Today the inevitable has happened, after weeks of ballooning figures, Victoria has declared a ‘State Of Disaster’ as of 6pm tonight and will now enter a hard lockdown in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The move comes after many in Government and emergency services have expressed their dismay at the number of people flouting orders to stay home whilst waiting for test results.

Last week it was revealed that 1 in 4 people were not home when door knocked by ADF and medical officers, while the rate of community transmissions also remains alarmingly high.

The lockdown is set to see only supermarkets, banks, postal services, pharmacies and service stations being allowed to continue trading in Melbourne and key regional areas of Victoria, with further announcements on this due tomorrow.

However, this lockdown will inevitably see more businesses forced into closing their doors with residents forced to stay in their suburbs and to travel no further than 5 km.

No more than one person per household will be able to visit the supermarkets per day.

Recreational activity is no longer allowed for more than one hour per day and in groups of no bigger than two.

Most students will return, much to the dismay of parents, back to home-schooling from Wednesday.

In the most extreme of measures announced today a curfew will be in place from 8pm to 5am each night, with police out in force to ensure people comply with the order.

Masks will remain mandatory in Melbourne with the requirement set to be rolled out across the state from midnight tonight, with some regional areas having already had restriction similar to Melbourne’s Stage 3 lockdowns introduced in recent days.

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 As the rest of the country cautiously opened up, Melbourne was forced back into lockdown three weeks ago. However, with new daily transmissions having reached as high as 723 new cases it is clear that if we want to beat this tougher restrictions and a greater level of public compliance is desperately needed.  

In Sunday’s press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had this to say.

I want to highlight one number, and that is as of today we have 760 mystery cases where we cannot trace back to the source of infection. Community transmission remains our biggest challenge and this why we need these new set of rules, not just in metro Melbourne but also in regional Victoria as well. We must go further, and go harder.

“If we were to continue to pursue this current strategy in order to lower numbers it would take to the end of the year.

Like other marginalised communities the impacts of this next phase of lockdown will enviably be felt more acutely by LGBTQI individuals, community groups and businesses. Those without proper access to technology may feel the effects of social isolation even greater than others, while many of the businesses Star Observer featured in our last print edition will now face a new set of challenges in order to stay afloat. While community organisations, whom have already experience an upsurge in requests for support, will likely see this need only increase in coming weeks.

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 Queer Space at Drummond Street Services is one such community group, speaking with Star Observer CEO Karen Field said, “we can’t under play or under emphasis the degree to which further isolation will affect people, as our most marginalised and excluded within the queer community often already feel that way.

“We say we are all in this together, but in fact there are those in our community that are at a much greater risk of disadvantage. It’s really important to acknowledge that.

“A lot of people are cut off from their social supports and are living on their own. Some have primary health issues, so therefore getting groceries and other essentials becomes really difficult. We are feeding a lot of community members who might be immune compromised or others who are in such extreme levels of disadvantage that they have no income or are either in insecure housing or homeless.

“If people need help, they can reach out to Queer Space. We will continue to feed people and get people to safety, we are not going anywhere.”

Around the country government bodies and communities alike remain on high alert, knowing Melbourne’s ill fate could easily befall on other locations. In New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has strongly encouraged the wearing of masks particularly indoors, on public transport and in areas of community transmission, including parts of Western Sydney and Potts Point. after the state recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 overnight.

If during these further lockdown restrictions, you require assistance there are a range of community groups who can help. Star Observer has compiled a lengthy resource section in our upcoming August print edition, available Thursday.

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