Lightning lockdowns curb virus in Melbourne, Auckland

Tanya Simon
February 17, 2021

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

According to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, fans will still be required to wear masks in the stands.

Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, will relax its third lockdown on Wednesday after authorities contained the spread of a COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine.

Public gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed.

Schools, universities and TAFE centres will all be allowed to open from tomorrow, though it will be up to individual institutions to determine how they approach the final days of the week.

Private and public sector workplaces have the green light to welcome up to 50% of their capacity, with 75% capacity limits forecast for Friday next week.

Funerals and weddings do not have a specific cap, but crowd numbers will be limited by the venue density limit.

Schools will reopen on Thursday after shutting down for three days and closed retail and hospitality businesses can resume trading.

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The return of fans to Melbourne Park will boost the Australian Open atmosphere even further as the 2021 tournament reaches a thrilling conclusion.

Women's tennis icons Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will clash in an incredible women's semifinal at 2pm on Thursday, pitting a legend against the player many believe could go on to rule the tour in the way Williams has for the past two decades.

Andrews had warned residents the strain was "hyper infectious", prompting fears among Melburnians who past year spent more than 100 days in a lockdown to contain an outbreak that infected thousands and killed about 800 people.

"We can't keep having this yo-yo where we open then close, then open again". "Restrictions will come off, nearly all of them, restrictions will come off at midnight tonight".

When will the remaining restrictions ease? The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories.

Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday said he would have "more to say" about support for businesses soon.

"We'll make sure we get payments and other supports out there as fast as we possibly can".

"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.

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