Victorians have been warned against travelling to six coronavirus hotspots in the Melbourne region as the number of cases in the state continues to climb.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, a panel of chief health officers, says outbreaks have been identified in the local government areas of Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin.
"The AHPPC strongly discourages travel to and from those areas until control of community transmission has been confirmed," the committee said in a statement on Sunday.
The AHPPC said 83 per cent of new coronavirus cases recorded in Australia in the past week were reported in Victoria.
Twenty-nine of the Victorian cases were found in returned travellers, while 87 were associated with community transmission.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos stressed further restrictions could be implemented on the six hotspots.
I live in Darebin, one of the current #COVID19 hotspots. If needed, Stay at Home Directions will be targeted to these hotspot areas. I urge residents in Hume, Brimbank, Casey, Darebin, Moreland & Cardinia to limit their movements as much as possible to stay safe #springst 1/2— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) June 21, 2020
If you don’t live in a current hotspot, you’re not without risk. There’s community transmission in many areas. Just bc you can go somewhere, doesn’t mean you should. So no matter where you live, please avoid crowds, practice physical distancing, get tested & stay safe. 2/2— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) June 21, 2020
“If needed, Stay at Home Directions will be targeted to these hotspot areas,” she said on Twitter on Sunday night.
Ms Mikakos said those living within the hotspots must limit their movements “as much as possible to stay safe”.
New restrictions imposed from today
Following the spike in cases, as of Monday, indoor gatherings are now limited to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10. They were previously limited at 10 and 20 respectively.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes were due to welcome up to 50 patrons on Monday, however, will continue to be restricted to just 20 people.
At 11.59pm, 21/6 the following restrictions will apply in Victoria. Up to 20 patrons per space at:— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) June 20, 2020
✔️cafes, restaurants & pubs
✔️galleries, museums, cinemas.
Private homes: 5 visitors + household. Info https://t.co/XDkU736cfK #springst pic.twitter.com/n9ip57ywFt
The Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday confirmed a staff member at St Monica's College in Epping in Melbourne's north tested positive for COVID-19, which will see the school close until the end of term.
Meanwhile, a student at St Mary's Primary School in Hampton has also tested positive to the virus. Contact tracing is under way while cleaning at the school takes place.
Keilor Downs College will shut again after a case previously linked to a family outbreak in Keilor Downs went to school for two days while infectious.
The school closures follow a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the last week that forced the state government to announce a step back in restrictions easing that come into effect on Monday.
State of emergency extended by four weeks
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Sunday announced a state of emergency extension of four weeks until July 19.
This decision came after 19 new positive cases were recorded on Sunday, which brought the state's infectious total to 1836.
Victoria's case numbers are the highest they have been in more than two months.
More than half of the new cases since the end of April have come from family members spreading it to their relatives.
"We've had more than 100 new cases in the past seven days and the main cause for this increase has been through cases in families," Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said.
"People have not followed our advice around physical distancing, hygiene and limiting the number of people you invite into your home."
From Monday, Victorians will only be able to have five people at their homes and gatherings outside the home will be restricted to 10.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs were set to expand their number of patrons from 20 to 50 on Monday, but that is now on hold.
Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues will be allowed to reopen but with a 20-person limit.
Police Minister Lisa Neville on Sunday said that enforcement of the law would be strengthened again after the health advice changed.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.