Victoria, South Australia End Statewide Lockdowns

Stay-home orders for 8.5 million people are being lifted after tough restrictions appear to have stamped out Delta-driven coronavirus outbreaks.

A vintage electric tram in downtown Melbourne. (Photo: Daniel Pelaez Duque/Unsplash)

Residents of two Australian states will be able to breathe a sigh of relief tomorrow morning as they emerge from a spell of self-isolation. Victoria’s 12-day lockdown, its fifth one of the Covid-19 pandemic, will expire at midnight tonight; people across metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas will then be able to leave their homes for non-essential reasons, and are no longer required to stay within a five-kilometer radius of their permanent address. Schools and businesses can reopen on Wednesday, with the latter subject to capacity limits and a maximum density of one person per four square meters. While working from home remains encouraged, offices can now have up to 25 percent of staff on site. Masks will be mandatory outside the home in all indoor and outdoor settings.

Household visits are banned for at least another two weeks, as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was the “highest risk environment” for transmission of the virus. However, public gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted, and weddings and funerals have been capped at 50 attendees. Religious gatherings and ceremonies, meanwhile, can host up to 100 people indoors and 300 outdoors; the same capacity limits apply to live music and entertainment venues. Community sport has also been given the green light to resume.

Victoria is tightening its border controls with New South Wales, with four local government areas in the latter excluded from a bubble created for cross-border communities. New South Wales has logged 172 locally acquired cases overnight, a record high for its current outbreak. No less than 60 of those were out in the community while infectious. Meanwhile, 10 new cases were announced in Victoria, but all were in isolation during their infectious period, following the same pattern as the previous two days.

Over in South Australia, residents can return to their places of work and study from Wednesday under social distancing rules that will be in force for one more week. Masks will be compulsory in high-risk settings including public transport, healthcare services, aged care homes, and indoor public spaces as well as supermarkets. High school students must also wear masks unless they interfere with learning; facial coverings are “strongly recommended” at universities and indoor workplaces.

Business will operate under a density rule of one person per four square meters, with restaurants and cafés reopening for seated dining only. Weddings and funerals can have up to 50 people in attendance, while family gatherings will be capped at 10 people, including members of the household hosting the event. No new Covid-19 cases were recorded in South Australia on Tuesday.

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