After nearly four months of Covid lockdown, Sydney's cafes, restaurants and gyms reopened Monday to fully vaccinated customers. This is a sign that Australia has begun a new strategy to live with the virus in areas that have high vaccination rates.
After more than 100 days of lockdown, customers line up to go into a central business district store. This was to contain the COVID-19 epidemic in Sydney on Monday. ASSOCIATED PRINT
The Key Facts
Dominic Perrottet, the New South Wales (NSW), state premier, said Monday was freedom day. He also acknowledged that the state was leading the nation from the pandemic. However, this comes at a moment when 74% of NSW's eligible population has been fully vaccinated. Additional restrictions on pandemics will be lifted once the state reaches the 80% vaccination threshold. This will allow NSW residents to fly freely abroad for the first time since March 2013. New South Wales reported 496 Covid-19 cases on Monday. This is significantly lower than the last month's peak of more 1,500. However, Perrottet warned that infection rates could rise as Sydney residents return from work. Perrottet stated that the state's infection and hospitalization rates are still lower than was predicted by modeling, despite concerns about an increase in cases. As the current vaccination rate in the north-western state is only 52%, the states that border Queensland and the rest of the country will remain closed.
At a press conference, Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, told Sydney residents to enjoy the moment and share it with family and friends. Today is the day many have been waiting for - it's a day that we will celebrate things we take as a given.
62.42% This is the number of eligible Australians over 16 who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the Sydney Morning Herald's tracker. Over 82% of eligible population members have received at least one dose. Australia will begin to ease restrictions when it reaches 70% vaccination coverage. Then, almost all restrictions at 80% will be removed.
The Australian federal government announced earlier this month that it would lift some restrictions on international travel in November, more than a month ahead schedule. This will allow citizens and permanent residents to travel easier in and out the country. The Morrison government started to embrace the virus approach after imposing some of most severe border controls and lockdown measures around the globe in an effort to eradicate Covid. The federal plan, despite some resistance from local governments in virus free regions, calls for the removal of almost all restrictions once 80% is fully vaccinated.
After more than 100 days in lockdown, Sydney is now open for vaccinations (Associated Press).
'Freedom Day: Sydney reopens, as Australia seeks to live with COVID-19 (Reuters).
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