More troops are expected to be deployed in Victoria as the state continues to record hundreds of new virus cases each day.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has flagged announcements on August 4 of harsher penalties and enforcement for Melbourne’s tight restrictions.
“These are heartbreaking decisions but there’s simply no choice,” he told reporters on Monday.
Scores of Australian Defence Force personnel are already helping the state, enforcing stay-at-home orders and vehicle checkpoints, boosting testing efforts and working with paramedics.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced $1500 disaster payments for Victorians who need to self-isolate for two weeks and have exhausted their sick leave.
People can apply for the payment multiple times and it may be offered to other states if they also face a “disaster” declaration.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions says the payment – which covers a fortnight – doesn’t go far enough as it amounts to minimum wage.
“We need a new, temporary, paid leave entitlement so that working people will not lose wages or risk their job to isolate or get tested when they need to,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.
Morrison described Victoria’s situation as heartbreaking after the state recorded 429 new cases on Monday and 13 more deaths, bringing the national toll to 221.
“Australia’s future depends on these weeks and months ahead,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Many Melbourne retailers and some manufacturing and administration must stop operating on-site from midnight on Wednesday under new restrictions to complement the city’s six-week ‘stage four’ lockdown.
Rebecca Gredley in Canberra