Australia’s largest city will emerge from a 106-day lockdown on Monday, as Sydney authorities confirmed coronavirus vaccination targets had been met.Stay-at-home orders will be lifted for the Harbour City’s five-million-plus people now that 70 % of state residents over 16 have been double jabbed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday, hailing the reopening announcement, “The light at the end of the tunnel is now very, very close”.
The reopening described by many as “freedom day” is both “exciting” and “nerve-racking” according to Alyce Murphy, general manager of The Carrington, a Sydney pub now hustling to get staff and deliveries back on site.
From Monday, pubs, restaurants and shops will throw open their shutters and welcome back the fully vaccinated. 5 kilometre travel restrictions will also be lifted, although state and international borders will remain closed for now.
Murphy tried to fill the almost four-month lockdown with activities such as painting and gardening. But like millions of Australians, she “also just sat on the couch and watched TV a lot”.
Australia has been spared the worst of the pandemic recording 1,379 deaths in a population of around 26 million.But for the last 18 months, under-vaccinated Australian cities have endured several gruelling lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus.
Florida Governor Ron De Santis whose state has recorded 55,000 plus deaths in a population slightly smaller than Australia even suggested breaking off diplomatic relations.
Thousands of Australian residents have also chafed at the restrictions, and some have voted with their feet. Some medical experts are also concerned that New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, may be reopening too soon.
The group’s president Omar Khorshid said, “New South Wales must not be reckless at this critical time”. But recently installed state premier Dominic Perrottet was adamant about the reopening.On Thursday, he brought forward the date for most schools to resume and said masks would not be needed in offices.