Australia’s State of Victoria will enter a State of Disaster from 6:00 pm on Sunday local time with its capital city Melbourne moving to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules in a bid to limit the movement of people and the spread of COVID-19.
These changes, announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, will be in place for at least the next six weeks until September 13.
“The current rate of community transmission — mystery cases that cannot be traced back to work or home — is far too high,” said Andrews in a statement on changes to Melbourne’s restrictions.
Victoria recorded 671 new cases overnight, taking the total number of cases within the southeastern state to 11,557, of which 6,322 are active. Seven more people passed away, bringing the total death toll to 123. The seven deaths included three women in their 70s, two women in their 80s and a man and woman in their 90s, with six of the seven linked to aged-care.
“We must do more. We must go harder. It’s the only way we’ll get to the other side of this,” the state premier said.
Under the State 4 restrictions, Melburnians can only go shopping or do exercise for a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five kilometres from where they live. Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day.
There will also be an 8pm-5am curfew every day, beginning from Sunday. During the hours, the only reasons to leave home will be work, medical care and caregiving, and public transport services will be reduced.
At the same time, Andrews announced that regional Victoria will return to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions from midnight of Aug. 5. Residents can only go out for shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, doing daily exercise, and working and studying.
Business in regional Victoria will also return to Stage 3 restrictions, with restaurants and cafes only offering delivery and takeaway. Beauty and personal services, entertainment and cultural venues will need to close, and community sports will need to stop.
Andrews said the government will keep reviewing and realigning the restrictions in line with the advice of health experts.
Meanwhile 12 new cases were diagnosed in the neighboring State of New South Wales (NSW) in the 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases within the state to 3,595.
The NSW government strongly encouraged people to use masks in high-risk public settings such as on public transport or in supermarkets.
“People should continue to maintain their physical distance. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t maintain your physical distance you should wear a mask,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.