Saturday, September 18, 2021

Lockdown extended in Melbourne, restrictions eased in regional Victoria

Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended for a further seven days, but stay-at-home measures will lift in regional Victoria.
The five reasons to leave your home will remain in place in Melbourne, which includes shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise and getting vaccinated/tested.
However, from 11.59 pm tomorrow the travel radius will expand to a 10km radius.
Students in years 11 and 12 will return to face-to-face learning, including students in other year levels that are undertaking a Unit 3/4 VCE subject.
Some outdoor jobs will also be permitted during Melbourne’s extended lockdown, such as landscaping, painting, solar panel installation and letterboxing.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the lockdown extension was necessary to prevent a deadly third wave from sweeping the state.
“I know that this is not the news that everyone wants to hear for Melbourne today, but given the cases that we’ve had and that we are still seeing, the Chief Health Officer had no choice but to put this advice to government and the government had no choice but to accept that advice from the Chief Health Officer,” Mr Merlino said.
“If we don’t do this – this thing will get away. This variant of concern will become uncontrollable and people will die. No one wants to repeat last winter.”
The acting premier said the state was dealing with the Indian variant of the virus, which was “more contagious” than ever before.
“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode. We’ve got to run this to the ground because if we don’t, people will die.”
The Indian variant was in the “measles category of infectiousness”, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said.
He defended extending Melbourne’s lockdown, despite just a handful of cases being recorded each day.
“We can’t have one or two cases out there and open back up to the kind of settings we had before,” he said.
“That’s what led one case from South Australia to lead to 60 cases and thousands of primary close contacts within a month.”
A further extension of the lockdown will be judged on a day-by-day basis.
There is no set number of vaccine doses administered that would rule out further coronavirus lockdowns, Professor Sutton said.

Changes to regional Victoria’s restrictions

In regional Victoria, the five reasons to leave home will be removed and there will be no limit on the distance people can travel from home.
Regional Victorians can travel to Melbourne, but they are bound by the city’s lockdown restrictions once there.
Outdoor gathering limits can occur with 10 people and dining venues can open with 50 people per venue, under a one-person per four-square-metre spacing rule.
Private gatherings at households are still not permitted. Masks must be worn at all times indoors and outdoors if people can’t social distance.
Religious gatherings are permitted with a 50 per cent cap. Ten people will be allowed at weddings and 50 people at funerals.
Retail can open and personal services such as beauty and tattooing can resume for services where masks can remain on.
Junior outdoor community sport will return and adults will be able to resume training outdoors.
Outdoor pools, including swimming classes, can operate with a limit of 50 people following the one person per four-square-metre rule.
Libraries can open with a cap of 50 people subject to density requirements.
Outdoor seated entertainment, both seated and unseated, will have a patron cap of 50 people or 50 per cent of the venue’s seating capacity, whichever is lower.
“We’ve also seen previous examples of people who left Melbourne broke the rules and took the virus with them,” Mr Merlino said.
“We do not want to see that happen again, particularly with this variant of concern that is this outbreak.”
Health Minister Martin Foley also warned of “unexpected detections” of coronavirus in places unconnected to previous exposure sites.
The detections in Bendigo were on May 27 and 28, with another unexpected detection at the Mornington Peninsula between Safety Beach and Portsea.
“The advice to members of the community in those particular areas is if you have any symptoms and if you particularly live in these areas, please get tested now,” he said.

Melburnians locked out of regional Victoria

Melburnians will not be permitted to travel to regional Victoria even if lockdown restrictions lift next Friday, meaning travelling to regional areas will be off-limits over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
“At the end of another seven days, we do expect to be in a position to carefully ease restrictions in Melbourne, but there will continue to be differences between the settings in Melbourne compared to regional Victoria,” Mr Merlino said.
“So I want to be up-front with people that even if all goes well, we won’t be able to have people from Melbourne travelling to regional Victoria during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. The risk of exporting this virus is just too high.”
But there will no ‘ring of steel’ set up at the border, with police instead using mobile patrol units.

Six new local cases

Victoria’s coronavirus cluster has ballooned to 60 after six new local cases were recorded overnight.
More than 51,000 people came forward to be tested in the past 24 hours.
One of the new coronavirus cases has been linked to the Brighton Beach Hotel and has been tied to many exposure sites in Anglesea.
Another new case is linked to the Stratton Finance cluster but has been in quarantine for their entire infection period.
The remaining four new cases are a family who travelled to Jervis Bay in NSW.
The two children in that family attended North Melbourne Primary School, which has closed until further notice.
“While the Department of Health (DH) conducts its investigation, staff and students are also asked to stay home and to limit their movements until advised otherwise,” a letter to parents read.
“Students should avoid public places and only leave home for brief periods for necessary activities.”
The Indian variant has begun emerging in locations that would normally be less likely, Professor Sutton said.
“The Brighton Beach Hotel, that was an outdoor dining setting, well ventilated, you wouldn’t expect transmission to occur,” he said.
“That’s not something that we routinely see and we didn’t routinely see it in 2020, but we have to bear in mind that all the variants of concern now are really a step up to some degree.
“We have to take a path where we drive this virus back down completely so that we can get control into the longer term.”

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