Victoria’s lockdown is set to become even stricter on Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to control a coronavirus outbreak.
It comes after late night crisis talks in Melbourne as Victoria recorded 55 new local cases on Friday, including 30 that had been out in the community while infectious, meaning there are more than 350 positive covid cases in the state. Twelve more cases, to be included in Saturday’s numbers, were also detected in Shepparton as a new exposure site emerged at a machinery hire company in Bendigo.
A government spokesperson said the situation in Melbourne and across regional Victoria was extremely concerning.
“Advice will be provided to government tomorrow morning and all options are on the table,” the spokesperson said. “In the interests of not contributing to any further spread of the virus, all community sporting leagues across regional Victoria are asked to immediately cancel their activities for this weekend.
The Saturday Herald Sun reported that regional Victoria is set to be plunged back into lockdown to prevent the virus spreading further and Melbourne’s 5.1 million residents will face a new round of harsher restrictions.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reportedly considered making an announcement about new restrictions on Friday night, but decided to wait for new case numbers overnight.
The new restrictions being discussed on Friday night include a cut in outside exercise time, a total closure of the construction industry, restricting childcare to essential workers and new travel limits.
The Saturday Herald Sun reported that a ban on takeaway coffee and food and locking down residents in hot spots until they test negative were also options discussed to fight an emerging third wave of the coronavirus.
Mr Andrews on Friday refused to rule out a full statewide lockdown.
“I cannot stress enough how close to the edge we are,” the Premier said. “I cannot rule out making further changes in a range of areas. There are always further options.”
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett tweeted that he had heard from multiple sources that the state’s lockdown could be extended until the end of the year.
It comes as NSW announced its lockdown would be extended until the end of September after the state recorded 644 new infections.
It means the lockdown, which has already lasted for eight weeks, will run for at least 13.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has introduced a 9pm curfew in the worst-hit western suburbs of Sydney and mandatory mask-wearing across the state.
The curfew will be introduced for people in Sydney’s 12 local government areas (LGAs) of concern, which are already subjected to extra restrictions because they are virus hot spots.
From midnight on Monday, August 23, people in Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Strathfield must stay home between 9pm and 5am.
Ms Berejiklian described the new restrictions as “final measures”.