Melbourne turns into ghost town on first night of curfew as tough new stage ...

The streets of Melbourne went eerily quiet on Sunday night as the state plunged into stage four lockdown in an unprecedented move that is tipped to cost the country $9billion and wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs.  

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a state of disaster and tough new measures on Sunday as Victoria recorded another 671 new coronavirus cases and seven more deaths.

For the next six weeks, Melburnians are banned from leaving their homes between 8pm and 5am unless for work or care-related reasons.

But as residents of the Victorian capital prepared for the harshest lockdown ever seen in Australia, hundreds of Sydneysiders and tourists flocked to Bondi Beach with little regard for social distancing. 

The alarming scenes came amid warnings the next three weeks were 'crucial' to ensuring New South Wales avoids a Victoria-style outbreak.

Bourke Street in the heart of Melbourne resembled a ghost town on Sunday night as the tough new curfew kicked in at 8pm

Bourke Street in the heart of Melbourne resembled a ghost town on Sunday night as the tough new curfew kicked in at 8pm

A lone Melburnian walks along Swanston Street in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday night as Victoria tightened COVID-19 restrictions

A lone Melburnian walks along Swanston Street in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday night as Victoria tightened COVID-19 restrictions 

Usually packed with diners,  the bright lights were the only signs of life in Melbourne's China Town on Sunday night

Usually packed with diners,  the bright lights were the only signs of life in Melbourne's China Town on Sunday night 

In Melbourne, many residents spent their final hours of freedom on Sunday night stocking up on groceries and other essential supplies.

A handful of others enjoyed a twilight stroll along the beachside suburb of St Kilda.

By 6pm, there was a barely a soul in sight in Melbourne's CBD, which was swarming with shoppers hours earlier.  

Federation Square and nearby Flinders Street station were deserted while fast food outlets usually bustling with dinner-time customers were empty.  

Police patrolled the city's streets, ready to pounce and issue $1,652 on-the-spot fine to anyone breaking curfew or being outside a 5km radius of their home without a valid reason. 

Thousands of jobs are expected to be lost on Monday when Premier Andrews goes into more detail about of how the stage four shutdown will affect already struggling businesses.

Police were keeping an eye on Melbourne's Federation Square during the first night of evening curfew

Police were keeping an eye on Melbourne's Federation Square during the first night of evening curfew

A few Melburnians were pictured rushing to grab last minute supplies before the 8pm curfew

A few Melburnians were pictured rushing to grab last minute supplies before the 8pm curfew

Collins Street was eerily quiet on Sunday night after Victoria recorded almost 700 new coronavirus cases within a 24 hour period

Collins Street was eerily quiet on Sunday night after Victoria recorded almost 700 new coronavirus cases within a 24 hour period

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra believes it will the final nail in the coffin for many businesses, which will be forced to close shut up shop for good.

Tens - if not hundreds of thousands - of jobs could potentially be lost in the coming weeks.  

'Stage four will mean the end for many businesses, with thousands more jobs set to be lost. Business will take a further hit with employees now also having to supervise school-age children at home again, and childcare centres closed for the first time,' he told the Herald Sun.

'Victorian businesses are going to need cash to survive these six weeks … then we'll need certainty to build a runway so we can come out of this.'

The construction industry is among the sectors desperate to get the green light to continue operating.

A lone Melburnian walks along Swanston Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the Melbourne CBD, hours after a citywide curfew was introduced

A lone Melburnian walks along Swanston Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the Melbourne CBD, hours after a citywide curfew was introduced

As the first night of stage four lockdown approached, even the usually busy Flinders Street station was deserted

As the first night of stage four lockdown approached, even the usually busy Flinders Street station was deserted

Melburnians caught outside their homes between 8pm and 5am without a valid reason will cop a $1,652 fine as of Sunday night

Melburnians caught outside their homes between 8pm and 5am without a valid reason will cop a $1,652 fine as of Sunday night 

While many major retailers such as Harvey Norman will be able to continue trading online, its owner Gerry Harvey has urged the state government 'to leave as much open as you can'.

'If someone's fridge or washing machine breaks down, that's essential,' he said. 

Melbourne's extended lockdown is expected to wipe $9billion from federal budget forecasts, a grave concern for Melbourne-based federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

'This is why we are working through options for additional federal support to complement what the Victorian government has done and will need to do,' Mr Frydenberg told The Australian.

'With Victoria representing a quarter of the national economy, the economic impact of this second wave will be felt beyond its borders. Treasury had previously estimated a stage-three lockdown in Victoria for six weeks would reduce GDP by $3.3bn in the September quarter.'

Melbourne's public transport network will shut down at nights for the next six weeks. Pictured is an empty tram in the heart of Melbourne

Melbourne's public transport network will shut down at nights for the next six weeks. Pictured is an empty tram in the heart of Melbourne

Locals flocked to St Kilda for a twilight stroll before being confined to their homes by 8pm

Locals flocked to St Kilda for a twilight stroll before being confined to their homes by 8pm

Australia's coronavirus outbreak is rapidly spiking out of control because of the horror second wave in Victoria

Australia's coronavirus outbreak is rapidly spiking out of control because of the horror second wave in Victoria

In response to the night curfews, Coles announced late on Sunday all of its supermarkets, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice and First Choice Liquor Market stores across Melbourne will close at 7.45pm each night.

The last shoppers will allowed to enter the store 15 minutes prior.

'In line with the curfew requirements, we ask that customers shop alone wherever possible and visit our stores no more than once per day,' a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

'Coles has safely served more than 350 million customers since the pandemic began, and we will continue to work closely with State and Federal Government health experts to implement any further safety measures they recommend.

Coles Express outlets are continuing to trade as normal for so essential workers and transport providers are able to access fuel and other necessities.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA ON HIGH ALERT AFTER RECORDING TWO NEW CASES 

South Australia has recorded two new coronavirus cases, one a woman in her 20s who was at a school while likely infectious.

The new cases were revealed on Sunday as the state warned of the potential for tougher protection measures.

The woman was a close contact of a known COVID-19 case and had been placed in hotel quarantine, SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said.

Health representatives are contacting staff and students at Thebarton Senior College and Roma Mitchell Secondary College where the woman attended while infectious.

The second case is a teenage girl who flew into the state from Victoria on July 26.

Premier Steven Marshall on Sunday said his government was poised to quickly impose stricter rules if needed, to separate SA from the growing threat of eastern states

Premier Steven Marshall on Sunday said his government was poised to quickly impose stricter rules if needed, to separate SA from the growing threat of eastern states

'The chances of her being infectious in South Australia are very low,' Prof Spurrier said.

Authorities have found seven close contacts of the girl, who had symptoms 11 days before arriving in SA and tested positive on Saturday.

More broadly, police will step up efforts to combat complacency about restrictions, with the state considering tougher protections.

Premier Steven Marshall on Sunday said his government was poised to quickly impose stricter rules if needed, to separate SA from the growing threat of eastern states.

'We're very concerned about the unfolding situation in Victoria and we're very supportive of further restrictions being put in place in that state,' he told reporters.

'We here in South Australia have been on high alert for weeks ... with what has been happening in Victoria. We don't rule out further restrictions should they become necessary.'

 

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St Kilda's strip of cafes and restaurants was completely deserted on Sunday night

St Kilda's strip of cafes and restaurants was completely deserted on Sunday night 

There were no signs of diners in the usually bustling Melbourne's China Town (pictured) on Sunday evening

There were no signs of diners in the usually bustling Melbourne's China Town (pictured) on Sunday evening 

Melbourne will remain in stage four lockdown until at least September 13. 

Just 73 of the 671 new cases announced on Sunday are linked to known and contained outbreaks.  

The new restrictions are in some ways even harsher than the lockdown imposed by New Zealand earlier this year.

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. 

The rest of Victoria, which has 328 active cases, will return to stage lockdown from 11.59pm Wednesday.

Mr Andrews said the tight restrictions were necessary to prevent the lockdown dragging on until Christmas.

'Six weeks versus a slower strategy. A much, much slower strategy that takes up to six months,' he said.

'I'm not prepared to accept that or accept days and days and days of hundreds of cases and more and more death.

'All of those changes are about limiting the number of people we come into contact with.'

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said 'stage three' restrictions implemented almost a month ago hadn't been enough.

'Numbers have to change,' he said. 

Melburnians appeared to be complying with directions with barely any pedestrians or traffic out and about on Sunday night

Melburnians appeared to be complying with directions with barely any pedestrians or traffic out and about on Sunday night

Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall was eerily quiet on the first night of stage four lockdown

Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall was eerily quiet on the first night of stage four lockdown

A lone pedestrian walks past David Jones in Bourke Street Mall on Sunday night

A lone pedestrian walks past David Jones in Bourke Street Mall on Sunday night

VICTORIA'S COVID-19 CASES BY NUMBERS  

VICTORIA'S COVID-19 NUMBERS FOR AUGUST 2:

* 671 new cases, the 28th consecutive day of a triple-digit increase

* Seven more deaths, bringing the state's toll to 123 and the national figure to 208

* The latest deaths include three women in their 70s, two women in their 80s, one man in his 90s and one woman in her 90s

* Six of the latest deaths are linked to aged care

* 73 of the 671 new cases are linked to known outbreaks or complex cases and 598 remain under investigation

* 760 "mystery cases" yet to be traced to an original source

* 11,557 total confirmed cases in the state and 4915 people have recovered from the virus

* 6322 cases are currently active in the state

* 1962 cases may indicate community transmission

* 1053 active cases are linked to aged care, 649 healthcare workers infected

* 385 people in hospital, with 38 in intensive care

* Some 1,651,953 tests have been completed since the start of the pandemic, with about 18,000 conducted on Saturday

* Exact test numbers weren't available on Sunday

* Sunday's daily total was Victoria's second-highest behind 723 on Thursday

* It prompted a move to 'stage four' restrictions for

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