National News

Virus-hit Vic enters 'state of disaster'

A state of disaster has been declared in Victoria, with harsh COVID-19 restrictions on movement across Melbourne and an overnight curfew to be enforced by police.

The lockdown, effective from 6pm Sunday, grants officers additional powers to ensure people comply with the strict public health directions.

The shock move to enforce a rare health-related curfew came as the state recorded 671 new cases on Sunday - its second-highest daily total - and seven further deaths.

The new 'stage four' restrictions will run until September 13, with Premier Daniel Andrews adamant the six-week strategy is preferable a lockdown lasting six months.

"I'm not prepared to accept that or accept days and days and days of hundreds of cases and more and more death," he said on Sunday.

"These are significant steps and not taken lightly. If we don't make these changes, we're not going to get through this. We need to do more."

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton credited 'stage three' restrictions with averting 20,000 cases but admitted it hadn't been enough.

"Numbers have to change," he said.

Under the tighter restrictions, Melbourne residents will only be allowed to exercise for an hour a day and can't travel more than 5km from home for shopping or exercise.

Only one person per household can shop for groceries each day, while recreational sports such as tennis and golf will be banned altogether.

Metropolitan Melbourne will be under a nightly 8pm to 5am curfew from Sunday night, albeit with some exemptions for those providing care and travelling to and from work.

Anyone caught breaking curfew or outside a 5km radius of their principal place of residence will be handed a $1,652 on-the-spot fine.

"The time for discretion, the time for accepting some of this bad behaviour is over," Mr Andrews said.

From midnight on Wednesday, weddings will not be permitted in Melbourne unless granted an exemption on compassionate grounds.

Rules for funerals remain unchanged.

All school students, including Melbourne-based VCE pupils, will learn from home apart from some "special school" attendees and those whose parents have work commitments.

The change will come into effect from Wednesday, with Tuesday a statewide pupil free day.

Regional Victoria will move to 'stage three' stay-at-home restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, bars and gyms to shut from midnight on Wednesday.

People will only be allowed outdoors to shop for food and essential items, provide care and caregiving, and for exercise, work and study.

While acknowledging the drastic moves were necessary, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce said they would undoubtedly mean the end for many businesses.

Peak tourism body, the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, also weighed in saying the latest restrictions will further devastate the state's ailing tourism and event industry.

The premier flagged further announcements on workplaces on Monday, including some closures.

"I want to ensure all Victorians supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings, there will be no impact there," he said.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Shire to Melbourne's north has been reclassified as a regional municipality meaning it will remain under 'stage three' rules.

Victoria's latest deaths take the national toll to 208, with six of the seven connected to the age care sector.

Seventy-three of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, 598 remain under investigation and 760 "mystery cases" are yet to be traced to an original source.

© AAP 2020