Australian state of Victoria declares a state of disaster, orders large parts of economy to close

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Australia’s second most populous state will close retail shops, limit construction projects and curtail manufacturing around the city of Melbourne in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the state premier said on Monday.

Victoria state said on Sunday it would impose a nightly curfew and tighten restrictions on people’s movement.

State Premier Daniel Andrews, however, said large industries would have to close for the next six weeks. Victoria has recorded several hundred new COVID-19 infections each day for the last few weeks.

Victoria declared a state of disaster on Sunday and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital Melbourne as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain a resurgent COVID-19.

Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city already under a reimposed six-week stay-home order, has struggled to rein in the disease, with record numbers of infections of the new coronavirus reported last week.

On Sunday, Victoria reported 671 infections, one of its highest, and seven COVID-19 deaths. High numbers of community transmissions and cases of unknown origins have forced the new restrictions, which will be in place for six weeks, officials said.

“The current rules have avoided thousands and thousands of cases each day, and then thousands of people in hospital and many more tragedies than we have seen. But it is not working fast enough,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a televised briefing.

A curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day will be implemented from Sunday evening in Melbourne, barring the nearly five million people in the city from leaving their houses except for work or to receive or give care.

The sweeping new restrictions limit the time Melbourne residents may spend on outdoor exercise and essential shopping. All schools will move to remote learning from Wednesday.

Supermarkets will remain open, and restaurants, already closed for dining in, will be able to continue with their takeaway and delivery services.

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