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'No reason to leave': Everything we know about Victoria's lockdown on public housing towers.

In the harshest coronavirus lockdown seen in Australia yet, 3,000 residents from nine public housing towers in Melbourne have been banned from leaving their homes for any reason at all. 

The residents of the nine towers will be in lockdown for at least five days, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Saturday afternoon, with the restrictions effective immediately. 

Within minutes of the premier's announcement, police swarmed the housing estates as they blocked driveways and doorways, barring residents from leaving. 

In the meantime, health workers will go door-to-door of the towers, with the aim to test every "every single resident" for COVID-19.

It comes as a coronavirus outbreak has been identified across the public housing towers, which authorities say is due to their close-quarters living and shared spaces. 

Here's everything we know about the unprecedented public housing lockdown. 

Premier Daniel Andrews' statement.

On Saturday afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews released a lengthy statement explaining the government's decision. 

"In recent days, 23 cases across more than 12 households have been identified in the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates," Andrews said. 

"This represents a challenge we’ve not yet encountered. This is not like an outbreak spread across multiple homes or multiple suburbs.

"The close confines and the shared community spaces within these large apartment blocks means this virus can spread like wildfire.

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"And just like fire, we need to put a perimeter around it to stop it from spreading.

"It’s why, effective immediately, these estates – encompassing nine sites – will be closed and contained. Residents will be required to stay inside their homes."

Watch: Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announces public housing lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne. Post continues below. 


Video via Channel 10

Andrews acknowledged the gravity of his announcement, before adding: "An unprecedented challenge requires unprecedented action."

The government said they would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.

He added the lifting of restrictions will be determined by their success in testing and tracking the virus. 

All other residents in the postcodes where the towers are located will be under stay-at-home orders, which were effective from 11.59pm on Saturday, as postcodes 3031 and 3051 are added to the 10 existing community transmission "hot zones".

The residents' perspective.

Abdirahman Ibrahim, a father of five who lives in one of the nine towers, told AAP that he learned his building was going into lockdown via the 6pm news. 

The 27-year-old thought he had until 11.59pm on Saturday – like the other residents in his postcode – so ran downstairs to buy formula for his seven-month-old twins. He was stopped by police, and was unable to leave.

Ibrahim, a Somali-Australian who has lived in Australia for 10 years after fleeing his war-torn homeland, said he couldn't find out how to get his specific needs met.

"This is not fair," Ibrahim told AAP. "There are a lot of postcodes in lockdown but they are allowed to leave the house for essentials.

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"What the Victorian government is doing is discriminating the people who don't have a voice.

"We are not different from the rest of the Victorian community which is in lockdown now."

The father of five added that the lockdown made him feel like he'd gone back in time to the trauma his family ran from.

The premier's office told AAP that urgent requests for food and supplies were being sorted via Victoria Police and health department officials on site and interpreters are assisting. The state government will also provide financial support for those who cannot attend work because of home isolation.

The peak body for the social service sector said any mistakes in the management of the public housing lockdowns could be "horrific".

Residents there are dealing with trauma from war and domestic violence, mental illness, disability, difficulty with English and unreliable employment, Victorian Council of Social Services head Emma King said. 

Update on Victoria's latest numbers.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 74 new cases, with the tally now standing at 2,536.

Of the new cases, 16 are linked to controlled outbreaks, four were detected through routine testing, one case is linked to a returned traveller, and 53 cases remain under investigation.

On Saturday, Victoria recorded 108 new cases, which is their second-biggest daily rise since the pandemic began. 

In the state, there are currently 543 active coronavirus cases.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

On Saturday, the premier addressed concerns he will place the whole of Melbourne into lockdown, saying on Saturday:  "There are now 12 postcodes locked down. If we don't all work together and follow the rules, every postcode will be locked down."

Much like earlier restrictions, the only reasons people in hotspot suburbs can leave their homes is to shop for food and supplies, to receive or provide care, to exercise, and to study or work if they can't do so from home.

It's understood little leniency will be shown to people found flouting the recent lockdown rules, with 1,000 police set out specifically to enforce them.


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