The Ballarat community had been urged to look after each other as the city enters its eighth lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic started 18 months ago.
From 11.59pm Wednesday night, the City of Ballarat entered lockdown under the same conditions currently in place in metropolitan Melbourne, but no curfew would be in place.
Announcing the lockdown on Wednesday afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown would last seven days until 11.59pm on Wednesday, September 22.
Under the familiar lockdown restrictions, Ballarat residents will only have five reasons to leave home, necessary shopping, authorised work and study, caregiving or compassionate reasons, exercise and getting vaccinated.
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The five-kilometre travel radius will also come back into effect and masks will need to be worn indoors and outdoors.
The lockdown comes after Ballarat's outbreak grew to four confirmed cases on Wednesday, along with multiple wastewater detections and an ever-growing list of exposure sites.
Mr Andrews said the decision was necessary to limit the spread throughout regional Victoria.
"It is not the news Ballarat wanted to hear but it's the decision we need to make. If we allow it to get away in one part of regional Victoria becomes a threat and a risk to all of regional Victoria. We simply can't have that happen," he said.
Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said most people would not be surprised by the decision, which aligns with the more nuanced approach to lockdowns council had advocated for.
"We've all got pretty good at reading the warning signs and there were hints over the past week about wastewater positive results and then as soon as actual positive results were announced yesterday, lockdown clearly started to come into horizon," he said.
"Over the past several months, we've been largely arguing for a nuanced response where if Ballarat has no cases, we should ideally stay out of lockdown, but if cases do arise then it makes sense to go close things down.
"I think a lot of people will appreciate that this makes complete sense, that hopefully a short, sharp seven-day lockdown gets the city on top of it. The people of Shepparton demonstrated really well how it's done and I'm really confident Ballarat will be able to shine as well."
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Cr Moloney said while the nuanced approach was welcome, businesses and the community had become fatigued with the emotional rollercoaster of stop-start lockdowns.
"Speaking to friends and family in Melbourne, they're telling me they've settled into a pattern of expected lockdowns for the foreseeable future. Whereas here, it's raised hopes, shut down, raised hopes, shut down, and that fatigue for businesses having to restart is clearly starting to take its toll," he said.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said the community needed to support those who were most affected by the outbreak, but also get vaccinated to help limit further spread.
"Once we look after and support those in the community who are most affected, the next thing is to get tested if you show any symptoms, get vaccinated, get your bookings up. If you've got a vaccination already, get your second dose as soon as you possibly can," he said.
Mr Poulton said the only way to get through another lockdown was to support each other and be mindful that many are going through a hard time.
"It's all very well to look back and say we didn't need to do this, but I think the indications from Shepparton and other examples are that you do need to act quickly and decisively, so it's now about supporting each other, supporting those directly impacted, getting tested, getting vaccinated," he said.
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett said while the lockdown was necessary, it would be a tough week for businesses.
"It's incredibly difficult. Businesses have got very smart and savvy out of necessity, so I'm sure that they're keeping their orders low and I'm sure they're monitoring the situation," she said.
"We've already seen exposure sites in a couple of our favourite venues and I'm sure that all of the other businesses don't want to be in that position. While this is incredibly difficult and certainly not something they want, I'm sure in this instance, they're quite understanding of what's happening."
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