"Most locked-down city" Melbourne easing curbs as Australian state nears vaccination goal

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Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

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The big picture: Victoria is still battling an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.

  • State Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference that restrictions would ease from Friday because Victoria was on track this week to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of residents against the coronavirus.

  • Victoria was set to reach 90% of first doses by Monday or Tuesday, Andrews said.

What they're saying: "As of 11.59pm Thursday, there will be no lockdown, no restrictions on leaving home and no curfew," Andrews said.

By the numbers: Victoria reported 1,838 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases to 23,376.

  • The state confirmed seven more deaths from the virus.

What's next: Businesses, including hospitality venues and hair salons, will be allowed to reopen at a reduced capacity in Melbourne when restrictions ease.

  • More businesses, including retailers, are set to reopen once 80% of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated, expected in the next 10 days.

  • The rest of Victoria, which has been under less-severe restrictions, will also see pandemic measures eased. Students outside Melbourne will return to full-time onsite school classes from Friday. Melbourne students will return to classrooms at least part-time.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest COVID-19 figures.

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