Melbourne starts lockdown, no spectators at Australian Open

Streets in downtown Melbourne, the state's capital, and its suburbs were almost empty early Saturday, with people ordered to stay home for all but essential shopping, two hours of outdoor exercise, caregiving, or work that cannot be done from home.

Among the "essential" work, play at the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to Feb. 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday (February 17). Thousands were forced to leave mid-matches before midnight on Friday (February 12).

The lockdown, which has shut restaurants and cafes for all but takeaway, hit just as Melbourne had geared up for the biggest weekend in nearly a year, with Lunar New Year celebrations, Valentine's Day and Australian Open crowds.