Fears are growing 6.7 million Victorians could be forced to endure strict coronavirus restrictions long beyond the planned five-day lockdown, as a Covid outbreak which began in Sydney wreaks havoc over its southern neighbours.
Up to four footy fans have already been found to have caught the virus at the MCG on Saturday from a man who lives in an infected north-west Melbourne apartment block, with one of the stadium’s busy bars now feared to be a super-spreader site.
Sources close to the Andrews government said that officials were aiming to tighten restrictions, not go back into lockdown, until they found out that people had caught the virus from strangers at the stadium.
The stay-at-home order came into effect on Thursday July 15 at 11.59pm as public health officials try desperately to keep a lid on the latest outbreak, which has since jumped to 18 cases.
But even if the outbreak is contained and the lockdown ends as planned on Tuesday, 6.7 million Victorians face strict restrictions that could last weeks.
The lockdown rules around hospitality, masks and visitors to the home are likely to be slowly wound back.
In a welcome reprieve, Scott Morrison announced a newly-introduced $600 relief payment from the Federal Government for hard-hit Victorians.
It’s groundhog day for long-suffering Victorians waking up to their fifth lockdown since the Covid pandemic reached Australian shores (pictured, Melbourne on Thursday)
With spread through ‘fleeting contact’ a feature of the Indian Delta strain, the lavish Percy Beames Bar at the MCG (pictured) could be the site of super-spreader event with hundreds potentially exposed
The highly infectious Indian Delta strain is feared to already be spreading throughout Melbourne after the Percy Beames bar at the MCG was flagged as a Covid exposure site, sending hundreds from all over Victoria into self-isolation.
Already, 6,500 Victorians are in lockdown, including a complete 14-day isolation for residents of the Ariele Apartments in Melbourne’s north-west, where infected Sydney removalists first spread the virus.
Pictured: Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announcing new lockdown
Exposure sites have since popped up in Frankston, in Melbourne’s southeast and Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula, indicating the five-day circuit breaker may not be enough to contain the rapid spread and that the stay-at-home orders will inevitably be extended past Tuesday.
Mr Andrews made the call to shut down the state after Sydney’s surging outbreak spread to Melbourne last week, when the team of infected removalists travelled to Victoria under essential work permits.
Prime Minister Morrison has since declared $600 disaster relief payments would be made available to workers who have been hit hard by the lockdown.
But while some residents see the draconian restrictions as a necessary measure to contain the virus, hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets in protest demanding Mr Andrews’ resignation.
Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets in protest on Thursday night (pictured) demanding Mr Andrews’ resignation.
Health workers are seen at a Melbourne Covid Testing Site at Albert Park in Melbourne on Thursday (pictured), with a spiralling list of close and casual contacts
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VICTORIA’S NEW LOCKDOWN
– The lockdown is scheduled to run from Thursday July 15 at 11:59pm until Tuesday July 20 at 11:59pm.
– There will be only five lawful reasons to leave home
1. Essential shopping
2. Two hours of daily exercise within a 5km radius
3. To seek or provide medical care
4. Work or study that cannot be done from home.
5. To go and get vaccinated.
– Face masks will be mandatory indoors and outdoors
– Schools will return to online learning
– 5km travel limit for essential tasks, including shopping and exercise
– If your business was closed during the last lockdown, they must close this lockdown
– Hospitality open for takeaway only
– General retail is closed, as well as all non-essential businesses
– Visitors to the home are banned
– Funerals capped at ten people, while weddings are banned
– Professional sport can proceed but with no crowds
– Outdoor parks and play areas are open, but those indoors must close
The Sydney removalists had the appropriate permits to enter the state despite the Harbour City’s spiraling number of Covid cases, which has now surpassed 900.
The three-man team arrived at a home in Craigieburn on the northern outskirts on of Melbourne July 8, where they dropped off furniture.
A Craigieburn family of four who had recently returned from NSW have since tested positive, before breaking their red permit rules and infected a stranger at a nearby Coles.
Later that same day the removalists travelled to Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s west, to the Ariele Apartment complex.
Victoria’s latest outbreak began when a crew of three removalists from Sydney travelled to Victoria as part of their work (pictured, Melbourne on Thursday)
The Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong, Melbourne, has been placed into quarantine along with its 200 residents
Victoria Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the three removalists were not wearing masks as exemptions are granted for strenuous activities like carrying furniture.
As a result numerous residents were infected with the virus at Ariele Apartments, sending the entire building and its 200 residents into quarantine for 14 days.
A resident in his 60s passed on the virus to his parents, aged 89 and 90, who live in Craigieburn.
The same man also attended the AFL game between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday with a friend, a Bacchus Marsh Grammar teacher.
The friend, a Barwon Heads man in his 50s has since tested positive as have two members of his household, another man in his 60s and a nine-year-old child.
An adult and a child who were sitting in the same section of the MCG as the two men have also tested positive in a case of suspected ‘stranger-to-stranger transmission’.
It was revealed on Thursday afternoon yet another case was detected, a man in his 20s who was in the MCC Members’ Reserve area at the MCG at the same time as the two men.
MELBOURNE’S NEW EXPOSURE SITES
Tier 1 – Anyone who has visited the following locations during the listed times must get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from the exposure:
Point Cook: Sanctuary Lakes Charcoal Chicken & Salad Bar – Wednesday, July 14, 12:46pm – 1:20pm
Richmond: Percy Beames Bar, Members’ Reserve (Level 2) – Melbourne Cricket Ground – Saturday July 10, 4:00pm – 4:30pm and 5:20pm – 5:50pm
Sunshine: Helping Hands Mission Inc Sunshine Op Shop – Monday, July 12, 10:30am – 11:30am
Niddrie: Vinnies Niddrie – Monday July 12, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Moonee Ponds: Hero Sushi – Monday July 12, 2:30pm – 3:15pm
Maidstone: Chemist Warehouse – Monday July 12, 5:10pm – 5:50pm
Bundoora: Dr Suguna Vimalanathan Dental Surgery – Tuesday July 13, 12:30pm – 1:03pm and 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Bundoora: Salvos Stores Bundoora – Tuesday July 13, 11:45am – 1:00pm
Moonee Ponds: Australian Red Cross Moonee Ponds Op Shop – Monday, July 12, 12:30pm – 1:15pm
Carnegie: Spotlight – Tuesday July 13, 4:20pm – 5:00pm
Tier 2 – Anyone who has visited the following locations during the listed times should urgently get tested, then isolate until confirmation of a negative result. Continue to monitor for symptoms, get tested again if symptoms appear:
Williamstown: Coles – Tuesday July 13, 5:20pm – 5:55pm
Richmond: MCC Members’ Reserve (all other staff and ticketholders, all levels), Carlton v Geelong game – Saturday July 10, 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Richmond: Coles – Monday July 12, 12:30pm – 1:05pm
Richmond: Soul Origin – Monday July 12, 12:35pm – 1:10pm
Richmond: Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre – Basement level car park (Purple Zone) – Monday July 12, 8:50am – 9:30am and 4:30pm – 5:10pm
Avondale Heights: Coles – Monday July 12, 8:00am – 9:15am
Chadstone: ZiNG Pop Culture – Monday July 12, 5:25pm – 6:00pm
Chadstone: Target – Monday July 12, 5:25pm – 6:00pm
Chadstone: Kmart – Monday July 12, 5:25pm – 6:00pm
Carnegie: Carnegie Central – Tuesday July 13, 4:20pm – 5:20pm
While there have been more than 70 new venues listed as Covid exposure sites across Melbourne on Thursday alone, including two packed shopping centres, four Coles supermarkets and a Kmart – it is the MCC Members bar which is causing heightened fears among contact tracers.
With spread through ‘fleeting contact’ a feature of the Indian Delta strain, the lavish venue at the MCG could be the site of a super-spreader event with thousands potentially exposed.
Anyone who was in the Percy Beames Bar on Level 2 of the Members’ Reserve at the MCG from 4pm and 4.30pm or 5.20 and 5.50pm on Saturday is deemed a close contact.
All sections of the Members Reserve between the hours of 4pm and 8pm on Saturday – not just Level 2 – has also now been listed as Tier 2 exposure site.
Everyone who was there is required to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
So far, more than 6,500 Victorians are in isolation after coming into contact with infected cases or visiting the same venues at the same time.
An infected man attended an AFL game between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG (pictured) on Saturday
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) held off on calling a full-scale lockdown for almost two weeks – something her Victoria counterpart Daniel Andrews (right) says he is not going to do
Premier Andrews on Thursday said Victoria had ‘no choice’ but to enter a snap statewide lockdown.
‘We’ve got no choice. We have to do this, otherwise, it will get away from us. We don’t want this getting away from us and being locked down for months,’ he told reporters.
‘These cases started in NSW, but I’m determined they will end here. We will put this out with the help of every single Victorian.’
But some angry Victorians fed up with lockdowns stormed Melbourne‘s CBD to rally against the looming five-day shut down.
A man chanted through a megaphone, rousing fellow protestors, as he led the procession through Flinders Street
A crowd of protestors gather to listen to speeches as Victorians call for freedom ahead of the state’s snap lockdown
Hundreds walked Flinders Street holding up signs calling for freedom, with some reading ‘lockdown kills’ and ‘I have a choice’.
Organisers leading the procession held a huge blue banner with the name of a anti-lockdown website scrawled across it, as they roused fellow protestors through a megaphone.
The lockdown objectors chanted as they marched through the streets, just hours before stay-at-home orders will be roll out across the state.
Face masks were noticeably absent among the crowd, only visible on the police officers standing guard to monitor the demonstration.
Some signs appeared to espouse anti-vax sentiments while others suggested the pandemic was not real, with slogans such as ‘government lies’ and ‘a real pandemic needs no advertisement’.
Hundreds of protestors swarmed Melbourne’s CBD on Thursday to rally against Victoria’s fifth lockdown, coming into effect from midnight
A major concern leading into Victoria’s lockdown announcement was whether effected residents would be able to access Covid Disaster Payments.
JobKeeper subsidy payments for hard-hit workers were stamped out earlier this year, but Mr Morrison later announced that Commonwealth support would be available if a state government called a seven-day lockdown.
But late on Thursday the federal government announced a change in policy that will allow Victorian to receive payments during the current lockdown.
‘Payments of $600 will be made to individuals that lose 20 hours or more of work during the period of the lockdown’, a joint statement by Mr Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
‘Payments of $375 will be made to individuals that lose between 8 and up to 20 hours of work during the period of the lockdown (the next five days).
‘No liquid assets test will be applied to the payment at any time.’
The Commonwealth will fund the payment for those who live and/or work in declared Commonwealth Hotspots and the State Government will fund payments provided to the balance of the State.
Payments will begin in arrears on application to Services Australia seven days after the commencement of the lockdown on Friday July 23.
BREAKDOWN OF VICTORIA’S GROWING COVID-19 CLUSTERS
* 13 cases
* Five cases linked to residents of the Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong where NSW removalists worked on July 8
* A resident in his 60s passed on the virus to his parents, aged 89 and 90, who live in Craigieburn
* He also attended an AFL game between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday with a friend, a Bacchus Marsh Grammar teacher
* The friend, a Barwon Heads man in his 50s has since tested positive as have two members of his household, another man in his 60s and a nine-year-old child
* An adult and a child who were sitting in the same section of the MCG as the two men have also tested positive in a case of suspected ‘stranger-to-stranger transmission’
* Another case was on Thursday afternoon detected in a man in his 20s who was in the MCC Members’ Reserve area at the MCG at the same time as the two men
HUME FAMILY CLUSTER
* Five cases
* A family of four returned from NSW, three by car and one by plane on July 4 and July 8. All four have progressively tested positive since Sunday
* A man in his 30s who attended Coles Craigieburn at the same time as one of the family members and knows the family is also infected.
CLOSE CONTACTS AND EXPOSURE SITES
* 1500 primary close contacts, 5000 secondary
* More than 75 exposure sites including two gyms, a football club and multiple metro trains and trams