The Australian government has supported Victoria’s decision to impose stage four lockdown measures in Melbourne.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews on Sunday declared a state of disaster and a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. across the metropolitan Melbourne area for at least six weeks from Sunday night, Xinhua news agency reported.
It represents the strictest lockdown imposed in Australia in recent months.
“I’ve had the job of leading this state for almost six years – more than 2,000 days. And today is by far the hardest day and the hardest decision,” said Andrews in the statement on Sunday.
According to him, a state of disaster will give the police additional powers to make sure that people are complying with public health directions.
“From 6 p.m. tonight (Sunday), Melbourne will also move to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules to limit the movement of people and limit the spread of this virus across our city,” he said.
“The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.”
On the same day earlier, Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government “absolutely” supported the decision to tighten restrictions.
“We’ve got our officials with the Victorian government. We’re working collaboratively and closely with them,” he told Sky News Australia. “We’ll continue to offer as much support as we can.”
As of Sunday afternoon, there had been 17,923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in the last 24 hours is 687, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
The national death toll has grown to 208 with seven new deaths since Saturday in Victoria, including six linked to the COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities.
Of the new cases, 671 were in Victoria — the state’s second biggest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to Andrews, health experts said based on the current numbers, cases might begin to drop off not in days or weeks but in months.