The Prime Minister of the State praises the residents of the Australian city for having complied with the strict rules imposed after the hotel quarantine was leaked.
Melbourne authorities will ease a blockade of COVID-19 as planned Thursday night, saying people’s adherence to strict rules had “changed the course” of a coronavirus outbreak in the second largest city of Australia.
Melbourne’s five million residents have he had to stay home for all but the most essential reasons during the last two weeks after a group of cases related to the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is believed to be more transmissible.
Relaxation will take effect from 11.59pm local time (13:59 GMT) on Thursday, although some restrictions on travel and meetings will be maintained for another week.
“It simply came to our notice then. Everyone should be absolutely proud of what we have all achieved together, “James Merlino, acting Prime Minister of Victoria State, told the press in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“But we know this is not over yet and until we have a widespread vaccine across Victoria and the country, the virus will still be with us.”
Even when the rules are made available, people will have to stay within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of their home, officials said.
There will also be a total ban on meetings and masks will be mandatory inside and while schools, cafes and beauty salons can be reopened, gyms and nightclubs will have to remain closed for at least another week.
Brett Sutton, Victoria’s head of health, said there could be no “restrictions” without restrictions as the situation remains “reasonably volatile”.
“We need to move progressively safely, but with the minimum restrictions we know we will continue to control this,” he said.
The new group of cases emerged last month with more than 80 people testing positive on the Kappa or Delta strains of the virus, which originated in India.
On Wednesday, Victoria reported only one new locally acquired COVID-19 case, the lowest in more than two weeks.
Daily cases have remained in single digit most days of the blockade.
Australia has effectively ruled COVID-19 and is one of the few countries in the world where transmission has not become endemic.
Victoria has suffered four closures since the pandemic began, the longest more than 100 days late last year and more than 800 people have died in the state, 90 percent of the national toll.
Outbreaks in Taiwan and Japan have highlighted how the initial success in containing the virus can evaporate quickly without widespread vaccination.
Australia had stepped up its program last week and had managed about 5.2 million hits as of Monday. However, only a small fraction of people are completely vaccinated.