There's some COVID-19 trouble Down Under, and leaders in New Zealand and Australia are taking severe steps with their citizens to address the spread of the virus.
What are the details?
The entire country of New Zealand will go on lockdown after a 58-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19, likely with the Delta variant, Sky News reported.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown will be in place for three days from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday; in Auckland and Coromandel, the lockdown will last seven days, the outlet said.
The man who tested positive isn't vaccinated, but his wife is — and so far she's tested negative, Sky News noted, adding that it's New Zealand's first COVID case nearly six months.
What else did the New Zealand PM say?
"We want to be short and sharp, not light and long," Ardern said in announcing the lockdown, the outlet said. "Delta has been called a game changer and it is. It means that we again need to go hard and early to stop the spread. We have made the decision on the basis that it is better to start high and go down levels rather than to go low, not contain the virus and see it move quickly."
Ardern also said there was no alternative to the lockdown, Sky News added, and alluded to escalating case numbers in Australia.
"We've seen the dire consequences of taking too long to act in other countries, not least our neighbors," she said, according to the outlet. "We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community. This has given us the chance to learn from others."
Ardern urged New Zealanders to follow lockdown rules "to the letter," stay clear of others, and behave as if they have the virus, Sky News said.
"We've seen overseas, particularly in Sydney, unnecessary trips outdoors have spread the virus and communities have not been able to get on top of it," she added, according to the outlet. "If we all comply it lifts our chances of getting out of this earlier. We know that this strategy works, we know that we are a strong team of 5 million, and we know that life will get easier; we just need to keep going."
As for images of long supermarket lines and empty shelves, the prime minister said panic buying should be avoided, Sky News reported.
"I know we have a natural instinct, and people worry about their provisions," Ardern said, according to the outlet. "Just remember other people need to buy things too — be kind, be courteous. It doesn't make sense for people to rush out; it means you congregate."
New Zealand's level 4 lockdown means, according to Sky News:
- Stay at home in your "bubble" other than essential outdoor movement;
- Safe recreational activity is allowed locally;
- Severely limited travel;
- All gatherings canceled; all public venues closed;
- Only essential businesses open (e.g., supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, gas stations, utilities);
- Schools closed;
- Rationing and facility requisitioning possible;
- Health care services reprioritized.
New Zealand enters lockdown over one Covid case - BBC News youtu.be
Meanwhile, in Australia...
In a separate Sky News story, the premier of Victoria — a southeastern Australian state that includes the capital city of Melbourne — said he's "angry" over recent outdoor behavior and said residents are now prohibited from removing their face masks to drink alcohol outdoors.
"You will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl," Daniel Andrews said, according to the outlet. "I understand Victoria Police are looking at what occurred ... at a number of licensed venues."
Why is he 'angry'?
"But why am I angry about that?" he asked, Sky News noted. "Because it devalues the work that thousands of publicans and restaurant owners and bar owners, the good work they are doing, diligently following COVID-safe protocols providing take-away. Pubs are shut for a reason — it is not safe for them to be open."
Andrews added, "In any event, there will be no more drinking alcohol with your mask off in those circumstances. There will — they will simply not be permitted," according to the outlet.
He also said "religious broadcasts, they will be further limited. Same crew. You can't have a reinvolving crew every week. It's got to be the same people who produce those broadcasts, as important as they are, each and every time. The construction sector — large projects will be reduced to 25 per cent. Smaller projects will have a maximum of five workers. There will be additional restrictions in relation to movement between sites where trades work multiple sites," Sky News said.
Daniel Andrews fury over COVID-19 compliance | Coronavirus | 9 News Australia youtu.be