Melbourne breaks Buenos Aires world record for time spent in COVID-19 lockdown
Sunday at 8:00 p.m., a Victorian who has lived in Melbourne and has not left since the start of the pandemic will have spent 245 days in confinement.
- Melbourne is set to be stranded three more weeks than the next smallest city, Buenos Aires.
- Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has not ruled out lockdown extensions to ease pressure on the state’s healthcare system.
- The opposition criticized the government for its handling of the pandemic
This is the longest cumulative lockout for any city in the world.
Buenos Aires previously held the record, enduring a 234-day lockout from March 20 to November 11, 2020, and a short 10-day breaker lockout from May 21 to May 31 of this year.
While Argentina’s capital has spent 244 days in lockdown, regional areas outside the city have benefited from relaxed restrictions at various times, much like those in the Victoria region.
Melbourne is set to surpass the record by far, with Victoria’s roadmap showing the state will not meet its next vaccination target of 70% double-dose vaccinations until around October 26.
Although the first period of home stay restrictions enforced in March last year was not officially called a ‘lockdown’, it is widely believed that Melbourne is now in its sixth lockdown. Here is the timeline of how they unfolded:
- Lock 1: March 30 to May 12, 2020 – 43 days
- Lock 2: July 8 to October 27, 2020 —111 days
- Lock 3: February 12 – 17, 2021 —5 days
- Lock 4: May 27 – June 10, 2021 – 14 days
- Lock 5: July 15 – 27, 2021 – 12 days
- Lock 6: August 5 – October 26, 2021 – 82 days
This means the Victorians can spend a total of 267 days in lockdown before restrictions and reasons for starting rules are lifted again.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said on Thursday he would not rule out changing the roadmap and expanding restrictions if health advice made it necessary.
Blockages have become a regular feature of Victoria’s public health response to the current Delta strain outbreak.
Shepparton and Moorabool Shire were this week plunged into instant seven-day lockdowns on public health advice to tackle the increase in cases.
According to the federal government’s four-step national plan, lockdowns will remain a must-do measure to tackle the virus until the country reaches an 80% double vaccination rate, at which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians “shouldn’t expect a large base, metropolitan-wide confinements.”
“A political failure”
The opposition sharply criticized the state government for the length and intensity of the Victoria lockdown.
“Blockades are not a sign of political success. They are a sign of political failure,” said Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
“It is disastrous for our city, for our state, that Melbourne has been in lockdown for so long.”
Mr Andrews said the opposition’s comments were “totally unrelated” to the work the government was doing.
“People are free to be critical, that’s fine. But if you’re not happy, what’s your alternative?” he said.
“It’s not over yet. It will be soon.”
When asked to reflect on Victoria’s claim to the longest lockdown, Mr Andrews only commented on the resilience of Victorian residents.
“I’m just saying how proud I am of every Victorian for giving so much, for working so hard to save lives to overcome this,” said Mr Andrews.
“We made a huge amount last year.
“It’s been pretty darn tough, we know, but the Victorian community has been so, so impressive in the way they’ve looked after each other and everything they’ve endured and overcome.
“It’s impressive. It makes you very, very proud.”
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