With vaccination rates up sharply across the country, states are now going ahead with plans to reopen to each other and the world, Justin Giovannetti writes in The Bulletin.
Melbourne’s long lockdown is coming to an end. Australia’s two most populous states have begun lifting their Covid-19 restrictions in recent days as vaccination levels rise sharply. Victoria premier Daniel Andrews announced the end of broad lockdowns in Melbourne yesterday with restrictions set to start lifting on Thursday, according to ABC. More than 70% of the state’s population over the age of 16 will be vaccinated by week’s end. Melbourne has spent 260 days in lockdown, across six different periods of restrictions, since the start of the pandemic. It’s the longest stretch of confinement anywhere in the world.
Victoria’s health system faces questions about whether it can cope. Despite the relaxation, Victoria has recorded around 2,000 new Covid-19 cases a day since last Wednesday. Once the site of the worst outbreak, cases have plummeted to a few hundred a day in neighbouring New South Wales. To help shore up its health system, Nine News reports that Victoria’s government has pledged to spend $2.5 million to recruit 1,000 overseas health workers. Melbourne’s hospitals have created emergency ICU spaces and are facing some of the pressures the New Zealand government warns Auckland could face next month.
New South Wales is ending quarantine for international arrivals on November 1. Reuters reports that the state will allow the fully vaccinated to enter, however only citizens will be allowed to return at first. New premier Dominic Perrottet is pushing the federal government to allow tourists and students to travel to Sydney. The state hit its target of fully vaccinating 80% of eligible locals over the weekend. As of today, people in NSW can welcome 20 people to parties in their homes, along with the return of community sports, indoor dancing and drinking while standing in pubs, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Both NSW and Victoria have limited their new freedoms to the fully vaccinated. The unvaccinated can’t even attend outdoor picnics.
Australian states are entering a ‘living with Covid’ phase from different positions. As ABC reports, while Victoria deals with overburdened hospitals and NSW prepares for tourists, some states like Western Australia are Covid-19 free. Despite the discrepancies, the internal borders are coming down. Queensland reported no cases yesterday and is preparing to relax restrictions once vaccination levels get high enough. New Zealand is also entering the mix as the Australian government has announced that people from the South Island will be able to travel quarantine-free across the Tasman as of Wednesday, according to Newshub.
This is part of The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s must-read daily news wrap. To sign up for free, simply enter your email address below