Melbourne in Australia returns to shopping, stores as vaccination rate reaches 80% | World news
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city which has suffered nearly nine months of shutdowns since the start of the pandemic, saw people flock to shops and concerts for the first time in months on Saturday as public health restrictions have eased.
The city of five million, which emerged from its sixth lockdown last week, reopens further as full vaccination rates in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, are expected to reach 80% for 16-year-olds and more.
People lined up in malls and boutiques despite the cool weather for their first in-person purchases since early August, waiting to be allowed in as capacity limits were observed, TV footage showed.
A crowd of 5,500 were expected to attend the Victoria Derby racehorse on Saturday, the first big event after Melbourne’s lockdown, which was to be followed by a concert for 4,000 fully vaccinated people at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the evening .
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Victoria reported 1,355 new daily COVID-19 infections, its lowest in nearly a month. Eleven deaths have also been reported, with health officials saying serious infections mostly affected the unvaccinated.
“So please – especially for people in their twenties – go out and get vaccinated, this is your best and in fact your only real protection against the impact of COVID,” said Jeroen Weimar, Victoria COVID-19 Response Commander.
Across Australia, New South Wales has reported 236 new cases and three deaths. The Australian Capital Territory has reported nine new infections.
Neighboring New Zealand has recorded 160 new cases, most in Auckland, which has been battling an outbreak of the Delta variant for months.
Once champions of a zero COVID pandemic management strategy, Australia and New Zealand have moved towards living with the virus through extended vaccinations because the Delta variant has been shown to be too transmissible to be removed. .
As of Saturday, 74% of eligible people in New Zealand were fully vaccinated and 76.8% of people 16 and over in Australia.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.