Victoria will remain in lockdown for another week despite just six new Covid cases being recorded on Wednesday.
The cluster, which has been linked to a highly infectious double mutant Indian strain, grew to 60 cases and 357 exposure sites across Victoria on Wednesday.
In Melbourne from 11.59pm on Thursday night, the five reasons to leave home remain in place, but people will be able to travel 10km from their home, up from the previous 5km limit.
Until at least June 10, Melbournians can only leave home to either shop for necessary goods and services, go to work or permitted education, exercise with a two-hour limit, to get vaccinated, or for medical reasons and caregiving.
‘At the end of another seven days, we do expect to be in a position to carefully ease restrictions in Melbourne, but there will continue to be differences between the settings in Melbourne compared to regional Victoria,’ Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said on Wednesday.
In regional Victoria, the five reasons residents can leave home will be scrapped, and there will be no distance limit on travel.
Testing numbers continue to be high, with 51,033 in the 24 hours to midnight, as well as 20,585 vaccine doses
The cluster, which has been linked to a highly infectious double mutant Indian strain, grew to 60 cases on Wednesday
Key changes for Victoria from 11.59pm Thursday
Changes for all Victoria: 5km radius is now 10km, year 11 and 12 back to school, outdoor work back (eg gardening, landscaping)
Changes for just regional Victoria:
Stay-at-home order removed
No travel limit
Can only go to Melbourne for a permitted reasons (healthcare etc)
Outdoor gatherings can be 10 people
Food and hospo open for food only, max 50 people inside
Retail and beauty open
10 at weddings
50 at funerals
‘You can only travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and you must follow Melbourne restrictions once you are there,’ Mr Merlino said.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, while food and hospitality will be open for seated service only, with a cap of 50 people per venue.
Retail businesses can open and personal services such as beauty and tattooing can resume for services where masks can remain on.
Anglesea, a town on Victoria’s Surf Coast on the Great Ocean Road, has been put on alert after a Covid-positive case visited a golf club, an IGA and a bakery.
The person visited Anglesea Golf Club bistro on May 25 between 6pm and 7.30pm and this has been deemed a Tier 1 site.
The Tier 2 sites visited were Anglesea Transfer Station on May 25 between 9.20am and 9.35am, IGA on May 25 between 10.30am and 11.15am and on May 27 between 10.15am and 11am, and Oaks Bakery on May 27 between 10.30am and 11am.
About 6.5million Victorians were ordered into lockdown at 11.59pm last Thursday after a rapidly-spreading Indian mutant strain outbreak in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
The outbreak started after a man from Wollert in Melbourne’s north arrived in Australia Covid-free before unknowingly catching the double mutant Indian strain in Adelaide quarantine.
He tested negative for the virus three times during his stay in South Australian hotel quarantine and returned to Melbourne on May 4, only to return a positive result on May 11.
Victoria’s Department of Health said ‘four or five’ cases emerged from ‘brushing past’ strangers who unwittingly transmitted the virus.
Covid testing commander Jeroen Weimar said there were four to five instances in the state’s latest 60-case outbreak of people contracting the virus from ‘fleeting contact’.
‘They do not know each other’s names and that is very different from what we have seen before,’ Mr Weimar told reporters on Tuesday.
Alarm bells are ringing after a newly identified Covid case travelled between Victoria and NSW and evidence of ‘stranger-to-stranger’ transmission mounted.
Health authorities remain on edge after it was revealed that complete strangers had been infected by walking past Covid-positive cases.
The concerning spread of the Indian variant has also prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing.
‘We are now keen to start to drain the swamp to see what else is out there,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘Is there anybody else out there we haven’t caught? Is there anybody else not caught by exposure sites?’
There are now 4800 primary close contacts, with 75 per cent of those returning a negative test.
The outbreak, which originated in hotel quarantine in South Australia last month, is ‘playing out a bit differently to earlier recent outbreaks’ in Victoria, which resulted in few cases and three-day circuit breaker lockdowns.
State government and health officials reportedly discussed options into the night as they consider extending the seven-day lockdown, which is due to end on Thursday
The spread of the Indian variant has prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing
Victoria recorded six new locally acquired cases on Wednesday from 51,033 tests. Pictured: Victorians waiting for a Covid test in Melbourne
It comes as Victorian aged care and disability workers will be able to jump the queue at 10 vaccination centres across the state from Wednesday as part of a five-day jab blitz.
Express lanes exclusively for aged care and disability staff will open from 9am to 4pm, with workers needing to show proof of employment.
It follows the three-case Arcare Maidstone outbreak, now genomically linked to a South Australian hotel quarantine leak, exposing gaps in private aged care vaccinations among workers and residents.
In Senate estimates on Tuesday, it emerged that less than 10 per cent of nursing home staff across Australia have been vaccinated through federal government visits.
NEW STAGE THREE RESTRICTIONS IN VICTORIA
An emergency seven-day lockdown began at 00.01 Friday.
Under the strict new rules to stop Melbourne’s coronavirus cluster from getting out of control, there are a number of restrictions:
Stay-at-home order with just five reasons to leave the house:
– Shopping for necessary goods and services
– Going to work or permitted education
– Exercise with a two-hour limit
– Medical reasons and care giving
– Getting vaccinated
As well as this, there will be serious restrictions on people’s personal life, business, work and school:
– No visitors to your home other than an intimate partner. Single bubbles will be permitted. If you live alone, you can make a bubble with another person.
– 5km travel limit for exercise and shopping
– Compulsory masks indoors and outdoors unless in the home
– No public gatherings.
– Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only.
– Essential retail, so supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies, other retail stores can provide click and collect.
– Childcare and kinders will be open as per the last circuit breaker lockdown earlier this year.
– Approved professional sporting events will proceed but proceed without crowds.
– Schools will move to remote learning, except for vulnerable children, and children of authorised workers.
– Higher education will move to remote learning only.
– Community support and recreation, accommodation, but there will be some exemptions that apply.
– Hotels, clubs, TABs and the casino will be closed.
– Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, swimming pools, spas, saunas, indoor and outdoor springs, community venues, drive in cinemas, amusements parks and arcades, creative studios, art galleries and museums, tourism, tours, and transport, and auctions can only happen online.
– Aged care facilities, no visitors except for limited reasons.
– In our hospitals, visitors only for end of life, to support a partner during birth, or a parent accompanying a child.
– In terms of ceremonies, funerals, a maximum of 10 people plus those running the service.
– Weddings cannot proceed unless end of life or deportation reasons apply.
– Religious activities will not proceed other than through broadcast with a maximum of five people.