Elated Sydneysiders were emerging from almost four months of “blood, sweat and no beers” early Monday as a long coronavirus lockdown was lifted in Australia’s largest city.
Sydney’s more than five million residents have been subjected to a 106-day lockdown, designed to limit the march of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
With new infections now falling — New South Wales state recorded 477 cases on Sunday — and more than 70 per cent of over-16s double vaccinated, Sydney was dusting off the cobwebs.
A handful of venues — including some bars and slot machine rooms — planned to open at 12:01 am local time to vaccinated customers.
“Be the first to have a cold schooner, and be the first to catch up with friends,” said owners of Easts in the city’s famed Bondi neighbourhood.
Hairdressers will be among those businesses throwing open their doors later in the day, although many have been booked out for weeks to come by shaggy-haired customers.
Since June, shops, schools, salons and offices have been closed for non-essential workers and there have been unprecedented restrictions on personal freedom.
There were bans on everything from travelling more than five kilometres from home, visiting family, playing squash, browsing in supermarkets to attending funerals.
“Very few countries have taken as stringent or extreme an approach to managing Covid as Australia,” Tim Soutphommasane, an academic and former Australian race discrimination commissioner, told AFP.