Lockdown to be lifted on Australia's second largest city

SYDNEY, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The two-week lockdown of Melbourne, the second most populous city of Australia, will end on Thursday midnight as the state recorded only one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

People cross Melbourne's normally bustling Bourke Street Mall on June 4, 2021. (File phtoo: CFP)

Health authorities have been battling an outbreak of the coronavirus, including the highly infectious Delta strain, since the first new locally acquired case was recorded in late May.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Acting Premier of the Victoria state James Merlino said the state's capital city would "move to most of the same settings currently in place across regional Victoria, and regional Victoria will move further towards further easing."

The easing of restrictions will mean that from Friday, Melbourne residents will no longer have only five reasons to leave their homes and their travel radius will increase from 10 km to 25 km.

"The regional/metro divisions will come down and we'll be able to travel more freely around the state again," Merlino said.

Masks will no longer be required indoors unless people cannot maintain a 1.5-meter social distance, and restaurants and cafes will reopen for seated service with up to 100 people per venue and a maximum of 50 people inside.

"Everyone should be absolutely proud of what we have all achieved together, but we know this isn't over yet, and until we have widespread vaccination across Victoria and across our country, the virus will still be with us," Merlino said.

"We'll continue to assess the data each day and provide more detail as soon as we can," he said.

Victoria's COVID-19 statistics for the 24 hours up until Wednesday were 83 active cases, 28,485 tests and 19,533 vaccinations.