Hundreds of Melburnians who were locked in their high-rise public housing towers for more than five days have joined the rest of the city for stage three coronavirus restrictions.
Eight towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were released from hard lockdown on Thursday, but residents of an additional tower at 33 Alfred Street will remain in self-isolation for nine days.
The newly freed residents were seen enjoying the outdoors on Friday morning, with one taking their dog for a walk and another smoking a cigarette.
Robert, a Flemington tower resident, gives a thumbs up while taking his dog for a walk on Friday morning
A newly freed resident from one of the public housing towers in Flemington has a cigarette on Friday
Hussein, a resident of a tower in Flemington, smiled for a photo as he stepped outside on Friday. The teenager celebrated his 18th birthday while in hard lockdown
Eight towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were released from hard lockdown at on Thursday. Pictured: Two Flemington residents in face masks pose for a photo on Friday after restrictions were eased
Flemington residents went for a morning stroll around their building on Friday and briefly stopped for a socially distanced chat with their neighbours
It’s the first time the residents in Flemington have been allowed to leave their buildings since they were put in immediate home detention on Saturday to halt the spread of COVID-19, amid a second wave of infections.
Hussein, a resident of a tower in Flemington, smiled for a photo as he stepped outside on Friday. The teenager celebrated his 18th birthday while in hard lockdown.
Another resident hung a hand-written paper sign on a glass window to thank the government and health workers.
‘I so appreciate my helpful government and all the people working to ensure we are safe,’ the sign read.
A woman, known to other Flemington residents as Aunty G, thanked police for walking her blind and half deaf dog during the lockdown, Nine News reported.
Aunty G – who is elated to be out of lockdown – said the officers kindly walked her pet three times a day, sometimes at 2am.
Other residents went for a morning stroll around their building and briefly stopped for a socially distanced chat with their neighbours.
One man was photographed outside a tower in Flemington carrying a large Aboriginal flag over his shoulder.
A Flemington resident hung a hand-written paper sign on a glass window to thank the government and health workers
A woman in a face mask takes her dog outside for fresh air on Friday morning
A resident in Flemington uses his phone while stepping outside on Friday morning
Police in face masks are seen patrolling outside public housing towers on Friday. Residents joined the rest of Melbourne for stage three restrictions
MELBOURNE’S TOWER LOCKDOWN
* Nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were put in lockdown for at least five days on Saturday afternoon.
* 9 Pampas Street and 159 Melrose Street in North Melbourne have no confirmed cases of coronavirus. They transitioned to Stage 3 restrictions at 5pm on Thursday.
* 12 Holland Court, 120 Racecourse Road, 126 Racecourse Road, 130 Racecourse Road in Flemington and 12 Sutton Street and 76 Canning Street in North Melbourne ‘have low numbers of cases of coronavirus’. They transitioned to Stage 3 restrictions at 11.59pm on Thursday.
* 33 Alfred Street North Melbourne remains in lockdown for nine days. Residents will only be able to leave their apartments for medical care and supervised daily exercise.
The residents are now subject to a six week stay-at-home order along with the rest of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
The government has faced criticism for suddenly putting nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne into a hard lockdown on Saturday.
Authorities were concerned the high density towers, which were labelled ‘vertical cruise ships’, had the ‘explosive potential’ to spread COVID-19.
Some residents said that made them feel like prisoners, unable to leave their apartments for five days.
There were 158 confirmed coronavirus cases in seven of the towers on Thursday, with 53 infections at 33 Alfred Street.
One man was photographed outside a tower in Flemington carrying a large Aboriginal flag over his shoulder
Pictured: Residents walk outside the public housing towers in Flemington after restrictions were eased
A man walks outside the public housing towers in North Melbourne on Friday
A resident of the Melrose Street tower smiles as she walks nearby on Friday
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said residents of the 33 Alfred Street tower in North Melbourne will remain in self-isolation after tallying almost a third of coronavirus cases in the towers.
‘We need to recognise that there might be 20 to 25 per cent of individuals in that particular tower who end up developing coronavirus and potentially more,’ Professor Sutton said on Thursday.
‘So that has, much like an aged care facility, been designated as everyone requiring quarantine.’
Residents of 33 Alfred Street will only be able to leave their apartments for medical care and supervised daily exercise.
Victoria recorded 288 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the biggest daily increase of any state since the pandemic began.
Premier Daniel Andrews said just 26 cases were linked to known infections, while 262 remain under investigation.
The new cases push the state’s active case tally past 1000 for the first time.
Previously, the highest daily state total in Australia was 212 cases recorded in NSW on March 27.
Police talk to residents outside the Melrose Street tower in North Melbourne on Friday
Police are seen patrolling the public housing towers in Melbourne on Friday
Residents of nine towers in inner-city Melbourne were put in lockdown for at least five days on Saturday. Pictured: People are seen outside the public housing towers in Flemington on Friday after restrictions were eased
A man carrying an Aboriginal flag walks outside a public housing tower in Flemington on Friday