Regional Victoria will go into lockdown from 1pm as a growing Shepparton coronavirus cluster causes concern.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the sudden lockdown at a press conference on Saturday morning.
Regional Victoria will be subject to stay-at-home orders, but will not have a curfew imposed.
“All of regional Victoria will move to the same lockdown conditions as exist in Melbourne right now, with one important exception, the curfew will not operate in regional Victoria because I have no advice given the disparity between the risks in Melbourne and the risks in regional Victoria, I have no advice to put a curfew on in regional Victoria,” Premier Andrews explained.
Melbourne residents are currently forbidden from leaving their homes from 9pm-5am.
Mr Andrews said the new measures are necessary because “we have virus across the whole state” and we need to “limit spread and movement”.
The Premier acknowledged the lack of notice for the lockdown, but said the virus “moves so fast and there is a significant risk out of both the cases we know about in Shepparton, what we don’t yet have confirmed but we suspect has happened in Shepparton and beyond”.
Regional Victoria recorded its first case connected to the current outbreak on Friday, a Shepparton man in his 30s who infected 11 other members of his family across two households.
“The judgement of our public health experts is that [the lockdown] should be statewide and on that basis … those five reasons to leave will apply to all of regional Victoria, just as it does to apply to all of Melbourne,” Mr Andrews said.
Victoria recorded 61 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Saturday, 48 of them linked to known outbreaks.
Health officials said an additional 16 local cases have also been recorded on a rapid PCR testing platform and will be reported in Sunday’s numbers.
Mr Andrews said the risk was not simply confined to the Goulburn Valley area and a statewide lockdown – at this stage until September 2 – was the only option.
He also announced new restrictions for access to child care, which will move to a permit system. Only vulnerable children and the children of authorised workers will be able to access child care.
“We have seen a very large number of young people, and some very young people, become infected with this virus. This is a feature of these outbreaks, it is a feature very much of Delta and a feature of 2021,” he said.