Two of the world’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns make it easier – just a little

Two of the world's toughest coronavirus lockdowns make it easier - just a little

Melbourne, Australia – Israel and an Australian country said they would slowly begin to ease some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, but the provisions highlight the deep global divide over the need for lockdowns to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Australian state of Victoria, which includes Melbourne, said on Sunday it would ease some of its toughest restrictions, such as preventing people from leaving their homes for all but a few reasons, and keeping offices and retail outlets mostly closed, after daily injuries. It dropped to just two from the peak of over 700.

Israel said it would start as well Relaxing restrictions that are not very popular There is yet to cut new daily cases to less than 1,500 from more than 8,000.

Starting Monday, five million Melbourne residents will be able to travel up to 15 miles from home, and the two-hour deadline for outdoor sports will be canceled. By November 1, retail and hospitality outlets including restaurants, cafes and hair salons will reopen with limited capacity.

Starting Sunday, Israelis will be allowed to travel more than one kilometer from their homes and small gatherings will be allowed, with a maximum of 10 in and 20 outside. Nurseries and daycare centers will reopen, restaurants will be allowed to serve fast food, companies that do not receive customers can reopen, and people will be allowed to visit beaches and parks.

However, lockdowns will remain tighter than those prevailing almost anywhere else in the world, highlighting the divergent approaches countries continue to take in fighting the virus.

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The leaders in the United States and Europe have them It has largely resisted a return to sweeping lockdowns Such as those imposed in the spring, in favor of more targeted measures in an effort to avoid economic damage and social unrest. France has taken some of the most draconian measures Amid the resurgence of the virus in EuropeLast week, she said she would declare a state of emergency and impose a curfew.

Melbourne has it Endure more than 100 days Under one of the strictest shutdowns in the world, many small business owners are already on the brink of collapse.

Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria state, said the target November 1 could be brought forward if infection rates, measured as an average of 14 days for daily cases, fall faster than expected. But it has not provided a modernization of industries such as construction, manufacturing and meat processing, many of which operate under capacity constraints.

“These lockdowns have caused pain, damage and harm, but the strategy is working,” Andrews said during a televised news briefing on Sunday. “What that means is that at a time when other parts of the world enter a deadly winter, with lockdowns and heart-wrenching restrictions,” Victoria can now “build Covid-normal 2021”, he said.

Andrews called for a direct comparison with the United Kingdom, which had similar numbers of infections last August when daily cases in Victoria peaked at 725.

“Today, while Victoria is registering two new cases, the UK has 16,171 cases,” he said. “As we continue to ease our restrictions, they are being forced to increase their restrictions.”

Israel has become the first developed country to impose a second nationwide lockdown amid a spike in Covid-19 cases. As businesses are forced to close prior to major Jewish festivals, WSJ’s Dove Lieber meets restaurant owners who fear they will never reopen. Photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has faced mounting protests over the closure, has said that Israel will gradually reopen its doors to avoid the re-emergence of the virus the country witnessed after lifting its previous lockdown more quickly.

Cesar Coronavirus in Israel, Ronnie Gamzo, said the country is facing a difficult battle to control the virus. He said that Israel needs to see the number of cases drop to less than 1,000 a day and meet the other epidemiological phases before the country can move forward with the next phase of the Ministry of Health’s multi-month gradual exit plan. In the following stages, more children will return to schools and gyms, and beauty salons and restaurants will open.

Melbourne restrictions came into effect after breaching hotel quarantine protocols this summer, leading to a second wave of infections when the rest of Australia was virus-free. Officials initially attempted a more targeted series of restrictions on each block, but imposed strict lockdowns when they failed to contain the spread.

As a result of the outbreak, Victoria has now recorded 816 deaths out of 904 deaths in Australia and nearly three quarters of the total cases, according to official statistics.

Tight restrictions lowered the infection rate in Melbourne, but it also crippled a city that is routinely ranked among the most liveable in the world. Business groups and political opponents have criticized the state’s response as being unnecessarily burdensome and having a disproportionate effect on the economy and social welfare.

“There is no good reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with the case numbers clearly on a downward path,” said Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Australian Business Council. “Just letting you go for a haircut or out a little more when you don’t have a job, there’s no money, and your business fails is not good enough.”

Since Victoria accounts for about a quarter of Australia’s GDP, the restrictions affected the entire country’s economy, which In a recession for the first time in nearly 30 years.

As a result of the lockdown, the Australian Football Grand Final – the local equivalent of the Super Bowl – will be held outside Melbourne for the first time.


Michael Dodge / Environmental Protection Agency / Shutterstock

Next week’s Australian soccer grand final, which tied the domestic Super Bowl, will take place outside Melbourne for the first time in its 123-year history.

The prolonged restrictions resulted in frustration and public fatigue, contributing to small and sporadic public protests and legal challenges from small business owners over the validity of the lockdown.

Health experts and medical societies widely supported the anti-epidemic measures taken by the Victorian government, but highlighted the need to mitigate the serious mental health impacts of the prolonged lockdown, and the associated job losses and social disconnection, especially among the youth and the underprivileged. Groups.

Greg Hunt, Minister of Health for Australia’s Conservative National Government, said federal data showed a 31% increase in Victorian residents requiring mental health support over the past two months, compared to a 15% increase nationwide. The number of calls to Beyond Blue mental health support service was 90% higher in Victoria compared to the rest of the country in August.

“The second wave, which led to the lockdown, has severely damaged Victoria’s mental health and economic prospects,” said Josh Friedenberg, Australian Treasurer.

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Andrews, who leads a labor government in center-left state, has insisted that draconian measures are necessary to stave off a worse third wave of infections that would risk bypassing hospitals and imposing a longer lockdown.

He said that the infection rate targets were based on supercomputer scenario modeling and in close consultation with public health experts, and weighed continuously the economic and social pain. Many of the restrictions are likely to remain in place for at least several more weeks.

“These are not easy decisions,” Andrews said Sunday. “There is a lot at stake.” “And if we did too much, and too quickly, we’d be where none of us wanted to be again – we would do it again, and go back to where we were.”

Write to Philip Wen at [email protected] and Felicia Schwartz at [email protected]

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