The Australian state of Victoria will enter a new five-day lockdown due to the discovery of a new cluster of Covid-19 cases, its premier said. The capital, Melbourne, endured one of the world’s harshest lockdowns last year.
“On the advice of our public health experts, the whole of Victoria will move to circuit-breaker action from 11:59pm tonight until 11:59pm on Wednesday,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in a lengthy statement on Friday, calling the move a “short, sharp blast.”
A document from Andrews’ office detailed what would change under the new lockdown, with a range of businesses and other public spaces closed, among them places of worship and wedding venues. Limits were also placed on funerals, which will be permitted to have a total of 10 guests until the shutdown lifts late on Wednesday.
As part of the new restrictions, people will be required to remain within 5km (3.1 miles) from their homes and mask-wearing will be essential everywhere when not at home.
Summary of what’s changing from 11:59pm tonight: pic.twitter.com/NZ6UROJTbi
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) February 12, 2021
The “circuit-breaker” comes after at least 13 new coronavirus cases were spotted at a hotel used for quarantine in Victoria’s state capital, Melbourne, as of Thursday, with Andrews warning that more were likely going undetected.
“We must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for, and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months,” Andrews told reporters, according to Reuters. The cases were linked to a new UK variant of the virus that is believed to be faster-spreading than older strains.
The new restrictions will also apply to the Australian Open. The Grand Slam event was originally limited to 50 percent of usual capacity, but now the tennis tournament will be closed to all spectators. A “minimum” amount of personnel will be in attendance in order to ensure safety, Andrews said.
Victoria has imposed some of the strictest Covid-19 measures since the outbreak last year, while Melbourne suffered one of the world’s longest lockdowns.