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Australia’s Coronavirus Hotspot, Victoria State, Loosens Restrictions

FILE - People line up to enter a supermarket hours before a citywide curfew is introduced in Melbourne, Aug. 2, 2020.

Officials in Australia’s Victoria state, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, began loosening lockdown restrictions Monday as new and active cases continued to decline.

As of Monday, residents of the state — which includes Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city — will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes for education or recreation and will be allowed to travel up to 25 kilometers from their homes. Parks, golf courses and beauty salons are also open, but are subject to mask and social distancing requirements.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households will be allowed and golf and tennis games can resume.

Residents and some lawmakers said they felt the region waited too long to loosen the restrictions, but State Premier Daniel Andrews defended them, saying every one of them was about safety and keeping virus case numbers low.

Regulations will be further loosened on Nov. 2 with the partial reopening of shops, bars and restaurants.

Victoria state reported only four new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and one death.