Victoria’s devastating coronavirus outbreak will stunt Australia’s economic recovery as the death toll rises and tougher restrictions loom.
Eight more people died from the disease, taking the national total to 197.
Victoria recorded 627 new cases on Friday amid concern stay-at-home orders in place for the past three weeks across greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire aren’t doing enough.
Premier Daniel Andrews has been in crisis talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the next steps in stopping the deadly spread.
Mr Andrews said there would be a significant hit for business and workers, which may need more government support.
“There is a complete acknowledgement that there can be no economic recovery until we deal with this public health challenge,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
“It’s almost impossible for us to see businesses recover and survive unless and until we get these numbers down.”
Treasury figures are predicting the outbreak would cost the national economy $3.3 billion were based on the lockdown ending on August 19.
But the restrictions are expected to last longer and could be harsher as medical experts mull similar measures New Zealand used to squash the virus.
Mr Andrews said experts would spend the next two days analysing infection data from the first half of the six-week lockdown.
“The best advice may well come to me that we need to take further steps, that the steps we’ve taken are not enough to pull this up,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed a New Zealand-style lockdown, which saw all businesses except for essential services closed, was being explored.
“There are really significant consequences in what you do in terms of increased restrictions, it has to be focused on the data,” he said.
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is bracing for harsher measures.
“I certainly expect restrictions will be further tightened to ensure we ring-fence the areas of outbreak,” he said.
Alarmingly, more than 130 of 500 people with coronavirus visited by the Australian Defence Force and health authorities on Thursday were not at home.
They have been referred to police.
The premier and the prime minister urged Muslims not to gather in large groups during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
“I just want to encourage everyone to make positive decisions when it comes to how they choose to celebrate their faith over this important time for that community,” Mr Morrison told 2GB radio.
NSW has granted an exemption for 400 people to gather at a mosque in western Sydney to celebrate Eid, which takes place this weekend.
NSW recorded 21 new cases, sparking the closure of four more Sydney venues for deep cleaning and contact tracing after being linked to coronavirus infections.
In Queensland, one new case has been detected in a man whose family visited a restaurant at the same time as an infected woman charged with illegally entering the state.