Singing, dancing return as Australia begins to ease Covid restrictions

Sydney, Australia, Feb 18 (EFE).- Australians in New South Wales and Victoria will again be allowed to sing and dance in nightlife venues from Friday as Covid-19 restrictions ease just days before international borders reopen to tourists.

The easing of restrictions comes as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have stabilized three months after the large Omicron wave began, causing a health crisis in both the healthcare and supply chain sectors.

In both NSW and Victoria, which have been Australia’s most affected states during the pandemic and home to more than half of Australia’s population, density limits will be removed at bars and restaurants, QR code check-ins will be limited, and the mandatory use of masks will be eliminated with certain exceptions such as on public transport.

The relaxation of the measures in the two states come ahead of Monday’s planned reopening of international borders, which were closed in March 2020, eliminating the former mandatory quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers.

“This is what the new world looks like as the pandemic moves to an endemic phase,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters in Sydney on Thursday, commenting on the relaxation of measures that come 10 days earlier than originally planned, and that were imposed at the beginning of this year due to the impact of Omicron.

Meanwhile, Western Australia will bring down its hard border closure on Mar. 3 due to Omicron taking hold in the state, Premier Mark McGowan said Friday. Restrictions such as indoor mask use and capacity limits will be implemented to limit the spread of the virus.

Australia, which implemented some of the world’s toughest border closures and lockdowns to control its epidemic, was hit hard by Omicron when it began reopening its borders in November, going from fewer than 2,000 cases a day in December to an average of over 100,000 in mid-January.

With 95 percent of the population over 16 years of age fully vaccinated and a strong booster campaign underway, Australia reported 38 deaths and more than 28,500 infections on Friday, accumulating more than 4,900 deaths and more than 2.9 million cases since the start of the pandemic. EFE


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