Australia's second largest city, Melbourne, ended a nearly four-month coronavirus lockdown Wednesday, with restaurants, cafes and bars reopening and outdoor contact sports resuming. Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria.
At a news conference, state Premier Daniel Andrews said the easing of the lockdown will allow 16,200 retail stores, 5,800 cafes and restaurants, 1,000 beauty salons and 800 pubs to reopen, impacting 180,000 jobs.
Melbourne and the surrounding areas were the epicenter of Australia’s pandemic, with a peak of 700 new cases a day back in August, and 819 of the nation’s 907 total deaths from the coronavirus. Wednesday was the first day since June 9 that no new cases of the virus were reported in Melbourne.
Residents must still wear masks. Work from home orders are still in effect and travel remains limited to no more than 25 kilometers. But while many shops and restaurants did not survive the pandemic, others that are left report record demand, with some restaurants already fully booked one month in advance.
The travel restrictions are expected to be lifted November 9, allowing residents of Victoria to visit other parts of Australia, which were able to contain the second wave of the virus with severe measures. Officials say the nation has recorded just over 27,500 novel coronavirus infections, far fewer than many other developed countries.