• Staff Writers

Victoria enters Lockdown IV

The whole of Victoria will enter a 7-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday, the acting premier James Merlino announced on Wednesday morning, to contain a COVID-19 cluster originating from northern Melbourne.

Regional locations including Cohuna in northern Victoria and Bendigo were listed as potential exposure sites on Tuesday, and the whole state will now be affected by the lockdown.

Community sport will not proceed as it is not one of the five permissible activities for Victorians to participate in.

Minister for Innovation and member for Western Victoria, Labor's Jaala Pulford, said on Facebook on Wednesday morning:

"On the advice of our public health team, Victoria will move to circuit breaker restrictions from 11:59pm tonight. These settings will remain in place until 11:59pm on 3 June – but if we can end that sooner, we will."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered the federal government's support in a Wednesday afternoon press conference:

“The next seven days in Victoria will be very challenging, of course we are very mindful of the distressed and the difficulty this will impose upon people right across Victoria.
"Right now every support has been given to the Vic govt, not only including the additional vaccines, we have 218 ADF personnel in Victoria, continuing to provide support, under operation COVID-assessed.
“(It is) a lockdown for seven days that hopefully won’t go as long as that, they (Victorian government) will be reviewing this regularly and the progress that they’re making.
“I’ve made it very clear to the premier that any additional support that he requires, he will receive, and he’s indicated to me that he is seeking nothing further from the Commonwealth at this time.
“We need to focus on working the problem, working the issue and working together."

State opposition leader, the Liberals' Michael O'Brien said in a statement he would fight for small businesses to be compensated for the latest lockdown:

"Victorians have once again been dealt a huge blow. A blow to mental health, a blow to small business, a blow to our economy – a blow to our confidence.
"Victorians ask why we are the only state to have a fourth lockdown.

Victorian Nationals leader and deputy opposition leader Peter Walsh said in a statement:

"Another day, another lockdown that regional Victoria didn’t need to have if Labor could get the basics right.
"Another snap lockdown just proves the Labor Government still doesn’t have confidence in its own processes and systems.
" Regional Victorians have done everything that has been asked of us – we stayed at home, we sacrificed time with family and friends.
"Our regional small businesses were just starting to get back on their feet and this seven-day lockdown means many more will close and more locals will lose their jobs.

Victoria will begin the seven-day lockdown from midnight, in an effort to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in the northern suburbs that has grown to 26 cases.

Merlino stated:

"Unless something changes, this will be increasingly uncontrollable.
“As we've seen here, and across Australia, this kind of short, sharp action is effective in stopping this thing in its tracks.
“Our public health experts’ prime concern: just how fast the B1.617.1 variant is moving.
“The time between catching the virus and passing it on is tighter than ever.
“We also know our nation’s vaccine rollout has been slower than we’d hoped.”

People will only be able to leave home for five reasons:

  • to shop for food and essential items,

  • provide or receive care,

  • exercise with 1 friend or members of your own household,

  • to work or study if they can't from home, and

  • getting vaccinated.

There will again be a five-kilometre travel limit, and masks will be compulsory to be worn outside of the home.

Only essential stores like supermarkets, bottle shops and pharmacies will remain open.

Cafes and restaurants will only be able to offer take-away.

Childcare and kindergarten will stay open, but schools will close.

There were infected people at AFL matches at the weekend, while another visited three bars in Prahran and South Yarra.

The lockdown is Victoria's fourth.

The most recent lockdown was in February when the virus escaped hotel quarantine and infected more than a dozen people.

The second lockdown during 2020 lasted 112 days.