MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday delayed the opening of parliament for several weeks as new coronaviruses continued to spread through the two most populous states in the country.
Morrison called on parliament speakers to cancel the two-week session which will begin on August 4, out of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. The request was seen as a formality because the speaker was a member of the Liberal Morrison Party and the opposition Labor Party accepted the call.
MPs will meet at the next planned session on August 24.
“The government cannot ignore the risks to MPs, their staff, staff within parliament and the wider community,” Morrison said in a written statement, adding he acted on the advice of medical authorities.
The state of Victoria reported 217 new infections after recording 428 cases on Friday. Neighboring New South Wales, the most populous state, which has also struggled to withstand a new wave of infection, saw 15 new cases.
Victoria forced nearly five million people to do partial lockdown for six weeks on July 9, as expectations of increasingly harsh social restrictions increased with the virus that continued to spread.
Prime Minister Victoria Daniel Andrews opened up the possibility of further restrictions, urging people not to leave their homes except for work, sports, or important shopping.
“The possibility of longer lockdowns, possibly even more restrictions – really exists for individuals and families and members of the Victorian community who embrace the spirit of regulation and err on the side of caution,” Andrews said at a briefing broadcast on television.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government would issue further revenue support to address the worsening of confidence across the country, in addition to the A $ 70 billion ($ 49 billion) in wage subsidies.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the economic environment, and the Victorian situation is a significant setback,” Frydenberg told The Age newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
“This reduces confidence beyond the Victoria border, and recovery is a game of confidence. So, maintaining business and household confidence will be very important. ”
The government is expected to announce details of support measures on Thursday, before sending them for a vote in parliament.
In March, all parliamentary equipment was canceled until August. But when Australia appeared to be able to control its outbreak in the following months, some completeness occurred, including a special one-day session to vote on an initial wage subsidy scheme.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard
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