The Australian state of South Australia is entering a mandatory lockdown lasting six days that began at midnight Thursday local time, with residents required to stay home to stop the spread of the virus.
Officials also said many outdoor activities, including exercise outside of the home, are prohibited. Only one person per household is permitted to leave the home on a single day for essential activities, such as going to the grocery store.
Facial coverings in public are mandatory.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced the restrictions at a media briefing Wednesday afternoon local time, saying that a “circuit breaker” was needed in order to keep the community safe.
“We cannot wait to see how bad this becomes,” Marshall said.
“We must act swiftly and decisively on the health advice to stay ahead of the game. That health advice is that we need a circuit breaker. We need a circuit breaker to stay ahead of this,” he added.
He said such measures are necessary to conduct “a contact tracing blitz” in order to protect South Australians, particularly the vulnerable and the elderly.
Businesses that can remain open over the next six days include gas stations, essential agriculture services, factories that make essential goods and products, and child care facilities for the children of essential workers.
Weddings and funerals are also prohibited during the period.
Marshall acknowledged the restrictions will be challenging but stressed following the guidance outlined by public health experts is the only way to help “stamp out the virus.”
“There is no second chance to stop a second wave,” he added.
The restrictions were put into place in order to get a handle on a growing coronavirus cluster in the city of Adelaide, the capital and cultural hub of South Australia, the The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The paper noted that officials have now identified 22 total cases from that cluster, with two new infections.
Overall, South Australia has discovered a total of 36 cases statewide since Sunday, according to the BBC, making them the first known infections in the community in six months.
South Australia’s police commissioner, Grant Stevens, said during the press briefing that after the six-day lockdown, there would be further restrictions announced. He said he anticipated the next phase would be less severe and expected it to last an additional eight days.
He also added he was “100% supportive” of the new restrictions.