Victoria cracks down on illegal gatherings as state records 25 new local COVID-19 cases

Police are cracking down on large gatherings in breach of Victoria’s lockdown restrictions.

In the inner city, dozens congregated for a takeaway-drink pub crawl event on the streets of Richmond on Saturday, while in Northcote about 200 people gathered for a street party.

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 also reports of a 100-person engagement party held in Melbourne which a COVID-positive guest may have attended.

An online account for Melbourne’s Jewish community has advised a community member has tested positive and visited supermarkets in Balaclava while infections.

It is believed they may have attended the engagement party.

Acting Superintendent Greg Hinton told reporters on Sunday police had increased patrols and were examining social media activity, and also looking into liquor licensing breaches.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has reiterated the best COVID-19 vaccine is “the one you can get today” as the state records 25 new local infections and the end of lockdown recedes from view.

Health authorities say 21 of the cases are linked to known outbreaks and 12 have been in isolation throughout their infectious period.

The unlinked cases include a cleaner in Greater Dandenong, a construction worker in West Footscray and two St Kilda cases.

The state now has 185 active cases.

More than 65,000 vaccine doses were administered in Victoria on Friday as the state aims for one million jabs over five weeks.

With AstraZeneca abundant and from Monday available at all state-run vaccination centres to those aged over 18, Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday that Victorians should get the jab immediately.

He said they should neither “wait for Pfizer” nor change their plans given the imminent arrival of one million Pfizer vaccines from Poland. Victoria will get 175,500 of those extra vaccines.

The Victorian government would also on Sunday and Monday open up an additional 84,000 vaccination appointments.

“No one should delay on the basis that more is coming. Yes, there’s more coming, but when that occurs, who knows?” Mr Andrews said.

“That can be highly variable and the more people that are protected faster, the greater the benefit to all of us.”

Almost 47 per cent of eligible Victorians had received one vaccine dose as of Friday, while more than 25 per cent were fully vaccinated.

The Victorian government will later this week also settle on the locations for new drive-through vaccination sites in Wyndham, Hume/Whittlesea and Melbourne’s southeast.

Mr Andrews declined to discuss the potential extension of lockdown settings in Melbourne, scheduled to conclude on Thursday, but admitted the number of mystery cases remains too high.

If the mystery case number does not dip, lockdown may be extended.

“If we were to reopen the whole economy, if we were to reopen and let people move freely right now, then we would finish up where Sydney’s at – thousands of cases,” Mr Andrews said.

“I appeal to every Victorian, please do what the vast majority are doing – following the rules, doing the right thing and every day taking us one day closer to being on the other side of this.”

As of Sunday, there were more than 500 exposure sites spread across multiple Melbourne suburbs, including the Royal Melbourne Women’s Hospital and Chadstone Shopping Centre.

Some 13,000 people in Victoria are in 14-day isolation stints.

“Our concern at this point is that rather than the outbreak running out, as we saw with the previous outbreaks we’ve been dealing with, we’re now seeing more exposures coming up and more clusters being initiated,” COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said.

“This is something that’s now touching us all in Melbourne.”

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