Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a six-week Melbourne-wide lockdown following a continuing surge in daily coronavirus infections.
The stage-three restrictions, which were lifted in May, will come into effect again tonight for the next six weeks.
“This is further than what we went last time but we find ourselves in a much more precarious situation today,” Andrews said.
“We are on the cusp of something very bad if we don’t take the right steps today.”
Police are ensuring Melburnians are not travelling into regional Victoria unnecessarily, while both the police and military are overseeing the borders with other states.
“There are barely any active cases in regional Victoria and we want to keep it that way,” he said.
Entertainment and cultural venues will also be ordered to close, while restaurants and cafes will return to takeaway and delivery services only.
The announcement was described as a “a seismic shock” to the events and tourism sector which was looking ahead to a return of some business after a period of total inactivity.
“While we expected to see some sweeping action taken in the Greater Melbourne region in response to the daily escalation of community transmission of COVID-19, this action will be a seismic shock to an industry that has already been crippled under the weight of restrictions across the state,” Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani said.
The Andrews Government has introduced a $5 million support package to provide some relief to the beleaguered accommodation sector.
“The industry certainly welcomed the announcement of $225 per booking per night to support accommodation businesses that were forced to cancel travel plans for visitors from the 10 affected postcodes,” said Mariani.
“That funding will go a long way in cushioning the blow that will undoubtedly result from this earlier move.
“The tourism and events industry fully understands the need to urgently gain control of this outbreak so we can get the state back on the pathway to recovery that other states are already moving toward.
“These measures, however, are likely to be a blow that many tourism businesses across the state will simply not recover from.”