News|Coronavirus pandemic
COVID lockdown in Australia’s Melbourne extended by a week
Country’s second-biggest city is stepping up contact tracing and testing to curb spread of ‘quicker’ variant.
Despite the lockdown, Victorians will still be allowed to leave home to shop for groceries, work and study, exercise, fulfill caring responsibilities and get a COVID-19 vaccine [William West/AFP]
2 Jun 2021
A coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, will be extended by another seven days, authorities have announced as they attempt to stamp out a cluster of cases that emerged in Melbourne last month.
“We have right now 60 cases and over 350 exposure sites and a variant of the virus that is quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before,” said James Merlino, the acting premier of the state of Victoria on Wednesday.
“Our teams are working harder than ever to test, trace, and isolate every case,” he told a news conference.
“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode. We’ve got to run this to ground, because if we don’t, people will die.”
With the extension of the lockdown, home gatherings will continue to be limited to five guests, while only 30 people will be allowed at public meetings, and face masks will be compulsory in indoor settings. Residents will be allowed to leave home to shop for groceries, work and study, exercise, fulfill caring responsibilities and get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Older students in Melbourne will be allowed to return to face-to-face classes, and their radius of travel will be extended from five kilometres (3.1 miles) to 10km (6.2 miles).
‘Some things won’t change’
Meanwhile, beyond the Greater Melbourne area, residents will be able to travel within non-metropolitan parts of the state and businesses will be allowed to reopen from midnight  on Thursday (14:00 GMT on Wednesday), according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
Schools there will be able to resume in-person learning at all levels.
There have been no cases of community transmission in regional Victoria this week, the state said, allowing the easing of some restrictions.
Small events like weddings are also allowed as long as they are limited to 10 people per event, while religious ceremonies are capped at 50 people.
“Some things won’t change,” Merlino was quoted as saying. “Visitors to the home are still not OK. And we still need masks to be worn inside”.
“I know that this is not the news that everyone wants to hear from Melbourne today. But given the cases that we’ve had … the chief health officer had no choice but to put this advice to government, and the government had no choice but to accept that advice.”
In a social media post, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Queensland state, added, “The speed of the new variant in Melbourne is showing we can never let our guard down.”
Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, reimposed COVID-19 restrictions last May 25 after nearly three months of the state reporting zero cases.
Victoria was the hardest-hit state during a second wave of the coronavirus last year, accounting for about 70 percent of total cases and 90 percent of deaths in Australia with care homes for the elderly badly hit.
The state brought the outbreak under control only after one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns.
Speedy tracing systems, movement curbs and social distancing have helped Australia contain COVID-19 outbreaks, recording 30,118 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
Aussie rules: Melbourne fans to get tested amid COVID scare
Melbourne Cricket Ground latest on growing list of venues where people could have been exposed to the coronavirus.
26 May 2021
COVID curbs reimposed in Melbourne after five cases discovered
Authorities in Australia’s second-biggest city are scrambling to identify source of new infections.
25 May 2021
Melbourne’s third lockdown leaves Australia Open stands empty
Cluster that triggered the renewed restrictions were staying at a quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.
13 Feb 2021
Prisons in paradise: Refugees detentions in Greece raise alarm
Taper time: US Fed chief says bank should reduce asset purchases
Outcry as Israel labels Palestinian rights groups ‘terrorists’
Gunfire and sectarian anger renew civil war fears in Lebanon
Actor Alec Baldwin shoots filmer dead with prop gun on set
Afghan journalists lament ‘bleak’ future for media under Taliban
As UK resists COVID measures, experts fear ‘devastating winter’
Trump’s new social media backer tied to China lifestyle venture
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network