Melbourne lockdown to end after quarantine outbreak controlled


Victoria to lift lockdown, crowds likely to return to Australian Open from Thursday

New Zealand will lift curbs put in place in Auckland three days ago, despite three new local cases. "We'll finish up with people being able to move freely because this short and sharp circuit-breaker has worked".

Then last Friday, the State Government announced a five-day statewide lockdown would apply from midnight in response to the spread of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19.

Australia has reported over 29,000 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic - far fewer than many nations. But the state government is now under pressure to explain how the virus escaped hotel quarantine, after similar breaches nationally in recent times.

"There was simply no alternative but to follow the advice provided", he said.

Victoria State Premier Dan Andrews announced the lifting of the lockdown but said the crowds allowed into Melbourne Park for the semi-finals and finals of the Grand Slam might be reduced from the originally agreed 25,000 a day.

With the ease in restrictions the state's six million residents are no longer barred from leaving home and schools can reopen.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors and outdoors where social distancing isn't possible and the home gathering limit has been tightened to five visitors, down from 15.

Snap restrictions were ordered last Friday after a small outbreak of the more infectious United Kingdom coronavirus variant prompted fears Australia's successful battle to contain the pandemic could be undone.

He said he could not guarantee Victorians that lockdowns were a thing of the past after enduring its third in less than 12 months.

"We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Australian Open for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high", tournament director Craig Tiley said in the statement.

But some experts - including the Australian Medical Association - have been calling for a review of hotel quarantine environments due to concerns about airborne transmission.

Officials in both Victoria and Queensland states are now considering the use of purpose-built quarantine facilities at smaller regional airports, which proponents say could reduce Covid-19 spread.

Auckland is also hosting a major sporting event - the America's Cup yachting regatta - which is expected to resume this week with crowds watching from the shoreline restricted to 100.

Public gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed.

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