Victoria will endure another lockdown as the state battles several COVID-19 outbreaks sparked by infections from New South Wales.
The lockdown will be Melbourne’s fifth since the pandemic began.
Two clusters grew by twelve cases in just 24 hours after being linked to a family in Hume who visited Coles Craigieburn, and the Sydney removalists who forced an apartment building into lockdown.
Late on Wednesday night, mandatory indoor mask rules were brought back after they were lifted just six days ago, but on Thursday afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed this wasn’t enough, with two additional cases recorded.
From 11.59pm, millions of residents across the state will have just five reasons to leave the home – for essential food and supplies, caregiving, exercise, work and education and to go and get vaccinated.
This snap lockdown is set to last for five days until 11.59pm next Tuesday night.
Unlike recent lockdowns, this one will apply to the entire state after cases were linked to the Greater Geelong area.
“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast. If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier,” Andrews told reporters.
“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown.
“That is why we are making this very difficult decision and why I know Victorians will, despite the pain and difficulty of this, know and understand there is no option.”
Andrews said he appreciated it would be “frustrating” for those living in regional committees that don’t have cases or exposure sites and said authorities would “release” those areas before next Tuesday “if it is safe to do so”.
New mask rules
Late on Wednesday night, the acting chief health officer released a statement saying masks would become mandatory again inside.
These mask rules had been lifted just six days ago, but returned from 11.59pm Wednesday.
Face masks are again mandatory everywhere indoors, including workplaces and secondary schools, except when at home.
Masks must also be worn outdoors when people cannot socially distance.