Victoria records 1488 cases as Shepparton, Moorabool wake up in lockdown

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Victoria has recorded 1488 new coronavirus cases and two deaths, a day after the government announced mandatory vaccinations for authorised workers and widened the state’s lockdown into two regional areas.

There were 71,224 tests taken, and 36,878 Victorians received a dose of the vaccine. Authorised workers have until October 15 to get at least a first vaccination shot.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the public health advice behind the decision to mandate vaccines for about 1.25 million authorised workers and lock down the local government areas, came after Thursday’s record COVID-19 case numbers.

The city of Shepparton in Victoria’s north and Moorabool Shire to the west of Melbourne both went back into lockdown at 11.59pm on Friday night.

The spike in cases and exposure sites has put pressure on supply chains and workers, and some supermarkets across the state will open for just four hours or be shut entirely this weekend.

Supermarket heads and department of health officials met on Friday morning to decide on the new protocols following urgent calls for change from the industry on Thursday amid warnings of store closures and potential threats to the food supply.

Major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi were pushing the government to follow the lead of NSW, where fully vaccinated workers in essential industries are usually not required to isolate as a result of casual contact with a positive case and supermarkets can manage their contact tracing.

Announcing the Shepparton lockdown in a statement just before 7pm on Friday night, acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie said caseloads in the City of Greater Shepparton had increased in recent days, with 24 active cases in the area.

The regional city will be subject to the same lockdown restrictions as metropolitan Melbourne, except for the 9pm curfew.

“If you’re in the City of Greater Shepparton, please follow the lockdown restrictions, get tested if you have symptoms, and get vaccinated if you haven’t already,” Professor Cowie said.

“We’ve just seen the Ballarat and Geelong communities get through an outbreak, so we know it can be done – it’s vital we protect the local community and the rest of regional Victoria from significant outbreaks.”

Professor Cowie asked residents in Shepparton to be on high alert for symptoms and get tested if any develop.

Testing clinics open this weekend located at GV Health on Graham Street and the Shepparton Showgrounds. An additional testing clinic is also located at the Northern Oval in the nearby town of Kyabram.

After a large COVID-19 outbreak in the city in mid-August when regional Victoria was placed under lockdown, Shepparton remained under severe restrictions until September 15.

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