August 17, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Melbourne and Canberra both had their city-wide lockdowns extended by a fortnight yesterday after being unable to curb local outbreaks.

Canberra reported 19 new cases yesterday, while Melbourne’s cases remain in the 20s, with several out in the community while infectious, a number of mystery cases and a range of chains of transmission.

Both cities will be in lockdown until at least September 2.

Restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne were further tighten from midnight, with a curfew imposed from 9pm to 5am and playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor exercise stations closed. Rules around exercise were tightened disallowing large groups to exercise together even if they are from the same household (dependants excepted).

Meanwhile Darwin and Katherine and eight other surrounding areas went into lockdown at midday yesterday, after a case was identified in the community. The man was a recently returned international traveller, who completed hotel quarantine in Sydney then transited through Canberra during their current outbreak before spending time in the community in Darwin while infectious. The top end lockdown is scheduled to last for three days at this point, ending on Thursday. Exercise is limited to one hour per day within 5km of home, masks are required when leaving the house and all non-essential businesses are closed.

Across Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Darwin, no face-to-face events or gatherings are allowed, with small exceptions for funerals.

In Sydney, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has flagged that September and October are going to be difficult months for the city, and noted that the Doherty Institute modelling for allowing more freedom at 70 to 80 percent vaccination is based on a case load of 30-40 cases per day. Yesterday NSW recorded 477 locally acquired cases – the highest number to date – indicating Greater Sydney is likely to be in lockdown well past the current August 28 deadline and offering little certainty, at this stage, that events will be able to take place even once the initial vaccine thresholds are achieved, if case numbers don’t come down. The state is on track to reach 70 percent full vaccination amongst its adult population at the end of October and 80 percent in mid-November.