A $200 fine for not wearing face masks: The latest news on Australia's COVID-19 crisis.

Face masks to become mandatory in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. 

On Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced masks and face coverings will be mandatory for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents, in a new measure to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

The rule will come into effect on Wednesday, July 22 at 11:59pm AEST, with a $200 penalty for people not wearing a mask or face covering while in public.  

"If you are out of your home for one of the four permitted reasons, then you need to be wearing a mask," Andrews said.

"It need not be a hospital-grade mask, it'd not be one of the handmade masks like I was wearing when I came in today. It can be a scarf, it can be a homemade mask."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wears a face mask as he walks into the daily briefing on July 19, 2020, in Melbourne, Australia. Image: Getty. 


Andrews said there will be some exemptions. 

"There will be some reasons not to wear a face covering. For example, those who have a medical reason, kids under 12 years of age, those who have a professional reason or if it’s just not practical, like when running – however you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can."

Andrews also said there were 363 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, plus three more deaths. Of the new cases, 327 remain under investigation. 

Sydney house party of 60 results in 30 arrests.

A house party in western Sydney was broken up on Saturday night for breaching coronavirus restrictions on gatherings. Police intend to issue up to 60 people who were in attendance with COVID-19-related infringement notices of $1000.

Police said they went to a home on Nottingham Street in Schofields about 11.30pm on Saturday after complaints of a noisy party and ended up using pepper spray when a brawl involving 15 people broke out inside the home.

30 people were arrested for refusing to move on.

The house had been booked via an online rental company, police say.


Gatherings are currently restricted to no more than 20 people in both outdoor settings and within a home in NSW.

The NSW growth rate is cause for concern.  

Authorities fear NSW residents are taking the COVID-19 threat too lightly, with a key measure of virus infection creeping higher than in Victoria.

There are concerns about NSW's reproduction rate, which indicates the number of people infected by a single positive case. It is considered crucial to controlling the spread.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said that while Victoria's reproduction rate is effectively at one, in NSW it has climbed to 1.4.

"People are more mobile, they are mixing in greater numbers," he said.

"And there are suggestions from that modelling that people are not taking those messages about physical distancing, hygiene and so forth ... as seriously as they currently are in Melbourne."

Case numbers in NSW are considerably lower than in Victoria, which tallied 217 new infections and three deaths on Saturday. NSW recorded 15 new cases on Saturday, five of which are directly or indirectly connected to the cluster originating at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, southwest Sydney, that now numbers 45 people.

Professor Kelly noted that while the reproduction rate did not necessarily translate to higher numbers of cases, it demonstrated that the potential for transmission was higher in NSW than in Victoria.

"The message to people in southwest Sydney, please be careful," he said.


Prof Kelly said there were good indications the lockdown was working in Victoria, where Saturday's numbers were half the record infections announced a day earlier.

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Overseas arrivals limited to 350 a day in NSW. 

International arrivals in Sydney will be limited to 350 people a day under tighter COVID-19 restrictions to ensure returned travellers don't overwhelm the NSW health and hotel quarantine system.

Announcing the decision on Sunday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the step was necessary to make sure the state stays in a strong position to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW, and this new cap will help us protect our state from COVID-19," Berejiklian said in a statement.

"NSW is the gateway to Australia and it is important that passengers returning home do not overrun the capacity of NSW Health and hotel quarantine."

The new airport cap will apply from 12.01am on Monday under an agreement with the federal government.

It further reduces the current cap of 450 people introduced on July 5.

Victoria's 'harsh' public housing tower lockdown ends.

Public housing residents in North Melbourne are coming out of a two-week 'hard' lockdown. Image: Getty.  


Public housing residents in North Melbourne are coming out of a two-week 'hard' lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak prompted the state government to take strict measures.

The enforced shut-in of public housing residents at 33 Alfred Street since July 4 ended late Saturday night, meaning residents can now leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise, study and work - like the rest of Melbourne.

However, up to one third of the tower's residents, who either have the virus or are a close contact of someone who does, will be required to remain in their units until they're cleared.


Victoria government announces workplace crackdown. 

Since mid-May, 80 per cent of coronavirus cases in Victoria can be attributed to transmission in the workplace, Premier Andrews said on Sunday. 

It comes as a major inspection and enforcement blitz on at-risk Victorian workplaces will commence, with the aim to tackle the increase in coronavirus cases on sites.

The state government announced the crackdown on Sunday to target at-risk workplaces including those with known COVID-19 cases, or where there is a high risk of COVID-19 given precedent in the industry.

It will also focus on workplaces where the risk of escalating health and safety risks demands an immediate response.

"This inspection blitz will identify any workplaces who are not meeting the high standards necessary to keep their employees safe," Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy in a statement.

"There is no room to cut corners or be complacent. Workplaces need to take every step possible to maintain safe workplaces and prevent or limit the spread of coronavirus."

WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police will coordinate the enforcement blitz in workplaces across the state.

- With AAP. 

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