Daily US Times: A strict lockdown in the Australian city of Melbourne has been extended by two weeks as officials said new Covid-19 cases had not dropped enough.
Daniel Andrews, Victoria State Premier, said the restrictions would be in place until 28 September, with a slight relaxation. A gradual easing of the measures will be implemented from next month.
The state has been the epicentre of Australia’s second wave, accounting for 90% of Australia’s 753 deaths. The country has recorded a total of 26,000 cases in a population of 25 million.
On 9 July, the greater Melbourne area entered a second lockdown after a rise in cases. A night time curfew and 5km (3 mile) travel limit was imposed while shops and businesses were closed. The current stage four lockdown was originally set to end on September 13.
What are the new changes?
Melbourne’s curfew will be expanded from 21:00 to 05:00 and single people will be allowed to form a bubble and visit each other. The current travel limit will not apply to these meetings.
Mr Andrews said at a news conference: “There is only one option and that is to do this in a series of steady and safe steps. You can’t run out of lockdown. Because all you are doing is running into a third wave and we’ll all be locked up again.”
He said: “We can’t open up at this time. If we were to we would lose control very quickly… I want a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible and this is the only way, these steps are the only way that we will get to that point.”
Authorities said if the daily average number of cases are between 30 and 50 by 28 September, the city will enter stage three of restrictions.
Public gatherings will increase to five people from two households under this stage and there will be a staged return to schools for some years and specialist schools.
If the daily average number of cases fall below five by 26 October, the curfew would be ended.
Outside of the greater Melbourne area, the rest of the state of Victoria will have restrictions eased slightly quicker.
Up to five people from two households will be able to gather outdoors from 13 September. Outdoor playgrounds and pools will open and religious services can be conducted outdoors with a maximum of five people.
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