(Natural News) Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has just extended its Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown by another four weeks. This makes what was originally intended to be a “snap lockdown” one of the country’s longest since the pandemic began.
The lockdown extension was announced for the city of five million people on Wednesday, July 28. Authorities said the initial lockdown did not prevent the escalation of the post-vaccine COVID-19 outbreak in the city. (Related: Australian man escapes forced quarantine in hotel using rope made from bedsheets.)
New South Wales, the state that Sydney belongs to, reported 172 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 177 new cases on Tuesday. This is the biggest increase in cases during the current post-vaccine outbreak.
The state also reported the death of a woman in her 90s, the 11th death of the current outbreak.
“I am as upset and frustrated as all of you that we were not able to get the case numbers we would have liked at this point in time but that is the reality,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian during a televised news conference announcing the extension of the lockdown.
Berejiklian blamed the rise in cases due to people not strictly following lockdown rules. She said the New South Wales Police Force will be used to boost enforcement of social distancing and other lockdown rules.
The premier has also urged people to report suspected rulebreaking. “We cannot put up with people continuing to do the wrong thing because it is setting us all back,” she said.
Australian military called in to enforce lockdown
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the country’s military, to aid Sydney in enforcing its lockdown.
Berejiklian’s government previously declined an offer for military assistance in its earlier efforts to enforce COVID-19 lockdown protocols. But the police had to step in, arguing that an escalation of efforts over the coming days is needed. For this effort, more manpower is required.
New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller made the formal request to Morrison and his federal government for 300 ADF personnel.
“With an increase in enforcement activity over the coming week, I have now made a formal request to the Prime Minister for ADF personnel to assist with that operation,” he said.
“The assistance of the ADF has been essential over the past 18 months – particularly during last year’s border operation, the ongoing hotel quarantine operation and the assistance provided with logistics support in the Police Operations Center.”
In preparation for the stricter enforcement of lockdown rules, the New South Wales government granted the police force additional powers. These include the ability to shut down businesses, construction sites and public premises that are too risky and might spread COVID-19.
Fuller said thousands of additional police officers will also be present in the streets of Sydney to keep people in their homes.
“We all want to come out of lockdown,” said Fuller. “These new powers, the additional police into these areas, it’s about getting us out of lockdown sooner.”
“So you can expect to see more police on the ground, you can expect to see more enforcement.”
Stricter lockdown rules in place for certain Sydney neighborhoods
According to Sydney’s new lockdown rules, the penalty for not wearing a mask has been increased from A$200 ($149) to A$500 ($370).
Starting Friday, July 30, residents of eight neighborhoods in Sydney’s western and southwestern areas have to wear a mask anywhere outside their own homes.
Berejiklian said residents of these neighborhoods are also prohibited from venturing further than five kilometers (3.1 miles) away from their homes for exercise, outdoor recreation and “singles bubble visits.”
Shopping is also restricted to this five-kilometer radius unless the essential products are not readily accessible in that area.
Essential workers who have to work in these eight neighborhoods but live in other parts of Sydney are also bound by these enhanced restrictions.
Learn more about the lockdown situation in Australia by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.