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Australia's Victoria Declares 'State of Disaster'

Australia's Victoria Declares 'State of Disaster'

Sunday, 2 August, 2020 - 08:00
Australian authorities have slapped an overnight curfew on Melbourne and barred residents from moving more than five kilometres from home. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

Australia imposed an overnight curfew on its second-biggest city Sunday and banned people from moving more than five kilometres from home in a bid to control a growing coronavirus outbreak that is infecting hundreds daily.


Declaring a "state of disaster", Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne would move to Stage 4 restrictions until September 13 given "unacceptably high" levels of community transmission.


The harshest rules in Australia to date will see city residents face a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am for the next six weeks.


Only those carrying out essential work, or seeking or providing care, will be allowed out, AFP reported.


"The time for leniency, the time for warnings and cautions is over," Andrews said.


"If you are not at home and you should be, if you have the virus and are just going about your business, you will be dealt with harshly. Lives are at stake."


Melbourne residents will be limited to an hour of exercise a day, no further than five kilometres (about three miles) from home starting Sunday night.


Only one person per household will be able to shop for essential items each day, also within the same strict radius.


Most school and university students in Melbourne will go back to online learning from midnight Wednesday, just weeks after returning to their classrooms, while weddings will also be banned.


"These are the decisions made because anything short of this will not keep us safe," Andrews said, adding anything less "will see it drag on for months and months and months".


Additional restrictions affecting workplaces would be announced Monday, Andrews added, suggesting that non-essential businesses will face closures.


Victoria accounts for the vast majority of active coronavirus cases in Australia, recording 671 new cases and seven deaths from the virus Sunday.


Health authorities have linked the resurgence to security bungles at hotels used to quarantine international travelers that allowed the virus to leak back into the community.


Australia's total reported infections reached almost 18,000 on Sunday, with 208 deaths in a population of 25 million.


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