Australia has declared a “state of disaster” in Victoria and imposed strict curfews on Melbourne residents in light of a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, CNN reported on Sunday. Victoria was previously in the same heightened state at the beginning of the year when bushfires were ravaging the region.
Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, officially announced that he would be mandating much stricter measures as part of the new lockdown guidelines.
The decision comes after Australia’s second-most populous state recorded an overwhelming number of new COVID-19 infections in one day at 671 cases.
During a news conference, Andrews made the announcements of the new rules and urged residents to “do more right now.”
In his statement, he said that wherever citizens fell asleep last night is where they would “need to stay for the next six weeks.”
The new curfew begins on Sunday evening and will be enacted from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beyond the curfew, new mandates will only let one person in each household leave their house to get essential goods, and they cannot go farther than five kilometers of their residence.
That said, the restrictions can be “relaxed” for certain situations, such as for medical care. Citizens will still be allowed to go outside to exercise but must adhere to the five-kilometer rule and not be outside for more than an hour.
The article noted that these mandates would not be altogether that different from the stringent measures Melburnians have been living under for the majority of July when Melbourne was “identified as the epicenter of Australia’s second wave.”
Andrews’ decision has been a source of controversy for many inhabitants who have already been living with decreased freedoms since the beginning of the severe outbreak. Victoria is “an outlier from the rest of the country.”
According to the publication, the “draconian new rules” come on the heels of seven new deaths announced in Victoria on Saturday, bringing the total up to 123 with over 11,500 infections.
Further complicating matters is that Victoria has had more than 700 “mystery cases” in which the origins are untraceable.
“Those mysteries and 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 whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I’ll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there’ll be more questions than answers.”
He admitted that throughout his entire term, the news announced today was the hardest he’s had to deliver as of yet. The new restrictions will stay in place for at least six weeks, and authorities have already begun patrol routes to enforce them.