The majority of retailers, including department stores like Kmart and Target, will be closed in Melbourne for the duration of the stage 4 lockdown under tough new rules announced by the Victoria Premier Dan Andrews today.
Most shops will be shut down for six weeks – except for essential services like supermarkets and pharmacies – in a move that is likely to trigger thousands of job losses and stand-downs.
The state is battling a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections, which plunged Melbourne into an unprecedented lockdown and saw regional Victoria adopt tougher measures.
In a shock move, senior government sources have revealed that the Andrews government is also discussing proposals to allow Bunnings to remain open for trade customers only.
Westfield shopping centres will be open in some cases where they include a supermarket or a bank but the majority of stores will be closed for the duration of the lockdown.
Ministers in the Victoria government have been in crisis meetings all day over the details of the changes to workplaces.
Woolworths has already reintroduced purchase limits in Victoria stores on at least 50 products including meat, fish and dairy products.
A two packet limit per customer remains in force for frozen vegetables, frozen potatoes, frozen fruit, fish, poultry, prepacked sausages from the meat department, prepacked burger patties, rissoles and meatballs from the meat department.
Eggs, flour, rice, sugar, hand sanitiser, long-life milk, mince and paper towels also remain restricted.
13 new Covid-related deaths
Another 429 coronavirus cases were recorded today.
Within Victoria, 36 of the new cases are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 393 are under investigation.
There have been 13 new deaths reported since yesterday. They include a man in his 60s, two males and a female in their 70s, two males in their 80s and five females and two males in their 90s.
Eight of the 13 new deaths are linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. To date, 136 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday declared a "state of disaster" and imposed stage 4 restrictions, which include a daily curfew from 8pm to 5am for Melbourne residents. Further workplace shutdowns and restrictions will be announced today, affecting the state's abattoirs, fish markets and call centres.
"We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever," Andrews said yesterday as he announced the new six-week shutdown, which could wipe up to $9 billion from the national budget forecasts.
State opposition leader Michael O'Brien slammed the move, saying Victorians "don't deserve this". "In declaring a state of disaster, Premier Daniel Andrews has conceded that his government has lost control of Covid-19 in this state," O'Brien said.
Victoria was already in a state of emergency, now, due to its stubbornly high Covid-19 infection rate, it's in a state of disaster too.
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A state of emergency allows some normal legal requirements to be done away with. So premises can be entered without a warrant should it be deemed necessary for health purposes.
States of emergency are initially declared for a month and can be extended – but only for up to six months.
A state of disaster is more wide-ranging than a state of emergency.
It is allowed under the Emergency Management Act of 1986. It has only been declared twice in Victoria, and both of those times have been this year.
A state of disaster gives a new person far more powers.
Whereas the chief health officer was the big dog in a state of emergency, in a state of disaster it's Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville.
Similar powers contained within the state of emergency are now available to the Police Minister, including controlling movement, stopping mass gatherings – such as protests – and barring entry in and out of the state.
NSW reports 17 new Covid cases
Meanwhile, after reporting 17 new cases of Covid-19 in NSW overnight, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wouldn't hesitate in enforcing a harder border with Victoria if cases continue to rise.
Speaking to media today, Berejiklian first announced 13 new cases but that was amended to 17 an hour later, with a baby among the new cases.
The NSW Premier first implemented border controls with the Garden State on July 8.
But while only those authorised under the public health order may enter NSW if they have been in Victoria in the last 14 days, the Premier said that could be strengthened to impact NSW residents if Covid-19 cases don't start to slow down.
South Australia hardened its borders last week, meaning anyone – including SA residents – would not be able to enter the state if they had been anywhere in Victoria.
"There are various checks in place, and if we need to do more, we will," Berejiklian said.