MELBOURNE, 6 Aug 2020:
Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, today experienced its first day of total confinement – it will last for six weeks with the closure of non-essential businesses, which is expected to further hit the country’s economy.
The Melbourne outbreak, which was aggravated by the alleged breach of quarantine measures for international travellers, had an increase from about 2,200 cases of coronavirus that it had at the end of June – to the 14,469 it has accumulated to date.
Victoria still has 7,449 active cases of Covid-19, of which more than 1,500 are linked to residents and workers of nursing homes, the state government head Daniel Andrews said in Melbourne, reporting about an increase of 471 new infections and eight deaths.
“If we are going to reduce these numbers we have to limit activities,” Andrews said, admitting “nobody likes to have to slow down activity in any sector of the economy and nobody certainly enjoys postponing deadlines.”
The outbreak forced Victorian authorities to order that confinement in Melbourne on July 9 last for six weeks. But as local transmissions continued, a curfew was imposed from Sunday and the restrictions that apply from today were raised to level four until mid-September.
This total confinement implies the closure of non-essential businesses such as retail stores and gyms, as well as restrictions on the operations of sectors such as construction or meat processing.
“We are in the first day of the new confinement and the companies are still not clear about what can and cannot be done. They gave us the new guidelines the day before after 11pm,” Australian Group of Industries executive director Innes Willox told Channel 9.
In addition, confinement also comes into force today for the rest of Victoria – who will only be able to leave their homes to shop, exercise, receive or give care to third parties and work or study in the cases where they can’t do it from home.
The measures in Victoria, a state that accounts for 23%t of the national economy, “will have a very significant cost and will impact our road to recovery,” Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said in Canberra.
This cost is estimated to be at least A$10 billion and the unemployment rate is expected to rise from 9.25% to 10% – although the effective rate could be around 13%.
Australia, which registered some 20,000 infections, including 255 deaths, also fights against several outbreaks in the state of New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, and also faces isolated cases in the rest of its territory.