As the Australian Open plays on, Victoria officials order a ‘circuit breaker’ Covid lockdown.

More than six million people in Victoria, Australia will quick lock a quarantine hotel for five days in response to a coronavirus outbreak.

The order came as Australian Open took place in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, but the tennis tournament will continue – without spectators, the authorities said on Friday.

Victorians are only allowed out of their homes for shopping, work, sports, and grooming, and are required to wear masks every time they leave home.

While sports and entertainment venues are closed, professional athletes such as tennis players are classified as “essential workers” and are allowed to continue their games.

“There are no fans; There are no crowds. These people are essentially at work, “Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters on Friday. “It’s not that the only people who are at work are supermarket workers.”

Tennis Australia said in a statement that it will notify all ticket holders of the changes and will continue to “work with the government to ensure everyone’s health and safety”.

The lockdown, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday, comes after an outbreak at a Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport that housed returning travelers.

By Friday, 13 people connected to the hotel had tested positive for the new variant of the virus, which first appeared in the UK. Five new cases have been identified in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 19.

Authorities called the lockdown a “breaker” and said it was crucial to stop the spread of the variant, which is highly contagious and has outsmarted contact tracers before they can contain outbreaks. Similar snap locks in Perth and Brisbane in recent months have been successful in fighting infection.

“The game has changed,” said Andrews. “This is not the 2020 virus.”

He said he was hoping for Victorians to hold out among them the longest locks in the world last year would work together to prevent the state from entering a third wave of coronavirus. “We’ll be able to stifle that,” he said.

The order had an impact on the other Australian states which announced all travel restrictions with Victoria. International flights without cargo to Melbourne have also been canceled.

In other global developments:

  • Germany will close its border with the Czech Republic and the Austrian state of Tyrol from Sunday to protect itself against new variants of the virus. As part of that effort, Germany extended its national lockdown for another month this week.

  • New Zealand will receive the first batch of its 1.5 million dose order of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine next week and is expected to begin vaccinating its border workers ahead of schedule on February 20, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday. The country, which has all but eliminated local transmission of the virus, has signed additional purchase agreements with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novavax and AstraZeneca and expects to start vaccinating its broader population in the second quarter of this year, Ms Ardern said.

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