Australia is canceling a two-week session of parliament because of a new wave of coronavirus that has put the country’s second most populous state back in lockdown.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the decision Saturday to forgo the legislative term, set to start Aug. 4, Reuters reported. Medical experts advised him to make the move.
“The government cannot ignore the risk to parliamentarians, their staff, the staff within the parliament and the broader community,” Morrison said in a statement.
Victoria, the second most populous state, reported 217 new confirmed cases Saturday after a record 428 Friday. New South Wales, the most populous state, reported 15 new cases.
The nearly 5 million residents of Victoria are 10 days into a six-week partial lockdown — and Premier Daniel Andrews threatened to extend the restrictions if the rate of spread doesn’t drop.
“The likelihood of a longer lockdown, the likelihood of even more restrictions — that really does rest with individuals and families and members of the Victorian community embracing the spirit of the rules and erring on the side of caution,” Andrews told reporters.
In March, parliament canceled all its sessions until August, but did meet one day to vote on a coronavirus relief package.