Coronavirus Victoria: State of disaster declared as new restrictions imposed

Victoria will enter an official “State of Disaster” from 6pm Sunday night, meaning people in metro areas of Melbourne will not be allowed to move further than five kilometres from their home.

One person per household will be permitted to leave to procure goods, and broadly, no recreational activity will be allowed outside of a one-hour per day exercise allowance.

Just two people will be allowed to exercise together, for a maximum of an hour and only within five kilometres of their home.

A curfew will also be enforced from 8pm Sunday night in metro Melbourne, meaning people will not be allowed to be outside their home between 8pm and 5am unless for four essential reasons.

“To get care, to give care, or to go to and from work or be at work,” premier Daniel Andrews said.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a host of new restrictions for Victoria. Source: AAP
Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a host of new restrictions for Victoria. Source: AAP

“We can no longer have people visiting others. We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever.

“If you are not going to work or coming home from work, if you are not giving or getting urgent care, you need to be at home. If you are not doing that between 8pm and 5am, then you will be pulled over and you will be fined.”

People caught breaking the rules can be fined $1,652, and be forced to pay up to $10,000 if the matter is taken to court.

From midnight on Wednesday, regional Victoria will enter Stage Three restrictions requiring people in those areas to stay home unless for the four essential reasons.

“That will mean restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms, a whole range of other settings will need to close from midnight next Wednesday,” Mr Andrews said.

The restrictions will remain in place until September 13 - at least six weeks from their enforcement.

“You can't have a static response. This is a public health bushfire. But you can't smell the smoke and you can't see the flame,” he told reporters on Sunday.

What are the major changes in Victoria from tonight?

  • From 6pm tonight, Victoria will enter a State of Disaster and metro Melbourne will move to Stage Four restrictions.

  • A curfew – from 8pm to 5am – will begin tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.

  • This will remain in place for the next six weeks.

  • 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. The five-kilometre rule will apply.

  • Study at TAFE and uni must be done remotely. From Wednesday at 11.59pm, weddings in Melbourne cannot occur.

  • If your closest supermarket is further than five kilometres, you can still shop there.

  • Schools in all parts of the state will return to remote and flexible learning from Wednesday across all year levels.

  • Students who are currently attending onsite will go to school on Monday, have a pupil free day on Tuesday, and be learning at home from Wednesday.

  • Onsite supervision will be offered but tightened – only available for students who really need it. Children whose parents are permitted workers and vulnerable kids who can’t learn from home.

  • From Thursday, those same rules will apply to Melbourne’s kinder and early childhood education services.

What will happen with businesses?

Mr Andrews said while supermarkets, butchers, bakeries and beverage suppliers would be allowed to continue operating as normal, operating guidelines for other businesses were still being worked through.

“There will be a third category of business and they'll close and move exclusively to working from home and if they can't work from home, the work simply won't be done,” he said.

People in metro Melbourne will not be allowed to exercise with more than one other person from Sunday evening. Source: AAP
People in metro Melbourne will not be allowed to exercise with more than one other person from Sunday evening. Source: AAP

“There is a lot of detail. Very complicated...other issues. They are being worked through. I'll have further announcements to make tomorrow about that.”

He urged Victorians not to begin queueing outside supermarkets as those retailers would remain open, as well as meal takeaway services.

“It is essentially a whole series of large workplaces and we'll work through those in a painstaking way. We already have been for the entire weekend. That work is being finalised today and tonight.

“Tomorrow will about a series of restrictions that relate to how we work and that's the way best to do this. It is complex and you're best to get it right and take the time to engage deeply with those that will be most affected.”

Those using taxis or ride-share services, are required to sit in the back seat and wear a face covering.

Nearly 700 new cases and seven further deaths

His announcement came as the state recorded 671 new cases of the virus on Sunday and seven more deaths - three women in their 70s, two in their 80s, one man in his 90s and one woman in her 90s.

Mr Andrews said six of the deaths were in connection with outbreaks within the aged care sector.

Of the total active cases in the state, he said 760 were “mystery cases” that could not be tracked to an original source.

“Those mysteries, that community transmission is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules,” Mr Andrews said.

What will happen with schools?

Onward from Wednesday, all students across the state will be moved to flexible and remote learning, so year 11 and 12s will return to studying from home.

Special schools will stay open Mr Andrews said, and children of parents who need to continue working will able to attend school for the purpose of supervision only.

“We'll be reducing the total amount of students that are at school and therefore the total amount of movement,” Mr Andrews said.

Vulnerable children requiring an in-school experience would continue to be supported, however there would be a “slight difference in terms of the number of students who are presenting because there's no alternative metro versus regional”, Mr Andrews said.

Students will attend their regular schooling on Monday before a pupil free day on Tuesday, and a state-wide roll-out flexible and remote learning on Wednesday.

“That is a difficult decision. But if you think about it from regional Victoria, that's more than 100,000 people who are not going to be moving around regional Victoria who otherwise would be.”

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