MELBOURNE, Australia – After more than 100 days under one of the longest and toughest lockdowns in the world, residents of Australia’s second-largest city are getting a hard-nosed shortfall – but the terms highlight in depth global isolation on the need for lockdowns to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since July 9, Melbourne residents have been barred from leaving their homes except for a few reasons, including exercise and shopping for food within a three-mile radius. Offices and retail outlets are almost closed. Restaurants and cafes are only open for takeaway or delivery orders. A nightly curfew was only raised last month.
Today, with daily infections up to just two from the top of more than 700 and three straight days without coronavirus death, health authorities in the state of Victoria, including Melbourne, are mitigating of the toughest restrictions, while keeping the overall lockdown tighter than the prevailing almost anywhere in the world.
Starting Monday, Melbourne̵7;s five million residents will be able to travel up to 15 miles from home, and a two-hour time limit for outdoor workouts will be removed. As of November 1, retail and hospitality outlets including restaurants, cafes and hair salons may reopen in restricted capacity. The wedding will be returned to 10 attendees, including the couple exchanging vows; burial, at 20.
To many small business owners who are on the breaking point, Victoria state head Daniel Andrews, said the target date of November 1 will be delivered if the infection rates, measured by a walker 14-day average of daily cases, falling faster than expected. But he did not provide an update for industries such as the construction, manufacturing and processing of meat, many of which operate under capability restrictions.
Tough tactics underline the diverse strategies that countries continue to work on to fight the virus as 2020 enters its final week. Leaders in the US and Europe are battling an altered influx of coronavirus infections. But they also find it difficult to balance those concerns with the economic and social dislocations caused by lockdowns.
Many public health officials today say extensive lockdowns are unnecessary, and they are unlikely to comply.
In Australia, however, public health officials remain on the aggressive, almost zero-tolerance approach to community delivery they have taken since the pandemic began. Even with the new reduction, Mr Andrews stressed Melbourne’s emergence from lockdown will remain cautious and gradual.
“These lockdowns come with pain and injury and hurt, but the approach works,” Mr. Andrews said in a television statement on Sunday. “This means that while other parts of the world are heading for a deadly winter, with lockdowns and heart-wrenching restrictions,” Victoria can now “build a Covid-normal 2021 2021,” he said.
Mr Andrews invited a direct comparison to the UK, with similar numbers of infections in August when daily cases in Victoria rose to 725.
“Now, while Victoria is recording two new cases, the UK has reached 16,171,” he said. “And as we continue to reduce our restrictions, we are forcing them to increase their.”
Melbourne’s restrictions came into force after a breach of hotel quarantine protocols this summer that started a second wave of infections when the rest of Australia was virtually virus-free. Officials initially tried a more targeted series of block-by-block restrictions, but imposed a hard lockdown when they failed to prevent the spread.
As a result of the outbreak, Victoria now accounts for 816 of Australia’s 904 deaths and nearly three-quarters of its total cases, according to official statistics.
Tight restrictions have reduced the rate of infection in Melbourne, but they have also moved away from a city that is regularly ranked among the most expensive in the world. Business groups and political opponents have criticized the state’s response that it is not necessarily burdensome to a disproportionate impact on the economy and social welfare.
“There is no proper reason to pursue business restrictions, especially with case numbers that are clear on a downward trajectory,” said Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Australian Business Council. “Just being allowed to get a haircut or out a little more when you have no job, no money and your business fails is not enough.”
With Victoria accounting for nearly a quarter of Australia’s total domestic domestic product, the restrictions dragged across the country’s economy, which is in its first recession in almost 30 years.
And Australia’s rule in the football grand final, the local Super Bowl equivalent, will be held next week outside of Melbourne for the first time in its 123-year history.
Long-term restrictions have led to public frustration and fatigue, contributing to small and sparse public protests and legal challenges from small business owners on the validity of the lockdown.
Health experts and medical associations were widely supported by Victorian government pandemic control measures, but highlighted the need to mitigate serious mental health implications triggered by prolonged lockdowns, and related losses of work and social disconnection, especially among the young and needy. groups.
Greg Hunt, the health minister at the conservative Australian national government, said federal data showed a 31% increase in Victorians in need of mental health support over the past two months, compared to a 15% increase in the country. The number of mental health support service calls beyond Blue was 90% higher in Victoria than in the rest of the country in August.
“The second wave, which led to the lockdown, took a huge toll on the mental health of the Victoria and their economic prospects,” said Josh Frydenberg, the Australian treasurer.
A October 14 poll by polling firm Roy Morgan showed premier rating approval remained stable at 59%, even though it dropped 11 percent points from five weeks earlier.
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Mr. Andrews, who heads a state Labor government on the left, insisted that stricter measures were needed to prevent a potentially worse third wave of infections that could be risked in overcrowded hospitals and force a longer closure.
He said the target infection rates are based on modeling the supercomputer situation and on extensive consulting with public health experts, and will continue to weigh against economic and social ills. Many of the restrictions are likely to remain in place for at least a few more weeks.
“Decisions are not easy to make, there are many bets,” Mr. Andrews said Sunday. “And if we do too much, too fast, then we get to where none of us want to be again – doing it again, back to where we were.”
Write to Philip Wen at [email protected]
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