Melburnians in the midst of their sixth Covid lockdown now face even harsher restrictions with the return of controversial curfew laws, despite virus experts and even the police union speaking out against the move.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced the city’s stay-at-home orders would be extended until at least September 2, with a 9pm to 5am curfew now in effect across Metropolitan Melbourne as well as a range of other draconian measures.
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and exercise equipment will be closed, residents will no longer be able to remove their masks in order to drink alcohol outside, schools will be shut, constructions sites will be forced to cut down on workers and all in-person gatherings will be banned.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton insisted the tough new measures are necessary to curb the spread of the Delta variant with the state’s outbreak now at a ‘cliff edge’ as it battled ‘mystery’ cases and a worrying list of exposure sites scattered right across the city.
The Victorian government announced on Monday it would extend its lockdown until September 2 and introduce a 9pm to 5am curfew in Melbourne – despite no evidence it stops the virus spreading (pictured, a woman in locked down St Kilda on Monday)
Many have slammed the state’s curfew laws, calling measure a cruel over-reach that’s not based on science (pictured, police in Melbourne’s CBD escort an anti-lockdown protester away)
Of the 22 new locally-acquired cases announced today, 17 were linked to known outbreaks and 14 were in isolation throughout their infectious period. Five cases are not linked to the current outbreak.
But despite the desperate times, many have slammed the state’s curfew laws, calling the measure an over-reach that’s not based on science.
The state’s Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the curfew was brought in by government and was not something recommended by the police force whose resources are stretched ‘paper thin’.
‘It was contentious the first time around and I’ll be very, very clear – it wasn’t asked for by police last time around and to the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t been asked for by our members this time,’ he told 3AW radio.
‘We don’t think the curfew is necessary and our members didn’t really see great value in it (last time) to be quite honest.
‘If they turn something like that on again… it will be the police that are asked to enforce it and we are stretched paper thin.’
Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday (pictured) announced the city’s stay-at-home orders would be extended until at least September 2, curfew to come into effect across Metropolitan Melbourne as well as a range of other draconian measures
The normally busy Centre Place is seen empty on Monday in Melbourne (pictured) with the city suffering through its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began
Jodie McVernon, the director of epidemiology at Melbourne’s Doherty Institute, also spoke out against Melbourne’s curfew, doubting it would help curtail the virus.
‘Personally, I’m not aware of any evidence that proves that curfews per se are particularly efficacious,’ she told ABC Radio.
‘Clearly we need the public to co-operate with these measures if they’re to be effective.’
Curfews were originally introduced during Victoria’s disastrous second wave that saw Melbourne under lockdown or 111 consecutive days with more than 700 cases a day when the outbreak was at its worst.
It was brought in an effort to reduce movement and keep people in their homes for more of the day – before the government conceded it was more about police control.
Melbourne is suffering from tough new restrictions as of Tuesday, with exercise further restricted to an individual and one other person, for up to two hours (pictured, a walker near the Yarra River on Monday)
The rule caused uproar after Dr Sutton denied it was based on his medical advice.
Mr Andrews eventually admitted the curfew was imposed solely because it would make enforcing the lockdown easier for police.
‘The rules were ultimately made by me,’ Mr Andrews said at the time.
‘It’s not a matter for Brett [Sutton], that’s not health advice, that’s about achieving a health outcome.
‘His advice is “do whatever you can to limit movement”. Police then say “we need rules we can enforce”.’
But Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police never asked for a curfew and he was only told a ‘couple of hours’ before it began.
‘I was never consulted,’ he said of Mr Andrews’ claim. ‘We had never asked for a curfew. It’s not a decision that I was involved in.’
A string of new Covid exposure sites across Melbourne was revealed on Monday night, with several supermarkets on the list including Coles in Balaclava (pictured)
Curfews were originally introduced during Victoria’s disastrous second wave that saw Melbourne under lockdown or 111 consecutive days with more than 700 cases a day when the outbreak was at its worst (pictured, a Melbourne police officer as patrols ramp up)
Meanwhile, the Victorian department of health late on Monday issued urgent public health warnings for a spate of exposed venues across Melbourne.
Newport TyrePlus in the city’s west was exposed to the virus for eight days after it was attended to by a positive case.
Anyone who visited the Tier 1 site during the listed times must now immediately get tested and self isolate for 14 days.
It’s the same for shoppers at Balaclava Coles in the southeast and Roxburgh Park Aldi on the northern outskirts.
Here’s all you need to know about the new restrictions.
Residents attend a Covid testing site in Melbourne during the second week of its sixth lockdown (pictured on Monday) with new restrictions starting on Tuesday
How will this curfew work?
A 9pm to 5am curfew takes effect from 11.59pm tonight in metropolitan Melbourne but the Premier asked people to observe it from this evening.
There would be Increased police presence on Melbourne streets to enforce the restrictions, the Premier said at Monday’s update.
Residents will be required to obtain a permit for authorised work allowing them to leave their homes during the curfew period.
Authorised workers will need to carry the permits while travelling to and from work, and when at work. Permits need to be certified by the person’s employer.
Permits are available from the Victorian government’s coronavirus site.
Higher education students on the Authorised Provider list will also need to carry permits.
Dr Sutton said permits would not be required for another 24 hours.
There remain only five other reasons to leave home – shopping for essentials (one person per household per day), care an caregiving, exercise, authorised work and study, and to receive a vaccine.
Shopping and exercise remain limited to within 5km of a person’s home.
There would be Increased police presence on Melbourne streets to enforce the restrictions, the Premier said at Monday’s update (pictured, police patrol the locked down city)
People queue up for a Covid test at a pop-up test site at the St Kilda Town Hall in Melbourne (pictured) as 22 new cases were announced
Are there changes to exercise rules?
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and exercise equipment will be closed to the public to reduce the possibility of transmission events.
Exercise is further restricted to an individual and one other person, for up to two hours. Dependents can be included if they can’t be left unattended.
The other person can be from another household.
The change means those in large households will no longer be able to all exercise together.
People will no longer be able to remove masks in order to drink alcohol.
‘You will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl,’ Mr Andrews said.
Masks must continue to be carried at all time and worn indoors and outdoors, except if at home or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence.
Melburnians in the midst of their sixth Covid lockdown are about to face even harsher restrictions with controversial curfew laws set to return on Tuesday, despite virus experts and even the police union speaking out against the move (pictured, Flinders Street Station on Monday)
Changes for construction sites
Large scale construction sites must now cut down their staff on site to 25 per cent. Smaller projects would be limited to five people on site.
Additional restrictions would also come into effect in relation to movement between sites where tradespeople work multiple sites.
Religious gatherings and ceremonies
No in-person gatherings are permitted. Broadcasts are of these gatherings are permitted with five people, but the same five people must be involved in producing the broadcast.
Schools will remain closed. Dr Sutton said on Monday of a possible return to school by September 2: ‘We will preferentially look to Year 11 and 12 students getting back [in classrooms] because of their particular needs.’