Australia’s Victoria state has reintroduced new and tighter lockdown measures following the rising number of new coronavirus infections across Melbourne.
While Australia’s previous lockdown successfully kept the number of COVID-19 cases across the country low, the city of Melbourne took a different path.
On Monday, August 3, Premier Daniel Andrews put the city under a six weeks lockdown with new and stricter rules. The decision was made following the spike in new coronavirus cases, citing previous lockdown’s failure to contain the virus from spreading.
Melbourne shuts retail and manufacturing sectors
As per Andrews’ announcement, Melbourne is set to close a large part of its economy down. Various business sectors, such as retail and manufacturing, are required to stop their operations within six weeks. Other non-essential stores are asked to shut down too.
Operations of meat factories will be slashed to a third under the new restrictions as well. Construction firms across Melbourne, on the one hand, were asked to bring down the number of on-site workers significantly.
A night-time curfew will be in place as well, which will limit the residents of Melbourne from going out between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Essential services like groceries, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations, on the one hand, will remain open to prevent people from panic buying.
Overall, it will force nearly one million workers to stay at home, per the BBC.
While the residents of Melbourne accepted the importance of stricter stay-at-home protocols, not everyone seems happy about its reimplementation. Jane Baxter-Swale of Melbourne, for instance, expressed despair and frustration over the lockdown measures.
“I am sure there are a lot of people that are depressed, including myself and my husband. […] There is no finality to this virus, which is awful,” Baxter-Swale told BBC.
Lockdown could exacerbate Australia’s recession
Premier Andrews has also warned of the damage the lockdown would inflict to the state’s—as well as the entirety of Australia—economy. Yet he also explained that it needs to be done; otherwise, the number of infections will not go down.
“This will have a very significant impact. But until we fix the health problem […], we simply cannot open the economy up again. So, there is significant damage that needs to be done.” as quoted by Bloomberg.
Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Treasurer, also echoed the same sentiment. He said that the augmented lockdown is “a massive kick in the guts” to businesses in Victoria.
To alleviate its impact, a AU$1, 500 disaster payment will be given to employees who need to self-isolate for 14 days but have run out of sick leave, per Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
For the past 30 years, this is the first time that Australia has experienced an economic recession again. And it looks like it will fall further with the new restrictions, especially that the state of Victoria contributes nearly one-quarter in Australia’s gross domestic product.