Regional Victorians will re-enter lockdown at 1pm on Saturday as authorities scramble to contain a COVID-19 outbreak centred on the city of Shepparton.
Victoria recorded 61 new locally acquired virus cases on Saturday, including 39 in the community while infectious. Authorities have only been able to link 48 of the cases to known outbreaks.
An additional 16 cases have been detected – all in Shepparton – via rapid testing. They will be included in Sunday’s numbers.
Premier Daniel Andrews says authorities had no choice but to extend Melbourne’s lockdown to all of regional Victoria.
However regional centres won’t be subjected to the curfew that’s in place in Melbourne.
“Sadly the public health team have advised that given the Shepparton outbreak and the fact that at least one person travelled to Bendigo, and potentially others travelled beyond, that is to say there is a very significant risk of transmission right across regional Victoria,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the risk was not simply confined to the Goulburn Valley area and a statewide lockdown – at this stage until September 2 – was the only option.
He also announced new restrictions for access to child care, which will move to a permit system. Only vulnerable children and the children of authorised workers will be able to access child care.
“We have seen a very large number of young people, and some very young people, become infected with this virus. This is a feature of these outbreaks, it is a feature very much of Delta and a feature of 2021,” he said.
Regional Victoria recorded its first case connected to the current outbreak on Friday, a Shepparton man in his 30s who infected 11 other members of his family across two households.
On Friday evening, Foodbank Victoria said it was forced to close down their drive-through service on police orders, after an unprecedented number of people turned up seeking food packages.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the group apologised to those using the service, saying the crowds had been deemed an “issue of public safety”.
Describing Friday as “a bad day”, Mr Andrews said “we’re right on the edge of this getting away from us”.
He implored Melburnians to abide by current restrictions which include five reasons to leave home, mandatory masks, a five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping, and a 9pm-5am curfew.
As of Saturday, there were more than 500 exposure sites stretching across most of Melbourne and into regional parts of the state, including public housing towers in Richmond and Carlton over several days.
Police are aware of an anti-lockdown protest planned in Melbourne this weekend.
SBS is providing live translations of daily New South Wales and Victoria COVID-19 press conferences in various languages. Click here for more information.