Victoria is moving to “stage three” shutdown restrictions as the state’s coronavirus infection rate climbs past 800 cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews is moving to give the state the legal framework to implement the national measures announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday night, including a limit of no more than two people gathered together out in public. From March 31, anyone flouting the two-person limit could cop a $1,652 on-the-spot fine.
“No gathering with friends is worth someone’s life,” he said.
“Unless you want to be burying an elderly relative or your best mate or your parents… then do the right thing.”
With another 56 more infections in the last 24 hours, taking the state’s total COVID-19 cases to 821, Andrews flagged the potential for further restrictions.
“As long as we see additional cases each day we have to consider next steps,” he said.
“Over the last two days we have seen the number of cases of coronavirus in Victoria increase by 136 to 821. Four people have already died, many more are in hospital or self-isolating at home.”
Workplaces, schools and homes are not included in the two-person rule. Shopping centres remain open, along with educational facilities and businesses deemed essential, such as pharmacies and bottle shops.
“My message to every Victorian is that there are only four reasons to leave your home: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education,” Andrews said.
“I know it’s hard not to see friends. I know it’s hard to be stuck at home all day. And I know this will ask a lot of Victorians. But we all need to be prepared and be patient – because what we do now will literally save lives.”
The Premier said that while most Victorians are doing the right thing, there are instances of people gathering in significant numbers.
“That’s why we are also restricting gatherings to no more than two people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education,” he said.
“We will not be breaking up household family dinners – but BBQs with the neighbours cannot happen anymore. Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms will also close.
The Stage 3 restrictions come into effect at midnight Monday and will be reviewed after four weeks.
Along with a fine of $1,652 for individuals, businesses face a $9,913 fines for failing to observe the restriction rules – for example, by holding a social gathering.
Victoria is part of the national halt to evictions for the next six months for residential and commercial tenants experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus.
“Life is going to look very different for a while but if we don’t make these changes now, the virus will continue to spread, and our health system will be overwhelmed,” the Premier said.
“To flatten the curve, we are all going to have to sacrifice a lot. But it may be the most important thing we ever do. So please: Stay home. Protect our health system. Save lives.”
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