As Melbourne spent its first night under its most stringent lockdown yet, Victoria’s opposition leader lambasted the new stage four restrictions as a desperate bid by the government to curtail the city’s coronavirus crisis.
Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien said in a statement it was evident Premier Daniel Andrews has “lost control” as he plunged Victoria into a “state of disaster”.
“Victorians don’t deserve this. I can understand why they’re angry at the failures of the Andrews Labor Government that has brought us here,” he said.
“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.”
Waking on Monday morning, those living in Melbourne will have seen out their first night of curfew, which prevents anyone leaving their home between 8pm and 5am.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded 671 new cases, its second highest daily total. In just seven days, the state has recorded 3,629 cases.
Photos from Melbourne’s CBD paint an eerie picture of what the city’s five million people can expect. Streets were largely empty expect for a handful of essential workers and police officers patrolling the streets, looking for anyone flouting the unprecedented restrictions.
Upgraded restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne from Sunday evening also include allowing only one person per household to shop and only one to exercise for an hour a day. Both activities must be within a 5km radius.
They come after the state’s previous measures failed to work, despite Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton predicting stage three restrictions would have stabilised daily infections by last Monday.
Mr O’Brien said the move will undoubtedly be “very costly” both socially and economically, but stressed the Liberal Nationals will do whatever they can to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
“No Victorian should be left behind and we will speak up for those who are doing it tough,” he said.
“Victorians will get through this together. Then we will begin our task of rebuilding this state that we love.”
Victoria declared a state of disaster
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the state’s New Zealand-style COVID-19 lockdown is "regrettably necessary".
"[The federal government] support [the new restrictions] with a heavy heart but we do so because they will help save and protect lives in Victoria."
The calling of a "state of disaster" will give additional powers to the police to enforce restrictions, with Mr Andrews expected to give further details on Monday regarding what the next six weeks will look like.
While he did not directly state the penalties for breaching the new restrictions, Mr Andrews said those breaching curfew can face fines of up to $10,000 in court or an on the spot fine of $1652.
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