WORLD Melbourne to relax strict COVID-19 restrictions

WORLD

Melbourne to relax strict COVID-19 restrictions

Global Times

20:36, October 24, 2021

A man crosses an empty street in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, as the city experiences its sixth lockdown while battling an outbreak of the Delta variant of coronavirus. Photo: AFP

A man crosses an empty street in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, as the city experiences its sixth lockdown while battling an outbreak of the Delta variant of coronavirus. (Photo: AFP)

Melbourne, the world's most locked-down city that emerged from its latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, will see more curbs eased next week when Victoria state reaches an 80 percent full vaccination rate, officials said Sunday.

Home to about 5 million people, Melbourne endured 262 days, or nearly nine months, of stay-at-home restrictions during six lockdowns since March 2020, longer than the 234-day continuous lockdown in Buenos Aires.

Starting on Friday, when 80 percent of people across Victoria - of which Melbourne is the capital - are expected to be fully vaccinated, Melburnians will be free to travel throughout the state and masks will no longer be required outdoors.

"There's a fundamental agreement that we have reached with the Victorian community, we asked you to get vaccinated, you have done that in record time and record numbers," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

With a once-sputtering vaccine rollout now at full speed, authorities across Australia no longer plan to rely on extended lockdowns to suppress the virus. Victoria recorded 1,935 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths on Sunday.

As the state moves towards a "vaccinated economy" in which only fully inoculated people will be allowed into venues, a 90 percent rate is expected around November 24, Andrews said.

Australians overwhelmingly support vaccinations, with research by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne, showing in October that only 6.9 percent of the population were unwilling to be inoculated.

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