Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) on Thursday, announced a roadmap out of lockdown that would see measures eased for the fully vaccinated.
This was coming after 70 per cent of the population got their two coronavirus jabs.
State Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said stay-at-home orders would be lifted on the Monday, after New South Wales passes the vaccination target.
This would see double-jabbed residents allowed to gather outdoors in groups of up to 20, and have up to five visitors to their homes.
Retail and hospitality, personal services like hairdressers and nail salons, and recreation, including gyms and swimming pools would reopen with social distancing capacity limits.
Large outdoor sites like zoos, stadiums and racecourses, and indoor entertainment including cinemas, theatres and museums would reopen with size-dependent capacity limits.
Domestic travel would also reopen within the state.
Mask-wearing rules would stay in place for indoor public settings, but a rule for the general public to wear masks every time they go outdoors would be lifted.
The easing of all rules would apply only to those who have had both vaccine doses, and is subject to health advice, for example if cases within a designated area remained too high.
Greater Sydney had been under stay-at-home measures since late June, in a bid to battle an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant that had spread to other parts of the state.
State-wide stay-at-home orders would be lifted in some parts of regional New South Wales, deemed low risk from Saturday, but those areas would still be subject to some restrictions.
New South Wales reported 1,405 new local cases on Thursday.
The state had fully vaccinated more than 42 per cent of its eligible population.
Just fewer than 40 per cent had been vaccinated nationwide.
In the neighbouring state of Victoria, which was currently dealing with Australia’s second-worst outbreak, more than 38 per cent have had both vaccine doses.
Victoria on Thursday, announced its highest increase in new COVID-19 infections in nearly 13 months.
Health authorities reported 324 new locally acquired infections on Wednesday night, crossing the 300-mark for the first time since Aug. 14, 2020, when the state logged 301 cases during what was its worst outbreak to date.
The number of new infections was a significant jump, compared to the 221-case increase a day earlier, and came in spite of lockdown, the state’s sixth, in place for over a month.
All of regional Victoria, with the exception of Greater Shepparton some 180 kilometres north of Melbourne, was set to exit the lockdown on Friday, with cafes, restaurants and bars able to open their doors with capacity limits.
Melbourne, the state capital, would stay in lockdown.
Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), home to the capital Canberra, meanwhile, said that a plan for the reopening of the territory would be outlined next week.
The territory, which had been in lockdown for nearly a month, was set to hit 50 per cent full vaccination coverage for residents aged 16, and over in the next 24 hours, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a press conference.
Health authorities reported 15 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 227.
Australia, with a population of 25 million, long sought to eradicate the virus completely by shutting its borders and imposing strict rules.
However, numbers had been rising in several parts of the country due to the highly transmissible Delta strain, causing New South Wales to abandon its earlier goals of squashing coronavirus cases back to zero.