Australia’s draconian lockdown measures appear to be working. There were a total of 16 new coronavirus infections and two new deaths Monday, the lowest since mid June. In Victoria, which saw a record 725 new cases in one day last month, there were 11 cases.
“This is not just a good day. This is a great day,” Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said. “We are seeing these numbers come down. This strategy is working.”
But Andrews went on to state that now is not the time to ease the harsh restrictions, including nightly curfews. So it looks like we’ll have to keep simulating social relations using chatbots in Australia for a while.
“All of us have to stay the course though, because if we were to open up right now, these numbers are still too high and, as has been noted many, many times, as recently as in the media reporting today, if you were to open up today you won’t see the impacts of that for two to three weeks.”
For the state to partially reopen at the end of this month, the two-week average for new infections has to stay under 50. The average at the moment is 35. Barring an unexpected spike in cases, childcare facilities, warehouses, manufacturing plants and construction sites will open back up 28 September.
Beyond that, restrictions will remain in place until the two-week average dips below five and stays there.
Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate continues to climb and, as I wrote last week, our GDP continues to drop (by seven points in the June quarter alone—a new record). Businesses are struggling to remain open, particularly in the service and hospitality sectors. Not to mention the tourism industry, which has been all but destroyed.
Currently states are preparing for the increased social activity that will inevitably accompany the approaching summer months. Andrews told reporters his government is working to find a way to accommodate people’s desire to spend time together outside.
“We can close lanes. We can close streets,” he said. “We can do all sorts of creative and inventive things and have an alfresco experience, not just this summer but every summer.”
In NSW, a “Covid Safe summer plan” has been initiated, with a focus on enforcing social distancing in public areas, encouraging outdoor dining and drinking, and promoting “alternative public spaces for the community to enjoy.”