Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended by two weeks and a curfew will be reimposed, as the premier slammed the “s***ty” choices of a family accused of hosting an illegal engagement party.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced the extension, as well as a raft of tougher restrictions, after the state recorded 22 new local COVID-19 cases, including five mystery cases.
A 9pm to 5am curfew, which was in place during the state’s second wave last year, will return from 11.59pm on Monday, while permits for work will be reintroduced and playgrounds closed.
“Our performance more broadly is not good news. We see too many cases, we see too many mystery cases. We now have 12 or 13 different chains of transmission,” Mr Andrews said.
“The origins of some are unknown to us. That means that this is spreading in an undetected way across the community. We are at a tipping point. There is simply no option today but to further strengthen this lockdown.”
Of the new cases, eight have been active in the community during their infectious period and 17 are linked to known outbreaks.
There are six cases in hospital, one person in ICU.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the suite of measures was needed to ensure COVID-19 cases did not spiral out of control.
“A grumbling few cases now is the hundreds in a fortnight or the thousands in a month,” he told reporters.
Premier slams ‘s***ty choices’ of family
The new numbers comes after video footage emerged online of an engagement party that may have been attended by a COVID-19 case.
Mr Andrews said the state had no choice but to extend the lockdown given the number of mystery cases, illegal gatherings at the weekend and the number of children spreading the virus.
“We’ve seen lots of different people flouting these rules, not doing as they should, making really poor choices,” he said.
In particular, Mr Andrews said an engagement party last week of 69 people was particularly egregious.
“There has been transmission at that event,” he said.
“But what makes me really angry about that event is that each of those 69 people will have to be interviewed. Their close contact also have to be spoken to, tested.”
A mother and son from St Kilda East, the heart of the city’s Jewish community, tested positive for COVID-19 at the weekend, despite having no known links to other cases.
It is believed one of them attended an engagement party, allegedly held in breach of lockdown restrictions earlier in the week.
“They are s***ty choices,” Mr Andrews said, adding the family was not a victim following intense backlash.
“The is not an act of faith, this is not part of any cultural practice. This is just bad behaviour.”
AAP understands at least two medical professionals attended the event, while another guest works as a prison chaplain, though they haven’t conducted a visit since February.
The newly elected president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Daniel Aghion, called for calm and said anyone concerned about exposure should contact authorities, whle the Rabbinical Council of Victoria urged the community to follow restrictions.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police were investigating the party and expects to fine every adult attendee.
“If you take off a few for each child, that’s going to be over $350,000 worth of fines. That’s an expensive engagement party,” he said.
In a video, seen by AAP, dozens of people, who aren’t wearing masks, are gathered in what appears to be a private residence, listening to a man give a speech.
“Clearly this is legal as a group therapy session. That’s why my father’s here,” the man jokes.
Another party member adds: “He’s a mental health clinician.”
Melbourne’s Jewish leaders urged community members to follow lockdown rules after the illegal gathering.
Former Victorian Labor MP Philip Dalidakis said he recognised people he knew from the video.
“I am speechless. I am genuinely shocked at the brazen disregard for our laws,” he wrote on social media.
“Not one person in the video should be there, not one person in the video is using masks, not one person in the video is considering the selfish impact their behaviour is now having.”
While noting the event was not representative of the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community, he said small pockets needed to reflect on “just how dangerous and selfish their behaviour has been”.
COVID response commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters on Sunday he believed the St Kilda East pair had been infectious in the community for a number of days.
He described the developments as part of a tipping point in the latest outbreak, and said health officers had been meeting with community leaders since Saturday.
The council has warned of several exposure sites frequented by Melbourne’s Jewish community, including supermarkets and pharmacies in Balaclava, Haymisha Bakery, Daneli’s Deli and Doms Balaclava Fruit Mart.
It comes as police crack down on illegal gatherings after dozens congregated for a takeaway-drink pub crawl event in Richmond on Saturday and about 200 people gathered for a street party in Northcote.
On the Mornington Peninsula, one resident had made plans to invite a thousand people to a house party with a DJ and a stage.
There are currently more than 500 exposure sites listed across the state.
With SBS News