More than five million residents of Sydney, the biggest and the most populous city in Australia, Monday celebrated the end of more than 100 days of coronavirus lockdown.
Many residents of the New South Wales capital and other locked-down areas of New South Wales flocked to bars, hair salons, and retail chains to mark the easing of curbs imposed to contain the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus.
Fully vaccinated people are even more free to move around than those who are yet to receive the double-dose vaccination.
On Monday morning, many residents ignored the drizzle and came out to flock to gyms and cafeterias that had closed down on June 26 due to the virus outbreak linked to the Delta variant.
The government had imposed restrictions, ordering people to stay home and close businesses for non-essential workers after health authorities detected new cases of Covid-19 in June.
Almost every activity, including traveling more than five kilometers from home, visiting family, attending funerals, going out for non-essential shopping, was banned.
The relaxation allows the reopening of businesses, but with capacity limits. Ten fully vaccinated people can also get together.
International borders and schools are yet to open and will likely take a few more weeks to resume.
People not fully inoculated against the virus also have to wait to enjoy their freedom.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra that many people were longing for the day.
"Today is a day so many have been looking forward to, a day when things we take for granted, we will celebrate," Morrison said.
“Being with family and friends, getting a haircut, eating together, going to the bar and having a beer with colleagues.”
New infections in New South Wales have declined now. The authorities Sunday reported 496 local cases and eight deaths.
The state last week reached the milestone of fully inoculating 70 percent of the eligible population, which paved the way for easing the curbs.
New South Wales, the epicenter of the third wave of Covid-19 in Australia, has administered the first dose of the vaccine to more than 90 percent of 16 years old.
Victoria, whose capital Melbourne us under confinement since the beginning of August, hopes to follow in the footsteps of New South Wales later this month under a national plan to reopen the economy after 70 percent of the eligible population gets double vaccinated.
Australia expects to reopen its international borders in November once it crosses the 80 percent immunization mark.
The country has accumulated more than 127,000 infections and nearly 1,450 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. EFE