COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions for Victoria but racing unchanged

Coronavirus: 'Stage 4' Covid-19 lockdown imminent in Melbourne as deaths mount

Lockdown has officially begun in Victoria after new restrictions came into effect at 6pm tonight (8pm NZ time) with a state of disaster declaration.

Regional Victoria will move to "stage three" restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms and other businesses to shut from midnight on Wednesday.

The virus has spread rapidly among vulnerable residents in aged-care centres, where government disaster relief teams have been deployed to replace infected staff.

"That is not the position we wanted to be in but we can not have a situation where this continues to grow and grow in regional Victoria", Andrews said.

Daniel Andrews told Victorians at a news conference that "we have to do more, and we have to do more right now", as the state battles to contain a devastating coronavirus outbreak that had already stripped residents of their freedoms, livelihoods and social interactions and made it an outlier from the rest of the country.

Andrews said his government was deeply anxious that 49 "mystery cases" identified on Saturday could indicate the virus was spreading widely through the Melbourne community and confirmed he was in discussions with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison about tougher restrictions.

A curfew will be implemented across metropolitan Melbourne, and it'll be enforced every evening from 8pm to 5am, with the only reasons to be out of home to "get care, give care, go to or from work, or be at work".

"We can't be certain there's not even further community transmission, even more mystery cases out there", Mr Andrews said on Saturday.

"But I think we need some discussion around this word 'partner" ... how long do you need to have known one another ... because there are some people who are clearly taking liberties with the word, ' Dr Rosewarne said.

"The time for leniency, the time for warnings and cautions is over", Andrews said. Only those carrying out essential work, or seeking or providing care, will be allowed out.

From Thursday, weddings in the regions will be banned, with exemptions offered only on compassionate grounds.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews hasn't explained exactly what "stage four" will mean yet.

"There's no need to be queuing up at the Coles or Woolworths or queuing up at the local baker or butcher, they'll remain open".

The state government's cabinet crisis committee is believed to have held a teleconference overnight, with a view to Mr Andrews announcing new and tougher restrictions on Sunday or Monday. This is a very hard day. "This will also allow us to redeploy more of our PSOs into our enforcement efforts". We're going to get through this.

The news comes after the state had multiple record-breaking days throughout the week, including 49 cases yesterday that authorities "simply can not trace".

Victorian authorities are considering stricter lockdowns as numbers of untraceable "mystery" COVID-19 cases rise.

South Australia has recorded two new cases, one a young woman who attended a school while likely infectious.

Victoria reported one of its highest-ever rates of coronavirus infections on Sunday.

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