Sydney, Australia’s biggest city exited lockdown today as residents came out en masse to celebrate the end of 106 days of lockdown.
More than five million residents of Sydney spent almost 4 months in lockdown imposed by authorities in an effort to control the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID. After the lockdown, residents who were fully vaccinated were allowed to gain entrance into hair salons, cafes, restaurants and shops.
As new infections cases have dwindled, more than 70% of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, which informed the decision for the city to be reopened.
What this means
This means that cafes, shops and restaurants can only allow entry to anyone with proof they have been vaccinated.
The majority of the residents have taken advantage of the newly lifted restrictions to visit restaurants with families and salons as these spots have been closed since June this year and people were banned from travelling more than three miles from home.
The State Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet, stated, “I see it as a day of freedom, it’s a Freedom Day. It’s a big day for our state.”
However, some restrictions will remain in place, including restrictions on mass gatherings and international border closures and schools will not fully reopen for a few weeks.
Sydney and Melbourne are now largely focused on “living with COVID,” aiming to hit an 80 percent vaccine rate by late October, when more curbs will be relaxed. People who are unvaccinated are mandated to remain at home until December 1 as there are concerns that full reopening could lead to a surge in cases.
Furthermore, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged authorities to closely monitor developments following the exit from the lockdown.
The medical body said, “The AMA supports gradual opening up of the economy and the loosening of restrictions, but it is critical to observe the impact of each step on transmission and case numbers.”
“Otherwise New South Wales may still see hospitals become completely overwhelmed despite high vaccination rates.”
So far, compared to many other wealthy countries, Australia has fared far better during the pandemic with a relatively low number of infections and death rates, recording 130,000 cases and 1,448 deaths.