Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has re-introduced level three restrictions in Melbourne’s metropolitan and Mitchell Shire areas north of the CBD.
The state reported a further 191 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest daily total for Victoria since the start of the pandemic. Mr Andrews referred to the tally as an “unsustainably high number of new cases”.
From midnight Wednesday, the metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will return to level three restrictions for six weeks.
Mr Andrews added it included the Mornington Peninsula but not Geelong.
“It is simply impossible with case rates at this level to have enough contact tracing staff, to have enough physical resources no matter where they come from, no matter what uniform they wear, in order to continue to suppress and contain this virus without taking significant steps,” the premier said.
“We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront.”
Under the restrictions residents in these areas can only leave the house for four reasons: to get food, to receive or provide care, to exercise, and for work or study.
Mr Andrews said people can’t leave their suburb for the purpose of exercise either.
“The most important point to make around exercise is that you can't be going on a four-hour bush walk hundreds of kilometres away from Melbourne,” he said.
“You can't be going fishing outside the metropolitan area, down into regional Victoria. Regional Victoria has very, very few cases and vast parts of regional Victoria have no cases. This is designed to keep it that way.”
Year 11 and 12 students, along with Year 10 pupils doing Victorian Certificate of Education subjects, will return to class as normal next week on Monday.
Mr Andrews said he’s allocated five pupil free days for younger students with school holidays extended an extra week.
Once class starts again the following week, there will be flexible and remote learning arrangements.
Food courts, cinemas, concert venues, saunas, swimming pools, museums and casinos will also be closed.
‘Complacency has crept into us’
Mr Andrews said “there is simply no alternative” to re-introducing the restrictions.
“I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us,” he said.
“I think that each of us know someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have. I think each of us know that we've got no choice but to take these very, very difficult steps.”
Tuesday’s tally is the third highest daily total for any state or territory in Australia since the pandemic began and a 50 per cent increase on Monday’s total.
Victoria’s previous highest daily total before Monday was 111 on March 28, yet the percentage of cases which are locally acquired has significantly increased.
Thirty-seven of the latest cases are linked to outbreaks while 154 are under investigation.
There are now 145 active cases in the Hume local government area, 105 in the Wyndham LGA, 97 in the Melbourne LGA and 77 in the Brimbank LGA.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth has urged Victorians to not “underestimate the impact of COVID-19, its infectivity and severity”.
“The numbers are obviously in three figures now and there is a significant amount of community transmission,” he told ABC News 24.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.