Live updates, August 2: ‘State of disaster’ declared in Victoria; Curfew implemented in Melbourne

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for August 2 where we bring you the latest on New Zealand news, politics and the Covid-19 crisis, updated throughout the day.

6.10pm: The day in sum

Melbourne entered a strict NZ-style level four lockdown, including a curfew, while regional Victoria will begin level three restrictions from midnight Wednesday.

The announcement came as Victoria confirmed 671 new cases and seven new deaths.

There were three new Covid-19 cases in managed isolation in New Zealand – two women who arrived from Manila and LA respectively, and a child from Pakistan.

Work visa holders will be allowed to enter New Zealand “within the coming months”, finance minister Grant Robertson said.

5.15pm: Strict level four lockdown for Melbourne, rest of state to enter level three

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has just announced details of a stringent lockdown for Melbourne to go into effect immediately. A level three lockdown for regional Victoria will begin at midnight on Wednesday. The restrictions will last for six weeks, until September 13.

The changes come as authorities announce 671 new Covid-19 cases in the state overnight, and seven deaths.

The Melbourne lockdown at a glance:

  • 8pm-5am curfew from tonight.
  • A 5km radius from home for shopping/exercise.
  • 1 hour exercise a day, with a maximum of two people
  • A limit of 1 person per housebound to go shopping at one time.

Andrews began his media conference by announcing he was declaring a “state of disaster” across Victoria. “This will be in addition to the state of emergency that’s operated throughout. This means that police and others have additional powers. We can suspend various acts of the parliament and make sure that we get the job done and there’s no question about the enforceability and the way in which new rules will operate.”

He went on to detail further restrictions on Melbourne residents’ ability to leave home. “You will no longer be able to leave home and go any further away from your home than a 5km radius. You will not be able to be at any point more than 5km away from your home for the purposes of shopping for what you need. Only one person will be able to go shopping once per day and they will need to secure the goods and services that are what you need within a 5km radius.

“In terms of exercise, recreational activity is now no longer allowed. You will be able to have one hour of exercise, no further than 5km from your home. That means it’s fresh air. It’s a jog. It’s a walk. It’s in your local neighbourhood. It is staying close to home or in your home. And there will no longer be able to be groups any bigger than two, regardless of whether they’re from your family or someone else.

A curfew would operate across metropolitan Melbourne from 8pm every day, starting tonight. “And the only reason to be out of your home between the hours of 8pm and 5am is to get care, to give care, or to go to and from work or be at work.”

He also announced new “stage three” restrictions for regional Victoria, to go into effect from midnight on Wednesday. “That’s stay at home, except for the four reasons to leaving. That will mean restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms, a whole range of other settings will need to close from midnight next Wednesday

“There will be changes to schools. So from Wednesday, we will move to flexible and remote learning for all students in all schools right across the state. What that means for metropolitan Melbourne the Year 11 and 12s will go back to working from home.”

2.15pm: Victoria records more than 650 new cases overnight – reports

The Australian state of Victoria has recorded over 650 new Covid-19 cases, according to media reports. The premier, Daniel Andrews, will confirm the overnight numbers, including any new deaths, at a press conference later today. If correct, today’s numbers represent a grim uptick following a dip yesterday when the state recorded 397 cases. There were 627 cases on Friday. Melbourne, where the outbreak is centred, is apparently set to go into New Zealand-style level four lockdown within days, as the state struggles to bring the outbreak under control.

1.15pm: Three new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation

The Ministry of Health has issued the following media release on today’s numbers.

There are three new cases of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand today. It has been 93 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source.

The first case we are reporting today is the child of a previously reported case. They arrived in New Zealand on July 14 from Pakistan, via Dubai.

The second case is a woman in her 30s who arrived in New Zealand on July 28 from Los Angeles. She has been staying at the Rydges in Auckland and tested positive for COVID-19 as part of routine testing around day three of her stay in managed isolation.

The third case is a woman in her 40s who arrived in New Zealand on August 1 from Manila, via Hong Kong.

These three people are all now staying at the Auckland quarantine facility.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now 1,215, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.

The total number of active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities is now 25.

There is no one in New Zealand receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19.

Testing

Yesterday our laboratories completed 2,401 tests, of which 2,023 swabs were taken in the community, and 378 were taken in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

This brings the total number of tests completed to date to 470,469.

Yesterday’s total is up on the last two Saturdays – on which 1,754 and 1,365 tests were completed respectively – but we still want to see testing numbers increase, particularly in Auckland and Queenstown.

Surveillance testing has been ongoing over the weekend in Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch, which are locations connected to the case in South Korea.

DHBs in Auckland have reported around 200 people being tested for COVID-19 at new model community testing centres in Northcote, Henderson, Grafton and Wiri. All tested so far have returned negative results. These centres remain open until 3pm this afternoon and continue to have plenty of capacity.

Canterbury DHB has continued to contact and offer testing to all identified contacts and people in Canterbury who were in the Queenstown region at the same time as the person who has since tested positive in South Korea. Testing is available through GPs or from one of three Urgent Care Centres in Christchurch: Riccarton Clinic, 24Hour Surgery or Moorhouse Medical.

Testing at Queenstown Medical Centre has been ongoing over the weekend, with people responding to the call to be tested if they have developed symptoms since 1 July. However, numbers tested have been lower than expected.

Southern DHB will be undertaking further community testing at a pop-up testing centre on Tuesday August 4 from 9am in the Pak n Save carpark. We are especially asking Queenstown locals to come forward, and in particular those who are working in public-facing roles and may have had symptoms during July. People don’t need to have experienced symptoms to be tested in the pop-up centre and they won’t need to self-isolate while they await the result of the test.

The person who has tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in South Korea was in South Auckland from 20 June – 20 July, Queenstown from 1 – 4 July and in and around Christchurch Airport on 20 and 21 July.

Anyone who was in those areas around those dates can contact Healthline or their GP for advice on being tested – the assessment and testing are both free.

Testing widely is how we can be assured there is no undetected community transmission in New Zealand. If you are offered a swab, please get tested.

Anyone who is unsure about whether they should get tested should contact their GP or Healthline for advice on getting a swab taken.

10.00am: Work visa holders to be allowed back in ‘coming months’ – Robertson

The “next cab off the ranks” for entry into New Zealand would be those with work visas who are currently overseas, finance minister Grant Robertson told Q+A’s Jack Tame this morning. Asked whether he foresaw any further loosening of our border restrictions prior to the arrival of a vaccine, Robertson said the government would “continue to develop the framework” for immigration based on economic benefit to the country, and the next focus would be those who already have the right to live and work here. The timeframe for allowing them in would depend on New Zealand’s isolation capacity and the ability to manage incoming flows of people, he said, but he predicted that more work visa holders would be able to enter the country “within the coming months”.

Speaking about the economic outlook in the wake of the pandemic, he said the good news for New Zealand is that our exports are holding up relatively well. “So while we’re not seeing the people come into New Zealand, we are seeing our goods going out.” Asked if New Zealanders would face a tougher economic situation in the first half of next year, he said it would “probably balance out to where we are now” but the outlook would largely depend on how well other countries are able to handle Covid-19.

9.00am: Melbourne set to go into strict lockdown

Melbourne could enter level four lockdown “within days” according to the city’s daily newspaper, The Age. Drastic measures being considered include a near total shutdown of public transport networks, tougher rules to keep residents even closer to their homes, and a shutdown of most businesses.

The stricter measures have been forced by Melbourne’s seeming inability to get the Covid-19 outbreak under control under level three. On Friday the state reported 627 cases and eight deaths, the second worst day of the pandemic so far. Yesterday there were 397 cases and three more deaths. Level three has been widely criticised as too lenient, with retail stores still open and many Melburnians still going to work. There have been widespread online reports of people flouting the ban on travel and rules around the wearing of masks.

7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

A second traveller to Australia from New Zealand tested positive for Covid-19. There are now three cases from New Zealand that have been picked up from overseas.

There were two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation in New Zealand.

Matthew Hooton announced he was resigning from the National Party because he couldn’t justify “another seven weeks commuting to Wellington”

The Labour Party has thrown its support behind the campaign to make Matariki a public holiday.

Read yesterday’s live updates here



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