What would stage five look like?

All eyes are on Victoria right now.

The rest of the nation – and other world leaders, too – are monitoring how stage four lockdowns will affect stubborn COVID-19 infection rates.

The stage four restrictions and lockdown have to work.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews himself admitted Victorians have no recourse should the harshest restrictions the nation has seen were to fail.

When Mr Andrews faced the media earlier this week to announce restriction details, he admitted Victoria had nowhere to go but to “stage five”.

Yet stage five doesn’t exist. Not yet, anyway.

“It’s hard to imagine what stage five would look like, but it would radically change the way people live,” said Mr Andrews in a statement.

But what would stage five look like if it did exist?

Melbourne is already a ghost town. Thoroughfares once known as car parks anywhere between 7am and 7pm are virtually empty. City streets are devoid of life. ‘War-like’ curfews are in place. (Most) residents haven’t shown the lower halves of their faces for weeks. 

How much further could restrictions go?

Stage five could be another “shock and awe” tactic aimed at scaring people into compliance.

But University of Queensland Associate Professor Paul Griffin told Crikey that it would most likely involve restricting movement and interaction between people even more.

“The current restrictions are very strict, but stage five might involve pushing harder at the things we have in place right now,” he said.

“Reduce the reasons to leave home, reduce the businesses considered essential, and restrict curfew even more to limit the time people are allowed out.”

Harsher penalties would likely be imposed for non-compliance with existing guidelines, he added.

University of Melbourne Professor Tony Blakely says possible stage five restrictions could mean no takeaway food or delivery services, shopping allowed only once a week, and not being able to travel further than one kilometre from home.

“The things we could do more of would be to shut all retail, shut all construction rather than partial construction, stop takeaway and delivery and restrict that five kilometre buffer to one kilometre around the home, as well as further restrictions on visiting the supermarket once a week,” Prof. Blakely told Herald Sun.

It is hoped the existing restrictions will be enough to get the current outbreak under control.

Prof. Blakely said he was 95 per cent certain current restrictions would work.

Victoria’s chief medical officer, Professor Brett Sutton, hopes so, too.

“We’re not thinking about a stage five,” he said.

“We’re thinking about a successful stage four. We know it can work. But it does require – and this is what we’re talking about (with) a stage five is – everyone’s cooperation.

“Stage four will work. The only question is how fast those numbers will come down and will it come down fast enough to make elimination (of coronavirus) a realistic goal.”

Prof. Blakely said the government would have an idea in the next two to three weeks if stage four restrictions have worked and added that to eliminate the virus the number of mystery cases would need to be zero for at least 28 days.

What would you imagine stage five restrictions would look like?

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