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A wedding ban and no takeaway: What stage 4 lockdown could look like in Melbourne.

On Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews mentioned the possibility of stage four restrictions.

"I can’t rule out we have further limits placed on people’s movement. I can’t rule that out," he told reporters.

"If you don’t want a stage four, if you don’t want the lockdown to last a moment longer, then please follow the rules. Do the right thing by your family, your community, and every family."

It comes as metropolitan Melbourne is seeing unprecedented levels of community transmission. 

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So, what exactly would a stage four lockdown entail? 

Since the pandemic began, no Australian state or territory has entered a stage four lockdown - meaning there is no government guide outlining what further measures may include. 

New Zealand was in stage four lockdown from March 25, and remained there for 10 weeks. The country achieved substantial success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 under their stage four lockdown, temporarily eliminating the virus from their shores (until overseas travellers returned and re-introduced it).

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Here is what their stage four lockdown looked like:

  • All schools, for all year groups, are closed. 
  • Early childhood education centres are also closed. 
  • People instructed to stay home other than for essential personal movement.
  • Travel is severely limited.
  • Exercise is restricted to your local area, can be readily accessed from home and two-metre physical distance must be maintained
  • All gatherings cancelled.
  • Weddings banned. 
  • Funerals can continue, but only people from the same “self-isolation bubble” as the deceased person can go to the funeral home and cemetery, and only if they’re in the same region.
  • All public venues closed. 
  • All businesses are closed, except for essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities.
  • Takeaway services are closed. 
  • All places where people congregate, including cafes and playgrounds, are closed. 
  • Majority of medical consultations are conducted either over the phone or by videoconference. 
  • People can only make physical contact with those they live with.
  • A child can leave the residence of one joint care-giver to visit or stay at the resident of another joint care-giver if there is a shared bubble arrangement. 

Other measures may include compulsory mask-wearing, and establishing self-contained zones, which would involve restricting travel within certain suburbs and postcodes. 

So, how likely is it that Melbourne could enter stage four restrictions?

Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, an Infectious Diseases Specialist from the Australian National University, told ABC’s 7.30 on Tuesday that stage four restrictions were "on the table, for sure".

"It means very limited, very restricted movement. It will be mentally challenging for all the residents who are under that stage four lockdown. It will have economic consequences, too...

"We know from the Wuhan experience, though bigger than Melbourne, it took about four weeks for the outbreak to come under control using lockdown measures."

Currently, five million metropolitan Melbourne residents are living under stage three restrictions. 

The Victorian Government announced the Stay at Home Directions for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11:59pm on Wednesday, July 8, effective for six weeks, until Wednesday, August 19.

Residents have four permissible reasons to leave the house. They are:

  • Shopping for food or other essential items 
  • To provide caregiving, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • For exercise (outdoor exercise only, with only one other person or members of your household)
  • Work or study, if you cannot work or study from home.

Masks are heavily encouraged for Melbournians to wear when outside their home, but are not yet compulsory. 

The number of new cases that can be attributed to community transmission in the coming days will be the decider for if the city is placed under a stage four lockdown. 

Feature image: Getty. 


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