Victoria has reimposed tougher coronavirus restrictions at a time when other states are loosening their controls and working to get their economies going again.
The announcement of the new measures was made by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday, 20 June as authorities scramble to prevent a significant outbreak re-emerging. The number of new cases has risen by 25 in a day, the biggest increase in two months.
Driven by gatherings in homes or at work
In his Saturday briefing, Andrews said the sudden rise in infections seemed to be driven by people who were gathering with family and friends at home, or going to work while they were infectious and supposed to be isolating.
“We have had cases of people gathering in large numbers, everybody at their home or another family member’s home or a close friend’s home, even though they had been told to isolate in their own home,” he stated.
“It is unacceptable that families anywhere in our state can, just because they want this to be over, pretend that it is. It is not over.”
Home gatherings restricted to five people
Under the tougher measures, the number of people who may gather at a person’s home in Victoria has been reduced to members of the household and five guests from midnight on Sunday. Outside of the home gatherings are permitted in groups of 10.
Plans to open gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs will go ahead on Monday as planned, and are limited to 20 people at a time. But an undertaking to expand the number of people permitted in pubs and restaurants have been put on ice. The 20-person limit for such venues will remain in place until 12 July.
The order that people must work from home wherever possible has been extended until the end of July at the earliest.
Hardship fund for workers who must isolate
Andrews also announced a hardship fund for workers whose workplaces are not paying them sick leave. They will be eligible for $1 500 if they are diagnosed with the virus, or are a close contact of a confirmed positive case and are asked to isolate.
“Their employment may well be tenuous. They are facing hardship … it is our view that we have to try and remove that barrier where people are, sadly, making the choice that public health is less important than the welfare and the survival, in a financial sense, of their family,” he said.