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Coronavirus: Melbourne Begins Second Lockdown

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Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has begun a second lockdown in response to a spike in new coronavirus infections.

The five million Melbourne’s residents will be barred from leaving home for six weeks, except for essential reasons.

Police say they are setting up a “ring of steel” around the city, with “checkpoints anytime and anywhere” to enforce the measures.

Borders between Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, and neighboring states closed on July 7.

PM Scott Morrison paid tribute to Melbournians’ resilience on July 8.

“The rest of the country knows that the sacrifice that you’re going through right now is not just for you and your own family, but it’s for the broader Australian community,” the prime minister said during a news conference.

Scott Morrison also said he was proposing measures to slow the return of Australian nationals from overseas.

Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Melbourne lockdown on July 7 after the state saw 191 new infections, its highest daily number since the pandemic began.

The July 8 figure was down to 134, but still much higher than numbers in the rest of the country.

Australia has recorded almost 9,000 cases and 106 deaths from the virus.

Meanwhile, Australian media reported that passengers on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney disembarked on July 7 without being screened.

New South Wales state has banned travel from the greater Melbourne area except under exceptional circumstances, and the passengers should have been required to self-isolate for two weeks.

People will be kept to their homes and will only be able to leave for essential reasons, such as for work, exercise and shopping for food and other necessities.

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Schools will largely return to distance learning and restaurants will, once again, only be permitted to serve takeaway food.

However, shops and hairdressers will remain open.

The lockdown covers only Melbourne and an area to the north called the Mitchell Shire, but the state as a whole has been sealed off from the neighboring states of New South Wales and South Australia.

Police and troops have been stationed at border crossings and patrol the vast borders with drones and other aircraft.

As of July 9, they will also be doing random checks on vehicles in and around the city.

For months Australia had felt optimistic about containing Covid-19 then came the resurgence of the virus in Melbourne.