• This coronavirus article is unlocked and free to read in the interest of community health and safety. Click here for full digital access to trusted news from the Herald Sun and Leader for just $1 a week for the first 12 weeks.
Victoria will undergo a hard lockdown for five days from 11.59pm Thursday until 11.59pm on Tuesday, July 20.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state would go into a hard lockdown with the same restrictions as the previous lockdown.
“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast,” Mr Andrews said.
“If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier.”
THE FIVE REASONS TO LEAVE HOME:
• Authorised work
• Exercise within time limit and within 5km radius of home
• Caregiving and compassionate reasons
• To get vaccinated
RULES FOR WORK, SCHOOL, TRAVEL:
• Schools will be closed and resume remote learning from Friday.
• Students of essential workers or vulnerable families will be able to apply to be at school.
• Higher education and training will also be closed.
• Childcare, kinders and family day care will remain open
• If you can work from home, you must work from home (a limited list of essential workers are the only exemption).
• Supermarkets, chemists and other essential services will remain open and QR code check-ins must be used on entry.
• Limit your trip to once per day and shop alone, not with your family.
SEE WHAT’S IN YOUR 5KM RADIUS TRAVEL LIMIT:
Premier Daniel Andrews said these rules worked well before and they would work again. “They’ve worked against different strains of this virus.
“Most recently they’ve worked against Delta — and they will work this time if we all invest in this, if we all accept this as not where we wanted to be, and it’s not easy, but it’s essential.”
Mr Andrews said the “trigger” for lifting the lockdown would be based on the number of exposure days infected people had been out in the community.
“In anticipation of the amazing efforts I know Victorians will put in, because they always do, I say thank you.”
STATES SLAM BORDERS SHUT
Tasmania has joined South Australia in slamming its border shut to Victoria after the state’s fresh Covid crisis continued to escalate.
New Zealand was also quick to announce it would halt the Trans Tasman bubble with Victoria.
Read the full story here
NEW CASE AT TRINITY GRAMMAR
Trinity Grammar in Kew has confirmed a staff member tested positive to Covid after being at school on Monday for a staff day, teaching on Tuesday and for part of Wednesday.
Principal Adrian Farrer said the school was waiting to hear from authorities and would be closed on Friday to staff and students while a “deep clean” of the site was carried out.
“No classes will run tomorrow as relevant staff and students will need to get tested,” he wrote to parents. The plan is that school will resume on Monday via Distance Learning for all students and staff.”
“As we have not heard from the Department of Health, we do not yet know our ‘exposure site’ classification and any contact categories within the school community.
“We cannot accurately answer questions relating to implications for families and friends.
“As soon as we have that information, we will communicate this with you,” Mr Farrer wrote.
“This is a significant shame for students and staff. None of us would want this outcome and the implications attached,” he said.
“We can also count on the community supporting each other as we face this latest, and more complex, challenge.”
MORE CASES FROM MCG
There is a total of 18 cases in Victoria with 75 exposure sites, 1500 primary close contacts and 5000 secondary close contacts.
Testing Commander Jeroen Wiemar said two new cases had been reported since he addressed the media earlier on Thursday.
One of the cases is thought to have acquired the virus while at the MCG.
The other is understood to be a personal contact of a positive case at Ariele Apartments.
That case does not live in the apartment complex.
Earlier on Thursday, two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Victoria.
Both were detected from the testing done around the MCC reserve at the MCG for fans at the Carlton-Geelong match on July 10.
Mr Weimar said the two new cases were not known contacts of the other positive cases at the game.
“Both these (new) cases put us in a serious situation. The situation we were dealing when we stood here 24 hours ago was all the contact … up to that point, had been between people who spent significant time together, known to each other.
“Our initial information is that the two new cases we have today are not known to the (others). That gives us significant cause for concern.”
One of the new cases is a child, believed to be an 11-year-old boy, and the other is an adult.
Mr Weirmar said the next 24 to 48 hours were critical to determine the extent of the outbreak.
He said the focus of contact tracers had now turned to the MCG and schools in Barwon Heads and Bacchus Marsh
“Those are the critical bellwethers at this point in time. It’s this next 24 to 48 hours that is a critical period to see whether this is a wave that’s standing up on us, or whether we’re cresting over the top.”
“If you’re getting those Tier One, Tier Two text messages, we need you to come and get tested now. Stop doing what you’re doing, come and get tested so we can get that information and get you safe and secure,” he said.
The positive residents at Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong have all been moved into hotel quarantine, with authorities confident there are no more positive infections inside the building.
When asked if a snap lockdown was being currently considered, Mr Weimar said: “This situation is moving half hour by half hour.”
More than 6500 people across the state are locked down.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp urged Melburnians to follow the rules for the snap lockdown.
“However, we need to acknowledge that lockdowns have a devastating impact on city businesses and hurt confidence,” she said.
“Let’s do whatever we can to support local businesses get through this lockdown. Mask up Melbourne, keep washing your hands, remain physically distant where you can and let’s keep this lockdown to the minimum.”
LOCKDOWN ANGER, DESPAIR IN REGIONAL VICTORIA
The latest lockdown announcement has regional Victoria reeling with staff in tears, business owners fearing for their futures, major events cancelled and politicians outraged.
Hospitality owners are outraged they will be plunged into a fifth lockdown from 11.59pm Thursday despite few cases in regional Victoria.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers and their flocks have been turned back with only 16 hours notice, as the Australian Sheep and Wool Show announced its cancellation because of the lockdown.
More than 5000 farmers — and their sheep, goats and alpacas — were set to make their way to the annual Bendigo event this weekend.
The event typically attracts more than 30,000 visitors to the region.
It is one of several major events to be canned due to the latest statewide shut down.
Read the full story here.
OFFICE WORKERS, STUDENTS TOLD TO MASK UP
Ten other infections were announced on Thursday — all of which were revealed on Wednesday.
Office workers were ordered to mask up again from midnight on Wednesday, with face coverings now mandatory in all indoor settings — including workplaces and secondary schools.
They must also be worn outdoors if people cannot stay 1.5m apart.
It comes after an 11-year-old boy tested positive to coronavirus after attending the Carlton-Geelong clash at the MCG on Saturday.
And another school has closed, with a grade 4 student at Murrumbeena’s St Patrick’s Primary School testing positive to the Delta variant.
In a letter sent to parents on Thursday morning, the school said the Department of Health had notified them of the positive case.
The letter said the school had closed immediately, with all grade 4 students directed to get tested at 133 Wellington Rd, Clayton, before going home to isolate.
Other students were encouraged to get tested but it was not a requirement at this stage.
A parent from the school told the Herald Sun she was concerned by the positive case.
“It’s very concerning, school has just gone back and we hope this virus hasn’t spread throughout the school.”
A Point Cook hotel which identified itself earlier on Thursday as a “possible exposure site” has been confirmed as a Tier One location by the Health Department.
Sanctuary Lakes Hotel was listed as a site on Thursday afternoon — several hours after identifying itself — along with a train on the Sunbury line, a Maribyrnong pharmacy and two supermarkets: a Point Cook Coles and a Craigieburn Woolworths.
Two gyms in Melbourne’s western suburbs have now been listed as Tier One sites, with a confirmed case visiting Point Cook’s QuickFit Health Club on Tuesday night.
Werribee’s Persist Fitness was also visited by a confirmed case from 9.30am to 11am on July 12, 13 and 14.
Eleven local infections emerged on Wednesday, with thousands of people ordered to take tests and isolate amid the fallout from two clusters — one linked to a family who returned from NSW and the other to rule-breaking removalists from Sydney.
About 2000 footy fans in the MCC stand at the Cats and Blues’ MCG clash on Saturday – including Geelong player partners Brit Selwood and Emma Hawkins – drinkers at CBD pub Young & Jackson, shoppers at Highpoint and swimmers at Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre have all been put on alert.
Jeroen Weimar said the public health team was monitoring and reviewing the unfolding situation hourly.
With the removalists confirmed as having the Delta variant, and the returning family feared to have it, Mr Weimar said authorities were “not going to take any chances”.
“We will always take fast and aggressive action as we think is appropriate,” he said.
“We are going to continue to be exceptionally cautious of this virus.”
More than 35 testing sites were forced to extend their opening hours on Wednesday, as demand skyrocketed and wait times at the Melbourne Showgrounds blew out to more than three hours.
Meanwhile, NSW has recorded 65 new infections, with 28 of those infectious in the community.
But Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that Friday’s cases could spike again.
“Based on the fact that we had 28 people infectious in the community in the last 24 hours, I am predicting that we will have higher case numbers tomorrow,” she said.
And Queensland announced three new local Covid cases, including a 12-year-od boy and fully vaccinated airport worker.
As a result, restrictions that were to ease on Friday will continue.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to reconsider travel plans into Victoria.
“Do not go to Victoria,” she said.
LOCKDOWN RESET FOR APARTMENT BLOCK
Residents of the locked-down Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong – at the centre of the outbreak after being visited by the infected removalists – have had their quarantine period reset, starting again on Wednesday, after four new cases.
Three of those are confined to one residence on the third floor, while the fourth case is a man in his 60s who lives on the same level.
Highpoint shopping centre, a key exposure site during the state’s last lockdown, will again undergo a “comprehensive deep clean” after the man in his 60s, a teacher, visited several stores.
“He is well respected in the school community and is someone that follows the rules. He is a very responsible man,” a source close to him said.
“He was preparing for the new term by shopping and visiting his parents. It’s just so sad – you won’t find a nicer family, and they were so phobic about the virus.”
That man, who passed the virus to his parents aged 89 and 90, visited several stores at Highpoint on Friday, before attending Young & Jackson and the footy on Saturday with a friend.
It is understood the friend, a teacher at Bacchus Marsh Grammar, and two of his family members have since tested positive. The teacher attended the school’s staff day on Monday, but hadn’t been in contact with any students on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Principal Andrew A. Neal said classes at the Woodlea and Maddingley campuses were cancelled for the rest of the week and would be online from next week if teachers remained in isolation. “This is a fairly fluid situation and we will endeavour to keep parents informed as we have further information,” he said.
BARWON HEADS ON HIGH ALERT
The Herald Sun understands the infected Bacchus Marsh Grammar teacher lives in Barwon Heads.
It’s also understood the Barwon Heads man’s young son attended the match with the pair.
Barwon Heads primary school reported a positive case, and has been closed to all students and staff “until further notice”.
“Students must avoid public places and only leave home for brief periods for necessary activities,” Barwon Heads Primary told families in a letter confirming a positive case.
Staff and students at Barwon Heads Primary School are also being told to stay at home, after a pupil was confirmed to have the virus.
Dozens of junior AFL players and coaches have also been forced to isolate after Barwon Heads Football Club was listed as a Tier On exposure site.
Club president, Tim Goddard, said two under-10s teams were training on Monday night when a positive case attended.
The health department alerted the club on Wednesday and was “really clear” about the health advice, Mr Goddard said.
A pop-up testing site was set up at Barwon Heads Community Park on Thursday morning.
Workers from Barwon Health said they expected the site to be up and running by midday.
One worker said it would be a “big day”.
Amy Barlow and daughter Luciana, 10, lined up for their test more than an hour before the site was open.
Luciana, who attends the local primary school, said she wasn’t “too worried” about missing class.
“I’m missing out on PE and finishing up some drawings,” the grade 5 student said.
All students from the school must get tested and isolate until receiving a negative result, while close contacts of the infected student will quarantine for 14 days.
“We received an email and a text message last night (from the school) saying we had to get tested,” Ms Barlow said.
“It is what it is, I think all the students are a bit excited. I’m working from the car today but would love to get back to the office.”
FOOTY FANS ON ALERT
More than 31,000 footy fans attended the MCG match on Saturday, with about 2000 spectators on level 2 of the MCC stand to get tested and isolated. Ms Selwood, wife of Cats captain Joel, and Ms Hawkins, partner of star forward Tom, are both believed to have already been tested and to be isolating awaiting results.
About 25 staff and patrons have been deemed Tier 1 close contacts and will be forced into 14-day isolation.
“Extensive cleaning of the MCG takes place after each event and, out of an abundance of caution, a deep clean of the identified areas will take place,” the MCC said.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday had no updates or changes to footy games or crowds this weekend, but said: “We know things change on an hourly or a daily basis.”
ENTIRE HUME FAMILY INFECTED
The Hume household cluster has grown to four, after a teenager tested positive on Wednesday. The teen’s mother, father and sibling are also positive.
That chain of transmission spread to a man in his 30s, who caught the virus at Coles Craigieburn after a member of the family breached their isolation requirement to visit the supermarket.
Mr Weimar said: “We’ll always reserve our options on enforcement. If we think that’s an appropriate thing to do, we’ll do it, (but) it’s not the top thing on my list of priorities.”
He added: “This virus jumps at a very significant speed and these leaks can be very damaging. I’m confident we can get on top of it but if we need to bring additional weapons … we will do that.”
But state opposition leader Michael O’Brien said restrictions should remain unchanged.
“If contact-tracing has been fixed … there’s no need for more restrictions and there should be no need for further lockdowns,” he said.
REMOVALIST FOOLS FACE FINES
A gang of unmasked removalists from Sydney who brought the highly infectious Delta variant back to Victoria are facing hefty fines as they obstruct vital contact-tracing efforts.
The three men – two Covid-positive and the other symptomatic – breached their special work permit, allowing them to travel from NSW, by failing to wear masks while in the state.
It also emerged on Wednesday that they travelled from Sydney across Victoria in two trucks, rather than one as originally thought.
Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said he was “exceptionally frustrated” at the pace and transparency coming from the removalists.
“As you can tell by my tone and demeanour, it’s been a frustrating and challenging set of conversations and it continues to be so.”
Asked if the removalists were being deliberately misleading, Mr Weimar said: “They’re not being deliberately forthcoming, let me put it that way.
“We will continue ongoing exploration with the impact they’ve had on us all. I would still not be surprised if we’re sitting here (on Thursday) with yet another exposure site. I need as much information as I can get in order to actually protect the Victorian community.”
Authorities have been forced to review “extensive” amounts of CCTV “in the hunt for these individuals”, even having to watch them eat lunch as they tracked their movements.
Contact tracers have been able to determine the trio visited a Hungry Jack’s and Caltex service station at Kalkallo on Thursday morning. The removalists then delivered furniture to a property at Craigieburn before picking up more furniture from a residence on the third level of the Ariele Apartments at Maribyrnong.
Mr Weimar said he was hopeful the risk of any potential transmission at the service stations was reduced because it was outdoors and spacious. But he hinted the men would face the full force of the law.
“Books will be thrown when it’s appropriate to throw them,” he said.
— Additional reporting: Miles Proust, Shannon Deery
Originally published as ‘No choice’: Victoria to enter 5-day lockdown