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Nick Kyrgios pumps up the crowd. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis fans will be prohibited from attending the Australian Open as the state of Victoria prepares for a five-day lockdown in response to new COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: The lockdown comes after an outbreak at a Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport that was being used to house returned travelers.

Driving the news: The cluster of cases linked to the hotel grew to 13 on Thursday night, with five new cases emerging, per AP.

  • As of Friday morning, the state's active case tally was 19.

Where it stands: Life had returned to near normalcy in the state of Victoria, with bars packed full of unmasked patrons. But now, over 6 million Victorians will only be able to leave home for essential shopping, work, exercise and caregiving.

  • Schools will be closed Monday through Wednesday, gatherings are off-limits, and masks will be required everywhere.

Yes, but: Tennis players are classified as "workers" and will be permitted to continue their matches. The minimum number of staff required to safely run the event will also be present, while everyone else will be asked to work remotely.

The backdrop: The Australian Open had hoped to welcome nearly 400,000 fans and avoid a "bubble" by having players "hard quarantine" upon their arrival.

  • Tennis Australia faced backlash for this, but the strategy had worked so far, with players expressing gratitude for the opportunity to play in front of fans.
  • Now, the tournament will continue without spectators, just like September's U.S. Open in New York.

On the court, Australian Nick Kyrgios nearly upset No. 3 Dominic Thiem in front of an electric crowd that entered lockdown right after the match ended (around 7am ET) — and knew they wouldn't be back for at least five days.

  • The match went five sets and was as thrilling as it gets, with lots of underhand serves from Kyrgios and a ton of grit from Thiem.
  • Serena Williams advanced to the fourth round where she'll play No. 8 Aryna Sabalenka for the first time.

Go deeper

Jack Dorsey to step down as Twitter CEO

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jack Dorsey will step down as CEO of Twitter, the company announced Monday. He will be succeeded by CTO Parag Agrawal.

The big picture: Dorsey is also the CEO of financial payments company Square, which he co-founded in 2009, and has become a crypto evangelist in recent years.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."