Sydney reopens as Australia appears to be coming to terms with COVID-19

Sydney reopens as Australia appears to be coming to terms with COVID-19

A person wearing a protective face mask walks along the harbor waterfront opposite the Sydney Opera House during the lockdown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, October 6, 2021. Photo: Lauren Elliott/Reuters

  • ‘Enjoy the moment’, the Prime Minister wishes Sydney residents
  • Can open business at low capacity
  • Not vaccinated to stay closed until December 1

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Sydney’s cafes, gyms and restaurants on Monday welcomed a return after nearly four months of closure as Australia struggles to come to terms with the coronavirus and gradually reopen the country.

Television footage and pictures on social media showed some bars opening in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, at 12:01 am (1301 GMT) and friends and families gathering for a beer in the middle of the night.

“I consider it Freedom Day. It is Freedom Day,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Beirut told reporters in the state capital, Sydney. We are leading the nation out of this pandemic, but this will be a challenge.

Perott warned that infections will increase after reopening, and virus-free states such as Western Australia and Queensland have considered what coexisting with COVID-19 would look like amid fears it could overwhelm health systems.

While the double-dose vaccination rate in New South Wales for people over 16 is 74%, the rate in neighboring Queensland, whose border with Sydney remains closed, is just 52% and the state government is pursuing a strategy to get rid of a rapid lockdown to control it. disease outbreak. .

Perrottet has announced an end to lockdowns in NSW and has strong support for reopening in Sydney, where more than 5 million residents have been severely restricted since mid-June in the wake of a highly contagious Delta-type outbreak.

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The outbreak has since spread to Melbourne and Canberra, shutting down those two cities even as cases in NSW have fallen.

New South Wales recorded 496 new locally acquired cases on Monday, a significant decrease from last month’s peak, while Victoria recorded 1,612 new infections, the lowest level in five days.

The relaxed state of New South Wales will allow stores with limited capacity to open, while more people who have been vaccinated can gather in their homes and attend weddings and funerals.

The state aims to achieve an 80% vaccination rate by the end of October, when further restrictions are relaxed. But unvaccinated people must stay home until December 1.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wished Sydney residents “Enjoy the moment, enjoy it with your family and friends”. “Today is a day that many look forward to – a day when we take things for granted, we will celebrate.”

Morrison, whose elections are due before May, has come under pressure to pressure all states to reopen borders to boost the economy and allow divorced families to close state borders so they can be reunited by Christmas. Some countries with few cases did not specify when they would reopen their borders.

As the vaccine launch gains momentum, Australia is planning a phased return to normal, allowing fully vaccinated residents to freely enter and leave the country from November, although NSW plans to move those dates forward.

Australia closed its international borders in March 2020, keeping the number of coronaviruses relatively low, with 130,000 cases and 1,448 deaths.

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Reporting by Jose Ringo. Editing by Peter Cooney and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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