By Cam Lucadou-Wells
If you can stay at home, you must stay at home, Premier Daniel Andrews has bluntly urged Victorians on the eve of “painful and difficult” stage 2 Covid-19 restrictions.
“The things you choose to do but don’t have to do – don’t do them.
“No dinner party, no (non-essential) shopping trip is worth a life.”
As Victoria’s reported coronavirus cases escalated to 466, Mr Andrews warned that further stage 3 restrictions were on their way to help “flatten the curve”.
A week ago, the total numbers in Victoria were less than 100.
In the past three days, more than 170 extra cases had been recorded.
Under a national stage 2 rollout, amusement parks, play centres, fitness centres, public pools, real estate auctions, tattoo, massage and beauty parlours will close from midnight on 25 March.
Hairdresser visits will be limited to 30 minutes.
Supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, post offices, bottle shops and “essential services” remain open.
Mr Andrews urged people to work from home if they could, and to refrain from sleepovers, parties and BBQs with friends.
He said outdoors exercise, not involving groups, such as walks and bike rides were still OK.
“We have got to buy time so our nurses and doctors are ready.”
Spain, Italy, France and other afflicted countries in the world “would give everything today to have had more time earlier on”, he said.
“We have got queues of people at Centrelink offices. That’s heartbreaking. What we don’t want is queues for people who need a machine to help them breathe.
“We cannot have people queueing for intensive care beds. That will mean they will die.”
Mr Andrews said the risk wasn’t confined to the frail and aged.
“No one should kid themselves that otherwise healthy people in their 40s or perhaps even younger haven’t died from this.”
The looming Stage 3 may include child care centre restrictions. It would likely roll out in Victoria and NSW ahead of less-afflicted states, Mr Andrews said.
Protection for commercial and residential renters was expected to be announced this week.
“I don’t want to see people turfed out of their homes.”
People are advised to follow social distancing of 1.5 metres from others, to frequently wash hands with soap and water, and to sneeze or cough into the crook of their arm.
More details at coronavirus.vic.gov.au.