Hospitality venues in Melbourne will be forced to revert back to takeaway-only trade for six weeks, after the Victorian government announced the return of stage-three restrictions on metropolitan Melbourne and the Shire of Mitchell, a local government area to the north of the city.
The restrictions come into effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday 8 July, just weeks after restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars in Victoria were given the green light to open to up to 20 diners.
Food courts, as well as cinemas, beauty parlours, galleries and museums, will also close.
The return of lockdown in Melbourne and suburbs in the Mitchell Shire – including Broadford, Kilmore, Pyalong, Seymour, Tallarook and Wallan – comes after a recent spike of COVID-19 infections in the state. Today, Victoria recorded 191 new cases of the virus.
In a press conference this afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews emphasised the return to lockdown was a matter of public health.
"I'm very sorry that we find ourselves in this position. I would, with the greatest of respect, put it to you getting this virus and dying from it is very onerous too. [...] Let's not see it as simply an inconvenience. It's much more than that. It's a pandemic. And it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us," he said.
Stage-three restrictions were reimposed on 12 Melbourne postcodes earlier this month, forcing restaurants and cafés in 39 suburbs to close their dining rooms and revert to takeaway-only trade.
Victoria was the last state in Australia to allow diners back into hospitality venues on 1 June.
Edit: A previous version of this article said Victoria allowed hospitality venues to allow diners from 22 June, which was incorrect. Up to 20 diners were allowed into hospitality venues on 1 June; on 22 June this cap was raised to 50 diners.