This is not the news I wanted to be delivering today – and I’m sure it’s not the news anyone wants to be hearing. We've managed to slow the case numbers over the past couple of weeks. But the epidemiological modelling is telling us that at current rates of transmission, and with our current restrictions, it would take months to drive the numbers back down – not days or weeks. And that means months of uncertainty and living in limbo. It also means, sadly, more Victorians in hospital beds. More Victorians hooked up to machines just to breathe. More funerals. We can't allow this to drag on – and I’m sure everyone would rather get on top of it as quickly and decisively as we possibly can. And the only way to do that is to rip the bandaid off, go harder – and do it now. That’s why from 6pm tonight, Victoria will enter a State of Disaster. We used this same direction during the fires – and as we fight this public health bushfire, we need to use it again. This will give Victoria Police additional powers to make sure people are complying with public health directions – and we’ll have more to say on this in the coming days. From 6pm tonight, Melbourne will also move to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules to limit the movement of people – and limit the spread of this virus across our city. That includes an 8pm-5am curfew – beginning tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving. New time, distance and gathering limits will also apply for exercise and shopping. Exercise will be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and no more than five kilometres from your home. Group size will be limited to a maximum of two – you and one other person – whether you live with them or not. Shopping will be limited to one person per household per day. Again, you’ll need to stay within 5kms of your home. Supermarkets will remain open – just as they have throughout this entire pandemic – so there is absolutely no need to rush out now to stock up. There will be some common-sense exceptions. If your closest supermarket is further than 5kms away, you can still shop there. If you’re a parent with little ones, you can still take them with you when you go for a walk. And these distance, gathering and time limits won’t apply for work, medical care or compassionate reasons. But basically ‘staying at home’ needs to mean exactly that. No loopholes. No excuses. Case numbers have also been rising in regional Victoria – and we can’t allow that to continue. The data suggests there's a risk the virus is moving faster and more widely than previously thought That’s why from 11.59pm on Wednesday, Stage 3 restrictions will return across regional Victoria – meaning there will once again only be four reasons to be out. Restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway. Beauty and personal services will need to close. Entertainment and cultural venues will need to close. Community sport will need to stop. This timeframe is to help local businesses prepare – not an excuse to go racing around seeing friends and maxing out your social calendar. Even though regional restrictions don’t formally start until Wednesday night, if you can stay at home in the meantime, you must. To the question I know most parents will be asking: Schools will return to remote and flexible learning – across all year levels, in all parts of the state. Students who are currently attending onsite will go to school on Monday, have a pupil free day on Tuesday, and be learning at home from Wednesday. Onsite supervision will again be available – but only for students who really need it. That means children whose parents have to go to work and vulnerable kids who can’t learn from home. From Thursday, those same rules will apply to Melbourne’s kinder and early childhood education services. We know this will be a significant ask of parents with little ones – and big ones too. But I promise, as a parent of three, it’s an ask I don’t make lightly. These changes will be in place for at least the next six weeks until Sunday 13 September. As always, we’ll keep reviewing and realigning the restrictions in line with the advice of our health experts – and if we can change things earlier, we will. Today, I’ve made some announcements that change how Victorians will live. Tomorrow and in the coming days, I’ll have more to say about changes to the way Victorians need to work – recognising that workplaces continue to be a source of much of the spread. I appreciate this gap between announcements may create a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty – and I'm sorry about that. But the truth is, this is complex – and we’re going to take some extra time to make sure we get these calls right. I know this is a lot of information to take in – and there will be details to figure out and questions to answer. I’ll explain things as clearly as I possibly can, and do my best to clarify any points of uncertainty over the next couple of days. The truth is that there are no easy solutions. If that were the case, the global community would be rid of this virus already. If there was a magic bullet, more than 683,000 people wouldn’t have already lost their lives around the world. This is the biggest and most complex challenge we’ve encountered in living memory – and it requires big and complex solutions. People will no doubt be feeling scared and sad and worried. That’s only natural given what we’re facing. It’s why I’m asking something else of Victorians: Please be calm. Please be kind. Please be patient. Please treat people the way you would want to be treated. And please – look out for each other. We can – we will – get through this.
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