What Was the Longest Lockdown?

What was the longest lockdown?

Australia’s second city has been locked down for the longest time on record in response to a coronavirus. By the time Melbourne is freed up from restrictions on Friday, it will have surpassed Buenos Aires for the most days under stay-at-home rules in the world.

The federal treasurer claims the lockdown is a “world record”, but it’s unclear how Melbourne can hold this title, given stay-at-home rules are not uniform across all cities in the world. While Mr Frydenberg has compiled media stories about how Melbourne would beat Buenos Aires’ 245 total days of stay-at-home orders, the numbers in those reports are weakened by exemptions that applied during some of the lockdown’s first stages. Similarly, a total of 287 days was spent under stay-at-home rules in northern Chile.

Among other things, stay-at-home rules prevent people from going to pubs and restaurants unless they’re for food or to exercise, and bar entry is often denied to anyone who’s not fully vaccinated. These are aimed at reducing the number of people who are bitten by the virus and therefore exposed to it.

However, these restrictions can also have negative effects on mental health, says Dr David Jetten, a Melbourne University professor who specializes in social psychology and public policy. The stress, fear and isolation that comes with these lockdowns can be a trigger for anxiety and depression.

This has been the case in Victoria, where domestic violence has surged during the pandemic, and suicide rates have fallen. And it’s been the case in some parts of the world, too, including the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has encouraged armed police to shoot people who break lockdown rules.

The most effective way to prevent people from becoming ill, or dying, is to keep the COVID virus under control through vaccination and restrictions. The longer a city is in lockdown, the more time people spend under these restrictions, which helps to keep the virus at bay, says Professor James Trauer, head of epidemiological modelling at Monash University’s School of Public Health.

But the biggest benefit of a lockdown is that it helps to ensure that most of the population receives a double dose of the vaccine before they’re first exposed to the virus. This can save about 126,000 lives in Australia alone, according to Dr Trauer.

That’s why the state government of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, has promised to lift lockdowns when the double-dose vaccination rate reaches 70 percent. It’s expected to reach that target on Thursday, enabling Victoria to begin easing restrictions in a bid to get more people vaccinated and out of the city.

Nevertheless, Mr Andrews said the state government was prepared to “do whatever we need to do” to get Victoria’s double-dose vaccination rate up to its 80 percent goal before lifting any further restrictions. That would take a while, but it could give Victoria more time to get to its 70 per cent goal and then lift all the remaining restrictions once that happens.