South Australia started with one of the toughest suspensions in the world on Thursday. Even outdoor exercise and dog walking were banned as the state tries to contain a group of Covid-19 infections.
For six days, only one person from a household is allowed to leave the house every day, and only for essential reasons, the authorities said. Schools, universities, cafes and restaurants are closed, weddings and funerals are prohibited, and the wearing of masks is compulsory.
“We want to work hard, go early, but get out as soon as possible,” said Prime Minister Steven Marshall of the measures.
23 people in the state capital, Adelaide, were infected after exposure to the virus by cleaning staff at a hotel that quarantined people arriving from overseas. Health officials say the “breaker” measures are needed to avoid a major outbreak.
Marshall said the strain of the circulating virus was “evil” as many of those infected show no symptoms. He said it was very likely that it would be transmitted from surfaces and that the incubation time was only 24 hours.
“It’s a real concern, especially because people who get infected don’t have the typical symptoms we’re used to,” he said.
The state of 1.7 million people, spread over a land mass five times the size of the United Kingdom, had largely eliminated community transmission of the virus after a nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
The cluster and a more severe outbreak in neighboring Victoria that sparked a three-month lockdown in the city of Melbourne show the need for constant vigilance to control the virus – even in a nation spared the scale of infections and deaths in Europe and the USA
Victoria is proof that hard locks work. The state, which recorded a daily high of around 700 infections in August, has now gone 20 days with no new cases.