Victoria has recorded another 134 new cases of coronavirus, as authorities warn police will dramatically increase their presence in areas that are going back into lockdown.
- Defence personnel will help with logistics and monitoring boundaries of locked-down areas
- The Chief Commissioner says police discretion will be a “very rare occasion” when enforcing restrictions
- Victoria has now conducted more than 1 million tests, with a new one-day record set yesterday
The state will reimpose stage three restrictions on metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire from midnight tonight to try and bring a surge in COVID-19 transmission under control.
Today is the third day in a row Victoria has recorded more than 100 cases, and 134 is the state’s second-highest single-day total after yesterday’s record of 191.
Premier Daniel Andrews said 11 of the new infections were connected to contained outbreaks and 123 were still under investigation.
There are now a total of 75 infections linked to the nine public housing towers under “hard lockdown” in Melbourne, after some cases were diagnosed and others previously under investigation reclassified.
Forty-one Victorians with coronavirus are in hospital and seven of those are receiving intensive care, Mr Andrews said.
More than 1 million coronavirus tests have been conducted in Victoria since the start of the year, with a new record of 29,424 conducted yesterday.
There are now 860 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria, an increase of 88 from yesterday.
Defence Force to help police monitor boundary of locked-down LGAs
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said from tonight “several hundred more police” would be involved in Operation Sentinel, which launched in March to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.
The operation previously involved 500 police.
Stage three restrictions only allow residents to leave their homes for four essential reasons.
Close to 265 Australian Defence Force workers will also be deployed to help monitor the boundary around metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
“You may see a bit more visibility of them now involved with us at checkpoints,” Chief Commissioner Patton said.
“They’re going to be invaluable assistance for us but they cannot replace police.”
Window for discretion with fines ‘closing’, police warn
Police Minister Lisa Neville said fines were “an absolutely critical part” of ensuring people complied with the Chief Health Officer’s directives.
“It was absolutely, and still remains, necessary in order to save lives. There is no question in my mind,” she said.
Chief Commissioner Patton warned police would be strict when enforcing the stay-at-home orders.
“We will issue infringements and it will be a very rare occasion and exception where discretion is used.”
He said while the majority of people are doing the right thing, others are still doing “stupid, selfish, reckless actions”.
“Sunday night we had an Airbnb party in Southbank where 15 people thought it was OK to get together and party. We issued every one of them infringements because they just can’t do it,” he said.
Individuals face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for breaching the directions, while businesses could be fined $9,913.
Premier flags possible flight ban extension
Mr Andrews said he had written to the Prime Minister about possibly diverting international flights away from Melbourne beyond July 14.
Last week the Government announced Victoria would not take any international passengers for two weeks so that Corrections Victoria could conduct a “reset” of the hotel quarantine system.
“The two weeks may not be enough,” Mr Andrews said today.
“It’s not so much a reflection on Corrections Victoria and the new hotel quarantine arrangements, it’s a reflection, in many respects, that we have many other challenges to deal with.
“It may be that we extend that out … we’ll firm that up soon.”
The Victorian Government has been heavily criticised for its handling of the state’s mandatory quarantine program, after genomic sequencing linked several infections in northern Melbourne back to breaches in the system.
An independent inquiry has been ordered to investigate what went wrong and report back in several weeks.