The Australian Capital Territory will go into a seven-day lockdown from 5pm Thursday, after a COVID case – Canberra’s first in over a year – was reported overnight.
The shock announcement could potentially affect Thursday’s sitting of federal Parliament, and potentially the next sitting period beginning on August 23.
ACT Government statement on the 7-day lockdown starting from 5pm. pic.twitter.com/Oy1VxwIJuq
— Michael Mazengarb (@MichaelM_ACT) August 12, 2021
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the territory would begin a strict lockdown from 5pm, with only the standard essential reasons to leave home – shopping for essential supplies, healthcare, essential work, and one hour of exercise each day.
Most shops will close and food outlets will be allowed to serve only takeaway. Canberrans must wear masks at all times when leaving the home, including when outdoors, except for when exercising.
Residents have been told to interact only with their household groups, and to shop and exercise only in their local area.
Canberra’s new case is a young man in his 20s, who had been infectious in the community. ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman warned the man had visited “a large number of venues”.
The man has a partner, who has been placed into quarantine pending test results.
ACT Health has already listed several potential exposure locations from August 8, including bars, a church, and multiple shops.
The ACT is entering a seven day lockdown from 5pm tonight, 12 August 2021. This is a result of a COVID-19 case being identified in the community and positive wastewater detections reported overnight. The lockdown will remain in place until 5pm Thursday 19 August 2021. pic.twitter.com/8TPOrBFEgX
— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 12, 2021
TND has been told the lockdown could affect next fortnight’s sitting of federal Parliament. Parliament’s current sitting period finishes on Thursday afternoon, with a week off before politicians are due to return for another fortnight from August 23.
However, there are concerns many politicians would wish to return to their home state before the 5pm lockdown begins. There had been concerns that Thursday’s Parliament sitting could be abandoned.
There had been discussions earlier this week about condensing the Parliament sitting calendar, to eliminate the free week between sitting fortnights and instead to sit for four weeks straight. It is unclear what the Canberra lockdown will mean for the August 23 sitting period.
TND has contacted the Prime Minister’s office for comment.
The ACT has so far avoided any incursions of the virus, despite being surrounded by the NSW, which is in its seventh week of a lockdown to stem its Delta outbreak.
— Tegan George (@tegangeorge) August 12, 2021
Supermarkets and essential retail will remain open, but ACT residents rushed to stock up soon after news of the lockdown began circulating.