Australia Expands COVID Lockdowns in Major Cities

Soldiers deployed to enforce quarantine rules in Sydney

Image Credits: James D. Morgan/Getty Images.

Coronavirus-related restrictions have been tightened in major Australian cities, with a lockdown extended in Brisbane and military personnel dispatched to patrol the streets of Sydney amid the fight against the Delta variant.

The lockdown in Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, was due to end on Tuesday but will now continue until late on Sunday. The state of Queensland, where Brisbane is located, reported 13 locally transmitted cases on Monday – the biggest daily rise seen in the state this year. 

“It’s starting to become clear that the initial lockdown will be insufficient for the outbreak,” Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. 

Ekka, a popular Brisbane farmer festival, has been canceled for the second year in a row as a result of the extended restrictions. 

“We just can’t afford to have an event like that where people travel into town, circulate in large numbers. The risk is just too great,” Miles said. 

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young urged everyone to immediately get tested if they have Covid-19 symptoms, in order to avoid the lockdown being extended beyond August 8.  

Australian regions have been tightening quarantine rules in recent weeks as authorities are struggling to contain the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. 

Uniformed soldiers began patrolling the streets of Sydney in New South Wales (NSW) on Monday to help police enforce lockdown rules. Officials previously said that 300 soldiers would undergo training for patrol duty in Australia’s largest city. 

More bus routes were added to Sydney’s hotspot list after 207 locally transmitted cases were reported in the last 24 hours in NSW. Anyone who traveled on the listed routes during a specific time must get tested and self-isolate for two weeks. 

A number of locations across the Greater Sydney area, including several McDonald’s restaurants and an Aldi supermarket, were listed as exposure sites. People are required to self-isolate until they test negative for the virus if they visited the exposure sites at certain times. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said case numbers and the vaccination rate will determine if the lockdown can be eased on August 28. 

Striking a similar tone, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week that lockdowns will become “less likely” and vaccinated Australians will be subjected to fewer restrictions once 70% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated. 

According to the government’s four-stage plan, lockdowns will disappear almost entirely and international travel will resume after 80% of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated.

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