Daniel Andrews told Victorians at a press conference that “we must do more and we must do more right now”, as the state fights to contain a devastating coronavirus outbreak that had already stripped residents of their freedoms, livelihoods and social interactions and made an anomalous value from the rest of the country.
“Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks,” said Andrews, announcing a curfew between 8pm. and 5 o’clock starting Sunday evening and moving Metropolitan Melbourne into the fourth block phase.
The new draconian rules were driven by darker figures than Covid-19. Seven new deaths were announced on Saturday, bringing the state total to 123 and there were 11,557 confirmed infections.
In addition, Andrews said the state has 760 “mysterious cases” where “we can’t trace the source of that person’s infection.”
“Those mysteries and that community transmission are in many ways our biggest challenge and why we need to move on to a different set of rules,” Andrews said. “For all this, I promised to be early. So I’ll say it now. This will be imperfect. And for a while, there will be more questions than answers,” he added of the series of new measures.
“I’ve been in charge of leading this state for nearly six years – over 2,000 days,” said Andrews. “And today is by far the most difficult day – and the most difficult decision.”
He noted that there will be “common sense exceptions” to the blocking rules, such as if a person’s closest supermarket is more than five kilometers away or if parents have to bring small children with them when they go to take a walk.
Exercise can be done for one hour a day, with another person, but still within five kilometers of a person’s home. All restrictions can be relaxed for “work, medical treatment or compassionate reasons”.
Patrol police officers have been frequent in Melbourne, a city of 5 million, in recent weeks, while authorities try to enforce the rules on leaving home and the mandatory use of face masks.
Outside of Metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria will be subject to three restrictions starting Wednesday midnight, which means that cafes, bars and restaurants must be closed. All Victoria schools will also return to online learning. “
All new restrictions will take effect for six weeks from the date they were imposed.
The state has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic much more severely than the rest of Australia in recent weeks, but other officials are on the alert because they hope to prevent a second wave in their states.
In New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday “strongly recommended” that people wear masks in closed spaces where there is no social distance, in places of worship and in areas with high community transmission. The state registered 12 new cases on Sunday.
CNN Isaac Yee contributed to the report.