Victoria will enter a five-day lockdown in an effort to contain a growing outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the state.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the lockdown will begin at 11.59pm on Thursday, with people only able to leave home for five reasons – to shop for food and essential items, provide or receive care, exercise, work or study if they are unable to from home, and to get vaccinated.
Masks will be compulsory indoors and outdoors.
All non-essential retail will close but essential stores like supermarkets, bottle shops and pharmacies will remain open.
Cafes and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway.
Childcare and kinder will stay open but schools will close, except for a small cohort of students.
The lockdown will end at 11:59pm on Tuesday, though regional Victoria will be able to reopen earlier if it is safe to do so.
Mr Andrews said the state had only one chance to go “hard and fast” to defeat the highly infectious Delta variant.
“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown,” he told reporters.
It is the fifth lockdown for Victoria since the start of the pandemic and the third in 2021.
It comes after Victoria recorded an additional two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the outbreak to 18.
Of greatest concern to authorities are an adult and a child who tested positive after attending an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the cases appear to be linked to an infectious Maribyrnong man who attended the match and was seated in the MCC member’s reserve on level 2.
But he said the duo were not known contacts of the infected man and it appeared to be a case of “stranger-to-stranger transmission”.
“They were sitting in very different parts of the ground. There’s no obvious relationship between them. The interviews and discussions are ongoing,” Mr Weimar said.
There are more than 75 exposures sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria, with some 1500 primary close contacts and 5000 secondary contacts self-isolating.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said he was concerned lockdowns were being used as a “first response” rather than a last resort.
“We can’t keep going into lockdown every time we get 10 or 12 cases in the community,” he said.