Victoria has recorded four new locally acquired coronavirus cases on the first day of its sixth lockdown.
The health department confirmed the state recorded six cases in the 24 hours to Friday morning, two of which were already announced by authorities on Thursday.
All six cases are linked to previously reported infections of the Delta variant and have been in the community while infectious.
The lockdown was sparked by two separate chains of transmission, dubbed the Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong outbreaks.
The Hobsons Bay outbreak is named after a couple, aged in their 20s, who live in the local government area.
One of them is a teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, who tested positive on Wednesday.
Her partner and two relatives have also tested positive.
It’s unknown how the couple contracted the virus, with authorities hoping genomic testing results will shed some light.
Authorities are also racing to trace the source of the infection of a man in his 20s who lives in the Maribyrnong council area.
He works at a warehouse in Derrimut and he and his housemate are isolating.
For a full list of exposure sites in Victoria, click here.
Contact tracers are working on the possibility that the man came into contact with relatives in Melbourne that had been recently cleared from NSW hotel quarantine.
The seven-day, statewide lockdown took effect at 8pm on Thursday, with the same rules that applied during last month’s lockdown reimposed, including the five reasons to leave home, the five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping and compulsory masks indoors and outdoors.
Victorians were given less than four hours notice of the lockdown because an outbreak occurred at a restaurant on the eve of the last lockdown and authorities were keen to avoid a similar situation occurring.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the decision to lock down was “incredibly painful” but there was no alternative.
“The alternative is not to be locked down for seven days, it’s being locked down for seven weeks or more, locked down until we get to 80 per cent vaccination and that may not happen until Christmas time,” he said.
Regional Victoria is included in the restrictions in part because virus fragments were detected in wastewater in Wangaratta.
Further financial support for businesses is expected to be announced on Friday, with those who applied for grants and income support during the last lockdown to receive payments again.
Hundreds attend anti-lockdown protests
Fifteen protesters were arrested after they rallied against the lockdown in Melbourne’s CBD overnight.
Protesters, some carrying placards and most not wearing masks, gathered at Flinders Street about 7pm on Thursday and moved into Swanston Street as police in masks gathered to try to disperse them.
Flares were lit and the crowd chanted “no more lockdowns”, the Herald Sun reported while residents of nearby apartments shouted “Go home, idiots”.
Video on Twitter feeds showed police on foot and horseback fronting the crowd, and a line of officers shoulder to shoulder on the steps of Flinders Street Station.
One video showed two officers using handheld devices to spray protesters with what may have been pepper spray.
One protester shouted “COVID is fake” and another said he was angered by Victoria’s sixth lockdown.
“We can’t keep going through this, we are losing our livelihoods,” the man from Melbourne’s southeast told the Herald Sun.
Police said “hundreds of people engaged in an unlawful protest” and they made 15 arrests – nine people were held before their identity could be confirmed to issue fines and two were arrested for breaching bail and stating false names.
They said four people were expected to be charged on summons in relation to breaching their bail, activating a flare and hindering police.
Officers also issued fines to 16 others on Thursday night for breaching coronavirus restrictions including exceeding the public gathering limit, failing to wear a mask, being more than 5km from home and being away from home other than for a permitted purpose.
Police said an officer suffered minor cuts and abrasions after he was pushed to the ground and kicked by several offenders.
“Police will continue to review video footage to identify as many protesters as we can, in order to hold offenders to account, as has been the case for previous protests,” Mr Cornelius said.
“Police are, together with the vast majority of Victorians who are doing the right thing, outraged that a small minority of people continue to engage in deliberate breaches of the CHO Directions, putting the lives and jobs of their fellow Victorians, as well as their police at risk.”
With SBS News