Sydney, Australia, Aug 6 (efe-epa).- Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, experienced its first day of total confinement Thursday that will last for six weeks with the closure of non-essential businesses, which is expected to further hit the country’s economy.
The Melbourne outbreak, which was aggravated by the alleged breach of quarantine measures for international travelers, had an increase from about 2,200 cases of coronavirus that it had at the end of June to the 14,469 it accumulates to date.
Victoria still has 7,449 active cases of COVID-19, of which more than 1,500 are linked to residents and workers of nursing homes, the Head of the State Government Daniel Andrews, told reporters Thursday in Melbourne, reporting about an increase of 471 new infections and eight deaths.
“If we are going to reduce these numbers we have to limit activities,” Andrews said, admitting that “nobody likes to have to slow down activity in any sector of the economy and nobody certainly enjoys postponing deadlines.”
The outbreak forced Victorian authorities to order that confinement in Melbourne on Jul. 9 last for six weeks, but as local broadcasts continued, a curfew was imposed from Sunday and the restrictions that apply from Thursday were raised to level four until mid-September.
This total confinement implies the closure of non-essential businesses such as retail stores and gyms, as well as restrictions on the operations of sectors such as construction or meat processing.
“We are in the first day of the new confinement and the companies are still not clear about what can and cannot be done. They gave us the new guidelines the day before after 11 pm,” the Executive Director from the Australian Group of Industries Innes Willox told Channel 9.
In addition, as of Thursday, confinement also comes into force for the rest of Victoria, who will only be able to leave their homes to shop, exercise, receive or give care to third parties and work or study in the cases where they can’t do it from home.
The measures in Victoria, a state that accounts for 23 percent of the national economy, “will have a very significant cost and will impact our road to recovery,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
This cost is estimated to be at least AU $10 billion (more than US $ 7.2 billion) and the unemployment rate is expected to rise from 9.25 to 10 percent, although the effective rate could be around 13 percent.
Australia, which registered some 20,000 infections, including 255 deaths, also fights against several outbreaks in the state of New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, and also faces isolated cases in the rest of its territory. EFE-EPA