THE announcement of the five-day, statewide, “hard” lockdown from 11.59pm tonight has thrown regional communities and local businesses into chaos.

All non-essential businesses must close and everyone must observe the five reasons for leaving the home including exercise within a 5km radius and one person leaving home for shopping and essentials.

Regional Victoria is included, meaning school is off, retail is closed (except food), and weekend sport is off this weekend, but areas may be released before next Tuesday.

Among the hardest hit will be hotels, restaurants, cafes and those planning to host weddings, music and events this weekend.

Phillip Island Wedding Celebrant Pam Lewis has dodged a bullet this time.

“I had a wedding on Tuesday so how lucky were they,” said Pam today.

“I’d blocked out the next few weeks because we were hoping to go on a holiday. That’s out but it’s certainly indeed fortunate I didn’t have to scramble with another cancelled wedding.

“But I know quite a few people who do have weddings this weekend and I also feel for all the reception venues already struggling with our fifth lockdown, to have to cancel late again.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

Making his announcement at 4.45pm today, Thursday, July 15, Premier Daniel Andrews said there was only one chance to go hard and go early and this was it.

“If we don’t go now, we could be looking at a five-week or five-month lockdown and no one wants that.”

Mr Andrews said that the three cases coming out of the Carlton versus Geelong match, at least some of them completely unconnected with the source, was the biggest concern and was one of the main reasons why the state’s professional health team had recommended an immediate five-day lockdown.

Asked if it was fair that regional Victoria was locked down given most areas had not seen a case for months, Mr Andrews said it was his best advice.

“Nothing about this virus is fair. We’re doing what must be done. That’s what has been put to me by the professional health team that must be done,” Mr Andrews said.

“But as soon as we get the opportunity to release those parts of regional Victoria that can be released before Tuesday, we will do that.

“But can I remind you that the inconvenience now is a lot better than having to go into lockdown for five weeks or five months.

“This is what is appropriate for right now and as soon as we can release parts of Victoria we will.

“But let me stress this it will be if and when the public health team tells me that we can.

“I am well aware of parts of regional Victoria where they haven’t had cases and I’m from an area like that, so I know, but we are acting on the best health advice.”

Mr Andrews said the government couldn’t be confident that people who had attended the Geelong and Carlton match at the MCG on Saturday, July 10 hadn’t gone out into regional Victoria, especially with Geelong being a regional team.

He said regional areas including Barwon Heads had cases and there were other exposure sites in regional Victoria.

He said he was very sympathetic with far-flung areas like East Gippsland and Mildura, and also the issues confronted by the Alpine resorts but he was acting on the best health advice to go hard and go early.

He also stressed there was no need for panic buying.