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Melbourne, Australia will come out of the blockade of COVID-19, but some restrictions remain

A woman walks past a “Stay Safe in Melbourne” sign on a mostly empty downtown street on the first day of a seven-day lock, while the state of Victoria appears to be limiting the spread of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in Melbourne, Australia. May 2021 REUTERS / Sandra Sanders / File Photo

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, will emerge from the COVID-1

9 hard lock as planned on Thursday night, Victoria said, although some restrictions on travel and gatherings are likely to remain for another week.

After two weeks in a severe blockade that forced people to stay at home, with the exception of the main business, five million Melbourne residents will have more freedom to go outside from 11:59 p.m. Local time (1359 GMT) on Thursday.

However, people must stay within 25km (15 miles) of their homes, officials said, in an attempt to stop the broadcast over the upcoming long weekend. There will also be a total ban on house gatherings, and masks will be mandatory indoors.

“It’s a good day,” Victoria’s acting prime minister, James Merlino, told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

“But we know it’s not over yet, and until we do widespread vaccinations in Victoria and the country, the virus will still be with us.”

Merlino said further easing of restrictions on Melbourne could happen within a week without a jump in cases.

Australia effectively refrained from COVID-19, registering just over 30,200 cases and 910 deaths due to fast tracking systems, locks and strict social distancing rules.

Victoria has suffered four blockades since the start of the pandemic, the longest of more than 100 days late last year, and the state has seen more than 800 deaths, 90% of national casualties.

On Wednesday, Victoria reported only one new case of locally acquired COVID-19, the lowest growth in more than two weeks from two days earlier.

Daily cases remain single-digit for most of the days of the blockade, and all cases are linked to the highly infectious variant of the Delta virus, found among cases late last week, raising concerns about a possible spike in infections.

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