Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has added two more postcodes to Melbourne’s lockdown list as the state’s number of confirmed cases approached a new one-day high.
Warning Victoria is “on a knife edge”, Mr Andrews confirmed that 108 cases had been diagnosed over the previous 24 hours — the second-highest daily tally since the pandemic hit.
The high incidence of the disease in the 3031 and 3051 postcodes – inner-city districts that include North Melbourne, Flemington and Kensington – forced the government to expand the lockdown list.
Nine public housing towers will also be locked down immediately, with officials confirming one such Housing Commission high-rise is home to 26 known cases.
Mr Andrews said he hopes a state-wide lockdown can be avoided, but stressed that it will depend on everyone pulling together, observing social distancing rules and doing “the right thing”.
“We cannot do it on our own. We need people to take this seriously,” he said.
“We need people to do the right thing. All it takes is one, one person doing the wrong thing, and this can potentially get away from you.”
“No-one is pleased to be in this position.”
Waiting for a vaccine
Mr Andrews offered little hope of life returning to normal anytime soon, saying the immediate goal would be to suppress the explosive current spread of the virus.
When that is achieved the former “cautious program” of eased restrictions could resume.
“It won’t matter how quickly that comes. At that point we will not be returning to normal because there will be no vaccine in the weeks ahead.
“And unless and until that vaccine is developed and then administered, to every single Victorian we will have to live with and embrace a ‘COVID normal’, not business as usual — not a normal Victoria.
“That is — that will only see us finish up with wave after wave after wave of unacceptably high case numbers and on and off restrictions for the foreseeable future.
“We don’t want to get to that. So I thank all of those who are making a massive contribution, huge sacrifice. I’m very grateful and very proud of you.”
Victoria Police will detail 500 officers per shift to police the towers’ lockdowns – a total of an extra 1500 shifts every day.
“If you’re in one of the towers … you will not be allowed to leave your unit, your dwelling within that tower for any reason.”
Asked at his press conference if police on tower duty would be armed, Mr Andrews said that would be at the discretion and direction of police brass.