07 Th1 2022 | 05:03
Melbourne . The second largest city in Australia . The city that is in the center of a tectonic plate . The city that was filled with immigrants from southern Europe after the Second World War , which is always on the lists of the most livable cities on the planet, which regularly fills the pages of the Lonely Planet with its street art , which hosted the Olympic Games (1956) and which is the venue for a tennis Grand Slam , a golf Open and a Formula 1 Grand Prix .
Melbourne. The city that confines its five million inhabitants for 10 cases of coronavirus. It happened last September. It was not the first time. Melbourne has closed its doors throughout the pandemic up to seven times in periods of two to three weeks each time a few dozen infections appeared daily.
One of its first strict closings was in July 2020 . Then, the authorities attributed the new upturn in cases to the failure to comply with the restriction measures in the established quarantine centers, mostly hotels, for travelers with residence in the city who arrived from other countries.
There was a great scandal that jumped because in one of those hotels the guards had had sexual relations with travelers who came to the country and who had to be locked in a room serving the two weeks of quarantine that the protocol dictated. Some of them tested positive, infected the guards and they spread the virus throughout the community.
The quarantine center that was under police investigation for that scandal, the Park Hotel , was later dubbed the ” cage ” by the local press . In December 2020, it came back into focus for becoming a controversial reception center – or rather a detention center – for refugees who had requested asylum from the Australian government and who had to be quarantined.
The hotel has been at the center of several protests in recent months against the government’s hostile immigration policies . There were complaints about the poor conditions of a place that had already been an incubator for the virus. In October, a Covid outbreak broke out in which more than 20 people tested positive. There have also been complaints because in the food they gave, often rotten as some photos published by the refugees showed, there were even worms.
In that “cage” of worms is now locked the number 1 of tennis, Novak Djokovic , who landed in the country with a medical exemption from vaccination requirements, approved by the state government and officials of the country’s Tennis Federation , but that did not convince the federal border agents of Victoria, the state where Melbourne is located, who were the ones who had the last word. Authorities have ordered Djokovic to stay at the Park Hotel until Monday , when a court will rule on whether he is allowed to stay in the city to participate in the Australian Open or whether he will be deported.
There has been no exception. In the country that has rigorously followed a strategy of closed borders and short but effective confinements during almost the entire pandemic, Djokovic did not pass the cut and his visa was canceled for not meeting the entry requirements because he was not vaccinated.
Public anger probably had a lot to do with the authorities’ retreat from the tennis player’s case. The exemption had sparked outrage in a country that adhered to strict strict rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and has maintained one of the lowest Covid death rates in the world. Citizens, who endured lengthy confinements and for months faced strict limits on leaving or returning to Australia, demanded to know whether Djokovic had received special treatment .
Australia ( 25 million inhabitants , 609,000 infections and 2,301 deaths) has spent almost the entire pandemic following the Covid zero strategy. It did not matter how many positive cases there were. If a handful of new infections appeared that threatened to erase the progress made, old confinements and restrictions were resumed . Better to lock up half the population and blockade entire cities for a few days than to wait for the outbreaks to get worse.
That was the policy until the Delta variant erased the purpose that it was possible to completely eradicate the coronavirus. At the end of last September, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the bubble had to be exited to ease the economic burden. “It is absurd to continue like this. The confinements are not a sustainable way of living in this country,” he said.
As vaccination increased , the borders between states were opened and many of the restrictions were lifted. In early November, controls at international borders were eased, leaving some emotional scenes at airports as many families were able to get together for the first time since the pandemic began.
Starting in December, foreign workers and visa students were able to enter a country that was working to establish a ” travel bubble ” with neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea . At the national level, getting vaccinated or not is voluntary . The 77.2% of the population has the full schedule . But no one can enter the country without being vaccinated or with a justifiable medical exception. Djokovic didn’t have it.
-Translate From: elmundo.es