Dedicated taskforce of 500 police officers to enforce Victoria's coronavirus shutdown

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews says hospitality venues and schools are set to shut down as part of a statewide shutdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Saturday, March 21, 2020. The premier has announced a $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package for businesses. (AAP Image/Erik Anderson) NO ARCHIVING

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP

A dedicated taskforce of 500 police officers will enforce Victoria's coronavirus shutdown of non-essential services and self-isolation of travellers.

Pubs, clubs, Crown Casino and schools will all close for at least three weeks in the state-wide shutdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"These bans, this shutdown, includes pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, licensed venues in hotels and pubs beyond that, gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas, entertainment venue, weddings and funerals," Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Monday.

"This list basically represents a very big step, a massive step, that is essential to keep Victorians and Australians safe."

Victoria recorded 59 new cases overnight, taking the state's total to 355 cases. The number is expected to rise on Monday with the tally finalised at 9.30am, Mr Andrews said.

To make sure people are sticking to the 14-day self-isolation mandate for travellers into Australia and the shutdown, 500 police have been redirected to a dedicated task force.

"In some respects, it is disappointing that it has come to this," Mr Andrews told reporters in a passionate plea for co-operation from Victorians.

"But we've seen people on beaches in Sydney, we could just as easily have seen pictures of people in bars and cafes and restaurants and nightclubs here in Melbourne and nightclubs here in Melbourne and right across Victoria.

"It's unacceptable, it will cost lives."

Victoria's school holidays have been brought forward to start on Tuesday instead of Friday, so teachers can prepare for the possibility of remote learning.

Mr Andrews said at this stage schools were due to return on April 14 and families should plan accordingly.

The schools shutdown is in defiance of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's insistence that they should remain open.

Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores.

Freight, logistics and home delivery are considered essential and will remain open.

A $1.7 billion package was unveiled by the Victorian government on Saturday to help businesses cope with the impact of the coronavirus.

Small businesses will get full refunds on their payroll tax bills for the rest of the financial year, and a $500 million fund will be created to help people who have lost their jobs find new work.

If you believe you may have contracted the coronavirus, call your doctor (don't visit), or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

3 min read
Published 23 March 2020 at 8:41am