Bars, restaurants reopen in Melbourne

Residents of Australia’s Melbourne city welcomed the reopening of bars and restaurants for the first time in nearly four months after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted.

The city recorded no new infections or deaths on Monday and Tuesday, paving the way for authorities to declare the second wave of infections, which peaked at over 700 daily cases in early August, effectively suppressed, reports Xinhua news agency.

Many residents flocked to their favourite bars and retail outlets on Wednesday to celebrate the midnight lifting of restrictions, with long-suffering business owners breathing a sigh of relief.

Under the new rules groups of up to 10 people will be allowed to gather outside and residents no longer need a specific reason for leaving their homes, as well as a travel limit being extended from 5 km to 25 km from the home.

Despite the jubilant mood, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned those in Melbourne not to rush back to normality, and to continue to abide by social distancing regulations.

“I want to remind everyone that the rules still apply and the rules are not against you, they are for you. They are so you can continue to do these things,” Andrews said.

After two consecutive days of no cases and no deaths, the state recorded two new infections and two fatalities on Wednesday, all linked to known outbreaks.

Victoria, the worst-hit state by the pandemic, accounts for 20,342 confirmed infections out of Australia’s overall caseload of 27,554.

The country’s death toll stood at 907.