Victorians are being urged not to panic buy meat as the state’s abattoirs cut back operations, under industry restrictions to help slow the spread of coronavirus in workplaces.

The reduced production is part of a sweeping stage four Melbourne lockdown that has progressively come into effect since Sunday.

Victoria recorded 471 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Thursday, far fewer than the record-breaking 725 cases and 15 deaths reported on Wednesday.

A senior Victorian health official said the state would have fared far worse if it hadn’t gone into stage three lockdown in early July, possibly reaching 20,000 cases by August 12.

It came as Premier Daniel Andrews announced guidelines on how industries can operate under the latest restrictions.

From Friday, beef, lamb and pork processing plants and abattoirs across the state will be reducing their operations to two-thirds of their normal output.

Poultry producers will operate at 80 per cent.


Supermarket distribution centres, meanwhile, have an extension until midnight Sunday to reduce staffing by a third.

The premier urged people not to “stockpile months and months of food” in response to the changes.

“You may not necessarily be able to get exactly the cut of meat that you want but you will get what you need,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday.

Some 300 cases of coronavirus in the state have been linked to meatworks since the start of the pandemic, while about 80 per cent of new infections since mid-May have been driven by transmission in workplaces.


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