Victoria Goes into Snap Five-Day Lockdown

Residents statewide will be subject to a stay-home order for the fifth time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

A view of the Melbourne CBD and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Photo: Gareth Harrison/Unsplash)

Australia’s second-most populous state is bracing for its fifth lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic and the third one of 2021. The drastic new development was first made public by the ABC and subsequently confirmed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at a press conference, when he announced the details of a five-day stay-home order effective from midnight tonight until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20. [Update: the statewide lockdown has since been extended by seven days due to the emergence of more community cases.]

Victoria’s latest Covid-19 outbreak was sparked by a group of furniture movers from Sydney that worked in both South Australia and Victoria while infectious; the ABC reported that the removalists were uncooperative with contact tracers and had breached the conditions of their border permit. The list of exposure sites across Victoria has now grown to 75, with 1,500 primary close contacts identified from the 18 positive cases so far.

Andrews told journalists, “Victoria will not wait to act. We know that not much good comes from waiting. Waiting could see more people infected and the number of exposure sites explode. If we act now — while we’re right on the heels of this outbreak — we can give ourselves every chance of getting ahead of it.”

The lockdown rules will apply not just to Melbourne but also regional Victoria. Residents will only be able to leave their homes for a handful of reasons, and must stay within a radius of five kilometers. One person per household can leave each day to stock up on essential food and supplies; Victorians can go out for exercise lasting up to two hours, for medical care or caregiving, to be vaccinated at the nearest possible location, for essential work, and education when it is not possible to study remotely.

Face masks must be worn outdoors at all times, expanding on the requirement brought in yesterday to wear a mask in all indoor settings outside the home. Two new infections were recorded overnight, and both had been exposed to Covid-19 at Melbourne Cricket Ground while watching an Australian Football League game last weekend. Also in the spectator sands was an asymptomatic case who caught the virus from the furniture movers at an apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong. The building has since been placed into lockdown with residents required to quarantine in their homes for 14 days.

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