Suburbs that have seen soaring cases of coronavirus will be locked down from Thursday till July 29. Image by David Crosling/AAP PHOTOS

virus diseases

Victoria virus hot spots put into lockdown

2020-06-30 20:03:16

Victoria’s coronavirus hot spots are going back into lockdown and international flights will be diverted in a desperate bid to contain a second wave of the deadly disease.

Victoria recorded 64 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, capping a fortnight of consecutive double-digit increases. 

Almost 250 new cases have been diagnosed since a suburban testing blitz began on Thursday. The majority are linked to community transmission.  

“That is an unacceptably high number and one that poses a real threat to all of us, not just in those hot spot suburbs,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday. 

He announced that from Thursday, people living in the inner north and west postcodes of 3012, 3021, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3055, 3060 and 3064 will return to lockdown until at least July 29.

Much like earlier stage three restrictions, residents of the postcodes will only be able to leave their homes to shop for food and supplies, to receive or provide care, to exercise, and study or work if they can’t do so from home.

“If we do not do this now, then I won’t be locking down 10 postcodes, I will be locking down all postcodes,” Mr Andrews said. 

Police will be actively patrolling the suburbs and fining people $1652 if they leave home for non-essential reasons, while main transport corridors in and out will be the subject of “booze bus-type checks”.

“People moving in and out of the suburb will be asked to identify themselves, to identify their address and to provide good reason for them being out and about,” Mr Andrews said.

Businesses and facilities in these areas that reopened – including beauty parlours, gyms, libraries and swimming pools – will have to close, while cafes and restaurants will only be open for takeaway and delivery.

All affected businesses will eligible for a $5000 grant or a payroll tax refund.

Mr Andrews said almost 17,500 tests were performed in the hot spots on Monday, bringing the total number of tests in the past three days to more than 93,000. 

But some people are still refusing to be tested, including 928 people in the suburbs of Broadmeadows and Keilor Downs. 

“All I can do is encourage those people to come forward and get tested today,” Mr Andrews said.

Meanwhile, international flights will be diverted from Victoria to other states for two weeks as a former judge begins an inquiry into the hotel quarantine program.

Genomic testing has indicated a “very significant number” of cases in late May and early June could be linked to a breach of infection control protocols by staff at the hotels. 

“Clearly there has been a failure in the operation of this program,” Mr Andrews said. 

About 800 federal public servants and clinical staff will join the Australian Defence Force in helping run the suburban testing blitz and Mr Andrews said he wouldn’t hesitate to ask for extra help if needed.

It comes as Adelaide and Queensland banned Victorians from entering their states. 

The NSW premier, meanwhile, has reiterated Victorians are not welcome to attend major events in the state until further notice.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the state’s outbreak was a “heartbreaking turn of events”. 

“We can absolutely turn this around, we can stabilise numbers over the next few days and we can absolutely drive numbers down,” he said.