Daniel Andrews announced the biggest ever fines for those who refuse to obey isolation orders as Victoria announced another 439 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.
The Victorian premier said those who breach isolation orders for a second time will be fined $4,957 – which will increase to $20,000 if they choose to fight the fines in court – as authorities desperately try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The record fines come as a sweep of Melbourne by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday found 800 out of the 3,000 people who were supposed to be isolating were not home when they knocked on their doors.
Mr Andrews also closed a loophole which allowed those isolating to leave their home for exercise – and told those at home to ‘get fresh air at the front door or in the backyard’.
About 1,500 police officers will enforce the strict quarantine orders and perform regular door knock checks.
Mr Andrews also announced another 11 people in aged care had died on Tuesday, including a woman over the age of 100, a man in his 70s, four people in their 80s and three in their 90s. There are now a staggering 1,186 active cases of COVID-19 in aged care facilities in Victoria.
Meanwhile, at least 14 flights between Melbourne and Sydney scheduled to arrive on Tuesday have been cancelled as both states try to manage their COVID-19 outbreaks.
Three flights are still expected to arrive in Sydney, despite growing concerns Victorians are importing the virus. Three of the 12 new cases identified in New Sourth Wales overnight came from Victoria.
Melbourne is now under strict Stage Four lockdown that includes a 8pm until 5am curfew, a ban on leaving your home unless for work, exercise, perform care or to visit the shops at other times, and the requirement to wear a mask outdoors, or be fined $200.
Melbourne residents can only shop or exercise within 5km of their homes and most of the city’s retail industry will close.
‘You will be doorknocked. You will be visited. If you’re not at home you will be fined,’ Mr Andrews said.
Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the ‘window for discretion’ has now closed and warnings will no longer be issued.
On Monday night, a person was fined for breaking the 8pm curfew when they were caught driving to get fast food at 3am.
Another was was caught after curfew trying to buy alcohol, while another simply said he ‘was bored and wanted to go for a drive’.
Mr Patton also slammed so called ‘sovereign citizens’ who deliberately flouted lockdown laws.
He referenced an incident in Frankston overnight, when a 38-year-old woman allegedly assaulted a policewoman after she was told to wear a mask in Bayside Shopping Centre.
‘During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground,’ Mr Patton said.
The woman was charged with ‘significant offences’ – but was bailed ‘due to having no criminal history’.
‘It shows how things can escalate from non-adherence,’ he said.
On Monday, the state recorded a further 429 cases, while 671 were identified on Sunday, prompting the statewide shutdown.
‘As heartbreaking as it is to close down places of employment… that is what we have to do in order to stop the spread of this wildly infectious virus, this deadly virus,’ Mr Andrews said on Monday.
Early estimates indicate about 250,000 people will be directly impacted by the tough lockdown, which will last at least six weeks.
Those who lose their jobs in the coming days will join about 250,000 more in the state who were stood down earlier in the pandemic, and a further 500,000 who are working from home.
As he listed Victorian industries in three columns – those open, those with reduced output and those that will be closed for six weeks – Mr Andrews warned that further restrictions could follow if the state’s efforts fail.
In a statement, the Premier said: ‘What is clear is that if we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of complete shutdowns.
‘It’s hard to imagine what a Stage 5 might look like. But it would radically change the way people live.
‘Not just rules on when and where you can go shopping – but restrictions on going shopping at all.’
Under Stage Four, department stores like Myer, David Jones, Target, Big W, and Kmart will all be forced to close – but can sell online and have customers pick up their orders.
Bunnings will be closed to everyone except tradespeople, but as with retailers, other customers will be able to order online and pick up at the store.
Supermarkets, grocery stores, butchers, bakers, chemists and other essential services will remain open.
Also on the shutdown list are shops selling furniture, homewares, electircal, recreational goods, clothing and shoes, florists, and antiques.
Sales of vehicles, new and used, and car parts will close but mechanics allowed to stay open to keep essential services on the road.
Pharmacies, post offices, banks, petrol stations, bottle shops, and a small list of other businesses will be spared.
Mr Andrews will be joined by Police Minister Lisa Neville and Chief Commissioner Shane Patton when he addresses the public on Tuesday.
He is likely to give further details about new restrictions introduced in regional Victoria and the policing of the unprecedented restrictions statewide.
The financial fallout of the lockdown is predicted to be upwards of $25billion for Victoria alone.
Terry Rawnsley, an expert in economies, forecast the restrictions will also hit the New South Wales economy by about $1billion during the September quarter.
Meanwhile in New South Wales, a further 12 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday.