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Melbourne celebrates after months of lockdown

Melbourne celebrates after months of lockdown

With a vibrant anticipation, Melbourne residents flocked to cafes, restaurants and hair salons as they opened their doors on Friday.

Since the start of the pandemic, Melbourne has entered Australia’s second largest city and exited a total of six severe lockdowns. For nearly nine of the past 20 months, the city’s five million residents have lived under severe restrictions and experienced one of the world’s longest and most severe lockdowns.

The last closure has been in place since August 5. But now 70 per cent of all adults over 16 in Victoria are fully vaccinated, which means large parts of the strict restrictions are being tossed in the trash.

– As my children say, there is a great atmosphere today, says Head of State Dan Andrews.

– You can feel optimistic. He adds that one can only imagine the pride in what we have achieved.

Andrews encourages people to go out and eat or drink in the company of good friends.

– I forgot what it looked like, says café visitor George who has been reunited with his friends, to Agence France-Presse.

desolate city

Melbourne – formerly famous for its vibrant cultural life and ranked as one of the world’s best cities to live in – has been deserted during the pandemic as violent protests against the restrictions grow.

The city, like the rest of Australia for most of the pandemic, did not tolerate the virus and restrictions were quickly imposed once the virus started spreading.

Now people want to make up for lost time.

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People are totally crazy, says Marcela Rodriguez, who runs a restaurant in trendy Fitzroy, now.

We have to be very careful about how many people we take and stick to all the rules, that will be a challenge, she tells The Age.

limited freedom

So the freedom is still limited – it only applies to full vaccinations. Only restaurants, bars and cafes are allowed to accommodate a certain number of guests and Melbourne residents are not yet allowed to leave the city. Retail business also remained closed until 80 percent of the population was fully vaccinated.

Australia, with a population of 25 million, has so far escaped the epidemic relatively mildly. About 150,000 cases and 1,500 deaths have been recorded.

However, the fact that Melbourne is now abandoning strict restrictions shows a shift in strategy, as the previously dominant zero tolerance for coronavirus has been abandoned – at the same time that the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise. On Thursday, more than 2,200 new cases were registered, and authorities are warning that hospitals have a difficult period ahead.

Sydney, Australia’s largest, also abandoned zero tolerance for Covid-19 this week when the city of five million people reached a 70 per cent vaccination rate.