A New Wave of Coronavirus Cases Is Putting Melbourne Back in Lockdown

The lockdown affects at least 300,000 people and will last until at least July 29.

Suburbs of Melbourne, Australia are returning to lockdown after a rise in new coronavirus cases.

Fearing a second wave of COVID-19, more than 300,000 citizens of Melbourne suburbs returned to the third-strictest level of restrictions on Wednesday. Residents are not allowed to leave home except for grocery shopping, health appointments, essential work, caregiving, and daily exercise. The lockdown will last until at least July 29.

“If we all stick together these next four weeks, we can regain control of that community transmission ... across metropolitan Melbourne,” Victoria State premier Daniel Andrews said at a press briefing Wednesday, per Reuters. “Ultimately if I didn’t shut down those postcodes I’d be shutting down all postcodes. We want to avoid that.”

Guidelines from the Victoria Health Department specifiy 10 postcodes of Melbourne that are considered "hotspots" of coronavirus.

Businesses that were recently allowed to reopen will once again be restricted and cafes and restaurants will only be open for takeaway or delivery. In addition to the restrictions, health authorities hope to test half of the population affected by the lockdown for COVID-19.

A police presence will patrol the zones and their borders to ensure that citizens are abiding by the new restrictions. Further restrictions around Melbourne remain a future possibility.

In a statement to the public, Andrews said that the increased outbreak can be traced back to “an infection control breach” in Victoria’s quarantine program that took place in hotels across the state.

“Still, somehow, too many people are not taking this seriously,” Andrews said. “That means some tough decisions. And a return to tougher restrictions.”

Elsewhere in Australia is opening up and entering phase three of lifting lockdown.

The new rules in other parts of the country could allow bars and clubs to reopen to crowds of more than 100 people if they are able to maintain social distancing rules. But as these regions lift their lockdowns, they could apply quarantine rules or travel restrictions to people traveling across state lines from Victoria. At the peak of its coronavirus battle, Australia banned inter-state travel but restrictions were starting to loosen. The country is investigating the possibility of opening up “travel bubbles” between low-risk areas and similar destinations like New Zealand.

There are currently fewer than 400 active COVID-19 cases in Australia. Throughout its coronavirus outbreak, Australia reported about 7,920 confirmed coronavirus cases and 104 deaths.

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