Australia eases up on COVID-19 restrictions as cases decline

While populated cities are still experiencing heavy restrictions, regional parts of the country begin to reopen with a mask mandate in place

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As restrictions in rural areas begin to ease, police in Melbourne recently arrested over 200 at lockdown protests.

On Monday, Aug. 20, Australia’s New South Wales state reported its lowest count of daily coronavirus cases in more than three weeks allowing Sydney, the state capital, to ease lockdown restrictions.

The country plans to cautiously reopen while the case count trendline continues to decrease. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been reported on Aug. 19, the lowest daily total since Aug. 27.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said that the state recorded 507 new cases and will end the lockdown once 70% of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are no cases.

“We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place up. There is no alternative,” Andrews said. “We cannot perennially or permanently suppress this virus. Lockdowns have been about buying time to get to 70% and 80% vaccination.”

According to vic.gov.au, by reducing the number of people leaving their homes and moving around Victoria, the state will be able to help slow the spread of cases.

Residents in the greater populated areas of the state such as metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Sire, can not leave their homes other than shopping for necessary goods and services, caregiving, medical care, receiving COVID-19 tests or vaccination, attending authorized work or permitted education or outdoor social interaction in limited groups for up to 4 hours.

For people that live outside of the cities mentioned above, the government asks them not to travel into the specified cities except for certain reasons that are explained on their website. People that live in the greater Melbourne area are also asked not to leave their homes after 5 p.m. while people in regional parts of the state are allowed outside their homes.

Unlike most of the U.S., face masks are mandatory inside and outside, except for when you are inside your own home. In Melbourne, several workers have been protesting outside a union office against Victoria’s mandatory vaccination rule according to Reuters.

With 1,167 deaths and around 87,000 cases, the country has mostly lived in COVID-zero for much of the pandemic. Now, NSW and Victoria are putting up a tough fight with the delta variant outbreak.

Other parts of Australia are weary of opening up too soon as it could overwhelm hospital systems.

Australia’s plan is much more strict than the U.S. where individual states decide their own restrictions. However, if the Biden Administration’s new vaccine mandate rolls out, then the country will be taking steps to decrease the spread of the virus similar to Australia, that are more strict than preceding rules.

By looking at the North Dakota Department of Health’s website, one would notice that the closest thing to restrictions are the guidelines provided for workplaces, businesses and schools. North Dakota State University took it upon themselves to implement a mask requirement within the classroom, but outside of the classroom masks are no longer required.

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