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‘We need more time’: Victorian lockdown extended by seven days, red zone rules tightened

Mr Andrews said opening the state up again at five cases per day, as authorities did last year, is not an option due to the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

“If we leave it smouldering at low levels … then there’s every chance that we are back here, locked down again.

Quiet Melbourne roads on Tuesday morning.

Quiet Melbourne roads on Tuesday morning. Credit:Jason South

“[It’s] a choice between … do this for another seven days, or be locked down for months.”

The announcement of the seven-day extension comes as the state recorded nine new local cases of coronavirus, on top of four revealed on Monday. Three Victorians are in hospital with COVID-19.

NSW reported a further 78 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Of the new cases, at least 27 were in the community for at least some of their infectious period.

Victorian authorities received 49,454 tests and administered 17,083 vaccination doses. There were two new cases in hotel quarantine.

The Health Department said of the 13 new locally acquired cases, 12 had been linked to the current outbreaks and one was still under investigation.

Victoria tightens eligibility for red zone travel permits

The state government also announced a tightening of the rules around applying for a permit to enter Victoria from red zones.

Mr Andrews said from 11.59pm Tuesday, the only people who would be eligible to receive a permit from a red zone were authorised workers and those who qualified for a compassionate exemption.

This change to the permit system will remain in place for the next two weeks.

“While the situation further deteriorates, and we see more and more cases, hundreds of extra cases, in Sydney, [if] we get this outbreak under control, and then we finish up with another incursion brewing, I don’t want that to happen,” Mr Andrews said.

“There will be exemptions on compassionate grounds if you had a loved one that was unwell, if you yourself needed medical care, if you needed to attend Victoria and spend time in Victoria for one of those sorts of reasons we will boost the number of people who are dealing with those exemptions.”

Mr Andrews defended the government’s decision to tighten the permit rules. He said because people are not “locked into” Sydney, where there is a large outbreak of COVID-19, they must be “locked out” of Victoria.

“I had to announce these red zone permit changes today, I don’t get any joy from doing that,” he said.

Mr Andrews also said the government would be looking at extending the business support packages to the hardest-hit industries in the wake of the lockdown extension and flagged the announcement of further business support on Wednesday.

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“We’re giving some serious consideration to some of the hottest industries where, for instance, there was an Alpine resorts package,” he said.

“This should be the busiest time. A lot of people are employed up there, obviously, these restrictions make it hard for this to be the busiest time.

“We know the businesses and families will do it tough over these next seven days. There’ll be further announcements tomorrow in relation to business support.”

Mr Andrews said this was separate to the support offered by the federal government.

‘Strong signs’ of successful management of recent outbreak

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton praised the approach health authorities had taken to the recent outbreak, saying the fact that nine of the 13 new cases discovered on Monday spent their infectious period in isolation was a sign that the measures are working.

“It’s certainly really positive that we’re starting to see the effects of strong contact tracing and effective lockdown come to bear on this outbreak,” he said.

He said the movement of three of the remaining four cases were heavily restricted by the lockdown.

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“Of the four cases who have had infectious time in the community, the movements of three of those have been very substantially limited because of the effects of the lockdown,” he said.

“I can’t say yet whether we were ahead of this thing, but I do know that our contact tracers, our health team, public health units are wrapping their arms around us, and it’s going in the right direction.”

New cases linked to Cremone restaurant, Trinity Grammar, MCG outbreaks

Most of Tuesday’s new cases are linked to the outbreak at Ms Frankie in Cremorne. Health authorities said three staff members, two patrons and a further two household primary contacts had tested positive for the virus.

Authorities detected two new cases related to the Trinity Grammar School outbreak, a teacher and a student, and two household contacts of a positive cased linked to the MCG outbreak. A new case was also linked to a group of people who visited Phillip Island.

The final case, a woman in her 20s in Roxburgh Park, has not yet been definitively connected to any of the existing outbreaks, but health authorities said evidence suggested a connection to the City of Hume outbreak.

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities had also detected fragments of virus in wastewater in the Roxburgh Park area, in Melbourne’s north, and Phillip Island, and encouraged anyone with symptoms in the surrounding suburbs to get tested.

Health authorities added a dozen new exposure sites on Tuesday.

The tier-1 additions included a yoga studio in Carlton, a logistics terminal in Derrimut and a Box Hill South gym. Anyone who visited these sites at the specified times needs to get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days no matter the result.

New tier-2 sites include the office of the Victorian Cricket Association in St Kilda, the Cheeky Monkey Cafe in Richmond, Leo’s Fine Food & Wine Supermarket in Glen Iris and the Overhear Coffee & Food cafe in Camberwell.

People line up to get a COVID test in Collingwood on Tuesday.

People line up to get a COVID test in Collingwood on Tuesday.Credit: Jason South

Anyone who visited these sites at the times listed needs to isolate until they test negative for COVID-19.

New Queensland case caught COVID at Young & Jackson

Meanwhile, Queensland health authorities are probing whether a Mareeba woman, in her 20s, who was infected with coronavirus in Melbourne, breached any public health rules.

The new case ended Queensland’s three-day run with no community transmission, after two new Delta clusters prompted authorities to extend mask restrictions for another week.

The Young & Jackson pub in Melbourne has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site.

The Young & Jackson pub in Melbourne has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site.Credit:Jason South

The woman, who is fully vaccinated with Pfizer, travelled from Melbourne to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast on July 13.

She received a text from Victorian health authorities on July 15 after visiting the Young & Jackson pub in Melbourne’s CBD on July 10. The pub was identified as a tier-1 coronavirus exposure site on July 14. She immediately got tested on July 15 and returned a negative result.

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After testing negative, the woman moved freely about the community and was infectious from July 15 to 17 as she travelled through the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Mareeba in north Queensland.

She developed symptoms on July 17 and tested positive to the virus on Sunday.

According to Victorian rules, anyone who has been at a tier-1 exposure site must get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from exposure.

When asked if the woman was allowed to go “out and about”, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told reporters on Tuesday she did not have all the information yet.

“She’s been extraordinarily helpful in going through all of those exposure sites,” Dr Young said.

She said the woman being vaccinated “reduced the risk” but did not remove it completely.

Another exposure site in regional Victoria linked to Sydney removalists

Another exposure site linked to the Sydney removalists has emerged with a BP roadhouse in the western Victorian town Nhill confirmed as a tier-2 location.

West Wimmera Health Service chief executive Ritchie Dodds said the exposure period was between 10pm and 11.30pm on July 8.

“We understand it relates to the removalists,” he said.

Mr Dodds was hopeful it would not result in further cases but urged people to come forward for testing if they had been at the site during the exposure period and isolate until they received a negative result.

He said there already had been a spike in demand for testing when it was confirmed the removalists had been in Ballan because it was also on the Western Highway, like Nhill.

However, he said there was capacity to meet another surge in testing. “We’re already on the crest of that wave.”

South Australia to enter lockdown from 6pm

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced that his state would enter a week-long lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday after two new cases were recorded.

Mr Marshall said he was “extremely concerned” after it was confirmed the first man in the cluster to test positive was carrying the highly-contagious Delta variant and the state’s cluster grew to five cases.

Under the SA lockdown rules, non-essential retail stores will close their doors, schools will be closed and there will be a pause on construction.

“This is a dangerous time,” Mr Marshall said.

With Broede Carmody​

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