Australia’s government to back Victoria’s strict coronavirus lockdown

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Australian government expressed its support for the most stringent socially distancing measures in the state of Victoria to curb the new coronavirus on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: People with face masks walk down a street in Melbourne after being the first city in Australia to force the wear of masks in public to curb the recurrence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on July 23. 2020. REUTERS / Sandra Sanders / File photo

The government in the country's second largest state is expected to announce that Melbourne’s capital and movement will be severely restricted for at least six weeks from Wednesday, media reported.

The support of the federal government, led by a coalition led by the Liberal Party, for the measures of the Labor Party government in Victoria shows the national unity of the embassy across the political spectrum in a country with a loose federal system.

Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, is already in a six-week home stay regulation, but is struggling to contain COVID-19. A record number of new infections of the virus causing the disease were reported last week, leading to warnings of further restrictions.

The state reported more than 650 infections on Sunday, up from 397 cases on Saturday, ABC News television reported, citing unnamed sources.

Education Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News that the federal government would "absolutely" support Victoria in accelerating its efforts.

"We will continue to offer as much support as possible," said Tehan. "No question, it's a very difficult time in Victoria."

Australia has done far better than many other countries to prevent the spread of the corona virus, but at high economic costs. Around 17,300 coronavirus cases and 200 COVID-19 deaths have been registered, but the recent surge in Victoria has proven difficult to contain.

Melbourneers are allowed to go out to work, shop, get medical care and exercise. Under the new restrictions, they would have to stay within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their homes, with only one person from each household allowed to go shopping.

The measures would limit transportation options and affect many retail stores. Restaurants that now offer delivery and take-away options would be limited to contactless pickup orders, the Melbourne newspapers reported.

Restrictions on movement and business processes would also be limited in the rest of the state, but not at the same level as in Melbourne.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by Cynthia Osterman and William

(tagsToTranslate) UK (t) HEALTH (t) CORONAVIRUS (t) AUSTRALIA (t) Health Policy (t) Health / Medicine (t) Government / Politics (t) Infectious Diseases (t) General News (t) Asia / Pacific (t) Australia (t) Important News (t) Respiratory Diseases (t) Communicable Diseases (t) Diseases (t) Epidemics

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