Melbourne has gone into lockdown for a second time - here's why
Australia has been among the most successful countries in the world in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, while the majority of the country is now emerging from restrictions, a second lockdown is to be imposed in Melbourne following a spike in cases.
Why is Melbourne going back into lockdown?
The south-eastern state of Victoria has faced some of Australia’s toughest lockdown measures, and was among the most reluctant to lift its restrictions when the worst of the outbreak appeared to have passed.
But as restrictions across the country are now starting to lift, Melbourne is preparing to impose more extreme lockdown measures.
The virus has resumed spreading at an alarming rate in Victoria’s capital, and the nation’s second largest city, with 191 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours.
The state had been gradually easing restrictions before the spike in cases over the last fortnight, but now has hundreds of active cases, while other states and territories have only reported a small number of new infections.
The outbreak has resulted in tougher and more divisive measures that have sparked anger and arguments over who is to blame.
What measures will be imposed?
Five million people in and around the city of Melbourne have been ordered to go back into lockdown for the next six weeks.
Residents will be restricted to their homes and will only be permitted to leave for essential reasons, such as for work and exercise.
Schools are to largely return to distance learning, while restaurants will be forced to only serve takeaway food one again, as dine-in service is abandoned.
The entire city and some of its surrounds are to follow the new measures when they come into force on Wednesday (8 July) evening, for a six-week period.
The new restrictions are to be tougher than those that were initially imposed when the city was initially locked down in March.
Explaining the situation, Victoria’s State Premier Daniel Andrews said: “We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago.
“We are on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps.
“I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us.”
Will anywhere else be locked down?
The recent surge in cases has prompted Victoria’s neighbouring state of New South Wales to announce it will close its southern border in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus.
NSW police will close the Victoria border on Tuesday (7 July), but some flights and train services will continue to operate for travellers who are given permits and exemptions.