Australia tightens restrictions to contain fresh coronavirus outbreak
The premier of Victoria state, Australia’s second-most populous, announced the establishment of a “hard boundary” around Melbourne, a six-week lockdown in the city and the closure of Victoria’s border with New South Wales state in an attempt to halt further spread of the coronavirus.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday (9:59 a.m. ET).
Andrews said he was acting on the advice of public health officials, who reported 191 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest toll since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“If we were to fail to take those steps, then it won’t be a couple of hundred cases per day it will be many more than that and it will quickly spiral well and truly out of control,” Andrews said.
The lockdown applies to Melbourne, its suburbs and another nearby region, Mitchell Shire, which have all seen a spike in cases. Residents will be permitted to leave their homes only to shop for essentials; medical care and caregiving; work and study impossible to do from home; and exercise. Visitors are not permitted in homes.
Victoria police will maintain roadblocks between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The lockdown affects almost 5 million people, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun.
Australian states on Tuesday tightened restrictions on movement as authorities struggle to contain a fresh outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in the southeast that has pushed the national tally of cases beyond 10,000.
South Australia canceled plans to reopen its border to New South Wales on July 20. Queensland introduced a mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have visited two areas in Sydney’s western suburbs. New South Wales, which has seen several dozen cases linked to the outbreak in Victoria, said pubs will now be limited to no more than 300 people.
The changes come as scores of new cases were uncovered in Victoria, despite a return to lockdown last week in state capital Melbourne.
Active cases in the state rose to nearly 2,000 after another 270 infections were detected in the past 24 hours, and the country’s death toll hit 110 on Tuesday.