Victoria's State of Emergency Has Been Extended for Another Four Weeks
The move comes a day after the state tightened some of its COVID-19 gathering restrictions in response to increasing case numbers.
Victoria's strict rules surrounding social distancing and public gatherings have been extended until at least midnight on Sunday, July 19, with the government announcing the extension of its COVID-19 State of Emergency.
First made in March and due to expire at midnight on Monday, April 13, the State of Emergency has already been extended until Monday, May 11 and Sunday, June 20. With the new extension, the state's current restrictions — which include a tightening of gathering rules which'll be implemented at midnight tonight — will now be in place for four more weeks.
The move — and the decision to reintroduce smaller caps on at-home groups, gatherings out of the house, and the numbers of patrons allowed in venues — comes after a rise in Victorian coronavirus case numbers over the past week, including "the substantial increase in the number of household contacts spreading the virus amongst extended family groups", the government said.
The State of Emergency declaration allows the state's authorised officers to "act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health" as directed by Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. That means restricting movement, preventing entry to premises and venues and detaining people — measures that have been in place over the past three months as the state responds to the coronavirus.
Announcing the extension, Sutton noted that the continued restrictions are needed to continue to keep slowing the spread of COVID-19. "We know these restrictions are frustrating, but we can't get complacent and let the virus get away from us. It's vital we follow these directions to keep our community transmission numbers low and protect more Victorians."
With that in mind, the state continues to encourage Victorians to "stay safe". While folks can still visit restaurants and pubs, head on regional holidays and gather in small groups (up to five at home, 10 out of the house and 20 at venues), they're encouraged to continue following social distancing measures, practising good hygiene and avoid crowds. They're also required to continue working from home if possible until at least the end of July.
"If you do need to see people keep your distance. No handshakes and no hugs. Maintain good hygiene. Don't share food or drinks. Avoid crowds. And if you're unwell – stay home," the government advises.
Fines are being handed out to folks who breach the restrictions, with the state's financial penalties spanning up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses. Under the State of Emergency, people who refuse to comply can also be taken to court, where the fine imposed could reach up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for companies.
To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Victoria and how to protect yourself, head to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.
Published on June 21, 2020 by Sarah Ward