Sydney's lockdown extended as Aussies refuse vaccination
Millions of Sydney residents will spend another month in lockdown, authorities said yesterday, citing a still-fast-growing coronavirus outbreak and stubbornly low vaccination rates.
Australia's biggest city had been due to exit five weeks of lockdown on July 30.
But the restrictions will now remain in place until August 28 as case numbers continued to climb.
"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.
Officials announced 177 new cases linked to the Sydney outbreak, which began mid-June when a driver for an international flight crew contracted the virus.
People living in hotspots have been urged not to leave their neighborhoods, but those living alone will be allowed to create a "singles bubble" with another person.
Sydney residents can leave their homes only for exercise, essential work, shop for necessities such as food, and medical reasons.
In recent weeks, police have doled out fines to those violating the restrictions.
Berejiklian said police would step up compliance efforts, while imploring Sydneysiders to report others breaking the rules.
"We really need people to do the right thing at all times. Do not let your guard down," she said.
The announcement came as Melbourne awoke to the end of its fifth virus lockdown, after beating the Delta variant for the second time in recent months.
It was a victory won through "determination and hard work," according to Victorian state premier Dan Andrews.
They were among the roughly 8 million people in Victoria and South Australia states who exited lockdown overnight after local outbreaks of the highly contagious variant were contained.
Johnny Sandish, who owns a cafe in central Melbourne, said his business was under major financial pressure and the first morning of post-lockdown trade was quieter than expected.
"We're losing a lot of money, almost going broke," he said.
"There's no money coming in the business, only going out."
With a largely unvaccinated population, Australia has struggled to respond to the Delta variant.
That has repeatedly sent cities into lockdown.