Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has this afternoon confirmed that Victoria will go into its third COVID-19 lockdown at 11.59pm tonight as concerns continue to grow over the city’s quarantine hotel cluster.
The five-day “short, sharp circuit-breaker” will see venues across the state close from 11.59pm tonight, moving to takeaway only until 11.59pm on Wednesday. The Premier said the whole state was moving to Stage Four restrictions in a bid to avoid a third wave.
Premier Andrews said: “I am sad to have to report, 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.
“The challenge that I have and the challenge that we all have to confront is that if we wait for this theory that it might be out there, there might be more cases than we know about; if we wait for that to be proven correct, it will be too late.
“So because this is so infectious and is moving so fast, we need a circuit breaker.
“Therefore I am announcing on advice from the Chief Health Officer and after a meeting of relevant cabinet committees and the full cabinet, that from 11.59pm tonight, all of Victoria will move to Stage Four restrictions.
“From 11.59pm tonight until 11.59pm on Wednesday, so for five days, the following will occur, there will only be four reasons to leave your home: shopping for necessary goods and services when you need those things and only what you need; care giving and compassionate reasons; essential work or permitted education where that cannot be done from home; exercise for two hours per day with your household members, your intimate partner or one other person who is not from your household.
“You must stay within five kilometres of your home other than for permitted work or shopping for things when you need them that you cannot access within five kilometres of your home.
“Masks must be worn everywhere in Victoria other than in your home.
“Private gatherings are not permitted, public gatherings are not permitted. If you can work from home then you must work from home.
“From 11.59pm tonight until 11.59pm on Wednesday hospitality moves to take-away only.
“These restrictions are all about making sure that we respond appropriately to the fastest moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus that we have seen.
“I know this is not the news that Victorians want to hear today, I know it’s the place we wanted to be in, however we have all given so much, we have all done so much, we have built something precious and we have to make difficult decisions and do difficult things in order to defend what we’ve built.
“I am confident that this short, sharp circuit breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this. We will be able to prevent it getting away from us.
“I want to be here on Wednesday announcing that these restrictions are lifting, but I can’t do it on my own. I need every single Victorian to work with me and with our team so that we can run this to ground and we can see this strategy work just as it has in Brisbane and Perth.”
Speaking on 3AW this morning before the lockdown was confirmed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Victorian Government was assessing all its options, adding that short lockdowns seen in Brisbane, Western Australia and parts of Sydney had been shown to work.
“They are still working through those issues now,” The Prime Minister said. “They were last night and they are again today. They will make statements later today and they are assessing all those options.”
He added: “The short, sharp, proportionate response that we saw in a couple of other states, dealing with similar challenges proved to be quite effective, particularly up there in Brisbane. That was when the uncertainty levels around these new strains were way higher than they are now.
“But they got through that, we gave the contact tracers a head start over the weekend and then they were back at it the following week.
“I’ve always believed that proportionate, targeted response are the most effective way to deal with this. We saw that work it work in Brisbane and in NSW.
“The Health Minister Greg Hunt has been in touch with his opposite number [in Victoria] and they have been talking overnight. Our Chief Medical Office is working with theirs, but there is a lot still going on and I don’t want to pre-empt any of that and it’s for the Victorian Government to make those final calls.”