Victoria braced for ‘stage four’ restrictions to stop coronavirus

Victoria braces for ‘stage four-style’ restrictions as the coronavirus infection rate continues to rise with WA recording another 22 cases

  • Victoria could begin even stricter social distancing measures within days 
  • Its premier Daniel Andrews warned ‘stage four’ restrictions may soon start 
  • Residents are already only allowed to leave their homes for ‘essential reasons’
  • The same is going on across Australia, with bars, parks and beaches closed 
  • But the NSW premier said she hopes no more strict measures will be brought in 
  • On Friday night, Western Australia announced it had 22 new COVID-19 cases 

Unprecedented ‘stage four’ restrictions are looming in Victoria, with officials warning there is ‘no end date in sight’ for strict coronavirus lockdown measures.

The restrictions, which will further impact every aspect of Australian’s everyday lives, could be brought in imminently, the state’s premier Daniel Andrews warned.

It comes as the number of cases continues to steadily rise across the country, bringing the total on Friday night to 5,337,

Officials in Western Australia announced 22 new cases overnight on Friday, bringing the state total to 422 as it shuts its borders to non-residents. 

A 12th death in New South Wales was also announced on Friday, taking Australia’s national death toll to 28, with 5,337 confirmed cases across the country. 

But the state’s premier, despite having nearly half of the country’s COVID-19 cases,  hopes no further lockdown will be required, after going into ‘level three’ this week. 

A deserted Flinders Street train station on March 30 in Melbourne (pictured), as Victoria prepares for the next stage of coronavirus restrictions

A deserted Flinders Street train station on March 30 in Melbourne (pictured), as Victoria prepares for the next stage of coronavirus restrictions

WHAT COULD ‘STAGE FOUR’ RESTRICTIONS LOOK LIKE?

Based on goings on around the world, stage four restrictions could mean a host of new rules.

Here are some examples of what it could look like:  

– Takeaways to be shut down

– All schools to be closed 

–  People can only make physical contact with those they live with

– No pre-cooked food can be delivered

– Convenience stores must have a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy

–  All cafes and playgrounds closed

– An outright ban on birthday parties and weddings 

Victoria suffered its seventh coronavirus-related death overnight, when a man in his 80s died.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr Andrews said: ‘I think there will be a stage four. 

‘When I’m in a position and when I need to make those announcements I will.’

Victoria is already handing out on-the-spot $1,600 fines for breaking the two-person rule.

Mr Andrews said that while the slow down in infection rates was helping, there was still much hardship ahead – and warned people not to risk lives by going out. 

‘No recreational fishing trip, no trip to the golf course is worth someone’s life,’ he said. 

‘I can’t tell you when this is going to end.

‘And I certainly don’t want anyone to think that because we have got some reasonable stability at the moment that we are out of the woods.

‘It is not going to be over in weeks, it is going to be months and months.’ 

An information notice stating the closure of golf courses in Victoria is seen on Friday in Melbourne (pictured), with officials warning restrictions could become even more severe

An information notice stating the closure of golf courses in Victoria is seen on Friday in Melbourne (pictured), with officials warning restrictions could become even more severe

As of Friday night, there were 5,337 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with 28 deaths related to the disease

As of Friday night, there were 5,337 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with 28 deaths related to the disease

The closed ocean pool at Cronulla Beach (pictured) as NSW shut down many outdoor spaces, including popular beaches

The closed ocean pool at Cronulla Beach (pictured) as NSW shut down many outdoor spaces, including popular beaches

Mr Andrews explained that while he didn’t know what ‘success’ over COVID-19 would look like in Australia, he said the worst case scenarios are already happening elsewhere. 

‘What I can do is I can point you to what failure looks like,’ he said.

‘Turn your TV on, have a look at New York, have a look at Washington State, have a look at Italy, France, Spain, the list goes on and on. It is tragedy.’

Western Australia’s health minister revealed that overnight the state’s number of confirmed cases had risen by 22 to 422.

Roger Cook told reporters that while the relatively small rise was encouraging, residents shouldn’t become complacent. 

Ten of Western Australia's new COVID-19 patients were passengers on the Artania cruise ship (pictured) which has been in Freemantle port since March 27

Ten of Western Australia’s new COVID-19 patients were passengers on the Artania cruise ship (pictured) which has been in Freemantle port since March 27

Passengers from the Artania cruise ship (pictured) were taken on a bus with a police escort to Perth airport to board a chartered Condor flight to Germany on March 29

Passengers from the Artania cruise ship (pictured) were taken on a bus with a police escort to Perth airport to board a chartered Condor flight to Germany on March 29

Ten of the cases were in Perth, three from the Wheatbelt region and nine from passengers on the Artania cruise ship.

Infected passengers were taken off the ship for treatment in hospital, after the cruise liner docked at Fremantle Port on March 27.   

‘The situation [on the Artania] is dynamic and under control of the Australian Border Force,’ Mr Cook said. 

‘I don’t have full details but we understand about 25 were taken off the ship yesterday.’ 

Over in NSW, premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hopes no more coronavirus restrictions will be required in the state.

NSW – along with Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT – issued a stay-at-home order on March 31.

Police in Sydney's Double Bay on Thursday (pictured) asked a young boy and his grandparents to go home as they ramped up efforts to contain the spread of the virus

Police in Sydney’s Double Bay on Thursday (pictured) asked a young boy and his grandparents to go home as they ramped up efforts to contain the spread of the virus

A notice stating the closure of playing fields is seen on Bailey's Reserve Skate Park on Tuesday in Melbourne (pictured) as Victoria prepares for even more severe restrictions

A notice stating the closure of playing fields is seen on Bailey’s Reserve Skate Park on Tuesday in Melbourne (pictured) as Victoria prepares for even more severe restrictions

Residents can only leave their homes for food, exercise, travel to work or school, and medical care.

Ms Berejiklian said she has ‘no intention’ of imposing further restrictions which would prevent residents exercising outdoors or ordering takeaway food.

She said: ‘The time in which these restrictions apply is dependent upon health advice. I hope as the best case we don’t go beyond what we have now.

‘I hope we will adjust to the current restrictions and we manage things in the way we have, because it’s not my intention, not anybody’s intention, to have to impose further restrictions.’

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday) has said she hopes no further restrictions will be required in New South Wales

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday) has said she hopes no further restrictions will be required in New South Wales

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,350

New South Wales: 2,389

Victoria: 1,085

Queensland: 873

Western Australia: 422 

South Australia: 396 

Australian Capital Territory: 91 

Tasmania: 73

Northern Territory: 21

TOTAL CASES:  5,350

DEAD: 28

The premier confirmed that the police powers to fine people who break the rules last for three months.

But she said the timescale was ‘just a legal issue’ and lockdown could be removed sooner, or last longer, depending on health advice.

Ms Berejiklian hinted that restrictions could be wound back once more intensive care beds have been built.

Australia has around 2,200 ICU beds, with 874 in NSW. 

Plans are underway to expand the national total to 7,500.

Australians are already being fined $1,000 for what would normally be innocent acts thanks to strict new coronavirus laws – including sitting in a car and talking to a mate in the street.

Australians are being fined $1,000 for what would normally be innocent acts. Police are seen gathered at Surfers Paradise beach on the Gold Coast on Thursday (pictured)

Australians are being fined $1,000 for what would normally be innocent acts. Police are seen gathered at Surfers Paradise beach on the Gold Coast on Thursday (pictured)

A policeman speaks with sunbathers (pictured) on Surfers Paradise beach on the Gold Coast on Thursday

A policeman speaks with sunbathers (pictured) on Surfers Paradise beach on the Gold Coast on Thursday

The crackdown in New South Wales saw 13 fines given out by police in the space of 24 hours, including to a man, 21, trying to enjoy a kebab on a park bench in Newcastle. 

Anyone who breaches the social distancing guidelines in NSW faces a maximum fine of $11,000, six months in jail or a hefty $1,000 on-the-spot fine. 

The unprecedented measures were brought in on Sunday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging Australians to stay at home for all but essential activities.

Australians may have to live with the harsh restrictions on their everyday lives until at least October, Mr Morrison warned.

Level four restrictions would likely be even stricter, according to experts, who said it could see takeaways and schools shut their doors.

A delivery courier in Sydney (pictured) wearing a protective mask on March 26. Food delivery services like Uber Eats could be forced to stop trading under strict 'stage four' restrictions

A delivery courier in Sydney (pictured) wearing a protective mask on March 26. Food delivery services like Uber Eats could be forced to stop trading under strict ‘stage four’ restrictions

A police officer overseeing a hotel quarantine at the Duxton Hotel in Perth on Monday (pictured). Policing of trips outside of the home could be the norm

A police officer overseeing a hotel quarantine at the Duxton Hotel in Perth on Monday (pictured). Policing of trips outside of the home could be the norm

Ex-Howard government adviser Terry Barnes warned militant policing of trips outside of the home could become commonplace under ‘stage four’ restrictions.

‘People will be monitored and fined for being out and about when they shouldn’t be, if there are too many people in a group,’ Mr Barnes told news.com.au.

He claimed the list of services that can remain open could shorten further if stage four is imposed, but key businesses like pharmacies and supermarkets would stay open.

‘Places like Officeworks might be considered essential but the furniture department of Harvey Norman might not be,’ Mr Barnes said.

‘The list of essential businesses or jobs gets really tight. Effectively it’s martial law without martial law.’

SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS EXPLAINED STATE-BY-STATE: HOW TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT OUT

Queensland

Gatherings are restricted to two people, with residents only allowed out of their homes for a few essential reasons. 

This includes buying food or essential goods, getting a medical treatment or engaging in physical exercise. 

You can also visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral.

Students are also allowed to attend childcare, school, college or university.

From April 3, the state’s borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers.

New South Wales

NSW officials are also enforcing the two-person limit, with residents legally obliged to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. 

This includes travelling to work or school, buying food or other essentials, exercise and medical reasons.

It is left up to police officers to decide who will get the fines, with the maximum being an $11,000 fine or six months in prison.  

Victoria 

The state has also brought in the two-person limit inside and outside the home – not counting pre-exisitng members of the household.

Its chief medical officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed an exception would made for people visiting their boyfriend or girlfriend if they lived separately. 

Otherwise, people are allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons – shopping for food, work and education, care reasons, exercise or other extenuating circumstances. 

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is also enforcing the two-person limit, but people are allowed up to two guests inside their homes – only if there is at least four square metres per person.   

It also only allows people to leave home for essential reasons, including shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise, work or study.

Offenders are being issue with warnings, but may get a fine if they are found to be breaking the rules again.

Western Australia 

As well as closing its borders to non-residents, WA has also introduced fines for people who cross out of their region.

Nine regions have been carved up, and people cannot move between them for anything but an essential reason.

This includes going to work, medical appointments, school or other types of education.

Drivers are also allowed to transport freight, and people can go to a shop outside of their area if the essentials are not available closer to home.  

Northern Territory 

In NT, police are still enforcing a 10-person limit rather than just two people.

But chief minister Michael Gunner warned it may take further action if people don’t stick to the rules.

All non-essential arrivals in the state must self-quarantine for 14 days, and people are not allowed to visit remote communities.

Tasmania

Tasmania also has brought into law the two-person limit, with residents only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.

This includes shopping, exercising, and going to healthcare apppointments. 

Going to a vet is also allowed, as is going to school or caring for another person.  

Arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days. 

South Australia

SA has also stuck to the 10-person limit, with $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who have a larger group.

Again, all arrivals into the state must self-isolate for 14 days.  

 

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