Victoria will reimpose stay-at-home restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and one regional area of the state, Premier Daniel Andrews said, after a record daily rise in coronavirus infections.
The six-week lockdown will be effective midnight Wednesday.
“These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases,” Andrews said in a media briefing in Melbourne on Tuesday after the number of new cases hit 191.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social distancing orders in more than 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete police lockdown, causing stress and anxiety for tenants.
The border between New South Wales and Victoria will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period, with officials scrambling on Tuesday to implement a travel permit system.
The state line between New South Wales and Victoria is due to close at 11.59 pm on Tuesday for the first time in 100 years. The highly porous border, with 55 roads, is travelled daily by commuters and school children, while some businesses straddle both sides.
New South Wales is issuing daily crossing permits for residents on both sides of the border, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian has acknowledged there could be a delay, although she hoped the permits would be ready before the closure.
“I genuinely hope that they will be, and there’s every chance that they will be,” Berejiklian told the ABC on Tuesday.
“There will be queues, there will be frustration, there will be lots of questions but we’re doing this to keep everybody safe,” she added.
The Melbourne outbreak is almost entirely responsible for a rise in the average number of daily cases nationally to 109 over the past week, compared with an average of just 9 cases daily over the first week of June.
Australia has reported just short of 8,600 cases so far during the pandemic and 106 deaths, including two reported in Victoria on Monday.
Reporting by Colin Packham and Renju Jose.