Just a few hours ago, the Australian capital of Canberra joined Sydney, Melbourne and their surrounding areas by entering a strict lockdown after public health authorities identified the city's first COVID case in a year. On Thursday, authorities confirmed another 3 cases, all linked to the first case. Meanwhile, health authorities in Australia have been tightening restrictions on travel, leaving some Aussies who live abroad trapped in their home country because of a few hundred COVID cases.
The Capital Territory's Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced earlier this week that the "hard" seven-day lockdown would begin at 1700 local time on Thursday (meaning it started a few hours ago). But judging by the repeated extensions in Sydney and Melbourne, the capital territory lockdown will likely remain in place for weeks, if not months.
"This is by far the most serious public health risk the ACT has faced in the past 12 months, and that's why the ACT is entering a strict lockdown in response to this positive case," Barr said.
Already, neighboring territories are imposing restrictions on travel to the capital area. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared the ACT a 'hotspot'. Beginning at 0100 on Aug. 14, Queenslanders will need to remain on their side of the border. Anybody who crosses the border after that point will need to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. Anybody arriving after 1700 Thursday will be asked to quarantine at home (and that's retroactive to anybody who has traveled in the capital territory since Aug. 9).
Meanwhile, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has warned of harsh penalties for any Canberrans found breaking the strict stay-at-home orders to enter NSW.
Australia has become infamous for its military-assisted enforced lockdowns, part of the country's "zero tolerance" policy toward COVID.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has warned of harsh penalties for any Canberrans found breaking the strict stay-at-home orders to enter his province. Barilaro has gone to the trouble of asking Police Commissioner Mick Fuller to 'ramp up' police resources on the state’s South Coast to keep an eye out for ACT number plates seen crossing into the state.
He also threatened to expand the current lockdown surrounding Sydney to cover the entire area of the country’s most populous state (New South Wales) if the cluster found in the capital territory happens to spill into the surrounding regions.
Barilaro said he had asked Police Commissioner Mick Fuller to 'ramp up' police resources on the South Coast keeping an eye out for ACT number plates.
The deputy premier also threatened a statewide lockdown in NSW if the current cluster in ACT was to spill into the surrounding regions. 'That could become problematic for southern NSW. If that was to breach there then I would absolutely be saying then maybe it is time for a statewide lockdown,' Mr Barilaro told 2GB radio.
"We've got to get tougher. Now's the time to go harder and tighter," Barilaro said. He added that the new restrictions being crafted would go "harder than anyone's gone before".
Across Canberra and New South Wales, lines snaked outside of testing centers as thousands rushed to get tested.
Others rushed to get vaccinated, as the country administered a record 500K+ jabs in the span of just two days earlier this week. However, even with the jabs, Australia's zero-tolerance approach practically guarantees that the lockdowns will continue, with most investment banks projecting them to end some time next month.