Millions of Australians have re-entered mandatory lockdown as the land down under battles with rising coronavirus cases. Brisbane has become the fourth major city to impose lockdown and has entered a three-day shutdown, beginning this evening.
Brisbane’s sudden lockdown follows similar measures imposed in Sydney, Perth, and Darwin in recent days, as cases begin to rise. Australia re-enters lockdown after it recorded 23 cases of corona in 24 hours, a decision Queensland state Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said was a “tough decision” to make. Palaszczuk has cited “overseas arrivals” as the reason major cities in Australia are having to lockdown, as they are “bringing the virus here”.
Through border closures, snap lockdowns, and mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas travel, Australia has managed to somewhat eliminate local transmission of the virus. However, it is now fighting flare-ups of the highly contagious Delta variant, and the public’s anger towards the slow pace of vaccination grows. According to reports, less than 5% of adults are believed to have received their second dose of the vaccine.
Townsville joins Brisbane and surrounding coastal regions in the latest ruling, after an unvaccinated hospital worker spent up to 10 days travelling around Queensland, while infectious. Perth entered into a four-day snap lockdown following a rise in a local cluster, reaching to three cases. Despite potentially losing about 50% of revenue during lockdown, Shubh Singh, manager of Punjab Sweets & Curry House, is all for the decision.
“But the measures are necessary to ensure it doesn’t linger for months, because a lengthy lockdown would be disastrous,” he told AFP. “It is eerie though seeing these streets so quiet.”
Sydney has seen the largest outbreak with 150 positive cases of COVID-19 recorded since mid-June, leaving residents under stay-at-home orders for two weeks. The city of Darwin has also suffered their first exposure sites as a small cluster has been linked to an outback gold mine. Darwin is home to a large Indigenous population feared to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
A wave of travel cancellations is expected for large parts of the country as unaffected states warning people not to visit impacted areas. New Zealand announced it would only partially reopen its travel bubble with Australia with states that have not recorded any cases.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has announced that vaccines will become mandatory for aged care and quarantine hotel workers. Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca jab will be available to the under 60s who sign an indemnity form.
Essential work, exercise, grocery shopping and medical reasons are the only way people are permitted to leave their homes during the lockdown. Masks are mandatory across the country, leading Morrison’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce to be fined Aus$200 after being spotted without wearing a mask.