Melbourne under state of emergency, curfew to contain spike in coronavirus cases

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Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, entered its first day of tighter restrictions on Monday to contain the spread of a resurgent coronavirus.Authorities have declared a state of emergency in neighboring Victoria and imposed a nighttime curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time for six weeks in the city, affecting its five million residents .

Supermarkets will remain open along with take-out and restaurant delivery services, but some other businesses will be asked to close later this week. Schools will switch to distance learning from Wednesday.

The Prime Minister of Australia announced a payment of A $ 1,500 (C $ 1,428) for workers in a hot-spot state who must self-isolate for 14 days and who do not have paid sick leave .

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the payment that will be available from Wednesday as disaster relief, and it was offered after the government in Victoria declared a COVID-19 disaster in Melbourne on Sunday.

“It’s heartbreaking. This pandemic, this virus, is wreaking havoc and the time is right, as it has been throughout this pandemic, that we continue to support each other, ”Morrison said.

The government in Victoria is concerned that many infections are caused by people who are tested for COVID-19 and return to work before they get results, usually two days later.

Starting Wednesday evening, non-essential businesses will close in Melbourne in an attempt to curb the outbreak.

Industries that will be shutting down on-site operations for six weeks include most retail and manufacturing businesses. Most construction companies and meat processing plants will have to downsize their staff and operations.

Victoria on Monday announced 429 new infections and 13 more deaths overnight.

WATCH | What the COVID-19 spike in Australia could mean for Canada:

Australia had been seen as a COVID-19 success story, but a regional outbreak in Melbourne has now exploded to hundreds of new cases a day, which could have impacts as far away as Canada. 1:58

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