The premier of Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state has declared a disaster among sweeping new coronavirus restrictions across Melbourne and elsewhere from Sunday night.
An evening curfew will be implemented across Melbourne from 8 pm to 5 am. Premier Daniel Andrews says the state of disaster proclamation gave police greater power.
He says 671 new coronavirus cases had been detected since Saturday, including seven deaths. It comes among a steadily increasing toll in both deaths and infections over the past six weeks in Victoria.
“If we don't make these changes, we're not going to get through this,” Andrews said. “We need to do more. That is what these decisions are about.” He said there would be more announcements about workplaces on Monday, including the closure of certain industries.
“I want to ensure all Victorians — supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings — there will be no impact there,” he said.
Melbourne residents will only be allowed to shop and exercise within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their homes. All students across the state will return to home-based learning and child care centers will be closed.
The deaths in Victoria took the national toll to 208.
Also Sunday, New South Wales confirmed its first coronavirus-related death in more than a month as authorities sought to suppress a number of growing clusters at a hotel and several restaurants in Sydney.
Half-way through a six-week lockdown, the infection curve in Victoria hasn’t flattened. Andrews on Saturday announced another 397 new coronavirus infections, and expressed deep concern about the number of mystery cases it couldn’t trace to a known outbreak.
Covid-19 cases in Victoria have spiked in the past month to be far higher than during Australia’s initial coronavirus wave, which peaked in late March. Hospital admissions and cases in intensive care units are also risen sharply. Education Minister Dan Tehan, in an interview on Sky News on Sunday, said the federal government would “absolutely” support the state if it moved to stronger restrictions.