‘There is simply no alternative’: Melbourne back into lockdown

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

7/07/2020 5:14:55 PM

As of 11.59 pm on Wednesday 8 July, Victorian residents of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will return to stage-three restrictions for six weeks.

Victoria on the map
Melbourne residents will only be permitted leave their home to work, buy food, exercise, or receive medical care.

Stage-three restrictions already imposed on 12 postcodes have been extended across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
Residents will only be permitted to leave their home for four reasons:

  • Work
  • Buy food
  • Exercise
  • Receive medical care, or as a caregiver
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement following a crisis cabinet meeting after the state recorded 191 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday 7 July, its highest daily total since the pandemic started.
‘There is simply no alternative other than thousands and thousands of cases and potentially more, many, many people in hospital and the inevitable tragedy that will come from that,’ Premier Andrews said.
‘The notion of people continuing to move around the state from one residence to another is a risk that the public health team are not prepared to take and on that basis the stay-at-home order is about your principal place of residence.’
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos reassured the community that they should continue seeking medical care from their GPs, as well as continuing to undergo screening for cancer. Those booked in to undergo elective surgery will still be eligible.
Retail businesses and hairdressers will remain open, but will be subject to limits based on density of each space.
School holidays will be extended by a week, followed by two student-free days to give teachers the chance to prepare for an undetermined period of distance learning.
The exception will be students in years 10 to 12 doing VCE subjects, as well as special schools, who will return to school as planned next week.
To keep cases in regional Victoria low, residents on lockdown will not be permitted to leave metropolitan Melbourne to exercise or go fishing.
More than 979,000 tests have been processed in Victoria to date, a figure set to surpass one million by day’s end.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said Melbourne’s second spike has been ‘very challenging’.
‘That has been faster than in wave one and in many respects it is faster than in some other waves across the world,’ he said.
‘I think that’s a measure of some of the social disadvantage that’s been intersecting with the transmission in this wave.’
An additional 260 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will head to Victoria to assist with testing, and to support police to monitor the ‘hard border’ around Melbourne. The Environment Department is expected to set out the exact city boundaries by Tuesday afternoon.
‘It will be booze bus-type arrangements on main thoroughfares and I’ll appeal to Victorians, don’t for a moment think that you could flout these rules and travel into country Victoria,’ Premier Andrews said.
‘There will be every chance you’ll be stopped and asked. If you don’t have a lawful excuse, then there are significant penalties that will apply.’
There are currently 772 active cases in Victoria, 35 of which are in hospital including nine in intensive care.
Of the new cases, 37 are linked to known outbreaks, and 154 are under investigation.
Thirteen new cases relate to the public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington, bringing the total now 69.
Four cases have been linked to the Northern Hospital in Epping, bringing the total of that cluster to nine, including eight staff and one household contact.
Premier Andrews attributed the second spike to a sense of complacency, but said every Victorian needs to understand that COVID-19 is ‘going to be with us for a very long time’.
‘Ultimately we have to take this as seriously as we take bushfire. This is binary. It is life and death. If it gets away from us – and I don’t want to hear any more of this stuff from younger people or healthy people regardless of their age, that it won’t affect me. Well, it will affect you,’ he said.
‘There are people across the world who have died who are otherwise healthy. Not one or two, Significant numbers.
‘This is challenging. I get it. I know that. I understand it. I didn’t want to be in this position. No Victorian does. Let’s not see it as simply an inconvenience. It’s much more than that.
‘It’s a pandemic. And it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us. That will be more than onerous. It will be tragic.
‘We don’t want that. We can avoid that but we all have a part to play in that.’
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