Victoria Police has established a coronavirus enforcement squad of five hundred officers to ensure containment measures that have been put in place to combat coronavirus are followed.

Coordinated through the Police Operations Centre, the officers will be out in the community doing spot checks on returning travellers who are in 14-day isolation, as well as enforcing the bans on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

This includes the decision of the National Cabinet to implement Stage 1 of a shutdown of non-essential activity across the country from midday today which is aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The businesses that will close due to the Stage 1 shutdown include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, and licensed venues in hotels and pubs. It also includes gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas and entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

This decision and other containment measures are meaningless if Victorians don’t take them seriously or don’t think they will be caught if they flout the rules.

Such thinking is wrong and the new coronavirus enforcement squad at Victoria Police will take action against anyone caught doing the wrong thing.

The Stage 1 shutdown will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of many Victorians, but if we don’t do this, more Victorians will contract coronavirus and more Victorians will die.

The decision will be reviewed regularly by the National Cabinet, and speaking as honestly as possible, it’s likely that governments across Australia will need to go further in the days and weeks ahead.

The Government can also confirm that school holidays for government schools in Victoria will be brought forward, starting on Tuesday 24 March. Schools will use this time to support teachers and staff plan for flexible and remote learning in the event schools need to move to that method of teaching.

I have recently told Victorians that the Government will ask them to do things they have never experienced before – these are the types of measures that I was talking about.

I also call on every Victorian to undertake their civic duty and practice social distancing: don’t be closer than 1.5 metres from another person, wash your hands and practice good hand hygiene.

Do that for yourself, your loved ones and for the loved ones of people you have never met. It will save lives.