The Australian state of Victoria, a hot spot of the coronavirus, backtracked Wednesday on a restriction that barred Melbourne residents from taking a short drive to a place for exercise after a fierce public backlash.
The Victoria government said residents of Australia’s second-largest city can now drive up to 3 miles from their homes to exercise.
The government further stated that anyone who has been fined for violating those prior restrictions can appeal their cases to police for review.
A woman takes a walk in a park during lockdown due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP)
The government’s retreat followed a public argument between a Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and a Melbourne resident angry that she was restricted to walking in her own neighborhood.
The state has emerged as a hotspot of COVID-19 cases in Australia. News.com.au reported Thursday 240 new cases in the previous 24 hours – up from 216 Wednesday – as well as 13 deaths.
Though overall cases are dropping, some officials have surmised that that actually may reflect a drop in testing.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Thursday the state’s lockdown is at risk of being extended.
“What we’re all trying to avoid here is that cases come down to a point where we start to think about opening up… only to be unable to do that because the test numbers are too low for us to have clarity about just how much virus is out there,” Andrews said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.