Melbourne will be placed into a stage four lockdown with Premier Daniel Andrews declaring a state of disaster as the COVID-19 crisis spirals out of control.
It follows another massive spike in cases with 671 new infections reported on Sunday and seven further deaths.
The latest deaths include three women in their 70s, two women in their 80s, and a man and woman in their 90s.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Six of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities.
There are now 11,557 cases across Victoria with 6322 still active.
There are now 385 people in hospital with 38 in intensive care.
Of most concern is the huge number of ‘mystery cases’ with officials unable to trace 760 cases across the state.
“They are active cases where we can’t trace back the source of that person’s infection. Either who they got it from or where or how,” Premier Andrews said.
“Those mysteries, that community transmission is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules.”
The state of disaster was imposed statewide from 6pm Sunday night.
A curfew has also been introduced in metropolitan Melbourne, between 8pm and 5am.
“The only reason to be out of your home between the hours of 8pm and 5am is to get care, to give care, or to go to and from work or be at work.
“We can no longer have people visiting others. We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever.”
There will be further restrictions on travel with residents limited to moving within 5kms of their home with very limited exceptions, including for work.
Only one person, per household, per day will be permitted to do essential shopping.
Recreational activities will also be banned with people limited to one hour of exercise a day in their local area.
All schools across the state will return to remote learning for all students from Wednesday, including years 11 and 12 who had previously returned to the classroom.
Areas of regional Victoria will move to stage three restrictions, meaning businesses such as restaurants, cafes and gyms will be forced to close.
The latest restrictions will remain in place until September 13.
Premier Andrews warned it would take six months to get on top of the crisis if Melbourne remained in stage three.
“These are tough choices but they are the decisions that I’ve taken because they’re the decisions that will keep us safe and get us past this. We can’t have a six-month strategy.
“Six weeks versus a slower strategy, a much, much slower strategy that takes up to six months. I’m not prepared to accept that or accept days and days and days of hundreds of cases and more and more death.
“These are significant steps and not taken lightly. It’s very challenging. It’s exactly what we have to do.”