Victoria has recorded an additional 723 cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and a further 13 deaths linked to the virus.
Today’s new infection tally marks a record for the state, up from the previous one-day high of 532 new infections on Monday.
Speaking in Melbourne this morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said 10 of 13 deaths are currently thought to be linked to outbreaks in the state’s aged care system.
In light of the new figures, Andrews said residents across the state will be required to wear face coverings when they leave the home as of midnight on Sunday, bringing regional Victoria in line with current guidelines impacting the metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire regions.
“It’s inconvenient, it’s challenging, but it’s essentially Stage 4 for Melbourne, and it’s something we can do in regional Victoria without causing significant economic cost,” Andrews said, adding that residents should “jealously guard” the relatively low levels of community transmission outside of built-up areas.
Mandatory masks and face coverings aren’t the only new change to Victoria’s coronavirus response.
Andrews said 159 of the 255 active cases in regional Victoria have been recorded in six local government areas around Geelong.
As a result, residents in the Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac-Otway, and Queenscliff regions will be banned from allowing visitors to their home from midnight tonight.
But hospitality venues are set to remain open. Andrews said the decision to allow folks to visit cafes, restaurants, and pubs was driven by infection data, which shows interactions at home and in the workplace as a key driver of new cases.
“I know that it may seem, as I said, counterintuitive, that you can go to the pub but you can’t go to your mate’s place, but ultimately that’s where the data drives that decision,” Andrews said.