Over the last two days we have seen the number of cases of coronavirus in Victoria increase by 136 to 821. Four people have already died, many more are in hospital or self-isolating at home.
In order to avoid the distressing scenes we now are seeing around the world, National Cabinet has agreed to significant new restrictions on public gatherings and will also enforce that where people can stay at home, they must stay at home.
My message to every Victorian is that there are only four reasons to leave your home: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education.
Most Victorians are doing the right thing and I’m grateful to them. But we continue to see instances of people gathering in significant numbers so we must do more.
That’s why we are also restricting gatherings to no more than two people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education.
We will not be breaking up household family dinners – but BBQs with the neighbours cannot happen anymore.
Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms will also close.
These Stage 3 restrictions will come into effect from 11:59pm and will be reviewed after four weeks.
If people breach these directions, they face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Larger fines can also be issued through the courts.
As we deal with this health crisis, we know that for many Victorians it’s an economic crisis as well. With many businesses losing their customers, and Victorians losing their jobs, paying rent is becoming impossible for some people.
That’s why National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for residential and commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus. This will apply across all states and territories.
The events we are living through are unprecedented and are going to mean big changes for everyone from our littlest Victorians to our most senior citizens.
Life is going to look very different for a while but if we don’t make these changes now, the virus will continue to spread, and our health system will be overwhelmed.
And while we’re treating patients suffering from coronavirus, we also need to keep looking after new-born babies, heart attack and stroke patients, and people who need cancer treatment.
That could be someone in your family, your best mate, your work colleague – or you.
To flatten the curve, we are all going to have to sacrifice a lot. But it may be the most important thing we ever do.
So please: Stay home. Protect our health system. Save lives.