Lockdown ends in Australian capital

The coronavirus lockdown in Australia’s capital ended on Friday after more than two months as the country continues to battle the third wave of the pandemic.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) emerged from a lockdown that started on August 12 and was initially meant to last only seven days, reports Xinhua news agency.

As of Friday, Canberra residents are allowed to gather in groups of up to 25 people outdoors and have five visitors to their homes.

Cafes, restaurants, bars, personal care services and non-essential retail have re-opened subject to strict patron density restrictions.

The ACT reported 35 new locally-acquired Covid-19 infections on Friday, taking the number of cases linked to the outbreak that triggered lockdown to 1,394.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the government’s focus would shift from the daily number of cases to the number of hospitalizations.

“A potential concern for us would be if fully vaccinated people were finding themselves in hospital or intensive care, but the evidence so far is that the vaccines have been working to reduce the proportion of cases that require hospitalisation or intensive care,” Barr said.

Restrictions will ease further on October 29 under Barr’s plan to reopen slowly.