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Australian State of Victoria to reopen after recording zero new COVID-19 cases

SYDNEY: The Australian State of Victoria will dramatically scale back COVID-19 restrictions this week, after recording its first day of zero new infections and deaths for several months on Monday.

From Wednesday, restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars, as well as retail businesses, will reopen to the public. Home visits will be allowed, and limits on leaving the household will be lifted.

In announcing the changes on Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews heaped praise on the people of Victoria who he said were responsible for successfully suppressing the pandemic and achieving the first day of zero infections and deaths since June 9.

“These are big steps. We have all given a lot. I’m so proud and impressed and humbled by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made,” Andrews said.

The zero positive infections followed a 14,024 test blitz in a 24-hour period, including 3,196 in capital city Melbourne’s northern suburbs which recently experienced a cluster of 39 cases, with Andrews saying that continued testing efforts would be crucial to Victoria’s reopening.

New limits on the number of people allowed at private events were also announced starting Wednesday, with hospitality venues set at 20 people seated indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies also had their attendance caps increased, as did outdoor fitness training sessions and public pools.

Public outdoor gatherings remained capped at 10 people, however groups could comprise members from more than only two households.

Andrews said the specific rules regarding home visits would be revealed on Tuesday, but warned that households were one of the highest risk environments for transmission.

“The most dangerous place this virus takes is in people ‘s homes and it’s a function of us all letting our guard down, and hugging, and being close to the people we have fundamentally missed the most,” Andrews said.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.