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Monday, October 18, 2021

COVID-19: Sydney reopens to vaccinated people after being in lockdown for more than 100 days

Fully vaccinated people in Sydney have been enjoying cafes and bars as the city reopens for the first time after more than 100 days in lockdown.

Hairdressers and gyms have also been allowed to reopen in Australia’s largest city after it reached its vaccination target.

More than 90% of the New South Wales state population aged 16 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with 73.5% are now double jabbed.

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Customers wait in line at a city centre barber shop on the first day of many such businesses re-opening to vaccinated patrons, following months of lockdown orders that closed businesses to curb an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Hairdressers have been able to reopen
(L-R) Customers Brian O'Mara, Darrell Forman and Doug Thomas drink beers together at the Fortune of War pub, on the first morning of pubs and many other businesses re-opening to vaccinated people, following months of lockdown orders to curb an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Pubs have been able to reopen

One woman, who was out with her family, told Sky News Australia: “It’s freedom day – it’s all about Australia and freedom and it’s super fantastic.

“We are so so happy, it’s like Mel Gibson in Braveheart – we are going, we’re off, it’s happening”.

She went on to thank “everybody”, saying “we love it”.

Some businesses in the city opened at midnight due to demand from people impatient to enjoy their freedom.

More pandemic restrictions are set to be removed once 80% of the population have been fully vaccinated which will allow New South Wales residents to travel overseas for the first time since March last year.

But the unvaccinated must remain at home until 1 December.

The state reported 496 new COVID cases and eight deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

Diners sit to eat at a city centre food court on the first day of eased restrictions for vaccinated patrons, following months of lockdown orders that mandated restaurants only serve take-away and customers couldn't sit to eat at such venues to curb an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Diners sit to eat at a city centre food court on the first day of eased restrictions for vaccinated people

However, as residents return to work and become more mobile in Sydney, the infection rate is expected to rise.

New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet said the infection rate and the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospitals were lower than modelling had predicted.

“So that’s positive and gives hope and confidence as we open up in a measured way we’re in a very good position to keep people safe,” Mr Perrottet said.

Commuters walk out of an underground train station as people filter into the city after more than 100 days of lockdown to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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Sydney has been in lockdown since 26 June

“There’s still restrictions in place. It’s not a free for all. It is opening up in a measured way and if everyone can look after each other and respect each other, we can get people back into work, we can get businesses open, while at the same time keeping people safe.”

While Sydney has seen the number of infections going down in recent weeks, they have yet to peak in Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city.

Customers receive haircuts at a city centre barber shop on the first day of many such businesses re-opening to vaccinated patrons, following months of lockdown orders that closed businesses to curb an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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More than 70% of the target population has been vaccinated

Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, has managed to fully vaccinate 58.6% of its population and give at least one dose to 85.5% – so remains a week or two behind New South Wales.

On Monday, the state reported 1,612 new COVID cases and eight deaths.

Customers line up to enter a store in the central business district after more than 100 days of lockdown to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)..
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Customers line up to enter a store in the central business district. Pic: AP
People filter into the city after more than 100 days of lockdown to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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Those who aren’t vaccinated must remain at home until 1 December

New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, which includes national capital Canberra and two villages, are the only parts of the country to reach the 70% vaccination target.

Canberra, where more than 95% of the target population has received at least one vaccine dose and 72.8% are double jabbed, will relax pandemic restrictions on Friday.

Sydney’s latest lockdown began on 26 June and the outbreak of the Delta variant spread from Sydney to Melbourne, which has been locked down since 5 August, and Canberra, which has been under lockdown since 12 August.

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