Australia's second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced on Monday, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded.
Stay-at-home orders for Melbourne's five million residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors.
On Sunday, the capital of the state of Victoria hit its target of fewer than five daily cases on average across 14-days, but state authorities delayed an end to lockdown while waiting for more than 1,000 Covid-19 test results in northern Melbourne.
The tests found no new cases, and on Monday the state reported zero new cases, and zero deaths from the coronavirus.
Premier Daniel Andrews told local media “with zero [new] cases and so much testing over the weekend… we are able to say that now is the time to open up.”
Victoria’s second wave peaked on August 5, with 725 new cases reported that day. The southern state has lost 817 people to the deadly virus, the vast majority of Australia’s overall toll of 905.
The Melbourne lockdown saw schools and businesses close, strict social distancing rules imposed, and a 5km radius for travel from home, which was only permitted for essential work, medical care or buying vital supplies.
Bars, restaurants and a range of other businesses will reopen, stay at home orders will be lifted, and outdoor music concerts will return.
Last week, the bans on hairdressers and a range of sporting events were lifted. A 25km travel rule will remain in place until 8 November.
Melbourne resident Luisa Childs said it had been "hard to have enthusiasm or excitement about anything" during lockdown.
"Being stuck at home seven days a week, and especially with the 5km rule, you feel trapped… Everyone one in Melbourne would have to feel elated with the news today," she said.