The state reverted to stage 4 restrictions on Friday midnight, with the 5-day lockdown aimed to act as a "circuit breaker" curbing the spread of the highly contagious United Kingdom variant of the virus responsible for the Holiday Inn outbreak.
The outbreak, linked to the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport, grew to 14 cases today, after a single additional case was recorded.
The cluster that triggered the renewed restrictions stemmed from a quarantine hotel at Melbourne airport.
But although play will continue, with the competitors continuing to abide by the lockdown restrictions with players and their direct support teams allowed onsite only when essential, the absence of fans will surely be keenly felt, particularly after they contributed to such a vibrant start at the first Major of 2021.
"There are no fans".
Under the new measures, some five million people in Australia's second-biggest city will have to remain at home for five days from midnight, except for a limited number of permitted essential activities.
The event had already been limited to 50% of usual capacity and was dogged by earlier complaints from some worldwide players, who were forced to spend critical preparation time in quarantine. "But we're resilient. Just fingers crossed that it only does extend for the short period of five days", he said. Spectators will be able to attend games scheduled for Friday, while those who had bought tickets to restricted events will get a refund, they said in a statement.
Worldwide flights to Melbourne will be stopped through Wednesday, after five en-route, with about 100 passengers, land on Saturday.
"We will continue to assess the impact of the United Kingdom strain of the virus on our programme and global arrivals, and will provide more information on the duration of this pause soon", the state government said in a statement.
At this stage, the state's road border checkpoints will not be reinstated, however, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said authorities will continue to monitor the situation.
It was a devastating setback for residents and businesses who underwent a similar lockdown in and around Melbourne for more than 100 days late a year ago in a successful effort to contain an earlier outbreak that infected thousands and killed about 800.
"This is the second lockdown caused by Victoria's hotel quarantine system, it must not be as long and destructive as the last", Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.
"We've got an event to put on and we've got to do it in a safe way".
More broadly, Australia is rated among the world's most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, largely because of decisive lockdowns and borders sealed to all but a trickle of travellers.
This brings the number of active cases in Victoria to 22.
But its quarantine hotels, where all worldwide arrivals have to spend two weeks, have been a weak link in its defences, with the latest Melbourne cluster another example. The Government of the State of Victoria has announced a five-day lockdown for the entire country.