Because the Australian Open performs on, Victoria officers order a ‘circuit breaker’ Covid lockdown.


Greater than six million individuals in Victoria, Australia, will enter right into a snap lockdown for 5 days in response to a coronavirus outbreak at a quarantine lodge.

The order got here because the Australian Open was being held in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, however the tennis event will proceed — with out spectators — the authorities stated on Friday.

Victorians can be allowed to depart dwelling just for important procuring, work, train and caregiving, and should put on masks every time they go away dwelling.

However whereas sports activities and leisure venues can be shut down, skilled athletes like tennis gamers can be labeled as “important staff” and allowed to proceed their matches.

“There are not any followers; there’s no crowds. These individuals are primarily at their office,” Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, informed reporters on Friday. “It’s not like the one individuals which might be at work are grocery store staff.”

Tennis Australia stated in an announcement that it will notify all ticket holders of the modifications and proceed “to work with the federal government to make sure the well being and security of everybody.”

The lockdown, which matches into impact at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, comes after an outbreak at a Vacation Inn close to the Melbourne Airport that was getting used to accommodate returned vacationers.

By Friday, 13 individuals linked to the lodge had examined optimistic with the brand new virus variant that first emerged in Britain. Up to now 24 hours, 5 new instances have been recognized, bringing the state’s whole variety of instances to 19.

Describing the lockdown as a “circuit breaker,” the authorities stated it was crucial to stopping the unfold of the variant, which is very infectious and has outwitted contact tracers earlier than they’ll include outbreaks. Related snap lockdowns in Perth and Brisbane in current months had been profitable in quashing infections.

“The sport has modified,” Mr. Andrews stated. “This isn’t the 2020 virus.”

He stated he hoped Victorians, who endured amongst the longest lockdowns in the world final yr, would work collectively to forestall the state from coming into a 3rd wave of the coronavirus. “We can smother this,” he stated.

The order had ripple results in Australia’s different states, which all introduced journey restrictions with Victoria. Worldwide flights, excluding freight, into Melbourne had been additionally canceled.

In different international developments:

  • Germany will shut its border to the Czech Republic and the Austrian state of Tyrol beginning Sunday because it tries to guard in opposition to new variants of the virus. As a part of that effort, Germany this week prolonged its nationwide lockdown for an additional month.

  • New Zealand will obtain the primary batch of its 1.5-million-dose order of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine subsequent week and expects to start vaccinating its border staff on Feb. 20, forward of schedule, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated on Friday. The nation, which has all however eradicated native transmission of the virus, has extra buy agreements with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novavax and AstraZeneca, and expects to begin vaccinating its wider inhabitants within the second quarter of this yr, Ms. Ardern stated.