Melbourne to ease world’s longest lockdowns as vaccinations rise


Melbourne, which has spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, is set to lift its stay-at-home orders this week, officials said on Sunday.

The Australian city of 5 million people will have been under six lockdowns totalling 262 days, or nearly nine months, since March 2020.

While COVID-19 cases keep rising in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, the state’s double-vaccination rate is set to reach 70% this week, allowing for the ease in restrictions.

The Victoria Premier, Daniel Andrews in announcing the lockdown said, “Today is a great day. Today is a day when Victorians can be proud of what they have achieved.”

When hospitality venues and some businesses reopen, their capacity will remain heavily restricted. More easing, including the reopening of many retailers, will come once 80% of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated – estimated by Nov. 5 at the latest.

Victoria recorded 1,838 new COVID-19  cases and seven deaths.

Australia, once a champion of a COVID-zero strategy of managing the pandemic, has been moving towards living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, as the Delta variant has proven too transmissible to suppress.

The new strategy makes lockdowns highly unlikely once 80% of the population is fully vaccinated. As of the weekend, around 68% of eligible Australians have been fully inoculated.

Australia’s health officials said that, “Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand’s South Island, where there is no outbreak, will resume on Wednesday.”

The government is also in discussions with Singapore about reopening travel between the two countries for the fully vaccinated.

Australia’s COVID-19 numbers are low compared to many other developed countries, with just over 143,000 cases and 1,530 deaths.

READ ALSO: Melbourne starts snap virus lockdown, no crowds at Australian Open



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