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Coronavirus in Victoria: Metropolitan Melbourne re-enters lockdown

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a re-entry to lockdown in some parts of Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a re-entry to lockdown in some parts of Victoria.

Melbourne has been ordered back into lockdown after the state was hit with a record 191 new cases of coronavirus.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday confirmed people in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, will return to lockdown from 11:59pm on Wednesday for six weeks.

People will be able to leave their homes for only four reasons: to shop for food and supplies, to receive or provide care, to exercise, and to study or work if they can't do so from home.

"We know we're on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don't take these steps today," Mr Andrews said.

Businesses and facilities that had reopened - including beauty parlours, entertainment venues, gyms, libraries and swimming pools - will have to close while cafes and restaurants will only be open for takeaway and delivery.

Much like earlier restrictions, visitors will no longer be welcome at homes and people cannot gather in groups of more than two.

Funerals will also return to 10 mourners while only five people can attend a wedding.

Schools in affected areas will not open their doors for term three, which was due to begin on Monday, with students set to return to distance learning, except for senior secondary students and special schools.

School holidays will be extended by a week to give teachers and parents time to prepare.

Except for Mitchell Shire, regional Victoria is excluded from the lockdown.

"Vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way," Mr Andrews said, noting restrictions may ease further in the regions.

Unlike previous restrictions, people are required to stay in their principal place of residence and cannot travel to holiday homes.

"This is further than where we went last time but we're in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago," Mr Andrews said.

Victoria recorded its highest number of new cases in the state since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday, following an increase of 127 cases on Monday, which was also a record.

There are 772 active cases, with more than half potentially from community transmission.

"These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases," the premier said.

"We have to be clear with each other that this is not over and pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer. It is indeed part of the problem."

The premier said everyone in Victoria likely knows someone who "has not been following the rules as well as they should have".

Residents in nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne will remain in strict lockdown, unable to leave their apartments, until everyone is tested.

"The strategy here is to complete the testing and then as soon as possible, once that testing is complete, to have those nine towers removed to the same footing that the rest of Melbourne (is on)," Mr Andrews said.

More than 250 additional Australian Defence Force personnel will be called in to assist Victoria Police to keep a "hard border" around Melbourne.

Booze bus-type checks will be in place on main thoroughfares.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said this second lockdown was "required to avoid absolutely catastrophic outcomes".

"I know we will already see deaths from the cases we have occurring every day," he said.

"What I do not want to see is any more deaths than are already predicted."

To date, 22 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.

WHAT WILL CLOSE AGAIN

  • Community sport
  • Indoor sports and recreation including arenas and stadiums
  • Swimming pools, saunas and bathhouses
  • Food courts
  • Indoor and outdoor cinemas
  • Casino and gaming
  • Brothels and strip clubs
  • Beauty and personal care services
  • Holiday accommodation and camping
  • Play centres and playgrounds
  • Galleries, museums and zoos

VISTORS AND PUBLIC GATHERINGS

  • No visitors allowed in homes
  • Public gatherings and exercise can only be with immediate household or two people

ALLOWED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

  • Fishing and boating
  • Tennis, golf and surfing

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

  • Retail subject to density
  • Markets for food and drink only
  • Hairdressers

HOSPITALITY

  • Cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars return to takeaway only

REAL ESTATE

  • Return to remote auctions
  • Inspections by appointment only

INTIMATE PARTNERS

  • Visits allowed

SECOND PLACE OF RESIDENCE

  • No visits outside the restricted areas - subject to conditions

HOLIDAYS

  • Can be completed by those already on holiday
  • No new holiday travel from 11.59pm on July 8

FUNERALS

  • Ten people, plus those conducting the funeral

WEDDINGS

  • Five people (couple, witnesses and celebrant)

RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES

  • Broadcast only

Read the full statement from the Premier here:

2020 has not been the year any of us wanted.

Cancelled events.

Plans put on pause.

Uncertainty about what the future holds.

And I guess that's why so many people want to pretend this is over.

Others don't have that luxury.

In the last 36 hours we lost two more Victorian lives to this deadly virus.

We don't yet know their names, their stories or the circumstances in which they died.

All we do know is that - except for the company and compassion of the medical staff who cared for them - they would have died alone.

No family. No friends. No holding hands. No goodbyes.

Denied the last quiet moments that we all hope for.

That's how dangerous and infectious this disease is.

Thankfully, it's a fate that most Victorian families have not been asked to endure. And I think, for some, that's led to a creeping complacency.

But although today it's someone else - tomorrow it could be you, or me.

I know a lot of people aren't scared because this feels like something happening to other people in other parts of the world.

But you should be scared of this.

I'm scared of this. We all should be.

Yesterday, we reached a grim new milestone, the most cases in a single day.

Today, we surpassed it.

It's clear we are on the cusp of our second wave - and we cannot let this virus cut through our communities.

It's why based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, Stage 3 "Stay at Home" restrictions will be reinstated from 11:59pm on Wednesday 8 July.

For six weeks, and if you live in these areas, there'll be only four reasons to leave your home: Shopping for food and essential items.

Care and caregiving. Daily exercise. Work and study - if you can't do it from home.

Otherwise: Stay home. Stay home. Stay home.

In case it needs repeating, stay home.

We are fighting a global and deadly pandemic.

This Stay at Home direction will apply to your principal place of residence - that means no escaping to holiday homes.

And because we need to limit the spread of the virus across our state, there will only be three reasons to cross the border of these metropolitan areas: Shopping for food and essential items.

Care and caregiving.

Work and study - if you can't do it from home.

Unless you're a local, that means no fishing trips at Lakes Entrance.

No four-hour hikes in the Grampians.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will also return to Stage 3 restrictions.

Restaurants and cafes will return to takeaway and delivery services only.

Beauty and personal services will need to close.

Entertainment and cultural venues will need to close.

Community sport will need to stop.

I know just how tough this will be for these businesses and for their workers.

I promise, we'll have more to say shortly about support to help get you through.

I also understand six weeks might feel like an eternity.

But it's the time our health experts tell us they need to really get on top of this thing.

Many parents, teachers and students will be worried about what happens with the school year.

I can confirm that all Year 11 and Year 12 students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will go back to school for Term 3 as planned, along with our special schools.

For students Prep to Year 10, we're going to extend the school holidays by one week, so we can get more advice from our health experts.

But I want to be upfront and let parents know that a return to remote learning for these kids is a possibility, if that's what they tell us is safest.

For people who live in regional Victoria, where case numbers remain low, current restrictions will remain the same for now.

We've talked about this virus being like a public health bushfire.

By putting a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, we're essentially putting in place a perimeter to protect regional Victorians.

This is not where any of us wanted to be, but we have to face the reality of our situation.

To do anything else would have deadly consequences.

I don't take this step lightly.

And I know just how deeply frustrating this is for everyone.

But I'm asking you, please talk to your families.

Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbours. Talk to your communities. This isn't over.

And until there is a vaccine or a drug or a cure, there is no such thing as "normal".

For every restriction that you break and all the health advice that you ignore - the consequence may be someone's life.

Now more than ever, we need Victorians to play their part. Lives are counting on it."

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This story Melbourne re-enters lockdown as COVID-19 reaches record high first appeared on The Courier.