Coronavirus lockdown extended in Victoria after community COVID-19 cluster swells to 60

James Merlino announced the lockdown extension at a press conference on Wednesday.
James Merlino announced the lockdown extension at a press conference on Wednesday. Photo credit: Getty Images

Victoria will extend its COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne another seven days, the state's Acting Premier James Merlino has announced.

It comes amid increasing concerns about a recent community outbreak in the Australian state, which on Wednesday ballooned to 60 cases and more than 350 exposure sites.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Merlino told reporters "we've got to run this thing into the ground or people will die".

He says "even if things go well", those from Melbourne won't be able to travel to regional Victoria during the Queen's birthday long weekend.

On Wednesday morning, Victoria's Department of Health revealed there were six new local cases overnight - although one, a person who travelled to New South Wales, was already known about a day prior.

There are now 67 active cases in Victoria, with 51,033 tests conducted and 20,585 vaccine doses administered in the last 24 hours.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the decision to extend the lockdown by a further seven days was with a view to "getting completely on top" of the virus.

"We can't have one or two cases out there and open back up to the kind of settings we had before," he said. "That's what led one case from South Australia to lead to 60 cases and thousands of primary close contacts within a month."

Sutton says the lockdown will prevent "exponential transmision" from occurring.

"The lockdown is to make sure that we see cases who are already quarantining, like one of the new cases from overnight," he explained.

"I would love to see cases driven down to zero by virtue of that, but if the number of exposure sites stabilise and we are really not seeing new or concerning exposure sites, that gives us all great confidence that we can ease up."

Melbourne's current restrictions will remain in place for a further seven days with some minor changes. The only reasons to leave home until 11:59pm on Thursday, June 10 will be for:

  • Shopping for food and supplies
  • Authorised work and study
  • Care and care-giving
  • Exercise
  • Getting vaccinated

The radius for allowed movement for these reasons will be expanded from 5km to 10km from home.

In regional Victoria, restrictions will be eased from Thursday night, with the five reasons for movement in these areas removed, and limitations on outdoor gatherings, hospitality and retail relaxed.