A lockdown in Australia’s capital Sydney has been extended until the end of September to slow the spread of a COVID outbreak.
Authorities also imposed a curfew on two million residents in the city’s worst-hit suburbs.
Residents of Sydney have been under stay-at-home orders since late June.
However, infections have more than doubled in the past week with 642 new cases recorded on Friday, and 681 on Thursday.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “I apologise to the vast majority of people in those communities who are doing the right thing but for our health and safety moving forward we need to make these difficult decisions.”
She added that the curfew – which will run from 2100 to 0500 – was aimed at “reducing the movement of young people”, because police said there had been instances of rule-breaking late at night.
But critics say there’s little medical evidence to show that curfews are an effective virus control – a view also expressed by Berejiklian last month.
Local lawmakers have also criticised authorities for applying harsher restrictions in the city’s poorer west and south-west suburbs.
The toughest rules target Sydneysiders living in 12 council areas of concern – which are also the city’s most ethnically diverse communities.
Along with the curfew, people in those suburbs will be limited to just one hour of exercise daily.
The premier said the measures were designed to prevent more people from “losing loved ones”.
Critics said the state government could have acted earlier to tackle the outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Australia yesterday marked its highest daily infections since the pandemic began, recording 754 cases.