Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, has further eased lockdown restrictions imposed after a surge in coronavirus cases, allowing most children to return to school from next month and sending more than 125,000 people back to work.
Melbourne and surrounding parts of rural Victoria state were placed under strict Level 4 lockdowns on August 2, closing schools and non-essential businesses, imposing a night-time curfew and prohibiting public gatherings.
The restrictions were scheduled to be eased on Sunday if the rolling 14-day average of new infections was between 30 and 50 cases. With 12 new infections reported on Saturday and 16 on Sunday, the 14-day average had dropped to 22.1.
399 The number of active cases in Victoria
That allowed Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews to confirm the 9pm to 5am curfew would be lifted from 5am on Monday, though residents still could not travel more than five kilometres (3.1 miles) from home. Public gatherings of up to five people from a maximum of two households would be allowed. Masks would remain mandatory.
A further easing could take place on October 19 if the average falls below five new cases per day.
Mr Andrews said there were 399 active cases in Victoria, the first time that number had fallen below 400 since June 30.
“It’s one measure among many of the amazing performance of the Victorian community — staying apart but sticking together, making sure that we defeat this second wave,” he said.