- Sydney re-opens after a four-month lockdown.
- Cases have drastically come down in the past month.
- 74% of the population has been vaccinated.
Sydney, the capital of Australia’s most populous state – New South Wales (NSW) – re-opened to freedom on Monday after more than 100 days of lockdown as Australians decided to live with COVID-19.
The city's cafes, gyms and restaurants welcomed back fully vaccinated customers on Monday after nearly four months of lockdown.
Sydney planned to reopen on Monday after 70% of NSW’s residents aged 16 and above were fully vaccinated.
"I see it as a day of freedom, it's a Freedom Day. We are leading the nation out of this pandemic, but this will be a challenge," New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Dominic Perrottet said, while warning about an increase in infections after the re-opening.
NSW's dual-dose vaccination rate in people above 16 hit 74% on Monday. However, in neighbouring Queensland, whose borders remain closed to Sydney’s residents, the figure stands at only 52% and the state government is following an elimination strategy with rapid lockdowns to control any outbreak.
Sydney had been placed in the lockdown four months back in mid-June after the outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The outbreak has now spread to Melbourne and the national capital Canberra, forcing lockdowns. As Melbourne becomes the epicentre of the pandemic, Down Under, cases in worst-hit NSW have come down drastically since mid-September.
On the first day of re-opening, on Monday, 360 NSW residents tested positive for the virus – with all of them being locally acquired cases. This is about one-third of the daily cases reported at the peak during mid-September. On the other hand, Victoria logged 1,466 new infections, the lowest in a week.
Under the new eased norms for NSW, retail stores and restaurants reopened with reduced capacity, and more vaccinated people were allowed to gather in homes and attend weddings and funerals.
The state targets to hit an 80% vaccine rate around late October, when curbs will be further relaxed. However, the unvaccinated people must remain at home until December 1.