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Australia’s second largest city orders 36 suburbs locked down to stop virus spike

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Authorities on Tuesday ordered the lockdown of 36 suburbs in Australia’s second biggest city Melbourne in an attempt to stop a spike in coronavius cases, a dramatic departure from the relaxation of restrictions elsewhere in the country.

From midnight on Wednesday the first suburb-specific stay-home order will be imposed on some 320,000 people, the Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference on Tuesday.

Residents in the suburbs must stay home unless travelling for work, school, healthcare, exercise or food for a period of four weeks.

Cafes and restaurants would have to revert to takeaway only, just weeks after they returned to seated diners amid a wider reopening of the national economy.

The Victorian state government requested all flights be diverted to other states to prevent the risk of imported cases.

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“If we don’t take these steps now we will finish up in a situation (where rather) than locking down 10 postcodes, we will be locking down every postcode,” said Andrews, referring to postal codes which cover the 36 suburbs.

“People are desperate for this to be over, no one more than me, but it isn’t and pretending won’t get us to the other side.”The return to lockdown is a devastating setback for the home state of nearly a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, widely seen to have taken one of the toughest enforcement approaches when the country first went into lockdown in March.But while most other Australian states have reported zero or low single-digit daily increases in COVID-19 infections for weeks, Victoria has experienced double-digit increases for each of the previous 14 days, taking the national total to its […]

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