Victoria has recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in months.
On Sunday June 21, the Victorian government announced the State of Emergency will be extended for four more weeks, pushing back plans to introduce eased social distancing restrictions which were due to come into effect today. The revised dates come as a result of a spike in new COVID-19 cases in Victoria.
Australia’s top medical officials are also urging lockdowns for coronavirus hotspot areas including Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin, with Victoria Police set to ramp up patrols of these areas to enforce social distancing in order to prevent a second-wave.
A squad of 500 police officers will be conducting spot checks of both venues and homes to ensure compliance, with on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses to be issued to those caught breaking the rules.
Premier Dan Andrews has also floated the idea of a lockdown on certain Melbourne suburbs with the Prime Minister. The matter is reportedly being discussed by the national cabinet. If the lockdowns do ahead, it would mean residents living in hotspot suburbs would only be allowed to leave home for essential services such as grocery shopping or medical treatment.
The new restrictions are set to remain in place until at least July 19 and will see household gatherings limited to five guests and outdoor gatherings capped at ten people. Plans to increase capacity to 50 people in restaurants, pubs, community centres, libraries, museums and places of worship have also been scrapped, with the 20-person limit to remain in place for at least four more weeks.
Places opening for the first time, such as gyms and cinemas, will still be allowed to do so under the revised restrictions.
The Victorian government has also announced a one-off payment of $1,500 to workers who test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of a confirmed case and therefore required to self-isolate for two weeks and unable to work. Andrews has reiterated that those who are able to continue working from home must do so until at least July 31.
“We know these restrictions are frustrating, but we can’t get complacent and let the virus get away from us. It’s vital we follow these directions to keep our community transmission numbers low and protect more Victorians,” said the Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down, our coronavirus fight is far from over,” Added Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos. “Keeping the State of Emergency in place will ensure we have the tools we need to keep Victorians safe.”
Some people are pretending this is over because they desperately want it to be.
No one wishes that were the case more than me – but the facts tell us otherwise. pic.twitter.com/5yKLGawJvA
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) June 21, 2020
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