Australia shuts non-essential businesses in Melbourne to check virus spread

Sydney, Australia, Aug 3 (efe-epa).- The Australian authorities on Monday announced the closure of non-essential business in Melbourne, the country’s second most populous city, following a resurgence of COVID-19 and after enacting new, strict measures in the city, including a nightly curfew.

Despite imposing a lockdown in Melbourne since early July, the authorities of Victoria state have been unable to halt the spread of COVID-19, which has led to more than 12,000 infections since the start of the epidemic, of which 9,000 have been recorded since July 1.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, on Sunday, declared a state of disaster in the state, Australia’s second-largest in terms of population and economy, while also enacting a six-week night-time curfew in Melbourne and tightening restrictions on the rest of the territory.

After reporting 429 new cases and 13 deaths on Monday, Andrews announced the closure of non-essential businesses such as restaurants, cafes, gyms and beauty salons starting midnight on Wednesday.

He also announced grants of up to AUD 10,000 ($7,126) for businesses to ease the effect of the measures that will send one million workers, out of Melbourne’s 5 million inhabitants, home.

He explained that other businesses such as construction and slaughterhouses will reduce their operations and will have to use personal protective gear and carry out temperature checks, while essential businesses including supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and liquor stores will continue to operate normally.

On Monday, 17 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the neighboring New South Wales state, which has closed its border with Victoria.

The outbreak in Melbourne has also indefinitely delayed the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand negotiated by both governments, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Australia, which had succeeded in eliminating the virus on its territory until the outbreak in Melbourne, has seen an increase in infections linked to suspected security breaches in the quarantines of international travelers.

A total of around 18,400 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the country since the start of the epidemic, including some 221 deaths. EFE-EPA


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