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Melbourne to ease world's longest COVID-19 lockdowns as vaccinations rise

CoronavirusOct 17, 2021 04:55AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People wear protective face masks in the city centre during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

By Lidia Kelly

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - 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.

By Friday, when some curbs will be lifted, the Australian city of 5 million people will have been under six lockdowns totalling 262 days, or nearly nine months, since March 2020.

Australian and other media say this is the longest in the world, exceeding a 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-03/melbourne-longest-lockdown/100510710.

While coronavirus 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.

"Today is a great day," said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews in announcing the lockdown. "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.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 1,838 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales, which emerged last week from a 100-day lockdown, reported 301 cases and 10 deaths. Eighty percent of the state's people have been fully vaccinated.

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 https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australias-path-reopening-international-borders-2021-07-31 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 on Sunday 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.

Despite the rise in cases in recent months, Australia's coronavirus numbers are low compared to many other developed countries, with just over 143,000 cases and 1,530 deaths.

Neighbouring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with COVID-19 by accelerating inoculations, reported 51 new cases on Sunday, 47 of them in the largest city Auckland, which has been in a lockdown since mid-August.

On Saturday, New Zealand vaccinated https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-vaccinates-25-its-people-day-drive-live-with-covid-19-2021-10-16 more than 2.5% of its people as part of a government-led mass vaccination drive.

Melbourne to ease world's longest COVID-19 lockdowns as vaccinations rise
 

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Comments (9)
Bhuv Ar
Bhuv Ar Oct 17, 2021 9:38AM ET
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Australians are getting "some" of the freedoms their ancestors fought for... Yay, Great!
Terry Dude
Terry Dude Oct 17, 2021 9:20AM ET
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spineless automatons the majority. easily manipulated through fear.
Angus Malarkey
Angus Malarkey Oct 17, 2021 9:16AM ET
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Unbelievable!What an embarrassment.
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Oct 17, 2021 7:39AM ET
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Prison colony, what do you expect
Louis Lipps
Louis Lipps Oct 17, 2021 5:50AM ET
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Didn't realize they were still in lockdown.  Just figured they were in their little bubble.  Sounds awful. Surprised there are still people living there after being trapped inside for a year.  Love the learning to live with covid part though...something the rest of the world came to grips with a year ago.
Lars Hellman
LarsH Oct 17, 2021 1:26AM ET
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Australia was one of my favorite destinations, not any more.
Bernard Pereira
Bernard Pereira Oct 17, 2021 1:11AM ET
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wonder when media will start reporting the various adverse effects like cardiac arrests and even deaths in 40 year olds, bleeding from the eyes, internal bleeding, etc.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Oct 17, 2021 12:56AM ET
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Australia full communist country
Chris Fran
Chris Fran Oct 17, 2021 12:56AM ET
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Filipe.. lol.. well stay away from most of western Europe and take your vacation in Belarus and Russia then. the Aussies don't care two bit about rednecks like you, amigo. lol
Angus Malarkey
Angus Malarkey Oct 17, 2021 12:56AM ET
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Apparently you don't know any Aussies.
Randy Lahey
Randy Lahey Oct 17, 2021 12:56AM ET
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Chris Fran  Your lack of erudition makes you sound like the redneck Chris. Enjoy your blood clots on "the barbie, mate".
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Oct 17, 2021 12:55AM ET
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so vaccination and lockdown don't work..
 
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