Sydney, 26 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Australia’s New South Wales has topped 1,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began.
The state recorded 1,029 locally transmitted cases in the last 24-hour reporting period, health authorities said Thursday, marking the latest in a string of daily records in recent days.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian meanwhile announced a slight easing of lockdown restrictions for those who are vaccinated starting Monday, Sept. 13.
Vaccinated adults outside Sydney’s designated hotspots, which are under much stricter lockdown rules than the rest of the city, will be allowed to meet in groups of five, Berejiklian announced Thursday.
Inside the hotspots, households with all adults vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation – but only in accordance with a curfew. This is in addition to one hour allowed for exercise.
Authorities said this was the first step on a roadmap which provides for further freedoms to follow for vaccinated people when targets of 70 percent and 80 percent are reached.
Berejiklian also called for businesses and industry to get ready for measures to be eased after 70 percent of the state’s eligible population have had both vaccine doses.
“That’s when things will start to open,” she said.
An app to combine sign-ins to venues and proof of vaccination status is being developed, and there will be certain activities only available to vaccinated people, Berejiklian said.
Australia was previously largely successful in pursuing an elimination strategy through keeping international borders closed and turning to circuit breaker lockdowns.
But more than eight weeks of lockdown in Greater Sydney has failed to squash cases of the highly contagious delta strain back to zero.
After a sluggish start to the country’s vaccination campaign, partly due to supply issues and confusion over the AstraZeneca jab, state governments have been ramping up efforts to get 80 percent of the public vaccinated.
New South Wales, a state of some 8 million people, has fully vaccinated almost 33 percent of its adults, and more than 60 percent have had a first dose.
Greater Sydney will remain in lockdown at least until the end of September, while measures for the rest of the state have been extended until at least Sept. 10.
Australia, a country of some 25 million people, has fully vaccinated around 31 percent of its eligible population.
Nationwide, some 46,000 coronavirus cases and almost 1,000 deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began.