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What We Know About Victoria’s Lockdown On Public Housing Towers

3,000 residents are now in "hard-lockdown"

Over the weekend, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that 3,000 public housing residents living in nine tower blocks in the Melbourne suburbs of Flemington and North Melbourne would be placed into a five-day “hard lockdown”. The decision announced at a Saturday press conference was effective immediately, in response to 24 new coronavirus cases that had been linked to the buildings – but it has since been met with chaos and confusion. 

The news came as the state recorded its second-highest ever daily increase in COVID-19 cases. 

“This is not about punishment –  it’s about protection”, Andrews said. 

Here’s what we know…

What does the lockdown mean for residents? 

Those who reside in the buildings will not be allowed to leave their units under any circumstances for five days. Exceptions will be granted for those needing care at a medical facility. Residents will also not be allowed to have any visitors. 

What supplies will residents receive? 

In statements issued on Saturday and Sunday, the government said it would provide support in the form of care packages with essential items and food deliveries. Some residents took to Twitter to share what the packages included, showing canned food like baked beans, pasta, and muesli bars. 

Andrews said the government will also distribute activity boxes for children, and was in discussions with Telstra to provide wi-fi connectivity. 

What support do residents have access to? 

The government has established a hotline, 1800 961 054It has also created a “Community Connector” program for people “experiencing loneliness or social disconnection with a friendly ear and lending a hand to get online, arrange for pet care or connect to local supports and services”.

Andrews has also said that residents will be able to access drug and alcohol services, mental health and family violence supports and healthcare. 

Rent assistance will also be provided for those living at the towers. 

“Those who are employed and because of the hard lockdown cannot go to work, they will receive a $1,500 hardship payment,” the premier said. “For those households where there is no-one in employment, they will receive a $750 hardship payment.”

What about testing?

Andrews said that public health workers and nurses would begin conducting tests on residents, and those that refused will have to remain locked down for an additional 10 days. 

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