Australia’s third-largest city announces strict stay-at-home order to root out new cluster of cases.
Australian authorities have announced a three-day lockdown against COVID-19 in the northern city of Brisbane from Monday afternoon as they attempt to eradicate an outbreak of the virulent British variant of the virus.
About two million people in the city, the third largest in the country and the state capital of Queensland, will be required to stay home from 5 p.m. local time (0700 GMT), except for essential jobs, health care, grocery shopping or exercise.
“It’s the British strain. It is very contagious. Now we need to do it now to avoid a longer lockdown, ”Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“We have seen what has happened in other countries. I don’t want that to happen in Queensland, I don’t want that to happen in Australia. “
State officials reported four new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the cluster of cases linked to the UK variant to seven. The first case of the new cluster was reported on Friday.
Palaszczuk highlighted the success of a quick three-day lockdown in Brisbane in early January after a single case of the UK variant was discovered.
“It worked really well last time around,” she said.
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Instant lockdowns, social distancing rules and speedy contact tracing systems have helped Australia eliminate new clusters in recent months. The country has reported just over 29,200 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Local media reported long queues at supermarkets as well as at COVID-19 test centers on Monday.
Schools in the city will be closed from Tuesday, with funerals capped at 20 people, weddings limited to 10 and family gatherings limited to two. Restaurants and cafes will only be able to offer take-away meals, while bars will be closed.
People will also be required to wear masks outside their homes, including on public transport and in offices and workplaces.
Palaszczuk said lockdowns “will be part of the Australian way of life until everyone is vaccinated”.
The rollout of vaccines in the country has been slow, with just over 500,000 vaccines administered to date in a country of 25 million people.
Prior to the announcement, Brisbane was one of several Australian cities with relaxed restrictions, allowing residents to freely attend events, including concerts and sports matches.
The lockdown is currently scheduled to end just before the country begins the Easter holiday, which is generally a popular time for travelers.