Australia’s second largest city heads back into coronavirus lockdown

first_imgVictoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the restrictions were onerous but necessary.”I would, with the greatest of respect, put it to you getting this virus and dying from it is very onerous too,” he said during a televised media conference.Victoria was responsible for 191 of the 199 new cases reported nationally on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since early April. The spike has worried officials, even though the national total of almost 8,800 cases and 106 deaths is far below many other countries.”We have to be clear with each other that this is not over,” Andrews said. “And pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer. It is indeed part of the problem. A very big part of the problem.” Lockdown measures were reimposed in Australia’s second biggest city on Tuesday, confining Melbourne residents to their homes unless undertaking essential business for six weeks, as officials scramble to contain a coronavirus outbreak.The decision, which affects around 4.9 million people, was announced just hours before the busy border between Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, and New South Wales is scheduled to close for the first time in a century.From midnight on Wednesday, everyone in Melbourne will be required to stay home unless travelling to work, studying, shopping for food or attending medical appointments. Restaurants, cafes and bars will be able to provide takeaway service only, gyms and hair salons closed, household gatherings limited to two people and the current school vacation extended. Topics :center_img Andrews had over the weekend reinstated strict social-distancing orders in more than 30 Melbourne suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown because of the recent outbreak.Hundreds of police officers and army troops were being deployed to enforce the closure of Victoria’s border with New South Wales from midnight on Tuesday.The state line is highly porous, stretching hundreds of kilometers. It is heavily used daily by commuters, school children and road freight.People caught crossing the border without permission via any of the 55 roads, or several river and wilderness crossings, will face penalties including a fine of A$11,000 ($7,700) and six months imprisonment.A second region in Victoria, where recent COVID-19 cases have been detected and which is home to 44,000 people, will face lockdown restrictions similar to Melbourne.The border closure and reintroduction of restrictions in Melbourne deal a blow to Australia’s hopes for quick economic recovery as it approaches its first recession in nearly three decades, driven by social distancing restrictions imposed in March.Border controlFor businesses on the border, which last closed during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919, it also poses an immediate logistics headache. Daily travel permits will be granted to people who live in border towns and cities but with the closure just hours away, the application system was still being developed.Kevin Mack, the mayor of Albury, a border town on the NSW side, said with an estimated 50,000 car movements across the state line every day “it will be a nightmare for everyone.””About a quarter of my staff like me live in NSW, and cross that border every day to come to work,” said Paul Armstrong, who runs a petrol station in Wodonga, a border town on the Victorian side. “I don’t know if they are going to be able to get in.”Outside of the border towns, Victoria residents will be able to apply for a permit, but will need to prove a special need for their travel. Freight transporters will be free to cross the border without a permit, but will be subjected to random stops.last_img read more

Students take case to city

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – Bowman High School students took their traffic safety concerns to the Santa Clarita City Council, asking the city to correct traffic hazards facing their fellow classmates. Student presenters asked the council to fix several problems and put their school’s safety quotient on par with that of other area schools. “The council appreciated that these kids thought this was important enough, not just for their safety but for their fellow schoolmates’, to bring this to our attention,” Councilman Bob Kellar said. “They did it in a very thorough and professional manner. I thought it was an excellent presentation.” The students voiced concern for throngs of classmates forced to navigate an active railroad crossing and two busy intersections not marked with crosswalks every day just to get to class. A survey of crosswalks in major and secondary streets near Saugus, Canyon and Valencia high schools spurred the students. They talked to others to gauge the magnitude of the problem. Council members watched footage of a passing train with students on either side waiting to cross, and a student driving up the hill, where the school is visible before a 25mph sign, with “School” appearing in small letters. The students have asked the city to pave a sidewalk over the train tracks, paint crosswalks at Golden Oak and Golden Triangle roads, and at Golden Triangle Road and Centre Pointe Parkway, and to install speed-limit and stop signs leading to the school. Navigating the political process might prove easier than crossing the street. Gus Pivetti, a senior traffic engineer for the city who has met with the students, said he was impressed with their work. The city has studied the traffic patterns and will paint crosswalks on those streets, he said. Constructing a crossing over the train tracks could cost $750,000 and would require widening and reconfiguring the existing crossing. City officials might consider the issue, but Metrolink and the California Public Utilities Commission would need to get involved. The city will install larger school area speed-limit signs on the approach to Bowman and paint pavement markings alerting drivers to the presence of students in the area. The city will consider relocating the municipal bus stop on Soledad Canyon Road closer to school. Some months ago, the city installed a no-right-turn-on-red sign on Soledad Canyon at Golden Oak, and while drivers ignored it at first, few do so now. “People would be turning right, and cars would be backed up over the railroad tracks while students were crossing the street,” said Sgt. Richard Cohen, who heads the traffic detail at the local sheriff’s station. “With the trains coming by, it created a hazard.” The intersection is now safer for drivers and students, Cohen said. Coombe touted the merit of engaging students in political and municipal processes. “I think this is a perfect example of seeing one of the basic freedoms in the First Amendment, petitioning the government for redress,” he said. “That’s what they’re doing.” For Rowles, it’s a step closer to her career. She plans to major in law enforcement in college and hopes to become a California Highway Patrol officer. (661) 257-5255 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Bowman, a continuation campus, sits on a winding, hilly road that had little traffic because it dead-ended – until recently. Now, the road connects to the Centre Pointe Business Park and receives more, and faster, traffic. The impetus for the traffic project was a car crash near school that didn’t kill anyone but was a close call. “There’s no price on a student’s life,” said Bowman senior Lauren Rowles, who spoke at City Hall on Tuesday. “We feel it’s important that our students, who are like a family, get from home to school safely, and back.” Rowles, seniors Cristina Morgan and Sean Johnson, and about 16 others in a leadership class taught by Michael Coombe, Bowman’s Associated Student Body director, developed the plan. They toiled for hours over several months packing their PowerPoint presentation with punch. In December, they delivered the pitch to a receptive William S. Hart Union High School District board, and board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine and school Superintendent Jaime Castellanos backed them before the council Tuesday. last_img read more