Regional Victoria is set to go back into lockdown and restrictions in Melbourne toughened even further to stop the spread of the city’s Delta outbreak after the state recorded 77 new Covid cases, as former Premier Jeff Kennett claimed the state will stay shut down until 2022.
Of the new cases 39 were in the community for all or part of their infectious period and only 48 are linked to known outbreaks.
There were 61 locally acquired cases and another 16 local cases were found using a rapid PCR testing platform which will be included in Sunday’s official numbers.
Mr Kennett has said ‘well-placed’ food industry sources briefed on distribution disruptions by the state government have warned him about the extended lockdown and tighter restrictions lasting into next year, The Herald Sun reported.
Premier Daniel Andrews held an urgent Cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss new rules which could include changes for childcare centres, tighter travel limits, shorter exercise times, a construction halt, and a ban on takeaway food and coffee.
An outbreak in Shepparton grew to 17 cases late on Friday and a new exposure site emerged at a machinery hire company in Bendigo, causing grave concerns the virus has leaked further into regional Victoria – just 11 days after lockdown was lifted for its residents.
Restrictions in Melbourne are set to be tightened on Saturday, and regional Victoria put back in lockdown
Changed to Melbourne restrictions could include changes for childcare centres, tighter travel limits, shorter exercise times, a construction halt, and a ban on takeaway food and coffee
A new exposure site emerged at a machinery hire company in Bendigo (stock image), causing grave concerns the virus has leaked further into regional Victoria
The 17 new cases in Shepparton were in addition to 55 in Melbourne announced by Premier Andrews on Friday morning
VICTORIA LOCKDOWN CHANGES
Dan Andrews is set to announce a new lockdown for regional Victoria on Saturday.
Covid restrictions in Melbourne are also expected to be tightened. The changes could include:
– Ban on takeaway coffee and food
– Cut to outdoor exercise time
– New shorter travel limits
– Total construction industry shutdown
– Childcare restricted to essential workers
– Residents locked in hot spots until they test negative
Mr Andrews was reportedly poised to announce the regional lockdown and new restrictions immediately, until deciding to wait for overnight case numbers on Saturday morning instead.
But late on Friday evening the state government said it had told community sporting leagues in regional Victoria to ‘immediately cancel their activities for this weekend’.
‘The situation in Melbourne and across regional Victoria is extremely concerning,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Advice will be provided to government tomorrow morning and all options are on the table.’
Mr Kennett said he had seen a document confirming the new lockdown for regional Victoria, and described the move as ‘appalling’.
‘The test will be at 80 per cent vaccination. What will Dan Andrews do when we get to 80 per cent full vaccination? He won’t guarantee that,’ he told the Saturday Herald Sun.
Among the new restrictions being considered is an unprecedented ban on takeaway food and coffee in Melbourne, a tightening of the city’s 5km travel rule for shopping and exercise and a ban on all construction activity.
Childcare centres could also be restricted to essential workers and residents banned from leaving hot spots unless they test negative to the virus.
The 17 new cases in Shepparton were in addition to 55 in Melbourne announced by Premier Andrews on Friday morning.
A source present at the crisis meeting said the growing number of infection ‘spot fires’ both inside and outside Melbourne meant a regional lockdown was the only option, with more cases expected over the weekend.
Mr Andrews was reportedly poised to announce the regional lockdown and new restrictions immediately, until deciding to wait for overnight case numbers on Saturday morning instead
The whole of Victoria is set to go back into lockdown as Covid-19 continues to spread into regional parts of the state. Pictured is a pedestrian in Melbourne as the city endures its sixth coronavirus lockdown
Among the new restrictions being considered by the state government is an unprecedented ban on takeaway food and coffee in Melbourne
Thousands of locals in Shepparton, 181km northwest of Melbourne, and surrounding areas were forced into isolation and several school campuses have closed after a man in his 30s tested positive.
The Shepparton man has two children at St Mel’s Primary, which has been closed for deep cleaning.
He is isolating at home and his family has also been tested.
Since then, another 16 cases including family members from two households have been linked to him, Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said.
MELBOURNE’S SIXTH LOCKDOWN – ALL THE RESTRICTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lockdown restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne, until 11.59pm on Thursday, September 2:
A stay-at-home curfew is in place. Between 9:00pm and 5:00am, you cannot leave your home (or the home of your intimate partner or bubble buddy) other than for limited reasons, including:
– authorised work
– health and medical purposes
– care and support of a child or someone with special needs
– in an emergency or to escape harm
Outside of curfew hours, you cannot leave your home other than for one of the five following reasons:
– shopping for necessary goods and services
– caregiving or compassionate reasons, including medical care or to get a COVID-19 test
– authorised work (with a permit) or permitted education
– exercise (once a day for 2 hours, no more than 5km from where you live)
– to get a COVID-19 vaccination
Victorians may also leave home to visit their intimate partner, their single social bubble buddy, or in an emergency – including those at risk of family violence.
You must stay within 5km of your home for shopping and exercise. This limit does not apply to permitted work or education, when giving or receiving care, getting a COVID-19 vaccination or visiting an intimate partner or your single social bubble buddy.
Residents of Metropolitan Melbourne must not travel to regional Victoria other than for permitted reasons. These include:
– for authorised work or permitted education
– to visit an intimate partner
– for care and compassionate reasons
– to access COVID-19 vaccination provided it is to the closest facility where vaccination can be obtained, or
– to access necessary good and services provided this is to the closest facility where these can be obtained.
Face masks must be worn indoors and outdoors whenever you leave your home.
‘It is likely there will be further people testing positive for COVID-19 in coming days,’ Mr Sharp said late on Friday.
‘Contact tracing is progressing and will continue as a primary focus. Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted directly by the contact tracing team.’
Friday’s additional cases come as Mr Andrews hit back at people criticising the strictness of Victoria’s sixth lockdown, including the unpopular decision to close all children’s playgrounds in the city despite widespread backlash and no conclusive evidence of Delta transmission.
‘The government is playing its part, we locked down early, we couldn’t have locked down any earlier,’ he said defiantly during Friday’s Covid briefing.
‘We went hard. I can’t be clearer with the people of Melbourne.
‘If we have a weekend this weekend like we did last weekend, then next week we’ll look like Sydney. It’s as simple as that.’
An outbreak in Shepparton grew to 17 cases late on Friday and a new exposure site emerged at a machinery hire company in Bendigo, causing concerns the virus has leaked further into regional areas
The premier sent a warning to the people of Victoria saying the state is at a tipping point and could soon be facing the same problem as Sydney if the virus ‘gets away from us’
FIND THE LATEST EXPOSURE SITES NEAR YOU
The health department confirmed 49 of the locally acquired cases are linked to known outbreaks, while 25 were self-isolating throughout their infectious period.
It means 30 people were infectious in the community – also known as ‘wild’ cases – and the source of six is yet to be identified.
‘Earlier in the week we talked about a tipping point, this is very, very serious,’ Premier Andrews said.
‘This is what it will look like if this gets away from us – hundreds and hundreds of cases every day and potentially thousands in hospital.
‘Anyone who speaks to a nurse in a Covid ward they will tell you stories you’ll never forget.
Mr Andrews said the state was sitting on a ‘knife’s edge’, urging Victorians to follow protocol or face an explosion in cases.
‘If we get it again, it will mean kids get it, people of all ages will get it, people who are fit and healthy, they will die. That’s what is at stake here,’ Premier Andrews said
‘This is difficult, but so is having thousands of people in hospital. That is what we are facing,’ he said.
‘If we get it again, it will mean kids get it, people of all ages will get it, people who are fit and healthy, they will die. That’s what is at stake here.’
Premier Andrews’ stark warning comes as a coronavirus vaccination hub in Melbourne’s southeast was declared an exposure site after a positive case visited to get their jab.
The infected person, who did not have symptoms at the time, went to the Frankston Community Vaccination Hub at Bayside Centre on Monday before testing positive on Thursday.
The Peninsula Health-run site has been declared a tier-two exposure site from 11.30am to 12.45pm on Monday, though remains open for those with a vaccination booking.
MELBOURNE’S LOCKDOWN WOES
Melbourne marked its 200th day under lockdown restrictions on August 19, spread over six lockdowns beginning on March 30, 2020.
Here’s how they unfolded (regional Victoria lockdown dates not included):
Statewide, March 30 to May 12, 2020, 43 days
Triggered at 46 locally acquired cases
Ten Melbourne postcodes, July 1 to July 8, 2020, seven days (not counted in the overall citywide figure)
Melbourne, July 8 to October 27, 2020, 112 days
Triggered at 149 local cases on July 8
Statewide, February 12 to February 17, 2021, five days
Triggered at one local case
Melbourne, May 27 to June 10, 2021, 14 days
Triggered at four local cases
Statewide, July 15 to July 27, 2021, 12 days
Triggered at ten local cases
Melbourne, August 5 and ongoing until at least September 2, 16 days to Saturday, August 21
Triggered at six local cases
Meanwhile an outbreak with several cases at Glenroy West Primary School plunged 50 families and staff from York St kindergarten, which is on the same site, into isolation.
A teacher at the kindergarten reportedly refused to be tested for Covid-19, forcing the potentially-exposed families to repeat their 14-day isolation.
The teacher was at the school from August 6 to August 12 and the kindergarten is listed as a close contact exposure site for seven days from August 6.
The teacher will face no consequences for refusing the test as there is now law surrounding mandatory testing, even though Mr Andrews suggested it was the sensible thing to do.
‘If you’re asked to test because there’s a sense you may have the virus, and we want to rule you out … but also look after the safety of people you’ve been with, some of whom might be little kids, I don’t think that’s such a big ask,’ he said.
Mr Andrews underlined the danger of the Delta variant towards children, saying people need to start taking the latest outbreak seriously.
‘There are 700 kids that have Covid in NSW. No children in our country are vaccinated,’ he said Friday morning.
‘As a parent to every other parent, that should be motivation enough. We can’t be certain how this virus effects kids.’
The infected person, who did not have symptoms at the time, attended the Frankston Community Vaccination Hub at Bayside Centre on Monday before testing positive on Thursday
An outbreak with several cases at Glenroy West Primary School (pictured) also plunged 50 families and staff from York St kindergarten, which is on the same site, into isolation
Premier Andrews says 38 of the 44 cases confirmed in isolation on Thursday were linked to the Al-Taqwa College outbreak, and with day 13 results set to come in the numbers will remain relatively high but not alarming.
‘The story that sits behind those numbers is in fact more important than the numbers alone,’ he said.
On Thursday, the state recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases since last year’s deadly second wave after dozens of day-13 tests were returned from isolating close contacts.
About 3,000 primary close contacts left isolation on Wednesday, with 57 new cases reported on Thursday.
There are more than 530 exposure sites in Victoria, with a number of new sites added in Ashburton, Altona North and Newport on Thursday evening.
Melbourne is just over two weeks into its sixth lockdown, which has been extended until September 2.
The Premier said the state’s status is currently sitting on a knife edge, saying Victorians must follow protocol immediately or face another critical situation