Regional Victoria will go into lockdown from 1pm today following an increase in community transmissions and a number of exposure sites outside of Melbourne.
Additionally, further measures will be implemented to protect children across the entire state, as the number of infections amongst kids continues to rise.
The premier Daniel Andrews said with a number of mystery cases, increased transmissions and the speed of the spread of the Delta variant Victoria has no choice but to lockdown.
“This is not where we wanted to be as a community. It’s not a decision we wanted to make after Victorians have sacrificed so much, but we have no other option. Cases need to be lower and vaccination rates need to be higher,” Andrews said.
5 reasons to leave home
“We need to slow the spread of the virus and get in front of this outbreak. That is why Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has declared that all metropolitan Melbourne restrictions – except for the curfew – will be implemented across regional Victoria from 1pm today until 11.59pm Thursday, 2 September.
This means that in regional Victoria there will be only five reasons to leave your home:
to get the food and the supplies you need,
to exercise for up to two hours no more than 5km from your home,
to provide care or caregiving,
to attend authorised work or education if you can’t do it from home,
or to get vaccinated at the nearest possible location.
Face masks mandatory
Face masks will still be mandatory outdoors and indoors (not at home) unless an exception applies – this includes all workplaces, and secondary schools. To give industry time to adjust, workforce permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work from 11.59pm Monday 23 August. Workforce limits apply to the construction industry from 1pm today.
Playgrounds, basketball hoops, skate parks and outdoor exercise equipment will be closed. Masks will also not be able to be removed to drink alcoholic beverages. Exercise will be limited to just one other person, plus dependants if they can’t be left at home.
Andrews said the demographic of the current outbreak is very different to what Victorians have experienced with around 80 per cent of active cases aged below 40 and around 25 per cent under the age of nine.
“The cases currently in hospital include people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s – showing just how serious this virus can be for young people as well.” Andrews said.
Childcare centres to close
Because of the high rate of transmission in young people and the number of childcare centres now designated as exposure sites, all childcare centres across Victoria will be closed except to children whose parents are authorised workers and cannot be supervised at home. Vulnerable children can still attend. A permit system will apply, and further details will be available soon.
Minister for Health, Martin Foley said he understood the stress this would put on parents but it was a necessary step.
“We know having childcare centres closed will be difficult for parents who are already juggling so much but with so many young children in this outbreak contracting the virus, we need to do more to protect them and their families,” Foley said.
Victoria’s public health team are also strongly recommending that primary school-aged children also wear a mask when not at home as an extra precaution against this virus.
Further, changes will be made to metropolitan businesses operating in high-risk industries – like abattoirs, meat, poultry and seafood processing – with additional obligations such as workforce limits and mandatory surveillance testing to be implemented.
Calls to get vaccinated
The premier again expressed that the way out of the pandemic is to get vaccinated and called for more Victorians to come forward to get the jab.
“There’s a million things that we miss about life before the pandemic and a million things we’re looking forward to doing again once we’re through this outbreak – each of those is a reason to get vaccinated, Andrews said.
There are more than 390,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments available over the next four weeks and we’re the premier encouraged all eligible Victorians to book in today
“The best vaccine you can get is the one that you can get today.”
All Victorians are encouraged where possible to book their vaccination appointment by visiting portal.cvms.vic.gov.au or by phoning the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.