A "state of disaster" has been declared in Australia’s second most populous state, after health authorities recorded 671 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday.
The new cases bring Victoria state's total confirmed cases to 11,557, including 123 deaths. Australia has seen more than 17,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
In a news conference Sunday, Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster from 6 p.m. Sunday, local time (4 a.m. ET), and announced strict new stage four lockdown measures in metropolitan Melbourne.
What are the new rules? From Sunday evening, Melbourne's metro area will be placed under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., meaning people will not be allowed to leave their house during those hours. The only reasons to leave will be for work, medical care and caregiving.
Under the new rules, only one person per household will be allowed to leave their homes once a day to pick up essential goods and they must stay within a 5 km (3 mile) radius of their home.
“We have 760 mystery cases, they are active cases where we cannot trace back the source of that person's infection,” Andrews said. “Those mysteries and that community transmission is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules.”
Andrews also announced that residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for one hour of exercise each day.
Outside of Melbourne's metro area, Victoria will be placed under stage three restrictions starting at midnight on Wednesday. That will mean cafes, bars and restaurants must close and all schools will return to online learning.
All new restrictions will be in effect for six weeks from the date they are imposed.
Elsewhere in Australia: New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday “strongly recommended” that people wear masks in enclosed spaces where there is no social-distancing, at places of worship, and in areas with high community transmission.
NSW recorded 12 new cases on Sunday.