Australia’s second-most populous city will enter a five-day snap coronavirus lockdown, authorities said on Friday, barring spectators from the Australian Open tennis tournament.
A fresh Covid-19 cluster linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, reached 13 cases as of Thursday midnight as authorities rushed to quash the spread of the virus.
Premier Daniel Andrews of Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, said the lockdown was necessary to halt an outbreak of the “hyper-infectious” UK strain of Covid-19, which leaked from a quarantine hotel at the city airport.
Mr Andrews called it a “short, sharp circuit breaker” banning public gatherings, home auctions, weddings and religious gatherings.
“There will be no crowds” at sporting events in the state, Mr Andrews said. The tournament runs until Feb. 21. Crowds had already been limited to 50% of usual capacity for the Grand Slam event.
“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,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“These restrictions are all about making sure that we respond appropriately to the fastest-moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus that we have seen,” he said.
“I am confident that this short, sharp circuit breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this. We will be able to prevent it getting away from us.”