In an announcement to the press, Premier Daniel Andrews said: “With a heavy heart, but with an absolute necessity and determination to beat this Delta strain, just as we did a few weeks ago, the Chief Health Officer and the public health team recommended to me to lock Victoria down.”
The lockdown went into effect at 11:59 PM on Thursday, July 15, and will end at the same time on Tuesday, July 20. However, the restrictions in some areas that are far from Melbourne may ease prior to Tuesday if it is considered safe. It is the fifth lockdown that the state has seen overall and the third so far this year. The current lockdown sees the same establishments closed as past lockdowns in hopes of making the rules easy to understand.
COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said that a group of infected furniture delivery people had been responsible for passing the virus on to others in a residential building. Those infected do not know each other, so it is believed to be a case of stranger-to-stranger transmission. Another cluster occurred when a man contracted the virus after visiting a family member who had returned from New South Wales. Right now, there are 18 active cases connected to the two clusters.
Weimar is urging people to keep getting tested if they have any concerns. Additional testing sites have been opened in the area, while existing sites have extended their hours.
Meanwhile, Western Australia closed its border with Victoria, declaring it a “medium-risk state” along with NSW and Queensland. Those who arrive in Western Australia from Victoria will be required to be tested within their first 48 hours of arrival and quarantine for 14 days.
Lockdown sees business closed and people stuck at home… again
Andrews acknowledged the impact the lockdown would have on workers and businesses, adding that those who lose hours on account of the new lockdown will be given disaster payments despite the lockdown time not meeting the seven-day requirement to trigger such payments.
He said: “Nothing about this virus is fair. Nothing about the fact that this virus has traveled from Sydney is fair. That’s just the reality we face. These cases started in New South Wales, but I’m determined they will end here. We will put this out.”
Under the lockdown, Victorians are only allowed to leave their homes for one of five specific reasons. They are allowed to shop for food and supplies within a 5-kiometer radius of their home, but only one person per household may leave, and only once per day. They can exercise outside for up to two hours, along with one other person. Authorized work is permitted, as is leaving for caregiving and medical reasons. The final reason individuals may leave their home is to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
General retail, hairdressers and personal care businesses are closed, while restaurants are open for takeout only. All citizens will be required to carry masks at all times and wear them indoors and outdoors unless they are at home. No one is allowed to visit a person’s home except for an intimate partner. In-person religious gatherings are also banned.
Andrews said it is too early to talk about the actions the government will take when the lockdown lifts, as the number of cases and movement throughout the community need to be considered. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the last lockdown the area sees as the virus continues to spread throughout the world.
Sources for this article include: