A medical professional administers a test to a member of the public at a pop-up coronavirus disease testing facility, as the state of Victoria experiences a spike in cases, in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross via Reuters
A medical professional administers a test to a member of the public at a pop-up coronavirus disease testing facility, as the state of Victoria experiences a spike in cases, in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross via Reuters

Melbourne orders 36 suburbs locked down to stop coronavirus spike

By Byron Kaye And Colin Packham Time of article published Jun 30, 2020

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Sydney - Authorities on Tuesday ordered

the lockdown of 36 suburbs in Australia's second biggest city

Melbourne in an attempt to stop a spike in coronavius cases, a

dramatic departure from the relaxation of restrictions elsewhere

in the country.

From midnight on Wednesday the first suburb-specific

stay-home order will be imposed on some 320,000 people, the

Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference on

Tuesday.

Residents in the suburbs must stay home unless travelling

for work, school, healthcare, exercise or food for a period of

four weeks.

Cafes and restaurants would have to revert to takeaway only,

just weeks after they returned to seated diners amid a wider

reopening of the national economy.

The Victorian state government requested all flights be

diverted to other states to prevent the risk of imported cases.

"If we don't take these steps now we will finish up in a

situation (where rather) than locking down 10 postcodes, we will

be locking down every postcode," said Andrews, referring to

postal codes which cover the 36 suburbs.

"People are desperate for this to be over, no one more than

me, but it isn't and pretending won't get us to the other side."

The return to lockdown is a devastating setback for the home

state of nearly a quarter of Australia's 25 million people,

widely seen to have taken one of the toughest enforcement

approaches when the country first went into lockdown in March.

But while most other Australian states have reported zero or

low single-digit daily increases in Covid-19 infections for

weeks, Victoria has experienced double-digit increases for each

of the previous 14 days, taking the national total to its

highest number of new cases since April.

In the 24 hours to Tuesday, Victoria reported 64 new cases,

down from the previous day's 75 new cases. By comparison, the

most populous state, neighbouring New South Wales, and the

third-most populous, Queensland, both reported no new cases. The

country has had 104 deaths from about 7,800 infections.

The Victorian government is receiving help from defence

personnel and healthcare workers sent from interstate, with

teams door-knocking in affected neighborhoods to ask people to

undertake tests for the illness, Andrews said.

Police in the lockdown suburbs will fine people who broke

the rules, he said.

"We've been through this before and we now have to go

through it again," Lambros Tapinos, the mayor of several

affected postcodes told Reuters by telephone.

"It will be a devastating impact on people and particularly

local businesses, but we have to do it," he added.

The reversal is at odds with moves taken by neighbouring

South Australia and the northern state of Queensland which both

unveiled plans to reopen internal borders to the rest of the

country except Victoria, citing its infection numbers.

"We have worked so hard to get ourselves into a very

enviable position and we are not prepared to go backwards,"

South Australia state premier Steven Marshall told reporters.

Queensland said it would reopen its border to the rest of

the country from July 10 while keeping out arrivals from

Victoria.

Queensland does not share a border with Victoria but would

make people entering from other states sign a declaration that

they had not been to Victoria for 14 days with the threat of a

A$4,000 ($2,738) fine if they were caught lying.

NSW, which borders Victoria, said it would continue to keep

its border open as it focused on supporting its economy amid the

pandemic.

Reuters

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