Victoria has recorded another two Covid-19 cases and shut its border to the whole of New South Wales from 11.59pm on Friday.
Anyone entering from NSW will be turned around or forced into 14-day hotel quarantine unless they have an exemption.
There are now eight active locally acquired cases in the state, breaking a 61 day streak of no community infections after Victoria defeated its horror second wave.
Three cases identified on Wednesday night visited Melbourne’s Smile Buffalo Thai in Black Rock on December 21, but sat at two separate tables.
Three of their close contacts tested positive on Thursday morning and a further two close contacts were diagnosed on Thursday afternoon.
There are about 70 close contacts in isolation across Melbourne.
Officials believed the outbreak was caused by a Victorian who returned from Sydney and dined at the Thai restaurant.
The first cases of the latest outbreak were two Melbourne women in their 40s and 70-year-old female relative.
Victorian Police are seen patrolling checkpoints in Mallacoota after new border restrictions were placed with NSW, banning residents from Wollongong and the Blue Mountains
The outbreak has prompted Victoria to re-introduce compulsory mask wearing and tighten restrictions for New Year’s Eve with private gatherings limited to 15, down from 30.
Victoria had suffered a horrific second wave of the virus in June, plunging Melbourne into a 112-day-long lockdown, before eliminating the disease in October.
Acting Premier Jactina Allan apologised to those who had planned a New Year’s Eve party but said these steps were necessary to stamp out the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Health Minister Martin Foley said they had identified a direct link between the outbreak and the NSW returned traveller.
‘Now that we’ve got links to the NSW outbreak here in Victoria, we’re responding really, really quickly to get on top of that.
Healthcare workers are seen at drive through testing facility at Springers Leisure Centre in Cheltenham, Melbourne, Thursday, December 31
What are the New Year’s Eve restrictions?
From 5pm on Thursday, people in Melbourne will only be able to have 15 visitors in their homes, down from 30.
The limit of 15 includes residents, but not children under 12.
Masks will be mandatory while indoors.
‘This is a very serious situation that Victorians are facing, having sacrificed so much over the course of this year,’ Mr Foley said.
‘Victorians know how wildly infectious this virus can be.’
The Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock, and the Holy Family Parish Church in Doveton have been identified as exposure sites.
Two of the women who tested positive on Wednesday live in Mitcham and Hallam, and were eating together at the Thai restaurant on December 21.
On a separate table was another person from Mitcham, whose close contact has since tested positive.
Anyone who visited these stores must get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is given.
Victoria’s Commander of COVID-19 response Jeroen Weimar said extensive contact tracing was underway.
The three cases identified on Wednesday night visited Melbourne’s Smile Buffalo Thai in Black Rock (pictured) on December 21. A returned traveller from NSW also attended the restaurant that same day
Pictured: Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Blackrock, Melbourne. Victoria’s first three local acquired Covid cases are linked to the venue
Acting Premier Jactina Allan apologised to those who had planned a New Year’s Eve party but said these steps were necessary to stamp out the spread of the highly contagious virus (pictured, Melbourne in 2019 at New Year)
Three new coronavirus cases have been recorded in Victoria late on Wednesday (pictured shoppers in Melbourne on Boxing Day)
Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Thursday, December 31
Melbourne exposure sights
If you have visited any of the locations listed in the table below during the date indicated you must get tested and isolate until you get a negative result.
Black Rock Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant 21/12/20, 7pm-9:30pm
Cape Schank National Golf Club, The Cups Drive 30/12/20, 11.40am-1.30pm
Doveton Holy Family Parish Doveton Catholic 26/12/20, 4:00pm-6:00pm
Fountain Gate Shopping Centre Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts, Lo Costa 26/12/20, 9:00am-11:00am
Glen Waverley Century City Walk 28/12/20, 2:45pm showing of Wonder Woman Gold Class
Glen Waverley Mocha Jo’s 28/12/20, 1:30pm-1:45pm
Mentone/Parkdale Beach 27/12/20, 10:00am-4:30pm
Oakleigh Katialo restaurant, Eaton Mall 28/12/20, 7:00pm-7:10pm
As the case total in New South Wales continues to climb – with 10 new cases announced on Thursday – Mr Foley warned Victorians to reconsider any travel plans.
‘To be really clear – do not go to New South Wales,’ he said.
‘If you are a Victorian in New South Wales, well beyond Wollongong and the Blue Mountains, come back. You do not want to be caught on the wrong side of a rapidly evolving situation.
‘We are ahead of this. We need to stay ahead of it. If that means the public health advice is to move further on border restrictions, that is what we will do.’
Royal Brighton Yacht Club has been closed for deep cleaning after a positive case visited between 12pm and 2pm on 29 December.
The club said the person sat outside and did not go inside or use any facilities.
Tens of thousands of Boxing Day shoppers at a busy Melbourne Westfield have been ordered to isolate after six stores were visited by coronavirus patients.
Six stores in the Fountain Gate shopping centre were visited by an infected shopper during the massive day of sales, including Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts, and Lacoste.
Tens of thousands of Boxing Day shoppers at a busy Melbourne Westfield have been ordered to isolate after six stores were visited by coronavirus patients (pictured, women in Chadstone)
People at several other locations around Melbourne must also isolate until they get a negative test result.
The Holy Family Parish Doveton church and the Parkdale beach were also visited by confirmed cases.
The Century City Walk, Mocha Jo’s and the Katialo restaurant were also visited by infected residents.
There are seven active cases in hotel quarantine in Victoria and a 15-year-old girl who is isolating at home after testing positive upon returning from NSW.
The news comes as the state tightens its border restrictions with NSW after 18 new cases were recorded on Wednesday.
From 11.59pm on New Year’s Eve, Victoria will shut its borders to anyone from the Blue Mountains and Wollongong.
Anyone who has visited these areas since December 27 will be locked out.
‘These new border measures have been introduced in response to 18 new cases of Covid-19 being reported in NSW, including six from a new cluster in the inner-west of Sydney,’ a statement from the state’s health department read.
‘The situation is highly dynamic and the red zone may continue to change at short notice – therefore Victorians are strongly advised not to travel to New South Wales as you may not be able to re-enter without undertaking hotel quarantine for 14 days.
‘Anyone intending to return to Victoria from these areas between midnight tonight and 11.59pm on December 31 must apply for a new travel permit through Service Victoria, must get tested within 24 hours of returning to Victoria, and must self-quarantine at home for 14 days from when they last left the region.’
The Westfield at Fountain Gate shopping centre was visited by infected shoppers on Boxing Day who went inside six different stores