Australia

Businesses shutting down in Melbourne as new coronavirus restrictions come into effect

Tough new restrictions for businesses and workers have kicked-in for Melbourne as Victoria reflects on its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic with 15 fatalities.

Retail stores across the city have largely been closed to customers from Thursday, while construction and manufacturing work has also been scaled back in a bid to slow the virus.

Those still allowed to work on-site will have to show a permit – or official work identification – if pulled over by police to prove they are allowed to leave their homes.

Businesses caught issuing permits to workers who do not meet the requirements face fines of up to $99,123, while individuals can be fined up to $19,826.

Permitted workers and those working from home who cannot supervise their kids must fill out separate forms to send them to child care, kindergarten or primary school.

The state government was hurrying to confirm child care arrangements on Wednesday evening, updating online information about the rules before coming into force from midnight.

In Canberra, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to a “triple guarantee” for Victorian child care to secure places, jobs and the future of centres amid the six-week lockdown.

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The widespread changes to work and child care conditions come fresh off Victoria suffering a record 725 new coronavirus cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday.

A man in his 30s was among the dead, becoming Australia’s youngest coronavirus victim.

The state’s death toll is now 162 and the national figure 247.

There are 538 Victorians with coronavirus in hospital – up 82 from Tuesday – with 42 of them in intensive care.

The latest figures provided by the state government show there are six people under the age of 40 fighting for their lives in ICU, including a child under nine.

The state’s second wave of the virus prompted Mr Andrews to declare a state of disaster and impose stage four restrictions on Melbourne, including a curfew.

Non-urgent surgery will also be wound back in regional Victoria, the premier announced, as it entered stage three lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Elective surgeries had already been cut back in Melbourne to create capacity for aged care residents, with 300 having moved to hospitals.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.

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Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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