Australia’s Brisbane Hit With Three-Day Covid Lockdown

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Brisbane, Australia’s third most-populous city, will enter a three-day lockdown Monday due to an outbreak of the U.K. strain of the coronavirus.

Residents will only be able to leave their homes for food, exercise, essential work and medical reasons, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. Mask wearing in public will be compulsory for people across the state, the premier said, after announcing 4 new local cases.

While Australia has come close to eliminating local transmission of the virus by closing its international border to non-residents, occasional cases leak into the community from quarantine hotels where returned overseas travelers must isolate for 14 days. States have imposed several snap lockdowns in recent months to contain clusters, disrupting travel and furthering hurting the tourism industry.

The main Labor opposition says such disruption threatens the economy, and is demanding Prime Minister Scott Morrison speeds up the vaccine rollout. About 500,000 people had received shots as of Friday, behind the 4 million that Labor says the government had promised would be delivered at this stage.

“This is going to be part of the Australian way of life until everyone is vaccinated,” Palaszczuk said of the cluster.

Other states have already moved to restrict entry to people who have been in Brisbane, jeopardizing the travel plans of thousands of people ahead of the Easter break and school holidays.

Tourism is among the sectors worst-hit by the pandemic and the industry is bracing for job cuts now the federal government’s flagship wage subsidy program known as JobKeeper has expired.

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