As of 8:00pm on Sunday, a Victorian who has lived in Melbourne and not left since the beginning of the pandemic will have spent 245 days in lockdown.
It is the longest cumulative lockdown for any city in the world.
Buenos Aires previously held the record, enduring a 234-day lockdown from March 20 to November 11, 2020, and a short 10-day circuit-breaker lockdown from May 21 to May 31 this year.
While the Argentinian capital spent 244 days in lockdown, regional areas outside of the city enjoyed relaxed restrictions at various periods not unlike those in regional Victoria.
Melbourne is set to far exceed the record, with Victoria’s roadmap indicating the state will only reach its next vaccination target of 70 per cent double dose vaccinations around October 26.
While the first period of stay-at-home restrictions enforced in March last year was not officially called a “lockdown”, it is commonly accepted that Melbourne is now in its sixth lockdown. Here’s the timeline of how they played out:
- Lockdown 1: March 30 to May 12, 2020 — 43 days
- Lockdown 2: July 8 to October 27, 2020 —111 days
- Lockdown 3: February 12 – 17, 2021 —5 days
- Lockdown 4: May 27 – June 10, 2021 — 14 days
- Lockdown 5: July 15 – 27, 2021 — 12 days
- Lockdown 6: August 5 – October 26, 2021 — 82 days
It means Victorians may spend a total of 267 days in lockdown before restrictions and reasons-for leaving-home rules are again lifted.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday he would not rule out amending the roadmap and extending restrictions should health advice make it necessary.
Lockdowns have become a regular feature of Victoria’s public health response to the current Delta strain outbreak.
Shepparton and Moorabool Shire were this week plunged into snap seven-day lockdowns on public health advice to combat rising cases.
According to the federal government’s four-step national plan, lockdowns will remain a go-to measure to combat the virus until the country reaches an 80 per cent double vaccination rate, at which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians “should not expect broad-based, metropolitan-wide lockdowns”.
Catch up on the latest COVID-19 news here
‘A policy failure’
The opposition has sharply criticised the state government over the length and intensity of Victoria’s lockdown.
“Lockdowns are not a sign of policy success. They’re a sign of policy failure,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said.
“It is disastrous for our city, for our state, that Melbourne has been in lockdown for so long.”
Mr Andrews said the opposition’s comments were “utterly irrelevant” to the work the government was doing.
“People are free to be critical, that is fine. But if you are unhappy, what is your alternative?” he said.
“It isn’t over yet. It will be soon.”
Read more about the spread of COVID-19:
- Scientists are future-proofing for the next pandemic. These are the five viruses they’re watching
- Australia’s COVID-19 winter wave has eased. Here’s how households are managing as spring arrives
- Queensland to adopt new COVID-19 warning system as death toll approaches 2,000
When asked to reflect on Victoria’s claim to the title of longest lockdown, Mr Andrews would only comment on the resilience of Victorian residents.
“I simply say how proud I am of every single Victorian for giving so much, for working so hard to save lives to get through this,” Mr Andrews said.
“We achieved an enormous amount last year.
“It has been bloody tough, we know that, but the Victorian community have been so, so impressive in the way they’ve been looking out for each other and in all that they have endured and overcome.
“It is impressive. It makes you very, very proud.”
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- DirectLine Victoria drug/alcohol counselling on 1800 888 236
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Yarning SafeNStrong on 1800 95 95 63
- Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com
- Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774
- HeadtoHelp on 1800 595 212
Brother to Brother on 1800 435 799
What you need to know about coronavirus:
- The symptoms
- The number of cases in Australia
- Tracking Australia’s vaccine rollout
- Which masks are best and is it OK to reuse them?