School holidays brought forward to Tuesday

Staff writers

Victoria is set to shut down all non-essential activity across the state to thwart the spread of coronavirus.

Premier Daniel Andrews said this afternoon that the school holidays will be brought forward to start on Tuesday.

“This is not something that we do lightly, but it’s clear that if we don’t take this step, more Victorians will contract coronavirus, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and more Victorians will die,” Mr Andrews said in a statement.

“Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores.”

He said freight, logistics and home delivery were also considered essential and would remain open.

“A decision whether to re-open schools after the term one holidays will be determined following advice from the chief health officer,” he said.

“I will have more to say on these measures tomorrow morning.”

The schools decision comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria has risen to 296, with one case in the Latrobe Valley.

A $1.7 billion package was unveiled by the state government on Saturday to help businesses cope with the impacts of coronavirus.

Small businesses will get full refunds on their payroll tax bills for the rest of the financial year.

$500 million has been allocated to help people who’ve lost their jobs find new work.