Residents are now subject to a stay-home order for the sixth time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Australia’s second-most populous state has just entered its sixth lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic and the fourth one of 2021, with a weeklong stay-home order taking effect from 8 p.m. local time. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the snap restrictions hours ago as metropolitan Melbourne recorded eight new locally transmitted infections, with two unlinked cases being of particular concern. Five of those who tested positive were infectious while in the community, and one was traced to a growing cluster at Al-Taqwa College, a large primary and secondary school in the western suburb of Truganina that was at the center of an outbreak last year, totaling 185 cases.
“There are no alternatives to lockdown,” said Andrews in a press conference, as he highlighted the speed of the Delta variant. “If you wait, it will spread. And once it spreads, you can never even hope to run alongside it let alone get out in front of it and bring it back down to zero or a low number of cases. This thing moves so fast.” Earlier today, he told journalists the Victoria state government wanted to avoid the situation now being faced in Sydney, which has recorded its worst day of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, logging 259 new infections and five deaths over a 24-hour period. Andrews also said that losing control of the latest outbreak could mean being “locked down until Christmas.”
The lockdown rules will apply not just to Melbourne but also regional Victoria. Residents will only be able to leave their homes for a handful of reasons, and must stay within a radius of five kilometers. One person per household can leave each day to stock up on essential food and supplies; Victorians can go out for exercise lasting up to two hours, for medical care or caregiving, to be vaccinated at the nearest possible location, for essential work, and education when it is not possible to study remotely. Face masks must be worn at all times outside the home, whether indoors or outdoors.