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Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Australian authorities announced a two-week lockdown in the city of Sydney and surrounding areas as the Delta coronavirus variant continues to rapidly spread.

Why it matters: This is the first full lockdown for Sydney since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. It takes effect from Saturday at 6 p.m. local time until at least midnight on Friday, July 9.

The state of play: Sydney residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for "essential" reasons, such as shopping for food, getting medical care or for "work and education, where you can't work or study from home."

  • Exercising outdoors will be allowed as long as it is in groups comprised of 10 or fewer people.
  • Community sports and weddings will not be permitted.
  • "Funerals will be limited to one person per four square meters with a cap of 100 people, and masks must be worn indoors," according to a press release from the New South Wales government.

Residents of surrounding areas have more relaxed restrictions. Household visits will be limited to five guests, masks will be required in all indoor non-residential settings and all outdoor events.

  • Weddings are still permitted, but wedding parties must be limited to 20 people.

What they're saying: "We don’t want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, per the New York Times.

  • "Unless you stay a step ahead of this virus, it can very easily get out of control," she added.

Zoom out: Australia is one of the many nations "that continue to struggle with ups and downs of the coronavirus, mainly because of new variants and a slow rollout of vaccines, which have been in short supply outside the United States, Europe and China," the Times writes.

  • Earlier this week, Russia reported its highest daily virus death toll since December, prompting new restrictions in the city of Moscow, AP reports.
  • Yes, but: Not all countries are seeing increased restrictions. In Spain, U.S. travelers will be allowed to visit regardless of their vaccination status and will not be required to have a negative test or quarantine, a spokesperson for Spain's Consul for Tourism Affairs told Travel Market Report.

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 6, 2021 - Health

COVID rapid test kits recalled over false positives

Ellume at-home tests being made. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Ellume, an Australian company that makes at-home COVID-19 tests, is voluntarily recalling test kits sent to retailers and the Department of Defense due to concerns over false positives, the company announced in a statement.

Why it matters: In September, manufacturers warned that the U.S. was weeks away from the production levels needed for President Biden's plan of mass-scale rapid COVID-19 testing.

White House to expand supply of at-home COVID tests by December

A rapid COVID test station at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in California. Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

The Biden administration will spend an additional $1 billion on rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: Despite vaccination efforts, public health officials have said rapid home tests will be essential for businesses, homes and schools to get back on track to normalcy.