When Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, declared a lockdown over the coronavirus, some detractors on the right labeled him a “dictator” and said he was trying to build “a gulag.”
But Andrews has remained popular with Victorians throughout the lockdown, local polls show — and this week, his hardline approach was thoroughly vindicated.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded just 11 new coronavirus cases, down from over 670 at the height of the most recent outbreak last month. Next week, Melbourne will begin lifting some restrictions, including a nighttime curfew, if new cases remain below a fortnightly average of 50 per day.
“We can do this,” Andrews tweeted Sunday, echoing his words at the beginning of the lockdown: “We are Victorians — and we will get through this as Victorians. With grit, with guts, and together.”
And while it may have provoked outrage from some elements of the Australian media, and criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victoria’s experience shows once again that targeted lockdowns are effective in containing the coronavirus: driving down infections, relieving pressure on hospitals and medical staff, and creating space for contact tracing and mass testing.