Covid Australia: Sydney celebrates end of 107-day lockdown

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The Australian city of Sydney has emerged from lockdown after almost four months, with locals celebrating a range of new freedoms.

People queued for pubs and shops that opened at midnight on Monday specifically for the occasion.

Many others have been enjoying anticipated reunions and visits to the homes of relatives and friends.

Covid rules had banned household visits and travel beyond a 5km (3.1 miles) zone, separating many families.

But most restrictions have now been eased for fully vaccinated people.

People can now share meals together at reopened cafes and restaurants, and visit gyms, libraries, and pools. There were long queues for barbers and nail salons on Monday.

The Lord Gladstone Hotel, an inner-city pub, was doing a roaring lunch trade after months of limited trading and takeaway-only options.

“We’re stoked to be back, we’re having the best Monday in months, even before Covid,” Pat Blake, the pub’s licensee, told the BBC.

“People are just ready to come back and sit down for a school [beer], see their friends, be somewhere there’s always music playing,” he said.

“The kitchen is pumping. I had forgotten about the pub smells. As soon as the fryers turned on it was really nostalgic.”

Australia’s biggest city was allowed to exit lockdown after the state of New South Wales (NSW) reached a 70% double-dose vaccination target for over-16s.

More restrictions will ease when 80% of over-16s are fully vaccinated. Currently, over 90% have received the first dose.

“It’s been a difficult 100 days,” state Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Monday.

“But the efforts that people have made right across the state, to go out and get vaccinated, have enabled this great day.”

Mr Perrottet warned that NSW was bracing for a surge in Covid cases, but said the healthcare system had been preparing for weeks.

“We’ll see hospitalizations increase… but we need to learn to live alongside the virus,” he said.

The state has not yet imposed a system to check vaccination status, leaving it up to individual businesses.

Sydney’s lockdown began in late June after a Delta variant outbreak took hold, leading to over 50,000 infections and 439 deaths so far.

Source:bbc.com

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