August 6, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Visit Victoria

Melbourne entered its sixth COVID-19 lockdown at 8pm last night after five new locally acquired cases were identified that were not linked to the washup of the last outbreak – which saw the state in a lockdown in July – and which had been infectious in the community.

The lockdown restrictions apply to the whole state and mean there are only five reasons to leave home – for authorised work or permitted education, for caregiving or medical care, for exercise up to two hours a day, to shop for essential items and to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Shopping and exercise must be within 5km of home and singles bubbles have been reinstated. Masks are required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. The lockdown is set to last for seven days, ending next Thursday July 12 at 8pm.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has confirmed it will be closed for the duration of the lockdown.

The Hunter Valley region and Newcastle in NSW were also sent into lockdown yesterday after five locally acquired cases were identified around Newcastle. NSW Health authorities have flagged a beach party which may have been attended by Sydney residents – despite the lockdown preventing them from leaving Greater Sydney – as the potential source of the cases. The lockdown, which is set to go for seven days until 12.01am Friday August 13, applies to the Newcastle, Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Port Stephens and Singleton local government areas. Restrictions mirror those imposed on the Greater Sydney, with residents allowed to leave home for work if it can’t be done from home, education, essential shopping, exercise and medical care, including COVID-19 vaccination. Shopping and exercise is limited to within 10km of home.

These two latest locked down areas join South East Queensland and Greater Sydney in being subjected to tight stay-at-home restrictions. The lockdown in Queensland is set to end on Sunday – although authorities have has it is too early to confirm whether the lockdown will end on schedule – while Sydney will remain in lockdown until at least August 28. Australia’s largest city reported its highest daily case load and deaths in the current outbreak yesterday, with 262 locally acquired cases and five deaths.