Melbourne’s lockdown extended, curfew imposed

Melbourne's streets will remain empty until at least September 2, after an extension to the city's lockdown was announced this morning.

MELBOURNE’S lockdown has been extended another two weeks, and a curfew imposed, after ongoing community transmission and non-compliance made it necessary to restrict movement further.
Lockdown restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne have been extended until 11.59pm on Thursday, September 2, and a curfew from 9pm until 5am has been imposed every night, which is similar to settings in place last winter.
Melbourne’s playgrounds, basketball hoops, skate parks and outdoor exercise equipment are now closed.
Exercise is now limited to two Melburnians, plus dependants if they can’t be left at home, which means larger households such as share houses or extended families can no longer exercise with all members of their household.
Permits are now required to leave the house for authorised work or tertiary study, and metropolitan construction sites can only have 25 per cent of staff or five workers on site – whichever is higher.
After the weekend’s milder weather coaxed people out of their homes and into Melbourne’s parks for picnics and in Richmond, a pub crawl, people can also no longer remove their masks to drink alcoholic beverages in public.
Police presence will be increased across metropolitan Melbourne to ensure the measures are enforced.
Between 80 and 100 infringement notices were handed out by police at the weekend, with police, protective service officers and transit officers beginning patrols in public places and parks again.
No additional restrictions were announced for regional Victoria.
On Monday, a furious Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media to announce the changes, saying after almost two weeks of restrictions in Victoria, there were too many cases, particularly mystery cases, and too many exposure sites.
“Every time even a small number of people make really bad choices, selfish choices, it takes away from the hard work that millions more are doing, and it extends these lockdowns because it makes it more likely that we will have more cases,” he said.
The Premier emphasised people cannot have visitors to the home, slamming an engagement party in Melbourne’s inner south east which took place at the weekend and spread COVID-19.
“What makes me really angry about it is there’s 69 people at the event,” he said.
“… each of those 69 people will have to be interviewed. Their close contacts will have to be spoken to and tested, and then their close contacts will have to be spoken to and tested.
“Our contact tracers, who are working their guts out for all of us, will literally have to spend thousands of hours dealing with hundreds and thousands of people connected to that engagement party.
“It’s all entirely preventable.
“That’s what events like that cost all of us, because while our dedicated contact tracers are doing that work, they’re not chasing down other cases.
“All of us have to make the best choices to limit the spread of this virus – not making selfish choices that add to its spread.”
The cost of fines from the engagement party totals more than $350,000 – at $5500 each.
The Premier said it wasn’t the only non-compliance duly noted at the weekend.
“We’ve seen people turning the footpath into an impromptu beer garden and doing pub crawl. We’ve seen people gathering in parks in large numbers,” he said.
“We’ve seen lots of different people flouting these rules, not doing as they should, making really poor choices.
“I know people are weary, I know people are sick and tired of this, but each of us has to find it in ourselves to make good choices for these next couple of weeks, to drive down these case numbers and be in a position so that we can reopen.”
Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton said police had witnessed some really disappointing behaviour since mid-last week.
“We’ve seen some selfish behaviour, and we’ve seen some absolutely outrageous behaviour,” he said.
“We’ve seen so many different breaches it’s just ridiculous. And it has to stop.”
Chief commissioner Patton said this weekend’s breaches included two separate dinner parties in Melbourne with eight attendees each, as well as an “entrepreneur” who planned to host a dance party with 1000 invitees, a stage, a DJ, tents and lounges on a private property on the Mornington Peninsula.
In describing the engagement party, chief commissioner Patton said he expected every attendee, other than children, at the engagement party would be getting an infringement.
“There has to be consequences. So many people have done the right thing and deferred their engagement parties, deferred their weddings,” he said.
“We’ve been trying to apply discretion, we’ve been trying to be fair, and we have been fair with a mixture of enforcement, infringements and warnings.
“If anyone gets a warning moving forward from here on in they’re going to be very lucky.
“The time for discretion is over, we will be issuing infringements, I am advising all of my officers today that that’s an expectation where it’s a deliberate and blatant breach.
“If you think you can go to the park and sit down and have some drinks with friends, if you think you can go to a public place and sit around and ignore the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines, you’ll see coming up this weekend what I would call a huge blitz.
“We’ve given fair warning to the public, we’ve been very fair, and we’ll continue to try and be fair but the way that conduct was during the week makes it very hard for anyone to get a warning.”
At this point in the state’s previous outbreak, the average number of days an infectious person is out in the community in Victoria was 0.61 and declining.
In the current outbreak, the average exposure days is 1.8.
That means cases diagnosed on Sunday were infectious in the community for a total of 15 days, compared to 0 for the same point during the last outbreak.
There have been a number mystery cases discovered over the course of the past week which indicates the virus is moving around undetected in the community.
The Premier reported a number of the positive cases said during their interview they had symptoms for two or three days.
“You’ve got to get tested before you spread this virus unknowingly,” he said.
“We don’t want to see people telling us stories when we’re interviewing them, oh I’ve actually been a bit crook for the past four days.
“Ninety-eight, 99 per cent of results are back the following day … the queues are not that long, and you’re doing such an important thing for your family and every single family.”
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.