Regional Victorians will re-enter lockdown at 1pm on Saturday as authorities scramble to contain a COVID-19 outbreak centred on the city of Shepparton.
Victoria recorded 61 new locally acquired virus cases on Saturday, including 39 in the community while infectious. Authorities have only been able to link 48 of the cases to known outbreaks.
An additional 16 cases have been detected - all in Shepparton - via rapid testing. They will be included in Sunday's numbers.
Premier Daniel Andrews says authorities had no choice but to extend Melbourne's lockdown to all of regional Victoria.
However regional centres won't be subjected to the curfew that's in place in Melbourne.
"Sadly the public health team have advised that given the Shepparton outbreak and the fact that at least one person travelled to Bendigo, and potentially others travelled beyond, that is to say there is a very significant risk of transmission right across regional Victoria," he said.
Mr Andrews said the risk was not simply confined to the Goulburn Valley area and a statewide lockdown - at this stage until September 2 - was the only option.
He also announced new restrictions for access to child care, which will move to a permit system. Only vulnerable children and the children of authorised workers will be able to access child care.
"We have seen a very large number of young people, and some very young people, become infected with this virus. This is a feature of these outbreaks, it is a feature very much of Delta and a feature of 2021," he said.
© AAP 2021
Photo: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)
To keep Victorians safe, and on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, from 1pm today Regional Victoria will enter lockdown and additional measures will come into effect in Metro Melbourne. pic.twitter.com/YY6oeOGHYA— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) August 21, 2021