'Circuit breaker': Victoria plunged into snap five-day lockdown

Brianne Tolj
·3-min read

All of Victoria will enter a Stage 4 Covid lockdown at 11:59pm on Friday night for five days amid fears there are more cases of the UK Covid variant across the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews declared at a press conference that Victoria "needs a circuit breaker" after the state recorded five new Covid cases linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, bringing the outbreak's total to 13.

There are 19 active cases total in the state.

Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes except for four reasons: shopping for essentials, caregiving, essential work or education, and exercise for two hours a day.

The 5km limit on travel will also be reimposed, as will the compulsory use of masks both indoors and outdoors. People must stay within a 5km radius from their home.

A woman wears a face mask while she waits for a Covid-19 test outside the Sunbury Respiratory Clinic in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images
A woman wears a face mask while she waits for a Covid-19 test outside the Sunbury Respiratory Clinic in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images

The Australian Open tennis tournament will continue without crowds.

All schools will be closed except to the kids of those who need to work, however childcare and early childcare centre centres and playgrounds will remain open.

All bars, venues and cafes have been closed and can only sell takeaway meals. Only essential stores like supermarkets, bottle shops and pharmacies will remain open.

Public pools and places of worship are also closed unless for broadcast of services and weddings not permitted unless on compassionate grounds.

Dan Andrews says UK strain is 'a very real challenge'

"[The UK strain] is so hyper-infectious, and moves so fast, that it is presenting a very, very real challenge to us," Mr Andrews said.

"The way in which they are presenting is a very significant concern.

"It is the advice to me that we must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for, and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months," he said.

Mr Andrews said the UK strain is harder to contract trace because of the high velocity speed at which it travels.

"We are having cases test positive - and we, in rapid time we get notified of that positive test result - by the time we find that case as positive, they've already infected their close contacts.

Victorian protective service officers are seen walking on patrol past a sign to urge people to stay home during lockdown. Source: AAP
Victorian protective service officers are seen walking on patrol past a sign to urge people to stay home during lockdown. Source: AAP

"What I'm saying is the game has changed. This thing is not the 2020 virus. It is very different. It is much faster," he said.

Victoria's Cheif Health Officer Brett Sutton said the alternative to the lockdown was "potentially devastating".

"I do not want to be here either come Wednesday not having done this and talking about 10, 15, 20, 30 new cases a day, including mystery cases, or including cases that we can't chase down," he said.

"We need to be able to chase each and every case down so that we can get back that precious thing of no community transmission."

Queensland to close border to Greater Melbourne

Queensland will shut its borders to travellers from Greater Melbourne from 1am on Saturday.

Queensland declared the city a hotspot, and Acting Health Minister Steven Miles said any travellers who have been to Melbourne will be ordered into hotel quarantine.

He said the closure will give contact tracers time to track 1500 people in Queensland linked to the outbreak in Melbourne.

"This hotspot declaration will allow us to get on top of our contact tracing over that five-day period and monitor the situation there. It will allow us to protect Queenslanders and to support our public health officers doing that contract tracing work and not adding to their workload, while they are racing to get to those contacts," Dr Miles said.

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