Sikh volunteers have served 1,325 free meals overnight to housing commission residents who were suddenly forced into coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne.
The hard lockdown was imposed by Victorian Government on Saturday in a bid to contain an outbreak after 27 people in the towers tested positive to coronavirus.
More than 3000 tenants were unprepared for the surprise decision and many had been left without groceries and other supplies.
Sikh Volunteers Australia on Sunday drove to the public housing blocks in Kensington and Flemington, in the inner city, to serve free meals to desperate residents.
Sikh Volunteers Australia on Sunday provided 1,325 free meals to residents at public housing blocks in Kensington and Flemington, in the inner city
The group drove their specialised ‘free food’ vans to the neighbouring suburbs on Sunday night and left the meals outside on tables
Volunteers didn’t come into contact with any residents and left the meals outside on tables
Selfless Sikh volunteers have served more than 1,300 free meals to housing commission residents
‘With the help and coordination of Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police today we were able to served 1325 meals,’ the group wrote on Facebook.
‘Thank you everyone for your kind support.’
The group drove their specialised ‘free food’ vans to the neighbouring suburbs on Sunday night to deliver the vegetarian meals.
Volunteers didn’t come into contact with any residents, with housing commission towers linked to at least 23 coronavirus cases across 12 households.
‘We are not making any direct contact with anyone. We leave food on the table, people come there one by one and take food from there,’ an organiser said.
Premier Andrews locked the doors to nine housing towers from 4pm on Saturday amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls.
The ‘hard lockdown’ will see 3,000 people in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne forced to stay inside – with armed police on every single floor of every block ensuring they do not leave for any reason over the next five days.
Premier Andrews locked the doors to nine housing towers from 4pm on Saturday amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls
Police are seen enforcing a lockdown at public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne on Saturday
The ‘hard lockdown’ will see 3,000 people in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne forced to stay inside. Pictured: Residents watch from their window as police enforce a lockdown on Racecourse Road in Flemington
The government has vowed to deliver food and medical supplies to residents, give a $1500 hardship payment to those who can’t go to work and pay $750 each to those not in the workforce.
Mr Daniel Andrews wants every resident tested for coronavirus, and those who do so will have their payments fast-tracked.
Thana Sirag, who lives with her parents in one of the Flemington buildings, said police knocked on her door on Sunday night stating the lockdown was for 14 days.
‘We do have milk and bread, but if we are going to be in lockdown for 14 days, which is what we have been told, it is not going to last that long,’ she said.
Father of five children under five, Abdirahman Ibrahim, told AAP he was surprised to have been told lock down was 14 days not five.
He lives in housing in Flemington and is still waiting on groceries.
Victoria has for weeks been grappling with an outbreak of coronavirus across various Melbourne hotspots.
The state racked up another 74 new cases on Sunday, bringing its confirmed infections total to 2536.
Some 12 Victorian postcodes have been put into stage three lockdown until at least July 29 in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Two of those areas, covering North Melbourne, Hotham Hill, Kensington and Flemington are home to the nine public housing towers.
Mr Andrews said the hard lockdown was about the safety of residents as well as the entire state.
‘This is not about punishment, this is about protection for you and your loved ones,’ he said.
‘And then, by extension, it’s about protecting the entire state and we don’t make those decisions lightly.’
Public housing blocks in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne, where COVID-19 outbreaks have been recorded, were shut down on Saturday
A ‘total’ or ‘hard’ lockdown where residents are completely confined to their homes is a first for Australia during the pandemic
Mr Andrews stated on Saturday it was a minimum of five days in lockdown.
‘I just want to explain the order is made for 14 days, that is a function of the act. That can be rescinded at any point,’ he said.
‘The nine towers that are being locked down will be locked down for at least five days because that is deemed the appropriate period to test everybody, every single resident other than those who have already tested positive, across those towers and to have those tests processed by the labs.
‘That data will then guide as to what the next steps should be. But at this stage it is at least that five day hard lockdown effective from right now.’
Ms Sirag said she just wants to be treated like everyone else.
‘If we were to be treated like everybody else, we would be understanding,’ she said.
‘We are put under much more severe circumstances than everyone else, we are being treated like prisoners.’
Which suburbs are in lockdown?
3012 – Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
3021 – Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
3032 – Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
3038 – Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens
3042 – Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
3046 – Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
3047 – Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
3055 – Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
3060 – Fawkner
3064 – Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo
FROM 11.59 ON SATURDAY JULY 4:
3031 – Flemington, Kensington
3051 – North Melbourne