Australia’s largest city was meant to exit its five-week lockdown on July 30, but it seems it wasn’t meant to be. Citing a growing number of cases and still-low vaccination rates, local authorities have announced this Wednesday that the lockdown will be extended for one more month.
This June, a driver for an international flight crew in Sydney contracted the coronavirus — thus plunging the city again into quarantine. After announcing 177 new cases, local authorities have announced an extension of lockdown measures. They urged those living in infection hotspots to not leave their neighborhoods, although those living alone will be allowed a “singles bubble” with another person, a move that I’m sure many interaction-starved Sydneyites will be very thankful for.
The lockdown will remain in effect until August 28, according to French news outlet AFP.
Locked Down Under — the extended cut
“I appreciate personally what we’re asking people do for the next four weeks but it is because we want to keep our community safe and want to make sure we can bounce back as quickly as possible,” New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
While lockdown measures remain in effect, Sydney residents can leave their homes only for exercise, essential work, to shop for necessities such as food, and for medical reasons. Local police have been issuing fines to those violating the restrictions, and Berejiklian said compliance efforts will be increased moving forward. He also asked residents to report those breaking the rules.
While Sydney is still grappling with the virus, Melbourne has just finished its fifth lockdown after beating the Delta variant of the coronavirus for the second time. Roughly eight million people in Victoria and South Australia states have also exited lockdown measures after outbreaks of the virus were deemed contained.
While Australia did move quickly against the virus in the early stages of the pandemic, it has struggled with the follow-through. It maintains a high percentage of unvaccinated citizens (roughly 76%), which left it vulnerable to the newer Delta variant. Its cities have been repeatedly going in and out of lockdown, and while Australians have been dutifully respecting these, in general, the frequent shutdowns are starting to take a toll on businesses and the general public.
Low supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech doses of the vaccine, and a wide distrust of the AstraZeneca shots are frustrating vaccination efforts. So far, Australia has officially recorded 33,000 infections and 921 COVID-related deaths.