Victoria records 671 new cases of coronavirus, as state introduces tougher lockdown restrictions

Birthday revellers at a Melbourne CBD venue and people at a religious gathering in a factory are the latest to be fined for breaking Victoria’s Covid-19 rules.

Police Minister Lisa Neville called out “appalling” behaviour as she announced 170 fines were issues in the 24 hours up to 10am on Sunday, totalling more than A$250,000 (NZ$269,000).

LUIS ASCUI/SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Police and defence personnel at a checkpoint on the Princes Freeway on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Under a state of disaster beginning on Sunday night, police will have additional powers to enforce lockdown rules. Protective services officers who would ordinarily be patrolling public transport at night will be freed up to enforce restrictions.

Melbourne is bracing for tough new rules including a night-time curfew and a return to remote learning for students.

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The announcement came as officials confirmed 671 new coronavirus cases in Victoria, and seven more deaths overnight.

Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster in Victoria and new lockdown rules to come into effect from Sunday night in metropolitan Melbourne.

This included a curfew from 8pm to 5am for non-essential activities, a ban on weddings and organised sport, and outside exercise limited to one hour per day.

Wayne Taylor/The Age

Grocery store shoppers queue up in Docklands after reports Melbourne is facing tougher lockdown restrictions within days.

Schools would also return to remote learning from Wednesday.

Cafes and restaurants could remain open to sell takeaway food.

Andrews said the tougher restrictions were needed because modelling predicted current restrictions would have taken until the end of the year to bring case numbers down to zero.

Andrews said the state of disaster, which gives the government power to suspend acts of parliament and enhances police’s ability to enforce rules, will begin Sunday evening and help to “get the job done”.

State government officials and politicians worked late into Saturday night on the details of the next stage of the fight against the killer virus.

Reports of stricter lockdown sparked some long lines outside supermarkets again in Melbourne, as shoppers stock up for the long weeks ahead.