MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) – Officials said on Sunday that Sydney would reopen after months of lockdown, with businesses preparing to welcome fully vaccinated residents on Monday.
On Sunday, New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, reported 477 new coronavirus cases and six deaths in an outbreak that has shut down the state capital Sydney for 100 days.
However, because the state has reached the 70 percent vaccination threshold, New South Wales is ready to relax some restrictions and reopen many businesses, according to state Premier Dominic Perrottet.”It’s a big day for our state, and I want to say to everyone in New South Wales: you’ve earned it,” Perrottet said. “It’s been a hundred days of blood, sweat, and no beers, but it’ll be back up and running tomorrow.
“When asked what he plans to do first on Monday, Perrottet replied, “I’m going to get a haircut.”According to local media, hair and beauty salons are fully booked for the next few weeks.
“We have stretched their days and opened up extra times in their diaries so that we can book our clients in as soon as possible,” said Joseph Hkeik, owner of several All Saints skin clinics in Sydney, to the Sydney Morning Herald.However, many social distancing restrictions and public gathering restrictions will remain in place for several weeks, according to Perrottet.
On Sunday, neighbouring Victoria reported 1,890 new cases and five deaths, with its capital Melbourne under lockdown since early August. The state is expected to reopen in late October, once 70% of its residents have been fully immunised.
The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous horse race, will take place on November 2 with crowds of up to 10,000 people, according to the state government.”We’re going to normalise this virus,” said Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria. “We’re going to reopen and get back to doing what we do best.”Almost 62 percent of Australians aged 16 and up have received two doses of vaccine. Once 80 percent of eligible Australians have been fully immunised, the country will gradually reopen its international borders, which have been closed since March 2020.
COVID-19 cases in Australia, however, remain far lower than in many comparable countries, with just over 127,500 infections and 1,432 deaths in a country of just under 26 million people. New Zealand, which was mostly virus-free until a Delta outbreak in mid-August, reported 60 new local cases, up from 34 on Saturday.
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