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Asia Minute: Sydney drops some restrictions, other parts of Australia moving more slowly

coronavirus Outbreak Australia barber shop
Rick Rycroft/AP
A barbershop clips and snips some of their first customers in months after more than 100 days of lockdown to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The largest city in Australia is back in business this week. Yesterday, Sydney ended nearly four months of lockdown restrictions. The national capital is expected to follow on Friday, but the country still faces a lengthy period of adjustment.

The premier of New South Wales calls it “Freedom Day.”

As the clock moved past midnight Sunday, some pubs in Sydney opened for the first time since the middle of June.

Non-essential businesses have been closed for more than 100 days because of an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Pent-up demand was visible on the streets of Sydney Monday — from lines outside barbershops to indoor dining at restaurants.

In a city where seasonal temperatures are now in the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit, outdoor dining is a tougher sell for some.

More than 70% of eligible residents across the state of New South Wales have been vaccinated — and for them, some restrictions are easing.

It’s all part of a gradual reopening for Sydney and other locations — living with a certain number of cases of COVID-19.

Elsewhere in Australia, other states have different policies.

A few hundred miles north of Sydney in Queensland, officials are still maintaining a strategy to eliminate the virus.

A little more than half the eligible population is vaccinated, and the border is closed to residents of New South Wales.

Canberra is scheduled to drop some restrictions for vaccinated residents on Friday — while Melbourne is targeting a re-opening for later in the month.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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