Coronavirus Australia: Victoria reports three more deaths and 363 new cases as masks made mandatory in Melbourne

Victoria has recorded 363 new Covid-19 cases and three more people have died as premier Daniel Andrews announced face masks will be made mandatory across Melbourne as the state attempts to control a second-wave outbreak of the virus.

At a press conference on Sunday, Andrews appeared wearing a face mask and said residents in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell shire would be required to wear “masks or face coverings” including bandannas or scarves in public from midnight on Wednesday.

“This is on the advice of the chief health officer that it’s a relatively simple thing but it’s also about embedding behaviour which I think is just as important on the other side of this second wave as it is in bringing these case numbers down,” Andrews said.

“We’re going to be wearing masks in Victoria and potentially in other parts of the country for a very long time.

“There’s no vaccine to this wildly infectious virus and it’s a simple thing, but it’s about changing habits, it’s about becoming a simple part of your routine. Most of us wouldn’t leave home without our keys, we wouldn’t leave our home without our mobile phone. You won’t be able to leave home without your mask and then wear it where it is absolutely essential to stop the spread of this virus.”

The new rule will be enforced with fines of $200, but Andrews said he hoped “that not one single fine needs to be issued”.

Meanwhile in New South Wales, which is also grappling with an outbreak of the virus, 18 new cases were recorded to 8pm on Saturday night, including a number of cases of community transmission.

The new cases included four people who attended the Thai Rock restaurant at the Stockland Mall in Wetherill Park, and a close contact of a case who was there.

The restaurant has emerged as a second cluster of cases on top of the Crossroads Hotel cluster in Casula, which has now recorded more than 40 cases.

But the new cases also included three people – including two in southern Sydney and in one in south-west Sydney – who have no identified links to known clusters and one person remains under investigation.

Only five of the new cases in NSW were from people in hotel quarantine.

A restaurant in Chippendale in inner Sydney was temporarily closed after a customer tested positive for Covid-19. Health authorities asked anyone who visited Holy Duck! on 10 July between 7.15pm and 9.30pm to self-isolate for two weeks.

On Saturday a large Maronite church in Sydney’s north-west was closed for cleaning after the discovery of a case there.

The church member attended Our Lady of Lebanon in Harris Park in Sydney’s north-west on Wednesday at 5.30pm, Thursday at 6pm and Friday at 1.30pm and 6pm. The church has been closed until Tuesday.

“It is not believed at this stage that the parishioner has contracted Covid-19 at the parish,” the church said in a post on social media.

In Victoria, Andrews said the government would provide more information on the distribution of masks, and said there would be exemptions on the rule, including for people with a medical reason, children younger than 12, those who have a professional reason, or when exercising.

Teachers will not have to wear a face covering while teaching but students will be expected to wear a mask on the way to and from school.

“Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face. The government will work with Victorian industry and unions to provide advice to workplaces in the coming days,” Andrews said.

The 363 new cases across Victoria on Sunday marked another increase after it recorded only 217 new cases of the virus on Saturday. Last week the state saw a number of record increases, including 428 cases on Friday.

Three people – two men and a woman – all in their 90s had died from the virus overnight. It brings the number of deaths from the virus in Victoria to 38. There are now 2,837 active Covid-19 cases across the state, including 130 people in hospital and 28 in intensive care units.

The state’s health minister, Jenny Mikakos, said the state of emergency in Victoria had been extended until midnight on 16 August.

“That decision has been made acting on the advice of the chief health officer, given that we continue to see rising case numbers, increasing numbers of people being hospitalised and sadly also increasing fatalities,” she said.

On Sunday public housing residents in North Melbourne were released from a two-week “hard” lockdown after the outbreak in Victoria prompted the state government to enforce a dramatic lockdown of a number of residential towers in the city.

Resident Ali Abdalla poses for a photo outside the Albert Street public housing tower in North Melbourne,.

Resident Ali Abdalla poses for a photo outside the Albert Street public housing tower in North Melbourne. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP

The enforced shut-in of public housing residents at 33 Alfred Street since 4 July ended late Saturday night, meaning residents can now leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise, study and work – like the rest of Melbourne.

However, up to a third of the tower’s residents, who either have the virus or are a close contact of someone who does, will be required to remain in their units until they are cleared.

The NSW government has also announced it will double the size of its contact-tracing team and put a cap on international arrivals.

Also in NSW, dozens of people faced $1,000 fines after police broke up a house party in Sydney’s west on Saturday night.

The state’s police said they planned to issue 60 fines after officers received complaints of a “noisy party” at Schofields at about 11.30pm.

In a statement police said officers discovered more than 60 people gathered at the property, in breach of public health orders which limit visitors to a home to 20 people.

Police deployed helicopters, dog units and used pepper spray after a fight broke out at the party. Three males were taken to Blacktown hospital, two for minor injuries sustained in the brawl and a third for the effects of alcohol.

Police have been told the house had been booked via an online rental company.