm (10pm NZT) to 5am (7am NZT) for anyone living in the metropolitan area.
Andrews said “today is by far the hardest day” as he announced 671 new cases of Covid-19 and seven deaths along with new unprecedented stage four restrictions.
O’Brien said: “In declaring a State of Disaster, Premier Daniel Andrews has conceded that his government has lost control of Covid-19 in this state.
“The failings of the Labor Government in hotel quarantine, in testing and in contact tracing have led to millions of Victorians being subjected to the harshest restrictions in our history.
“Curfews. Businesses that will be closed. Limits on daily exercise. Limits on shopping. Limits on moving five kilometres from your home. Unprecedented in their nature and their intrusion into the lives of Victorians.”
Lockdown officially began in Victoria after new restrictions came into effect overnight.
The premier declared a state of disaster 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,” Andrews said.
Metropolitan Melbourne started its curfew at 8pm local time but 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,” Andrews said.
Supermarket shopping has been limited to one person per household from 6pm and can be no further than 5km 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.
Metropolitan Melbourne is now under stage-four restrictions and faces 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 for six weeks, until at least September 13.
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,” 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.”