Melbourne eases lockdown, schools, work resume

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (AP) – 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, shuttering schools and non-essential businesses, imposing a nighttime curfew and prohibiting public gatherings.

The restrictions were scheduled to be eased yesterday if the rolling 14-day average of new infections was between 30 and 50 cases.

With 12 new infections reported on Saturday and 16 yesterday, the 14-day average has dropped to 22.1.

That allowed Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews to confirm the 9pm-5am curfew will be lifted from 5am today, though residents still cannot travel more than five kilometres from home.

Public gatherings of up to five people from a maximum of two households will be allowed.

A further easing could take place on October 19 if the average falls below five new cases per day. Masks remain mandatory.

Andrews said there are 399 active cases in Victoria, the first time that number has 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,” Andrews said.

Meanwhile, India has registered 88,600 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in a declining trend with recoveries exceeding daily infections. The Indian Health Ministry yesterday also reported additional 1,124 deaths for a total of 94,503.