The Morrison government has taken steps to guarantee childcare places, centres and jobs as Melbourne moves into a harsh six-week coronavirus lockdown.
The Victorian capital recorded 725 new cases and 15 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state's toll to 162 and the national figure to 247.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan unveiled a childcare rescue package before ramped-up measures to shut businesses and severely limit movement take effect.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the initiative would secure childcare spots, while ensuring no centres closed or jobs were lost.
"A triple guarantee for parents, the services themselves, as well as for the employees," he told the Seven Network.
The federal government will allow 30 days of extra absences so places aren't lost while children are being kept home.
Mr Tehan said he was confident providers would waive the gap fee for parents.
"For those parents who can't send their children to care, there will be no cost to them. They'll be able to keep their child enrolled," he said.
With the government providing extra payments to providers, Mr Tehan expects all centres' revenue to be on average between 80 and 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said only permitted workers with no one home to look after children would be allowed to access child care.
He said he could not give the green light to a quarter of a million children going to and from child care each day.
Devastating nursing home outbreaks continue to weigh heavily on Victoria, with 12 of the latest deaths linked to aged care.
The prime minister is also offering other states and territories to join Victoria in receiving $1500 payments for workers without sick leave.
Unions and Labor have been pushing for a national scheme, stressing the need to prevent outbreaks triggered by workplace transmission.
Queensland will close to people from NSW and the ACT from 1am on Saturday, despite Canberra having no active cases and not recording a new infection for almost a month.
NSW recorded 12 new cases on Tuesday with only one without a known source.
Travellers returning from Victoria to NSW will be required to go into hotel quarantine at their own expense as of Friday.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd says while that's not advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, it's up to the states to make decisions to protect the public.
He says it could be years before a vaccine is found.
"We do have to be preparing to live with COVID-19 for as long as possible," Professor Kidd told reporters in Canberra.
"Clearly the aim in Australia is that we will continue to drive community transmission levels down to as low as possible to allow the people of Australia to get on with their lives."