SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 4 December 2021, Saturday |

Australia’s Melbourne enjoys weekend of eased COVID curbs after long lockdown

Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, welcomed the first weekend of COVID-19 lockdowns with impromptu street parties, live music, and packed pubs, clubs, and restaurants.

Melbourne, which has a population of around five million people, has been subjected to 262 days of restrictions, or nearly nine months, during the course of six lockdowns since March 2020, which is longer than Buenos Aires’ 234-day continuous shutdown.

Despite the rain on Saturday morning, people lined for barbers and breakfast restaurants, which are only open to those who have received all of their vaccinations.

People erupted in a spontaneous street party in Melbourne’s southeast late on Friday, with many reveling in their first drink in months in a pub with friends, according to social media footage.

Despite the fact that the Delta outbreak is still spreading, with 1,750 new cases and nine deaths recorded on Saturday in Victoria state, the capital of which is Melbourne, the limitations were eased when the state’s full-vaccination rate hit 70%.

While most retail businesses remained closed, authorities indicated that once 80 percent of Victorians had been completely immunized, which is expected by next weekend, further softening will occur.

While small but violent anti-vaccinations protests have taken place in Melbourne and other cities this year, Australians overwhelmingly support vaccinations, with polls showing the percentage decisively opposed in single digits.

Nearly 72% of adults in Australia are now fully vaccinated and nearly 87% have received one shot. According to a national strategy, lockdowns will be unlikely once 80% of Australians are fully inoculated.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, reopened two weeks ago after surpassing the 70 percent immunization criteria. On Saturday, the state of New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, reported 332 COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

As international border restrictions begin to soften in November, weekend newspapers were brimming with travel advertisements for the next months. Due to “huge demand,” Qantas Airways Ltd is speeding up preparations to restart flights to several destinations and upsize some planes.