One of the World's Most Punishing Lockdowns Is Over

Melbourne, Australia, started coming back to life on Wednesday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2020 8:37 AM CDT
A Punishing 111-Day Lockdown Has Ended
People enjoy the St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Melbourne, Australia's former coronavirus hot spot, emerged from a lockdown at midnight Tuesday, restaurants, cafes and bars were allowed to open and outdoor contact sports can resume.   (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

In July, Melbourne, Australia, was recording upward of 700 new coronavirus infections daily. On Monday, that number was zero, triggering a Wednesday end to what the New York Times calls "one of the world’s longest and most severe lockdowns." For 111 days, the country's second-largest city was essentially frozen: 6,200 retail stores, 5,800 restaurants, 1,000 beauty salons, and 800 pubs were impacted. Going more than three miles beyond your home required a permit, nightly curfews were in place, and time spent outside was limited to an hour or two. If that sounds like an emotional rollercoaster, you'd be right: The AP reports that when coffeeshop owner Darren Silverman on Monday heard on the radio that the lockdown would be largely lifted in the city of 5 million people, he pulled his van over and cried.

That's not to say it's back to normal. As a 35-year-old woman tells the Times of seeing a friend she hadn't seen in months: "It's so exciting. I wanted to hug her, but we're not allowed." Those travel restrictions are still in place, too, though the limit is now no more than 16 miles from home. And it's also not to say that being largely confined to their homes for three months—twice as long as the lockdown had been expected to last—hasn't impacted residents. Bloomberg reports the government estimates the city and surrounding Victoria state shed an average 1,200 jobs a day, while the demand for mental health services rose by at least 30%. (More coronavirus stories.)

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