Strict stay-at-home orders will be enforced across regional Victoria from today as 61 new cases were recorded, including a growing outbreak in the north of the state.

Regional Victorians will re-enter lockdown from 1pm on Saturday, a mere two weeks after they were given greater freedoms than metropolitan Melbourne.

The new rules will bring the regions in line with Melbourne, except for the curfew, which remains just in the city for now.

“This is not where we wanted to be as a community,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday.

“It’s not a decision we wanted to make after Victorians have sacrificed so much, but we have no other option.”

The regional town of Shepparton reported a harsh spike in Covid cases overnight, prompting the snap decision.

Seemingly out of nowhere the town reported 12 cases of the virus late on Friday, after a local man in his 30s tested positive.

From 1pm on Saturday regional Victorians will only be allowed to leave home for:

  • The Covid vaccine
  • Medical or care giving purposes
  • To get food and supplies
  • Exercise for up to two hours no more than 5km from your home
  • Authorised work or education

Playgrounds, basketball hoops, skate parks and outdoor exercise equipment will be closed.

Face masks will still be mandatory outdoors and indoors, but not at home.

Exercise will be limited to just one other person, plus dependants, and no visitors are allowed in the home.

Further changes will also be made to metropolitan businesses operating in high-risk industries, such as abattoirs, meat, poultry and seafood processing, with additional obligations such as workforce limits and mandatory surveillance testing to be implemented.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley said the rate of transmission was high in young people, with around 80 per cent of active cases aged below 40, and around 25 per cent under the age of nine.

Because of the high rate of transmission in young people and the number of childcare centres now designated as exposure sites, all childcare centres across Victoria will be closed.

Children whose parents are authorised workers and vulnerable children can still attend and a permit system will apply, with further details to be released shortly.

The public health team is also strongly recommending that primary school aged children wear a mask outside the home.

“We know having childcare centres closed will be difficult for parents,” Mr Foley said.

“But with so many young children in this outbreak contracting the virus, we need to do more to protect them and their families.”