Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, will exit a COVID-19 hard lockdown on Thursday night as planned, Virginia state officials said, though some restrictions on travel and gatherings will likely last for another week.
With the exception of essential business, Melbourne’s five million residents could step outside from 11:59 p.m.local time (1359 GMT) on Thursday onwards after two weeks of a strict lockdown.
Residents are advised to stay within 25 kilometres (15 miles) of their homes in an effort to slow transmission during the extended weekend that is set to begin on Friday. Furthermore, there will be a ban on house gatherings, and masks will be required indoors.
“This is a good day,” Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“But we know this isn’t over yet and until we have widespread vaccination across Victoria and the country, the virus will still be with us.”
Merlino said the further easing of restrictions for Melbourne could happen within a week barring any spike in cases.
Australia has effectively reined in COVID-19, recording just over 30,200 cases and 910 deaths, due to speedy tracing systems, snap lockdowns and strict social distancing rules.
A 44-year-old woman tested positive in Queensland state, authorities said on Wednesday, after driving from Victoria, through New South Wales, earlier this month.
Authorities said there was no immediate evidence of community transmission and no new restrictions on residents have been issued.
Queensland’s state capital of Brisbane last went into a snap lockdown in late March to contain an outbreak that was quickly suppressed.
Victoria has endured four lockdowns since the pandemic began, the longest more than 100 days late in last year, and the state has seen more than 800 deaths, 90% of the national toll.
On Wednesday, Victoria reported just one new locally acquired COVID-19 case, the slowest rise in more than two weeks, versus two a day earlier.
Daily cases have remained in single digits on most days of the lockdown and cases were all linked to the highly infectious Delta virus variant found among cases late last week which raised concerns of a possible spike in infections.