Australia’s third largest city to enter three-day COVID-19 lockdown

Australia's third largest city to enter three-day COVID-19 lockdown

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian authorities have announced a three-day lockdown against COVID-19 in the northern city of Brisbane from Monday afternoon, as they attempt to eradicate an outbreak of the virulent British variant of virus.

About 2 million people in the city, the third largest in the country and the state capital of Queensland, will be required to stay home from 5 p.m. local time except for essential jobs, healthcare, grocery shopping or exercise.

“I know it’s a really big call and I know it’s really tough,” Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. “We have Easter coming, we have school holidays coming, but let’s do it now and do it right.”

State officials reported four new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the cluster of cases linked to the UK variant to seven. The first case of the new cluster was reported on Friday.

Palaszczuk highlighted the success of a quick three-day lockdown in Brisbane in early January after a single case of the UK variant was discovered.

“It worked really well last time around,” she said.

Instant lockdowns, social distancing rules and speedy contact tracing systems have helped Australia contain new clusters in recent months. It has reported just over 29,200 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Brisbane’s lockdown is currently scheduled to end just before the Easter long weekend and school holidays in Australia, generally a popular time for travelers.

Schools in the city will be closed from Tuesday, funerals capped at 20 people and weddings limited to 10 people. The number of international travelers – largely returning citizens and permanent residents – allowed into Brisbane has been cut in half.

Virgin Australia said all of its domestic flights to the city were operating normally on Monday, but times could be changed in response to demand.

Reporting by Renju Jose; Edited by Himani Sarkar and Jane Wardell


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