Victoria’s so-called ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown is to be extended by another seven days as contact tracers scramble to get on top of an outbreak of COVID cases spreading through the city.
News of the lockdown’s extension follows confirmation this morning of a further six cases of community transmission, taking the number of cases related to the current outbreak to 60.
Some restrictions will be changed over the extended lockdown from 11:59pm on Thursday night, with Victorians’ travel radius expanded from the existing 5 kilometres.
People will now be allowed to travel up to 10km from their home for essential shopping and exercise.
Students in years 11 and 12 will be permitted to go back to school for face-to-face learning.
There will also be a greater number of outdoor jobs added to the list of excepted, authorised jobs, such as landscaping and installing solar panels.
QR code-style check-in will now be made mandatory in shops, including supermarkets to assist in contact tracing.
Acting Premier James Merlino signalled that the government expects lockdown restrictions to begin easing after the 7-day extended lockdown, but Melburnians should not expect to travel to regional Victoria for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Mr Merlino confirmed that those in Melbourne will see different restrictions to those in regional Victoria, with many restrictions for those outside of the city to be lifted, but controls on who can travel to the state’s regions to be implemented.
The government also announced $209 million to support businesses affected by the latest lockdown with the Premier calling on the Federal Government to provide further JobKeeper-like support for Victorians out-of-work over this time.
In explaining the lockdown’s extension, the state’s chief health officer pointed to other countries who started 2021 with no cases of community transmission, before fresh outbreaks grew “unchecked”.
“We can’t let it get away, we can’t go to settings where it will move unchecked,” Professor Sutton told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.