MANILA – Victoria state, Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, announced on Monday that businesses will be closed and scaled down in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said nonessential businesses will close starting late Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.
The new restrictions followed Andrews on Sunday declaring a disaster in Melbourne and introducing an evening curfew for six weeks. Andrews predicted the latest restrictions would cost 250,000 jobs.
Victoria announced on Monday 429 new infections and 13 more deaths overnight. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the infection rate would continue at 400 or 500 new COVID-19 cases a day without the new restrictions.
Industries that will have to close on-site operations for six weeks include most retail and manufacturing.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that workers in Victoria state will be entitled to a 1,500 Australian dollar ($1,060) payment if they are required to self-isolate for 14 days and they don’t have paid sick leave.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is reimposing a moderate lockdown in the capital and outlying provinces after medical groups appealed for the move as coronavirus infections surge. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Monday that metropolitan Manila, the capital region of more than 12 million people, and five densely populated provinces will revert to stricter quarantine restrictions for two weeks starting Tuesday. Mass public transport will be barred and only essential travel will be allowed. Leaders of nearly 100 medical organizations held an online news conference Saturday and warned that the health system has been overwhelmed by infection spikes and may collapse as health workers fall ill or resign from exhaustion and fear. The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged past 103,000 on Sunday and is second-most in Southeast Asia.