From midnight tonight, Victoria is heading into a seven-day circuit breaker lockdown until June 3. It’s a huge measure to keep this recent bout of COVID-19 cases under control.

The reason for such dramatic action across the entire state, not just Melbourne, is because of how fast the virus is spreading in the community this time around.

“In the last day, we’ve seen more evidence that we’re dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern, which is running faster than we have ever recorded,” Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said at a press conference on Thursday morning.

Contact tracers have been working faster than ever, and now thousands of potential contacts have been identified based on all the venues visited by confirmed cases. You can see if you’ve visited one of the higher-risk sites here.

“First thing this morning, we have identified in excess of 10,000 primary and secondary contacts who will need to either quarantine, or test and isolate, and that number will continue to grow and change,” Merlino said.

“Our public health experts’ primary concern is how fast this variant is moving. We’ve seen overseas how difficult that movement can be to control.

“Here in Victoria, we’re seeing not only how quick it is, but how contagious it is as well.”

Just like we’ve seen in the past, this lockdown means pretty much all non-essential shops, as well as dine-in cafes and restaurants, will have to close.

You also won’t be able to have any guests over, unless you live alone, in which case you’re allowed to have a bubble with one other person.

It’s tough, and it’s unexpected, but that’s the nature of the beast.

“If we make the wrong choice now, if we wait too long, this thing will get away from us,” Merlino said.

Here’s what we need to know.

What’s the go with face masks?

Masks are back, both indoors and outdoors.

That means the only place where you don’t have to wear a mask is in your own home.

For everywhere else in Victoria, you better mask up.

What’s open and what’s closed?

Essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies will all remain open.

However, all other retail will only be allowed to provide contactless click-and-collect shopping.

In terms of hospitality, restaurants, cafes and pubs will only be allowed to provide takeaway, as opposed to eating-in.

Other venues like cinemas, swimming pools, art galleries, spas and pretty much everything else across Victoria will have to close as well.

Most schools and all universities will also have to move to remote learning over the next seven days.

What am I allowed to leave the house for?

The same for reasons to leave the house during previous lockdowns have been reintroduced this time:

  • Shopping for essentials within 5km of your home
  • Exercising for up to two hours within 5km of your home, with one other person at the most
  • Going to work or school if you’ve recieved permission
  • Caregiving, compassionate and medical reasons

However this time around there’s also a fifth reason: you’re allowed to leave the house to get vaccinated.

How many guests can I have over?

None, for the most part.

This circuit breaker lockdown means people won’t be able to invite mates over, except for one “intimate partner”, according to Merlino.

However, if you live all by yourself, you’ll be allowed to form a bubble with one other person.

What am I supposed to do now?

Get vaccinated.

Melino has pointed out that we can’t keep coasting off our shitty hotel quarantine system indefinitely, and that the only way to prevent future lockdowns in Victoria is to get vaccinated.

“I can’t stress this enough. The only pathway through the pandemic is for people to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible,” he said.

Of course, that’s easier said than done in Australia. You can find out if you’re eligible here.

Image: Getty Images / Asanka Ratnayake