Panicked Melbournians are fleeing Victoria in droves ahead of an ‘imminent’ five-day lockdown during the state’s growing Covid outbreak.
There are fears the cluster, which has now climbed to 15 cases, has spread interstate after health authorities confirmed a virus carrier went on a late-night bender in Prahran, in the city’s southeast, on Saturday night.
An announcement by Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino about the probable lockdown is expected to come at about 9am on Thursday.
A Victorian man called 3AW’s Ross and Russel while driving out of Victoria on Thursday morning, declaring ‘we’re definitely going into lockdown’.
‘I’m heading off to Sydney now in the car,’ he said.
‘I’m going to go straight right through, no stop, I just want to get to Sydney.’
Panicked Melbournians are fleeing Victoria in droves ahead of an ‘imminent’ five-day lockdown amid a growing Covid outbreak. Pictured: A roadside checkpoint near Donnybrook, Victoria on September 16, 2020
A Victorian man called 3AW’s Ross and Russel while driving out of Victoria on Thursday morning, declaring ‘we’re definitely going into lockdown’
There are fears the cluster, which has now climbed to 15 cases, has spread interstate
Another fleeing Melbourne resident, who is on the road for work, said he is one of many Victorians heading across the border.
‘Yesterday morning I left Melbourne at 3am, travelling up the Hume Highway … so many cars loaded and heading to Sydney,’ he said.
‘I know a couple who took off yesterday in a caravan. They were meant to go in a month for a winter holiday up north but they left yesterday at 12pm.’
Matthew said the mass exodus from Melbourne ‘started two days ago’.
‘I can tell you this morning, there’s already caravans on the road,’ he said.
Mr Merlino on Wednesday warned the next 24 hours would be critical and would not rule out taking further action.
Contact tracers continue to hunt a ‘missing link’ in the infection chain, with the virus genomically linked to a man who caught it in Adelaide hotel quarantine.
A Covid-infected case last Saturday headed out for a mammoth late-night bender in Prahran, in Melbourne’s southeast, which ended up kicking on until 4am on Sunday – visiting three bars
There are now more than 60 exposure sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria
An infectious partygoer, unknowingly infected with a highly contagious double mutant Indian strain of the virus, began the evening at a cocktail bar on Chapel Street called Three Monkeys on Saturday night.
They arrived at about 9.15pm and then wandered down the street to the famed Somewhere Bar – an establishment frequented by a sea of young, hip partygoers.
That Saturday the venue was packed as DJs blasted out tunes late into the night.
Three Monkeys also had a good turnout, raising fears the infected drinker may have sparked a super-spreader event.
While confident authorities have ‘run down multiple generations of transmission’, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton is concerned about the amount of time positive cases have been out in the community.
He said any lockdown would be broad rather than confined to the city’s northern suburbs, with confirmed cases travelling to Bendigo and as far north as Cohuna on the NSW border.
‘We’ve got significant spread of exposure sites at the moment so it’s not something that we would look to at a postcode level,’ Prof Sutton said.
There are now more than 60 exposure sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria, including the MCG and Marvel Stadium.
An infected person attended the Collingwood-Port Adelaide AFL game at the MCG on Sunday, while one was also at the North Melbourne-Essendon clash at Marvel Stadium later that same day.
An announcement by Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino about the probable lockdown is expected to come at around 9am on Thursday
Restrictions were introduced for Greater Melbourne on Tuesday evening, including gathering limits of five people at homes and 30 in public and mandatory masks indoors
Current restrictions in Melbourne:
- Maximum of five visitors per household
- Maximum of 30 people gathering outside
- Masks must be worn indoors and on public transport
- People travelling from Melbourne to other areas must carry restrictions with them
- Schools and workplaces will remain open with the new restrictions applied
- Dancefloors remain open but people must wear masks while dancing
A decision on crowd limits for this weekend’s AFL matches in Melbourne has been delayed, while the RISING festival has been cleared to go ahead for now.
It comes after a number of restrictions were introduced for Greater Melbourne on Tuesday evening, including gathering limits of five people at homes and 30 in public and mandatory masks indoors.
Genomic sequencing shows the City of Whittlesea outbreak is linked to the case of a Wollert man, who contracted the virus in SA quarantine earlier this month.
An official SA report released on Wednesday found it likely he caught the virus through aerosol transmission due to the ‘close timing of doors opening and closing’ from an adjacent room with an infected guest.
South Australia became the first state or territory to slam its border shut to Greater Melbourne, while NSW and Queensland are urging residents to reconsider travel to the city and parts of regional Victoria.
Victoria last entered a five-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in February, when the virus escaped hotel quarantine and infected 13 people.