Australia eases Covid-19 restrictions, speeds up vaccination

Sydney, Australia, Sep 19 (EFE).- Australian authorities on Sunday eased some restrictions against Covid-19 in Sydney, the city worst affected by the pandemic, even as the vaccination rate has increased, with over 36 percent of the population inoculated so far.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a press conference that the measures would be eased from Monday in the 12 worst-affected areas in the Sydney metropolitan region.

As part of the new rules, the two-hour limit has been removed for outdoor exercise, while the number of vaccinated people allowed to meet each other has been increased from two to five, making restrictions uniform for entire Sydney.

Australia reported 1,607 fresh Covid infections on Saturday, out of which 1,083 were detected in New South Wales, 507 in Victoria and 17 in the Canberra metropolitan area, while thousands of Australians were vaccinated across the country.

Australia, which had a strict pandemic control policy until a few weeks ago, has now admitted that the country has to be gradually opened, even if it means an increase in cases due to the more infectious Delta variant of the virus.

Berejiklian said that there would always be people who would think that the restrictions were either too strict or not strict enough, but the government’s reopening plan was very cautious.

The different Australian states, which enjoy autonomy over imposing anti-covid restrictions even though they are coordinated by the central government, are planning to return to a “new normalcy” once 70-80 percent of the adult population is vaccinated.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday that his government plans to continue lockdowns and restrictions until the end of October, when the 80 percent inoculation target is expected to be met.

However, he warned that cases could rise to thousands per day over the next month due to the Delta virus, which could affect the health system.

Andrews insisted that there was no alternative to opening up the country, although the authorities will adjust their plans according to data on new cases and deaths.

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