Victoria declares state of disaster amid 'public health bushfire' caused by surge in Covid-19 cases

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Chloe Keedy

A state of disaster has been declared in Victoria in Australia amid a "public health bushfire" caused by a surge of coronavirus cases.

From Sunday evening, lockdown restrictions will be tightened and a curfew imposed in Melbourne from 8pm to 5am, the state's Premier Daniel Andrews announced.

Residents in the state capital will also only be allowed to leave their homes once per day for exercise, and should remain within a three-mile radius of their homes.

Exceptions to this rule will be made for people going to work, to seek medical help or to care for others.

Only one person per household will be allowed to go to the shops.

Anna Allbury and her family had been due to move house to another state in Australia, but now things look uncertain:

All students across the state will return to home-based learning and child care centres will be closed.

Mr Andrews said 671 new coronavirus cases had been detected since Saturday, including seven deaths.

It comes among a steadily increasing toll in both deaths and infections over the past six weeks in Victoria.

"This is a public health bushfire but you can't smell the smoke and you can't see the flames," Mr Andrews said as he declared the "state of disaster".

Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said more announcements would be made on Monday. Credit: AP

“If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get through this,” Mr Andrews said.

“We need to do more.

"That is what these decisions are about.”

He said there would be more announcements about workplaces on Monday, including the closure of certain industries.

“I want to ensure all Victorians — supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings — there will be no impact there,” he said.

Early on in the pandemic, Australia appeared to have tackled it successfully, with fewer cases than many other countries, recording about 17,000 infections and 200 deaths.

But cases are rising rapidly in Victoria, accounting for many of Australia's new infections in recent weeks, promoting the return of lockdown restrictions in early July.

Regional Victoria will move to stage-three restrictions from Thursday, meaning restaurants, cafes, bars and gyms will close from midnight.