Melbourne, September 19 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – September 19, 2021): Australia’s second-largest city to emerge from its coronavirus lockdown at the end of October if vaccine targets are met under a published official roadmap Sunday.
About five million people in Melbourne have been ordered to stay at home since August 5, the sixth lockdown they have suffered so far during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials in the state of Victoria, which includes Melbourne, said those orders would be lifted when 70% of those over 16 were fully immunized. They predicted that this goal would be reached around October 26.
“The lockdown will end. The (limited) reasons for leaving your home and the curfew will no longer be in place,” Victoria Prime Minister Dan Andrews said, adding that a series of restrictions would still be in place.
Restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen, but only with a maximum of 50 fully vaccinated people sitting outside, while the ban on visitors to homes will remain in place.
But once the vaccination rate hits 80% – expected around November 5 – fully vaccinated Melbourne residents will enjoy more freedoms, including no masks outside, for up to 10 visitors to home and the ability to work from offices.
Andrews said the healthcare system would be likely to come under “intense pressure” from the changes, but the phased reopening would help Melbourne “normalize” its viral response.
“We cannot suppress this virus in a perennial or permanent way. The blockages consisted in gaining time to reach 70 and 80% of vaccination”, he declared.
“We are rapidly approaching these milestones and at this point we have to open up the venue, because staying closed forever has its own cost in every sense of the word.” The announcement came a day after several police officers were injured and more than 200 protesters were arrested during a violent anti-containment protest in Melbourne.
Officers used pepper spray on the crowd, who defied stay-at-home orders to move through a downtown suburb in opposition to pandemic restrictions.
Melbourne spent nearly four months in lockdown last year and recorded hundreds of new cases every day despite strict lockdown rules being enforced.
After pursuing a ‘zero Covid’ strategy for much of the pandemic, Australia has struggled to contain the more infectious Delta variant and state leaders are increasingly scrambling to ease restrictions once higher vaccination coverage achieved.