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COVID-19: Sydney exits lockdown after 106 days

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Patrons eat and drink inside a bar in Sydney on October 11, 2021, as Sydney ended their lockdown against the Covid-19 coronavirus after 106 days.
Patrons eat and drink inside a bar in Sydney on October 11, 2021, as Sydney ended their lockdown against the Covid-19 coronavirus after 106 days.   -   Copyright  STEVEN SAPHORE / AFP
By Josephine Joly with AFP

Sydney has reopened after four months in lockdown, with people celebrating the lifting of restriction measures on Monday.

The city's five million residents have been subjected to a 106-day lockdown, designed to limit the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

With new infections now falling – New South Wales state recorded 479 cases on Monday – the city is now reopening and businesses are set to welcome those who are vaccinated against the virus.

Measures are being lifted after New South Wales reached its milestone of fully vaccinating 70% of the over-16s last week.

Cafés, shops, and restaurants reopened their doors to anyone who could prove they were vaccinated, after being closed for non-essential workers since June.

Australia is one of the few countries that has taken such an extreme approach to managing the coronavirus, with unprecedented restrictions on personal freedom, including travelling more than five kilometres from home, visiting family, browsing in supermarkets, and attending funerals.

Some restrictions on mass gatherings, international borders closures, and schools will remain in force. Schools will not fully reopen for a few weeks.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is concerned that reopening will lead to a surge in cases and urged the authorities to keep a close eye on developments.

"The AMA supports gradual opening up of the economy and the loosening of restrictions, but it is critical to observe the impact of each step on transmission and case numbers," the doctors' body said.

"Otherwise New South Wales may still see hospitals become completely overwhelmed despite high vaccination rates."