Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will order all non-essential activity to shutdown across the state in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The shutdown will be implemented over the next 48 hours but Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, bank, pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores.
School holidays will now start on Tuesday.
Freight, logisitics and home delivery are considered essential and will remain open.
Mr Andrews said he would inform National Cabinet tonight that Victoria would proceed with a shutdown.
“This is not something that we do lightly, but it’s clear that if we don’t take this step, more Victorians will contract coronavirus, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and more Victorians will die,” he said.
“All measures to be implemented by Victoria are consistent with the health advice provided by the Victorian Chief Health Officer.
“The decision whether to re-open schools after the Term 1 holidays will likewise be determined following advice from the Chief Health Officer.”
Mr Andrews said he would have more to say on the measures tomorrow morning.
The shutdown news comes as the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed one case of coronavirus has been detected in the Mitchell Shire.
There are also now two cases confirmed in the Macedon Ranges Shire.
Yesterday 67 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed – bringing the total number of cases in Victoria to 296.
Of the total 296 cases, there have been 256 in metropolitan Melbourne and 25 in regional Victoria.
While most Victorians are voluntarily complying with requests to isolate, police have strong powers to enforce the direction if it’s required.
Under the State of Emergency people who don’t comply with a directive could receive a fine of up to $20,000. Companies face fines of up to $100,000.
For the virus to spread, extended close personal contact is most likely required. Close personal contact is at least 15 minutes face-to-face or more than two hours in the same room.
Extensive testing has shown that people who have passed through places where there was a confirmed case, known as casual contacts, have an extremely low risk of transmission and are not currently recommended for testing. This will help to ensure hospitals, assessment centres and general practitioners can prioritise testing for those most at risk.
Health authorities recommend that people should be washing their hands regularly with soap and water, cough or sneezing into a tissue or elbow, and if people are ill, they should stay home.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has a hotline for public information on COVID-19 which is 1800 675 398.
Large numbers of calls will result in some delays and we ask Victorians for their patience as we work to manage the volume. Further information is also available at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.