Victorian schools, pubs and clubs closed for at least three weeks, police to enforce new rules

By Simon Ruppert

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged Victorians to stay at home and heed warnings as closures are implemented across the state in a bid to contain coronavirus.

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

The closures have been set for a minimum of three weeks according to the government.

“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,’’ the premier confirmed on Monday.

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

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.

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‘‘It's unacceptable, it will cost lives.”

Victoria's school holidays have been brought forward to start yesterday 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.

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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 will be created to help people who have lost their jobs find new work.