Opublikowano: 2020-11-06 10:23:04 +0100
Restrictions were eased for the residents of Melbourne after 111 days in lockdown. Can Australia be a positive example for Europe?
ForPORTAL Jamie Stewart (Australia correspondent)
While many countries throughout the world are currently experiencing a deadly second wave of the Coronavirus, the state of Victoria, Australia in the past 7 consecutive days (31st October – 6th November) have recorded Zero Cases and Zero deaths from Covid-19.
It was only back in early August when reaching levels of over 700 Covid cases a day, that the capital city Melbourne with a population of over 5 million people, the state government implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world where the residents were restricted to remaining within 5km of their home (unless for work or essential purposes), limited to 2 hours exercise a day and having a curfew in place where they were unable to leave their homes between 8pm-5am.
Restrictions were eased for the residents of Melbourne after 111 days in lockdown. This enabled businesses such as Retail stores, Restaurants, Cafes, Beauty and Hair salons and Places of worship to re-open. Over 180,000 people have finally been able to return to work.
There is however still a 25km travelling limit in place with unlimited time for exercise and people are required to stay within the confines of the Melbourne Metropolitan area, as borders to the Regional areas of Victoria (where the virus was at negligible levels) have been heavily patrolled by Victoria Police to ensure that the only people who were able to enter were essential workers or permit holders.
This border between Melbourne and Regional Victoria has been referred to by the State Premier of Victoria – Daniel Andrews as the “Ring of Steel”.
The positive news is that effective Monday 9th November this border will be no longer in effect and Melbourne residents will be able to travel freely in the state of Victoria without a valid reason or permit.
The cost of the recent lockdown has not just been financial, it has had a significant effect mentally as well. In Victoria alone, the Australian government estimates 1,200 jobs have disappeared and AUD $100 million (NOK 668 million) loss of revenue each day, while the demand for mental health services has increased by more than 30%.
Melbourne business leaders have stated that it may take years for the city to recover financially, whilst renowned Melbourne chef/restaurateur Scott Pickett has mentioned that current patron capacity restrictions would continue to hit restaurants and cafes and that many of these businesses would close permanently once the federal government wage subsidies such as Jobkeeper end early next year.
LESSONS FOR THE WORLD
Many countries, especially in Europe are currently experiencing over 20,000 new Covid cases a day and the USA just recently recorded over 102,000 new cases in a single day.
The Chairperson of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Melbourne – Catherine Bennett has stated it is likely too late for the UK, USA & European countries to replicate Melbourne’s success in crushing new infections. Instead, authorities would likely opt for 2-3-week circuit breaker lockdowns to take the load off the public health system. She said:
“A circuit breaker just might bring it back into line and allow it to be containable, but unless you’ve gone very early it’s very hard to bring new cases down to zero”.
Even though Australia has their Covid numbers under control, it is imperative that social distancing, hand sanitizing, mask wearing (where required), temperature checks, regular testing and contract tracing capabilities are maintained, as until a vaccine is developed, this will be the new Covid-normal in our daily lives. The last thing that Victorian residents or anywhere else in Australia want is another lockdown.
MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FOR EUROPE
We in Australia are standing with you in solidarity Europe and we know that you will get through these current restrictions you are experiencing and will come out of this stronger, healthier and more resilient on the other side.
It was only a few months ago I was so envious of everyone in Europe for the Summer travelling and other activities you were able to undertake. Next week will be an opportunity for me to reunite with family and friends in Regional Victoria that I have been unable to visit in many months.
Take care everyone and stay safe and we hope to visit your countries as soon as we can.
npr.org, bloomberg.com, Nportal.no