Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the state has no alternative but to enter a seven-day lockdown to contain a growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne's western suburbs.
The statewide lockdown will begin at 8pm on Thursday, after Victoria recorded eight new cases of the Delta variant, two of which will be included in Friday's official figures.
The same rules that applied during last month's lockdown will be reimposed, including the five reasons to leave home, the five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping and compulsory masks indoors and outdoors.
Mr Andrews said the decision was "very difficult", "incredibly painful" and "disappointing", but he was determined to avoid an extended lockdown.
"The alternative is not to be locked down for seven days, it's being locked down for seven weeks or more, locked down until we get to 80 per cent vaccination and that may not happen until Christmas time," he said.
"We have been through a three-month lockdown. That was 2020, we don't want that again."
Mr Andrews said Victorians were given less than four hours notice of the lockdown because an outbreak occurred at a restaurant on the eve of the last lockdown.
Regional Victoria is included in the restrictions in part because virus fragments were detected in wastewater in Wangaratta.
Health officials are concerned one of the new cases, an infected teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, may have unknowingly spread the virus in the community while infectious.
Her partner and two relatives have also tested positive.
It is unknown how the couple, who live in the Hobsons Bay area and are both in their 20s, caught the virus.
Authorities are also racing to trace the source of the infection of a man in his 20s who lives in the Maribyrnong council area.
He works at a warehouse in Derrimut and he and his housemate are isolating.
The three remaining cases from Thursday's figures are linked to the Moonee Valley testing site cluster.
The Al-Taqwa College has become a testing site and is offering vaccinations to staff and students.
There are more than 80 new exposure sites listed, largely in Melbourne's west.
It is the sixth lockdown for Victoria since the start of the pandemic and the fourth this year. The state's fifth lockdown ended just nine days ago.
Mr Andrews said further support for businesses would be announced on Friday.
Businesses that have already applied for grants during the last lockdown are expected to receive payments again this time around, without having to file new paperwork.
A similar process will be in place for those receiving the COVID-19 disaster payment.
Mr Andrews said there were also payments of $400 for casual workers required to get tested and $1500 for those required to self-isolate for 14 days.
"No one in Victoria has to make that choice between feeding their family and doing the right thing by the rest of us," he said.
Victoria has also requested extra Pfizer vaccines, following more doses being sent to NSW which is in an extended lockdown battling its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.
For exposure sites visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites
Australian Associated Press
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