Sydney was set to reopen after months in lockdown, officials said on Sunday, as businesses readied themselves to welcome fully vaccinated residents from Monday.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, reported 477 new coronavirus cases and six deaths on Sunday, the outbreak that has put 5 million people in lockdown for 100 days in the state capital Sydney.
But as the state has met the full immunization limit of 70% of its people, New South Wales was ready to ease some restrictions and reopen many businesses, state Premier Dominic Perrot said.
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“It’s a big day for our state and for everyone in New South Wales: You’ve earned it,” Perrott said. “It’s been a hundred days, no blood, sweat, no beer, but we’ve got it back in action yesterday.”
When asked what he would do first on Monday, Perrott said, “I’m going to get a haircut.”
Local media reported that hair and beauty salons are fully booked for the coming weeks.
Joseph Heik, who runs several All Saints skin clinics in Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald, “We have extended their days and opened up extra time in their diaries so that we can book our clients as quickly as possible.”
Perrotte said many social distancing restrictions, and limits on public gathering, would remain in place for weeks.
Neighboring Victoria, its capital Melbourne, in lockdown since early August reported 1,890 new cases and five deaths on Sunday. The state is expected to reopen in late October, once 70% of its residents are fully vaccinated.
The state government said the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous horse race, would go ahead with a crowd of 10,000 people on November 2.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said, “We are going to normalize this virus.” “We’re going to open up and we’re going to do what we do best.”
About 62% of all Australians aged 16 and over have received two doses of the vaccine. Once 80% of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated, the country will gradually begin to reopen its international borders, which have been closed since March 2020.
However, Australia’s COVID-19 cases are much lower than many comparable countries, with just over 127,500 infections and 1,432 deaths in a country of less than 26 million.
Neighboring New Zealand, which was largely virus-free until Delta’s outbreak in mid-August, reported 60 new local cases, up from 34 on Saturday.
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