VIC: Panic-buying, border chaos in countdown to lockdown
Chaos is breaking out across Victoria as more than 5.2 million people are forced back into harsh lockdown conditions for at least six weeks.
Panic-buying has resumed, with supermarket giants bringing back restrictions on staple products in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell shire.
Coles has capped the following items at two per customer: pasta, rice, flour, sugar, milk, mince meat, frozen vegetables, tissues, hand sanitiser and liquid soap.
Customers will only be able to buy one pack of toilet paper.
Woolworths has also reinstated product limits on certain products.
"The move follows a surge in demand across Victoria overnight and will help ensure more customers have fair access to fresh food and essentials at Woolworths," a statement said.
Items with a cap of two per customer include: frozen vegetables, pasta, rice, flour, sugar, milk, sliced bread, mince meat, frozen vegetables, tissues, hand sanitiser and liquid soap.
Woolworths customers can purchase two packs of toilet roll per customer.
Similar restrictions were brought in during the first wave of the coronavirus to stop panic buying.
In the state's north, police have begun patrolling the Victoria-NSW border after it was closed at midnight for the first time in 100 years.
Just hours before, families applying for border entry permits were left frustrated and angry after a NSW government website crashed after "experiencing high levels of demand".
The exemption was available from 7pm on Tuesday but it was only working for just over an hour before the "apply" button disappeared, making it impossible to use.
Around 650 police officers, joined by the military, descended on the border yesterday near the southern town of Albury, to help enforce the lockdown.
No one can enter NSW from Victoria, unless they meet exemption criteria.
This includes being a NSW resident returning home, a cross-border resident, person providing critical services and those accessing medical services.
Fines apply for those who breach the public health orders.
It comes as a nurse employed at Sunshine hospital in Melbourne's western suburbs tested positive to coronavirus.
It is understood the nurse works in the emergency department.
The department is running today and not impacted as a result of the case.
The source of the positive test is under investigation with no clear links to any known cases.
Hospital operator Western Health confirmed the positive testing and has been contacted for more details.
CARS BANK UP AT BORDER CROSSING
Traffic banked up in the early morning as hundreds of people tried to cross the border into Moama.
At 7.30am, it took 12 minutes to cross the bridge into NSW and be waved through by police with an approved permit.
Police vehicles lined the front of the queue with officers going car to car checking documents.
Those on foot were also asked for permits at the checkpoint, though there was no police presence at the walking bridge entrance to NSW.
Work colleagues Casey Love, Amanda Griffin and Tailah Clifford walked the bridge into Echuca for a morning coffee and to see how the new permit process worked.
"It's easy once you've got the proper website," Amanda said.
All three had already applied for permits for their partners and kids.
ST VINCENT'S HOSPITAL DOCTOR TESTS POSITIVE
A doctor in one of the acute medical teams at St Vincent's Hospital has tested positive to COVID-19.
"There has been no operational impact on our services," a spokeswoman said.
Fifteen employees are in precautionary quarantine as a result of potential exposure.
The infection control team is providing the hospital with support.
POLICE CLASH WITH VOLUNTEERS OUTSIDE TOWERS
Tense scenes between civilians and police have erupted outside one of the Flemington towers overnight.
Dramatic vision of the arrest shows police swarm the man and bring him to the ground near the Holland Court flats, before he yells "I can't breathe".
The scuffle was one of many that took place after charity volunteers argued with police outside 12 Holland Court, where residents have been unable to leave their homes since Saturday.
Australasian Mercy Secondary School Association Youth Connect arrived just after 9pm with packed groceries for residents.
Volunteers claim they waited around for about half an hour before deliveries were able to begin, and the fight broke out shortly after.
Counsellor Tigist Kebede filmed the incident, and can be heard yelling for the man to be let go as they scuffle with police.
"Please, please don't choke him, please … he's just trying to deliver food," she said.
Read the full story here.
$6B HOLE EXPECTED IN VICTORIA'S ECONOMY
The restrictions are expected to blow a $6bn hole in Victoria's economy, putting its recovery months behind the rest of the country.
Writing in Wednesday's Herald Sun, Josh Frydenberg said Victoria made up a quarter of the national economy and the outbreak needed to be contained quickly.
Business and industry leaders are now demanding extra support, calling the renewed restrictions the "final straw" for companies that had only just managed to reopen.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria's economy was "in for a very difficult time" and flagged a support package for businesses, after those already forced to close in specific postcodes were given $5000 grants.
Victorian Tourism Industry Council chief Felicia Mariani said the lockdown was a "seismic shock to an industry (already) crippled under the weight of restrictions".
The lockdown will also influence the federal government's decisions on the future of the JobKeeper wage subsidy and the doubled Jobseeker unemployment benefit, to be announced on July 23.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Paul Guerra said JobKeeper - providing $1500 fortnightly wage subsidies - needed to be extended by at least two months to give businesses "the runway they need to get up and running before the scheme ends".
"This (second wave) is definitely bad for jobs in Victoria and we are seeing a desperation from businesses that we have just not seen before," Mr Guerra said. "Melbourne businesses and workers will once again be asked to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, and we know this will be the final straw for some."
The Treasurer said the Australian economy needed Victoria to halt the spread of the virus. "The speed and trajectory of our national economy recovery depends on it," Mr Frydenberg said.
He said consumer confidence was going backwards, and Treasury modelling found a return to restrictions would cost Victoria about $1bn a week.
Asked whether federal economic support measures should be extended, Mr Andrews said he was "very confident that the Prime Minister knows and understands that there will be different forms of hardship in different parts of the country".
"I think he's going to be guided by that hardship," he said.
The new lockdown is expected to deliver a shattering blow to the state's tourism industry.
CHILDCARE FUNDING CHANGES FOR MELBOURNE FAMILIES
Emergency changes to childcare funding have been made by the Federal Government to ensure centres remain viable even as Victorian families keep their kids at home during the six-week lockdown.
Childcare operators in the Melbourne postcodes where stay-at-home rules are already in place have been calling for extra support, with the free childcare initiative brought in during the pandemic ending this weekend.
Education Minister Dan Tehan announced on Tuesday night that operators would be allowed to waive the gap fee charged to Melbourne parents from Monday if their children were not attending because of the renewed coronavirus restrictions.
SCHOOLING AGAIN PUT TO THE TEST
Only years 11 and 12 students, Year 10s studying a VCE subject and specialist schools will return for third term next week in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
The remaining year levels will have an extra week tacked on to their holidays as the State Government crunches COVID-19 numbers to see what the balance of third term might look like.
The changes will affect about 700,000 students across public, Catholic and independent campuses.
The school changes affect metropolitan councils, including the Mornington Peninsula, and Mitchell Shire, 40km north of Melbourne.
These areas are also subject to six-week lockdown measures starting Wednesday night.
Mitchell Shire takes in Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour, Tallarook, Pyalong and Wallan.
Schools outside metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will continue face-to-face classes from next week.
Specialist schools will not be affected, with on-campus learning continuing even in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire areas.
Children of essential workers in lockdown areas can access holiday care next week.
While pupils from Prep to Year 10 (excluding those doing a VCE subject) in the lockdown areas will get an extra week of school holidays, teachers will be at school next week in what is being called curriculum days to work on how term three will be delivered.
Education Minister James Merlino confirmed teachers in the affected council areas would use the extra school holiday week to prepare for a possible return to remote learning for Prep to Year 10 from July 20.
Mr Andrews said senior students would return to class to ensure they had some consistency with fellow VCE students in country Victoria who would continue to attend school.
He said older students would have a better understanding of maintaining physical distance in a school setting and to and from school.
"That's seen as a much lower risk and every day at school is important for those Year 11 and Year 12 students," said Mr Andews, who has a son in Year 12 this year. "We want to make sure their VCE is not any more disrupted than it already has been."
Mr Andrews said specialist schools would return because feedback from teachers and families was their children had struggled in the remote setting.
"Before the end of this week, we will finalise what our plans are for flexible and remote learning at the very latest early into next week," he said.
Victoria's Chief Health Office Brett Sutton said he believed schools were manageable if people kept physical distancing and hygiene up.
While transmission in schools was not high, Al-Taqwa College in Truganina was an exemption. There are now 90 cases linked to the outbreak at the school.
Independent Schools Victoria chief Michelle Green said it continued to recommend schools act on the advice of government health authorities.
Catholic Education Melbourne, which was among groups consulted, said it supported the lockdown.
Schools in the following local government areas will be affected: Mitchell, Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges and Hobsons Bay.
NEW CLOSING TIME
Friends Glen Crawforth and Angus Kerr popped into the London Tavern in Richmond on Tuesday night after the lockdown announcement.
"It feels like a bit of a Last Supper," Mr Crawforth said.
"It's a little bit sombre. We were kind of really excited about it being back and having a bit of normality and now it's like having the rug pulled from under you. Back to square one."
Mr Kerr said: "It's really disappointing for the publican. We've come down to support him and have a few drinks before it goes back to the old ways of lockdown.
Footscray cafe West 48 owner Steffan Tissa said the return to lockdown was expected but disappointing.
He said it brought to a halt the strong trade they had been enjoying from dine-in customers.
"It was nice to kind of build that momentum we had over the past few weeks," he said.
"The customer sentiment was excellent. Now it's back to takeaway. It's a bit like 'here we go again'."
He said it meant some employees could face reduced hours.
"I've had to make those hard phone calls advising my staff we have to go back to that holding pattern once more.
"We'll share the load as much as we can, even if it's one less shift a week. We'll have to wait and see what trade will be like."
POSITIVE TEST SHUTS FIRST VICTORIAN GYM
A gym in Lower Templestowe is the first in Victoria to shut because a member returned a positive COVID-19 test.
Aquarena Aquatic and Leisure Centre issued a letter to its customers on Monday, saying a member who visited the gym last week had tested positive for COVID-19.
"If you visited Aquarena between Monday, June 29, and Friday, July 3, even if you have not been identified as a close contact, we encourage you to review and follow the Department of Health and Human Services advice," a spokesman said.
"If you have any symptoms or concerns, we encourage you to get tested and self-isolate for 48 hours as a precautionary measure.
"Through the controlled and separate entry procedures in place for the gym area and our venue booking system, we can confirm the member only visited the gym facility and there is no concern for other areas of the venue. Our aquatics facilities remain open."
Staff are hoping to reopen it today after a deep clean.
Originally published as Panic-buying, border chaos in countdown to lockdown