The marathon COVID-19 lockdown in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, ended Monday for vaccinated residents. Stay-at-home orders imposed on June 26 have been lifted.
Government advertisements have urged Australians to be vaccinated against COVID-19, promising that freedoms would be returned when vaccination rates passed certain milestones. The message has been getting through to the community.
A 106-day lockdown in the New South Wales state capital, Sydney, was lifted Monday because inoculation rates have passed 70% for people aged 16 and older.
Gyms, restaurants and hairdressers& have reopened for the first time since late June. Small gatherings at home are now permitted, and larger groups are allowed to meet at parks and beaches. However, the ;freedoms apply only to those who have been fully vaccinated.
However, all residents still face restrictions on travel beyond Sydney. Those rules will be eased when vaccination rates in New&nSouth Wales reach 80%. At that point international travel, which has been heavily restricted since March 2020, will resume.
But authorities expect coronavirus infections to increase as restrictions are lifted.
New South Wales state premier Dominic Perrottet says a cautious, stages approach to reopening is needed.
“There’s going to be challenges as we move through this period. I think we’re the first state in the nation ;that is going down a path where those coming out to visit pubs and restaurantsandcafes need to be double vaccinated. That will have its challenges along the way, but I think if everyone treats each other with respect and kindness during this period, we are going to open up safely,” Perrottet said.
Vaccinations are mandatory in Australia for health workers, some teachers and other occupations. The country&rsquo drug regulator has said the vaccines are safe and effective,” yet research shows that about 10% of Australians are hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 shot.
Sydney resident Jamal Daoud says he does not trust the safety of vaccines.
“I don’t believe the pandemic is deadly to the point of enforcing people to take a vaccine that was not proven to be safe. We don’t have enough data that this vaccine is safe,” Daoud said.
In New South Wales, all restrictions on unvaccinated residents will be lifted when immunization rates reach 90%.
Millions of people, however, remain in lockdown in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra.
Australia has diagnosed 127,500 coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic. More than 1,400 people have died.