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Shock and Awe in Victoria

Victoria had 671 new cases of COVID 19 on Saturday, 429 for Sunday, and it was too much for the Victorian government who decided to impose additional restrictions. The clincher was that 658 cases were under investigation with the origins still to be discovered.

Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference on Sunday afternoon that the number of cases of unknown origin was too high for authorities to know all the sources of community transmission which meant that the level three restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne would have to be continued for six months to get the virus under control. Instead, the Victorian government had chosen to introduce six weeks of level four restrictions.

Premier Andrews announced that the new restrictions would start in Melbourne from 6 pm Sunday. He told the presser that he had declared a ‘state of disaster’, which gives the police enhanced powers. There will be a curfew applied from Sunday night between 8 pm and 5 am for the next six weeks. Anyone breaking the curfew could be up for a fine of $10,000. Residents of greater Melbourne will be confined to an area within five kilometres of their homes, 24/7. They will be allowed outside for an hour a day for exercise. Only one member of a household can shop for food and people are only allowed to go outside for visits to a health provider, if they work in essential services, or to take care of a relative.

"Beyond that, I have a new series of stage four restrictions to announce and I'll do metro Melbourne first and go to the impacts for regional Victoria," Mr Andrews said.

The stay at home restrictions for metro Melbourne will be enhanced and there will be additional limits to the four reasons to leave home.

"You will no longer be able to leave home and go any further away from your home than a 5km radius. You will not be able to be at any point more than 5km away from your home for the purposes of shopping for what you need," he said.

"Only one person will be able to go shopping once per day and they will need to secure the goods and services that are what you need within a 5km radius.

"In terms of exercise, recreational exercise is now no longer allowed. You will be able to have one hour of exercise, no further than 5km from your home. That means it's fresh air. It's a jog. It's a walk. It's in your local neighbourhood."

Regional Victoria has been placed on level three restrictions which means that they can only go out for the four essential reasons and they cannot have social visits at home.

Victorian schools will close from Wednesday for all students from kindergarten to year 12.

Changes to force temporary close down of business and industries are now being spoken about, but the real detail will come tomorrow.

"There will be three categories of industries," Mr Andrews said.

"Those that are business as usual. I want to ensure all Victorians supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings, there will be no impact there.

"In terms of a number of other issues, they'll be reducing their total output. That will mean there are fewer people working fewer shifts. There is less contact. There is less seating of this virus from workplaces back into families and from family to family and right throughout the Victorian community.

"There will be a third category of business and they'll close and move exclusively to work from home and if they can't work from home the work simply won't be done."

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has likened the curfew and stage 4 restrictions to "shock and awe" tactics, a phrase used during the US invasion of Iraq.

"I think everyone can see how serious this is," Prof Sutton said.

"A state of disaster that's being declared; there's a curfew in place; significant changes in education and significant changes in workplaces tomorrow.

"In part, there's shock and awe here for people to genuinely understand that it's a super challenging phase that we're in."

Prof Sutton said people had experienced "fatigue" and were complacent about socially distancing and other actions.

"I think the message is loud and clear now."

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