Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the country could restrict the number of people returning after imposing strict lockdown measures in the state of Victoria.
Morrison said he wants to reduce the number of Australian citizens, permanent residents and foreigners exempt from Australia’s travel ban, landing at Australian airports to ease the strain on hotel quarantine.
The border between Australia’s most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales was closed after a spike in coronavirus cases in Melbourne.
Parts of Melbourne have already been placed under extreme lockdown with police watch sparking division and anger among residents and politicians on who’s to blame.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that a Stage 3 'Stay at Home' restriction will be reinstated in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire for six-weeks, effective from Wednesday night at 11.59pm local time.
Andrews said: “I know a lot of people because this feels like something happening to other people in other parts of the world. But you should be scared of this, I’m scared of this, we all should be.”
“It’s clear that we are on the cusp of a second wave – and we cannot let this virus cut through our communities,” he added.
Residents in the areas affected by the strict lockdown are told the restrictions apply to their permanent place of residence and are warned not to escape to holiday homes.
The rules lay out four reasons residents can leave their homes, these are: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work and study (if they can’t do it from home).
“Because we need to limit the spread of the virus across our state, there will be only three reasons to cross the borders of these metropolitan areas: shopping for food and essential items. Care and caregiving. Work and study – if you can’t do it from home,” Andrews said.
Fishing trips at Lake Entrance and four-hour hikes at Grampians are also prohibited unless you are local to the area.
Businesses in the affected areas will also return to Stage 3 restrictions, meaning that restaurants and fast food chains will only do take away, beauty and personal care stores other than hairdressers will be closed. Under the rules, saunas and bath houses will also be shut.
Pubs, bars, clubs and nightclubs will also be shut, and only take away and bottle shop will be available.
Market stalls can operate under the provisions of take away, shopping centres can remain open subject to density quotient – but customers are only allowed to visit for necessary goods and services.
Outdoor entertainment venues, indoor and drive-in cinemas, concert venues, theatres, casinos, gaming centres, arenas, museums, galleries and zoos will all be closed.
Libraries and community venues can only remain open for essential public support services or to host weddings and funerals.
The rules further place restrictions on the number of people that can attend weddings and funerals, up to five people (couple getting married, two witnesses and celebrant) can go to a wedding.
Funeral attendance has been restricted to up to 10 people including those conducting the funeral.
Meanwhile religious ceremonies and private worship will be broadcast only.
Daniel Andrews said in his statement: “Many parents, teachers and students will be worried about what happens with the school year. I can confirm that all Year 11 and Year 12 students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will go back to school for Term 3 as planned, along with our special schools.
"For students Prep to Year 10, we’re going to extend the school holidays by one week, so we can get more advice from our health experts. But I want to be upfront and let parents know that a return to remote learning for these kids is a possibility, if that’s what they tell us is safest.
"For people who live in regional Victoria, where case numbers remain low, current restrictions will remain the same for now.
"This is not where any of us wanted to be, but we have to face the reality of our situation. To do anything else would have deadly consequences.
"I don’t take this step lightly. And I know just how deeply frustrating this is for everyone.
"Because this isn’t over. And until there is a vaccine or a drug or a cure, there is no such thing as 'normal'.
"For every restriction that you break and all the health advice that you ignore – the consequence may be someone’s life."
He reiterated, “stay home, stay home. In case it needs repeating, stay home. We are fighting a global and deadly pandemic.”