More than six million people in Victoria, Australia will quick lock a quarantine hotel for five days in response to a coronavirus outbreak.
The order came when the Australian Open was taking place in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, but the tournament will continue – with no spectators, authorities said on Friday.
Victorians are only allowed to go out for shopping, work, exercising, and grooming and are required to wear masks every time they leave the house.
While sports and entertainment venues are closed, professional athletes such as tennis players are classified as “essential workers” and are allowed to continue their games.
“There are no fans; There are no crowds. These people are essentially at work, “Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters on Friday. He said, “It’s not that the only people who are at work are supermarket workers.”
In a statement to the New York Times on Friday, Tennis Australia said it will notify all ticket holders of the changes and will continue “to work with the government to ensure the health and safety of all”.
The lockdown, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday, comes after an outbreak at a Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport that housed returning travelers.
By Friday, 13 people connected to the hotel had tested positive for the new, more virulent variant of the virus, which first appeared in the UK. Five new cases have been identified in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 19.
Authorities called the lockdown a “breaker” and said it was crucial to stop the spread of the variant, which is highly contagious and has outsmarted contact tracers before they can contain outbreaks. Similar snap locks in the cities of Perth and Brisbane in recent months have been successful in fighting infection.
“The game has changed,” said Andrews. “This is not the 2020 virus.”
He hoped the Victorians, who were under the longest lockdowns in the world last year, would work together to prevent the state from entering a third wave of the coronavirus. “We’ll be able to stifle that,” he said.
The order had an impact on the other Australian states which announced all travel restrictions with Victoria. International flights without cargo to Melbourne have also been canceled. The lockdown is expected to hurt local businesses like restaurants and florists, who relied heavily on Valentine’s Day profits to recover from last year’s lengthy lockdown.