Sydney reopens to vaccinated residents after 107 days of COVID-19 lockdown

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Oct. 11 (UPI) — The largest city in Australia ended more than 100 days of lockdown restrictions on Monday after reaching a COVID-19 vaccine milestone — but only for those who are fully inoculated.

Sydney on Monday began allowing businesses to reopen to vaccinated customers after 107 days of restriction. The change was made once 70% of Sydney’s population over the age of 16 became vaccinated.

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet said that hitting the milestone was made possible by people embracing the public health messages. Further easing of restrictions is expected once 80% of the population receives both shots.

The lockdown measures for Sydney took effect on June 26.

“The people of New South Wales have earned this moment,” Perrottet said in a statement.

“Today is just a taste of the freedoms to come. … If we keep on going, we’ll ensure lockdowns become a thing of the past.”

Some experts, however, question whether now is the time to relax COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

Australian National University said recently that research shows that the country’s plan to ease restrictions will likely result in more deaths and longer illnesses for Australians.

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“Our modelling shows if 70% of Australians over 16 years of age are fully vaccinated, with a 95% vaccination level for those aged 60 years and over, there could eventually be some 6.9 million symptomatic COVID-19 cases, 154,000 hospitalizations, and 29,000 fatalities,” professor Quentin Grafton said in a statement in August.

On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a “take our lives back” plan to reopen international borders for vaccinated travelers as soon as Nov. 1.