A number of coronavirus outbreaks in Melbourne has meant the return of restrictions for the entire city for the next six weeks.
The Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced on 7 July that all of Melbourne would return to stage three restrictions from 11.59pm, 8 July following a significant rise in coronavirus cases within the city. There were 191 new cases recorded on 7 July — the highest single day rise in Victoria since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new restrictions, referred to as a ‘stay at home’ order, are expected to last for the next six weeks until 11:59 on Wednesday 19 August 2020 and also include the Mitchell Shire, north of the city.
The stay at home order means people within the regions will only be able to leave the house for four reasons — shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work.
But it also means people outside of those suburbs will only be able to visit them for the three reasons too. That includes shopping for food and supplies, medical care and caregiving and study and work. Exercise within the region is not permitted if you live outside it.
Andrews said there was a key difference between the new restrictions now and what was faced previously. Unlike before, exercise for those under restrictions was only permitted within the zone of restrictions. He added that leaving the Melbourne metropolitan or Mitchell Shire area for exercise did not constitute as a reasonable excuse and could be punishable.
“All of us have to be realistic about the circumstances we face. No one wanted to be in this position,” Andrews said.
“I know there will be enormous amounts of damage that will be done because of this. It will be very challenging over the next six weeks [but the] alternative is to pretend it’s over.”
Adding to the changes, cafes and restaurants would have to revert back to takeaway-only models and pubs, gyms, beauty and personal care services, cultural and entertainment venues and community facilities would again close.
The new restrictions would be enforced by police throughout the period. Anyone found outside of their homes without a valid excuse could receive an on-the-spot fine of up to $1,652.
The changes come as the city locked down a number of hotspot suburbs from 30 June with select public housing units later facing police-enforced total lockdowns, prohibiting residents from leaving their residence at all.
It was suspected there are hundreds of potential cases undetected in the residences covering nearly 3,000 people across 1,345 units, according to the Guardian. It would be heavily enforced by 500 police officers, which has sparked criticism given the vulnerability of some of those in the public housing system. So far, however, only 69 cases have been confirmed by health officials.
UPDATED 7 July 2020: We’ve updated this story to include the news that metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are now facing lockdown restrictions.