You didn’t have to be a fortune teller to see it coming; now it’s official. Melbourne and its more than 5-million people will be in lockdown from midnight tonight (Wednesday). So too will the adjacent Mitchell Shire.
Making the not unexpected announcement on Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned the state’s inhabitants in no uncertain terms that “we’re on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps today”.
No lockdown for regional Victoria at this time
All local authorities within greater Melbourne are locked down. Mitchell Shire, which is not part of the recognised metro area but adjacent to it, is included in the lockdown order because it has an “unsustainably high number of cases”.
Regional Victoria is excluded from the regulations and the Premier was at pains to emphasise that Melbourne residents with second country homes may not use them this time around.
City residents who are in the regional areas for holiday purposes may carry on with their holiday as planned. But once they’re back in Melbourne they’re there to stay until the lockdown is lifted.
Period of six weeks, which is unlikely to be cut short
The period of lockdown will be six weeks, with Andrews saying that it’s unlikely to be shortened, even if the number of infections dip markedly.
“Three weeks is not enough data. The lifecycle of this virus is about a 14-day period. The six weeks means that we have three of those cycles,” he explained.
“If you are starting to see stability in low numbers, we’d have much greater confidence those are real numbers, rather than a false sense that the virus was not there anymore, or at such low levels that a suppression strategy would be able to work.”
Premier: Don’t moan, dying would be onerous too
The Premier said that, like all other Victorians, he didn’t want to find himself in this situation. “I would, with the greatest of respect, put it to you that getting this virus and dying for it is very onerous too.”
Everyone included in the lockdown will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: Study or work – if you cannot work from home; medical care and caregiving; shopping for essentials; daily exercise – but you cannot leave or enter restricted areas.
The above does not apply to the residents of the nine public housing towers which are under full lockdown. Residents there are unable to leave their homes for almost any reason.