Melbourne lockdown to end after quarantine outbreak controlled

Snap lockdown quashes Melbourne outbreak tennis fans poised to return

Snap lockdown quashes Melbourne outbreak tennis fans poised to return

The bulk of these cases were linked to Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn and all were presumed to be the United Kingdom strain of the virus, which is proving to be highly contagious and more hard to contain than the original variant.

Australia has reported over 29,000 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic - far fewer than many nations.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said businesses and schools can reopen and residents can host small groups of visitors from 11.59 pm Wednesday, hailing the "short, sharp circuit-breaker" that got on top of the virus.

Masks will be required indoors and outdoors in circumstances where physically distancing is not possible, with Andrews saying face coverings will be an "ongoing insurance policy" over the coming days.

"I am very proud of every single Victorian for the work they've done, and the sacrifices they've made".

The announcement means tennis fans will be able to make their way back to Melbourne Park for the semifinals and finals of the Australian Open, a massive boost for Tennis Australia, which was already dealing with a crowd cap of 30,000 spectators per day, before the lockdown began late last week.

With the ease in restrictions the state's six million residents are no longer barred from leaving home and schools can reopen.

Snap restrictions were ordered last Friday after a small outbreak of the more infectious United Kingdom coronavirus variant prompted fears Australia's successful battle to contain the pandemic could be undone.

But some experts - including the Australian Medical Association - have been calling for a review of hotel quarantine environments due to concerns about airborne transmission. At least two of them had the United Kingdom variant.

And, Victoria is looking to introduce a new model of quarantine as an alternative to the hotel system in Melbourne's CBD.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the lockdown would end as planned at midnight, even though three more locally transmitted cases have since been discovered.

Public gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed.

On Wednesday afternoon, following state government confirmation that lockdown would end at midnight, the Australian Open released a statement. Most restrictions are lifting, although some are staying in place.

North Korea tried to hack Pfizer for vaccine data
India identifies Brazilian, South African Covid variants