New South Wales ends 100+ day lockdown . . .
On Monday, New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s largest state, ended its 106-day lockdown in what many referred to as ‘Freedom Day’ in Sydney, Australia’s largest city. The relaxed restrictions allow most stores to re-open to fully vaccinated people, albeit with proof of vaccination, capacity limits, mask mandates when indoors, and ‘check-in’ requirements to allow for contact tracing, preferably using the state’s check-in app. Schools are open for in-person learning. Indoor gatherings are permitted with up to 10 fully vaccinated visitors allowed in places of residence. Restrictions are much tougher for those who are not fully vaccinated; such people are not allowed to enter salons or hairdressers, can only visit restaurants to get take-out, and may gather outside with one other person.
Planned lockdown end in Victoria controversial . . .
The situation in Victoria, Australia’s second-largest state by population, and home to Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city, is more contentious. Premier Daniel Andrews recently declared the state’s plans to end its lockdown next week remain on track – despite recording 2,297 positive COVID-19 cases yesterday, the highest single-day total recorded by an Australian state at any point in the pandemic. Premier Andrews noted that hospitalization rates are lower than projected in many models. But many observers fear that the risk in Victoria, especially parts of the north and south-east of Melbourne, where COVID infections are concentrated, is too great for re-opening to proceed with the Delta-drive wave in full swing.
Ending lockdowns and living with COVID . . .
The end of NSW’s lockdown and the planned end of Victoria’s come as each passes a threshold of 70 per cent of its eligible population having received both vaccine doses. Both states’ re-opening plans are consistent with moving into stage 2 of the federal government’s four-stage national COVID-19 response plan. While living with COVID in NSW and Victoria is a reality, other states have been near COVID-free and are reluctant to risk COVID outbreaks brought in by travellers from the bigger states. Western Australia is a case in point. This year it has had a rolling seven-day average case count of no higher than three. It still requires a 14-day hotel quarantine for all travellers who have been in NSW or Victoria, essentially treating such domestic travellers as though they are international arrivals.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Victoria records 2,297 new local COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths
- The Guardian: ‘Out in the cold’: schools in NSW and Victoria are not ready to reopen, teachers warn
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Ban on regional travel to remain until at least October 25