State of Disaster: Melbourne enters Stage 4 lockdown
3 August 2020, Written by David Simmons
Significant new restrictions, including an evening curfew and strict travel restrictions, were imposed in Melbourne overnight as the city entered into Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions.
The new restrictions will last for at least six weeks until Sunday 13 September, with a curfew from 8pm to 5am every night imposed as part of the new State of Disaster.
Melburnians are only be permitted to leave home for work, medical care and caregiving, and can only travel up to five kilometres from their place of residence, including for shopping for essentials.
"Where you slept last night is where you'll need to stay for the next six weeks. There'll be exemptions for partners who live apart and for work, if required," says Andrews.
In addition, regional Victoria will enter into Stage 3 restrictions from 11:59pm on Wednesday in order to curb the spread of the virus outside of Melbourne.
The announcement came yesterday afternoon alongside news the state had recorded 671 new confirmed infections since Saturday, with 6,322 active infections in Victoria.
Seven more people died from COVID-19 in Victoria at the time of Andrews' announcement, taking the state's death toll to 123.
"We must do more. We must go harder. It's the only way we'll get to the other side of this," says Andrews.
"Our health experts tell us the measures we've introduced are working. But too slowly.
"The current rate of community transmission - mystery cases that cannot be traced back to work or home - is far too high.
"Based on the current numbers, cases might begin to drop off not in days or weeks - but in months. Months more of lockdown restrictions. Months more of 300, 400, 500 cases a day."
What are the new rules under Stage 4?
In addition to the curfew and the five km movement restrictions exercise will be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five km from the home. Only two people can exercise together.
Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day, with the five km rule to apply.
Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open for takeaway and home delivery, while bottle shops will also be allowed to continue trading.
Andrews also says to expect public transport schedules to be reduced to a "fraction" of what they were.
Study at TAFE and university must be done remotely and from Wednesday at 11:59pm, weddings in Melbourne cannot occur.
Face coverings will continue to be compulsory and all schools will return to remote and flexible learning.
Restrictions on funerals will remain unchanged, allowing 10 mourners plus those conducting the ceremony.
Mitchell Shire on the same page as regional VIC
Based on current COVID-19 numbers outside of Melbourne Andrews has imposed Level 3 restrictions in regional Victoria.
Mitchell Shire will join the rest of regional Victoria and stay on the same Level 3 restrictions it has been experiencing for the last few weeks.
This means there will only be four reasons to be out of the house: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, and work & study.
Businesses will be subject to these restrictions too, meaning restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway.
Beauty and personal services will need to close, entertainment and cultural venues will need to shut and community sport will stopped too.
Face coverings will be made compulsory and regional schools will return to remote and flexible learning.
"I know that will cause a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty. But the truth is, this is complex - and we're going to take some extra time to make sure we get these calls right," says Andrews.
"The whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I'll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there'll be more questions than answers.
"It's why I'm asking something else of Victorians - please be calm, please be kind, please be patient."
The declaration of a State of Disaster will give police greater power to enforce these new rules like the curfew and to prevent crowds from gathering at places like supermarkets.
Andrews said in a statement to expect more information sometime today about changes to workplaces and how Stage 4 restrictions will impact businesses.
Victoria invests in research to better understand COVID-19
Today, Victoria announced the beneficiaries of the state's $5.5 million COVID-19 research fund to back cutting-edge medical research projects to better understand, prevent and treat the coronavirus.
The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) will use human-derived stem cells to better understand the virus's effects on different organ systems in the body, including the lung, heart, kidneys, brain, immune system and blood vessels, to support the development of targeted treatments.
The multi-agency study - which includes partners from the Doherty Institute, Monash University, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute - has benefitted from Australia-first custom-built stem cell processing equipment with sections sourced from Japan and Switzerland.
Among other grant recipients, the Burnet Institute and University of Melbourne will conduct separate studies focusing on improving the understanding of COVID-19 immunity, while Barwon Health will conduct a study in regional Victoria to determine the long-term biological, physiological and psychological impacts of coronavirus.
Alfred Health, Eastern Health and Bendigo Health will undertake projects examining the impacts of coronavirus on the workforce, with a focus on healthcare and other frontline workers.
Separately, the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund will provide $3 million to fund 12 projects across a range of research fields, including a team at RMIT that is exploring a new way to manage viral infections, which could allow for the repurposing of existing drugs to fight coronavirus.
"It is becoming clear this virus can cause longer-term damage to the body's vital organs," says Theme Director of Cell Biology at MCRI Professor Melissa Little.
"Our new research program will generate a wide variety of stem cell derived human tissues to improve our understanding of disease pathology, change clinical care and hasten the rollout of targeted treatment options."
Updated at 9:17am AEST on 3 August 2020.
Author: David Simmons