Melbourne returns to tougher coronavirus restrictions

Swan Hill and Kerang has been spared from tougher lockdown rules, but metropolitan Melbourne is being returned to Stage 3 "stay at home" restrictions, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday.

The changed rules in Melbourne will apply from midnight Wednesday for the next six weeks.

"For people who live in regional Victoria, where case numbers remain low, current restrictions will remain the same for now," Mr Andrews said in a statement.

"We’ve talked about this virus being like a public health bushfire. By putting a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, we’re essentially putting in place a perimeter to protect regional Victorians.

"This is not where any of us wanted to be, but we have to face the reality of our situation. To do anything else would have deadly consequences."

Melbourne residents, and those in Mitchell Shire, will have only four reasons to leave their homes while the tougher restrictions are in place.

The four reasons are: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, and work and study for those who cannot work at home.

Mr Andrews said there would be only three reasons to cross the border of the metropolitan areas: the above reasons, except for daily exercise.

He said the stay-at-home direction applied to a person's principal place of residence, meaning "no escaping to holiday homes".

"Unless you’re a local, that means no fishing trips at Lakes Entrance. No four-hour hikes in the Grampians," Mr Andrews said.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were also to return to Stage 3 restrictions.

Students in Years 11 and 12 in these ares would go back to school for Term 3 as planned, while younger students will have school holidays extended by a week so more information could be gained.

In a press conference, Mr Andrews said the state was "on the cusp of something very, very bad" if action was not taken.

He said he hoped restrictions could be eased in regional Victoria eventually.

"That's not for today, I do hope that is quite soon," Mr Andrews said.