In the press

'Covid cage': Melbourne goes into new lockdown after spike in virus


IN THE PAPERS - Wednesday, July 8: We bring you reactions from the Australian papers as the city of Melbourne goes into a new lockdown. The New York Times looks at the "cautionary tale" of Sweden, which opted out of the lockdown and is now suffering the consequences. Also in the news, France's new government continues to spark criticism and the Guardian looks at our baking failures during lockdown!


We start with the Australian press focusing on Melbourne going into lockdown amid a resurgence of Covid-19 cases. A six-week sentence, that's how the Herald Sun puts it on its front page. Melbourne's 5.2 million residents have been ordered to stay at home as cases of the virus spiral out of control. They'll only be able to go out for medical reasons, work or groceries, with police and the army deployed to checkpoints. A six-week lock-up, a Covid cage is what the Daily Telegraph says. The state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, recorded nearly 200 cases yesterday. The state is "on the cusp on something very, very bad", the premier has warned. 

The situation in Australia has sparked a lot of worry here in France about a possible second wave of case at the end of summer. La Croix, the Catholic paper, echoes the World Health Organization's warning that the pandemic is accelerating and that we've not yet reached the global peak of the virus. The French government's health director, Jérôme Salomon, tells La Croix that France must be prepared for a second wave and warns that our behaviour – social distancing, disinfecting hands and wearing masks or not – will condition the risk of how bad that second wave will be.

One country – Sweden – consciously decided not to lock down and is now suffering the consequences. While most of the world entered a lockdown back in March and April, Swedish people were able to continue their daily lives, the government preferring to trust the judgment of its citizens. Well The New York Times now says the country has become a cautionary tale of what not to do. The number of deaths, 5,420, is population-wise proportionally 40 percent more than in the US and Sweden's economy is still expected to shrink by 4.1 percent this year.

Here in France, the papers are looking at a second wave of criticism levelled against Emmanuel Macron's new government. That government led by Prime Minister Jean Castex has a little air of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Aujourd'hui en France says on its front page. Indeed Macron has chosen some former allies of Sarkozy to head key portfolios in his new government, which has taken a turn to the right. That includes for instance Gérald Darmanin as interior minister. Liberation choses to focus on the fact that Darmanin has been and is the object of a rape investigation. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Éric Dupont-Moretti, a vehement opponent of the #MeToo movement, is seen as an anti-feminist. For Libération, this new government is off to a bad start, the headline says. A play on words of mal, meaning bad, but also male. 

Let's head to Australia for this extraordinary story: a tradesman was pulled over for speeding but it turns out he had a great excuse! Jimmy the ute driver was speeding down a deserted highway when he noticed a brown snake sliding in the seat between his legs and slithering around the gearstick. He managed to fight off and kill the snake, while maintaining  speeds of more than 100 km/h and was hightailing it to the hospital, believing he'd been bitten, when police pulled him over. It's one of those rare times you're actually happy to be pulled over by cops!

Finally, the lockdown period saw a lot of us confined at home and turning to baking. But it wasn't always a success! The Guardian has helpfully put together some of its readers' worst baking lockdown efforts, from claggy loaves to soggy blobs. They include a white sandwich loaf using a breadmaker that the reader says looks more like a Dr Who villain. A funfetti cake with a butter cream frosting, however, does not look appetising at all! The reader says she added the buttercream when the cake was still warm… as a result it melted and spilled! I suggest you take a look at all the other baking mishaps.

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