About 5 million people in Australia’s second-most populous city, Melbourne, are contending with some of the harshest restrictions ever imposed on the city after authorities declared a “state of disaster” on Sunday.
Police patrolled deserted streets Sunday night, enforcing an overnight curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. as part of stage-four lockdown measures imposed to battle a widening coronavirus outbreak.
Those restrictions include a curfew in Melbourne for the next six weeks, a ban on wedding gatherings, and schools must go back to online classes. Only one person per household is allowed to leave their homes once a day — outside of curfew hours — to pick up essential goods, and they must stay within a five-kilometer (3.1 miles) radius of their home.
On Monday, further businesses restrictions were announced, including the shuttering of nonessential industries.
The state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the largest city, recorded 429 Covid-19 infections on Sunday, down from 671 cases the day before, according to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer professor Brett Sutton. Thirteen new deaths were also announced, bringing the state’s total to 136, and there have been a total of 11,937 confirmed infections.
Sunday’s announcement underscores how quickly early success in containing the virus can unravel.
In May, Australia was held up as a global model for its handling of the outbreak, which started with early measures to bar entry from high-risk countries. Stricter curbs on social gatherings, expanded testing, restaurant and bar closures, followed as cases rose, with some states sealing their borders.
But Covid-19 cases in Victoria have risen suddenly in recent weeks, with many new infections in elderly care homes and among health care workers. Eight of the 13 new deaths on Sunday are linked to known outbreaks in elderly care facilities.
“This six-week period is absolutely critical,” said Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews in a daily press briefing on Monday. “This is a very tough day, and there will be many more of those until we get to the end of this.”
Read more: CNN