Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has praised Melburnians for complying to the state’s Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions, sharing photos of the city’s empty streets that now resemble a ghost town.
Over two posts to Twitter, Mr Andrews shared eight photos of some of Melbourne’s busiest roads, including the M80 Ring Road, Tullamarine Freeway and the Nepean Highway.
Each photo, taken from street cameras on Tuesday night, showed eerily quiet scenes in stark contrast to the city’s formerly bustling motorways.
Accompanying the images was a simple message from the state’s leader: “Thank you”.
On Sunday night, the state entered a State of Disaster, giving police more power to make sure people are complying with public health directions.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, Victorians will once again be required to stay home for another six-week lockdown with just four reasons to be out: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, exercise and work or study.
The state already battled through 12 weeks of similar restrictions, but following a second outbreak of COVID-19 Premier Andrews made the decision to once again cut back.
“It is the decision I’ve made to keep our state safe,” he said in a statement on Sunday, saying it was his hardest day on the job in his almost six years of leadership.
“All the temporary sacrifices we make now – all the time missed with mates, those delayed visits to mum – those sacrifices will help keep our mates and our mums and our fellow Victorians safe.”
There were mixed reactions to the posts on Twitter, with many applauding the Premier’s move.
“Got a bit emotional after seeing this,” one person wrote.
“It’s just 6 weeks, totally doable,” a woman agreed.
However just as many others saw the photos as a sign of constraint.
“Wow, never been seen before,” one person remarked. “Where has our freedom gone?”
Another Twitter user said the roads were only quiet because Mr Andrews “closed 80% of business so there is no-one at work”.
Victoria’s daily coronavirus cases were in the 400s for a second consecutive day, with a total of 439 new positive tests. A further 11 deaths were also confirmed.
Strict new penalties announced
In a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Andrews announced tough new penalties for those who breach the state’s Stage 4 lockdown measures and nightly curfew.
With police further cracking down on rule-breakers, those who breach health restrictions face a hefty new $4,957 individual fine and possible jail time.
“It is in fact the largest on-the-spot fine for an individual on the statue books of the state of Victoria,” he warned.
It will be primarily for people who are caught breaching their isolation order and leaving their home.
There will be more than 500 additional Australian Defence Force personnel coming to the state in the coming days “to make sure people are where they should be,” Mr Andrews said.