Australian Open: Fans set to return to Melbourne Park after lockdown lifted

  • Australian Open: Fans set to return to Melbourne Park after lockdown lifted

Australian Open: Fans set to return to Melbourne Park after lockdown lifted

"We'll finish up with people being able to move freely because this short and sharp circuit-breaker has worked".

Victorians were locked down under stage four restrictions on Friday as health officials sought to slow the spread of a growing cluster stemming from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.

Both countries, known for their strict measures, have seen relatively few deaths and cases during the pandemic. The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories.

"I am very proud of every single Victorian for the work they've done, and the sacrifices they've made".

Stay-at-home orders will be lifted for six million residents of Australia's second-most populous state late Wednesday, although it was unclear if the Australian Open tennis tournament could welcome back fans in Melbourne.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors and outdoors where social distancing isn't possible and the home gathering limit has been tightened to five visitors, down from 15.

"I'm very, very pleased to announce that the restrictions will come off, nearly all of them, at midnight tonight", Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

Snap restrictions were ordered last Friday after a small outbreak of the more infectious United Kingdom coronavirus variant prompted fears Australia's successful battle to contain the pandemic could be undone.

The state had already endured two previous lockdowns - including a four-month shutdown of its state capital Melbourne - due to failures in the hotel quarantine scheme.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the lockdown would end as planned at midnight, even though three more locally transmitted cases have since been discovered. Yes, schools will reopen, along with childcare, early education and higher education.

"We wanted to make sure we took a cautious approach because that's much, much better than getting it wrong and having a large-scale outbreak and a long lockdown", she said.

Retail businesses, restaurants, community facilities, and entertainment venues shuttered by the lockdown will be permitted to reopen. However, some restrictions will remain in place.

But people will still be required to wear masks and visitors to homes will be limited to five people until February 26 when the last of the state's 25 active COVID-19 cases will no longer be infectious.