Melburnians will not be allowed outside their homes after 8pm for almost any reason as a state of disaster is declared.
Premier Daniel Andrews brought in the escalated emergency level as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs of ending.
Only 73 of the 671 new cases are linked to known and contained outbreaks or complex cases, with 598 under investigation.
Mr Andrews confirmed Melbourne will to go into strict Stage 4 lockdown from 6pm on Sunday until at least September 13.
The curfew will be in effect between 8pm and 5am every day in Melbourne, and regional Victoria will go back into stage 3 lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured, arriving at a press conference on Saturday) is expected to send Victoria into a strict stage four lockdown on Wednesday
Victoria recorded 671 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday (pictured). A Stage 4 lockdown will see nearly all shops close and high school students back to learning from home
The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.
Only one person in a household can go shopping per day and exercise is limited to one hour a day – both must be within 5km from home.
All recreational activity is banned and no more than two people can be together outside, even if they are from the same family or household.
Mr Andrews said the extremely tight restrictions was necessary to prevent to the lockdown dragging on until Christmas.
‘Six weeks versus a slower strategy. A much, much slower strategy that takes up to six months,’ he said.
‘I’m not prepared to accept that or accept days and days and days of hundreds of cases and more and more death.
‘All of those changes are about limiting the number of people we come into contact with.
‘Daily exercise is just that. It’s an opportunity to get some exercise. It’s not an opportunity to live our lives as if this pandemic was not real and not here.’
Partners who don’t live together will still be able to visit each other, even if they live more than 5km apart.
Weddings are completely banned and though funerals can go ahead, only 10 people can travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria to attend one.
Melbourne school students – about a million children – will have to learn remotely unless their parents are essential workers, or they are vulnerable children who need to learn face-to-face.
They will go to school on Monday, have a pupil free day on Tuesday, and be learning at home from Wednesday.
Kindy and pre-primary students will go home from Thursday, and childcare centres will be closed for children whose parents aren’t essential workers.
‘We know this will be a significant ask of parents with little ones – and big ones too. But I promise, as a parent to three, it’s an ask I don’t make lightly,’ Mr Andrews said.
The new restrictions are in some ways even harsher than the lockdown imposed by New Zealand.
The looming harsher lockdown prompted thousands to flock to shops across Melbourne in a new round of panic buying
Mr Andrew warned that police would no longer issue cautions or show leniency, they will just fine people $1,652 or drag them before courts.
‘Ee always reserve the right not just to fine you on the spot but to take you to court and then it’s not $1,652, it’s actually $10,000,’ he said.
‘This will be over sooner if everyone does the right thing and plays the part they have to play.
‘I’ve said it many times, I don’t want the selfishness of some to detract from the amazing work millions are doing.
‘These are the decisions made because anything short of this will not keep us safe. Anything short of this will see it go on for months and months and months.
‘That is not acceptable to me having to stand here every day reporting more and more people dying. We need to come down on this hard. This is what this strategy is all about.
‘We’ve avoided the worst-case scenario. Now we have to get to the COVID normal and get there as quick as we possibly can.’
The looming harsher lockdown prompted thousands to flock to shops across Melbourne in a new round of panic buying.
Long lines and full trolleys were seen outside supermarkets as early as 7am – even though they would stay open under stage 4.
However, many other businesses will have to close or operate only remotely, with the details to be announced on Monday.
‘Today, I’ve made some announcements that change how Victorians will live – tomorrow, I’ll have more to say about the way Victorians need to work,’ Mr Andrews said.
Long lines and full trolleys were seen outside supermarkets as early as 7am
The panic was unnecessary as supermarkets would stay open under stage 4
Cafes and restaurants will continue to provide takeaway services, but people will not be allowed to dine in.
Police will also step up their checks and increase patrols to stop potential breaches.
Licence-plate recognition technology will be used to identify non-essential travellers, the Herald Sun reported.
It is expected construction sites will remain open and tradies will be given special access to hardware stores.
Public transport will also be continue in a limited capacity, with masks compulsory, and outdoor exercise will be allowed.
The decision to move to Stage 4 restrictions and its announcement rests on the Victorian Government and Premier Daniel Andrews.
Meet was one of the items people were trying to stock up on – likely freezing it for the weeks of lockdown to come
A line outside Aldi in Melbourne – which will stay open even under strictest lockdown
Victoria recorded 397 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths on Saturday.
Mr Andrews announced the latest figures with 37 linked to outbreaks and 360 currently under investigation.
Australia’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 201 after Victoria on Saturday reported the deaths of a man and two women aged in their 80s and 90s.
The fatalities bring Victoria’s death toll to 116. There are currently 5,919 active coronavirus cases in Victoria.
At least 1,008 active cases have been connected to outbreaks in aged care homes.
More than 100 cases have been referred to Victoria Police for breaching stay-at-home lockdown rules.
Experts have been working over the weekend to analyse infection data from the first half of Victoria’s six-week lockdown and determine if harsher measures are necessary.
Melbourne locals pictured wearing face masks during a walk along Morell Bridge on July 24
Victoria is expected to extend the lockdown for an additional six weeks (pictured, a clinical waste removal personnel at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, Melbourne)
STAGE 4 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS IN NEW ZEALAND
All non-essential businesses were forced to close and only supermarkets, corner stores, foodbanks and pharmacies were open
Restaurants, cafes, butchers and fruit shops were all closed
Takeaway food was not allowed
New Zealanders were only allowed to leave home for an essential reason like food shopping or exercise
Interaction was only allowed with people in one’s own household
All schooling was done remotely
Mr Andrews admitted further restrictions, based on state and national modelling, could prove a ‘circuit breaker’ for rising COVID-19 cases.
‘What we have at the moment are numbers that are too high of community transmission and that is a concern to us.
‘It is not a tap you can just turn on or off.’
He admitted further restrictions could have a devastating impact on the economy.
‘They are not decisions that would be taken lightly because there are significant costs … even minor changes have a significant cost,’ Mr Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said community transmission remained a top priority and cited 49 ‘mystery’ cases.
‘Those community transmission cases are of greatest concern to us.
‘The challenge is that they are a mystery and this is all about trying to know as much as you possibly can, as much intelligence and evidence and data as you possibly can.’
Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Saturday more than 200,000 police checks had taken place across the state while more than 452,000 car checks were carried out.
She noted some Victorians were still breaking restrictions and labelled the behaviour as ‘appalling’.
‘The overwhelming majority of Victorians every day are doing the right thing,’ she said.
Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations are expected to operate in a normal capacity (people wearing masks in Melbourne pictured on July 19)
The Victorian government released a breakdown of active COVID-19 cases by postcode on Friday afternoon after recording the second highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began – another 627 cases and eight deaths
Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are currently about halfway through six weeks of Stage 3 restrictions, which were due to end in mid-August.
The current measures allow residents to leave their homes for essential reasons such as exercise, care, attending school or purchasing essential items.
It is also mandatory to wear a face covering in public and anyone flouting this rule risks a $200 on-the-spot fine.
On Saturday it was announced that an 83-year-old man linked to Sydney’s Crossroads Hotel COVID-19 cluster has died.
It takes New South Wales’ death toll to 52. NSW Health recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.
Of those cases, one does not have a known source and two remain under investigation, while three of the 17 cases were returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty offered his condolences to the man’s family and said two new cases had been located with help from the COVIDSafe app.
A Melbourne local walks past Australian Defence Force personnel as the city continues to trudge through stage three lockdown
Military personnel patrol the Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne
Military staff monitor a Melbourne aged care facility as it grapples with an outbreak of COVID-19
Those cases were connected to the Mounties club in Mt Pritchard, and those who attended the club at certain times on July 20, 21 and 22 should self-isolate and seek testing.
‘While most cases in the past week have been associated with local clusters and close contacts of known cases, seven in the past week have not been able to be linked to known cases,’ Dr McAnulty said on Saturday.
‘These unlinked cases have been in people from southwestern Sydney, western Sydney, southeastern Sydney and Sydney local health districts.’
Meanwhile, a pub in southwest NSW and its licensee have copped fines for failing to comply with COVID-19 heath orders. A popular venue on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has been forced to shut after hosting a COVID-positive patron.
The Bavarian, a German restaurant and bar in Manly, on Saturday morning said a patron with coronavirus attended the venue on the afternoon of July 24.
The venue was to undergo deep cleaning, with NSW Health advising attendees on the afternoon of July 24 to monitor for symptoms.
The Harpoon & Hotel Harry in Surry Hills, Matinee Coffee in Marrickville and Tan Viet in Cabramatta are among other venues required to undertake deep cleaning in recent days.
The popular Bavarian pub (pictured on Saturday) in Manly, north Sydney, was forced to close for deep cleaning after a customer tested positive to the deadly virus
Guests at the Bavarian check in their details on Saturday following the restaurant’s closure
Harris Farm Market in Leichhardt and Darlo Bar in Darlinghurst also on Friday confirmed they were frequented on July 26 by people who have since tested positive to COVID-19. Both have undergone deep cleaning and Darlo Bar will reopen on Saturday.
A pub at Temora in southern NSW has been fined $5,000 and its licensee $1,000 for non-compliance with public health orders.
Police said the pub had no sign-in book and ‘no steps had been taken’ to comply with the ministerial directions designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant on Friday said authorities had this week found the COVID-19 link between the two Thai Rock restaurants at Wetherill Park and Potts Point, which was subsequently introduced to the nearby The Apollo restaurant.
The Thai Rock Wetherill Park coronavirus cluster is nearing 100 people, while the Potts Point cluster on Saturday jumped to 24 after new cases connected to The Apollo.
Nine NSW COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, with four on ventilators.
COVID-19 cases in Victoria
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced 397 new coronavirus cases had been recorded on Saturday.
The state continues to struggle to contain the outbreak and has consistently broken national records on both daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
August 1: 397 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths
July 31: 627 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths
July 30: 723 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths
July 29: 295 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths
July 28: 384 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths
July 27: 532 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths
July 26: 459 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths
July 25: 357 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths
July 24: 300 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths
July 23: 403 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths