© Reuters. People go in and out of Flinders Street station in Melbourne.
By Renju Jose SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s largest state will emerge from a five-day COVID-19 lockdown after not reporting any cases for five consecutive days, as the national cabinet decided to lift time limits on citizens who They are returning from abroad since the middle of this month. Western Australia’s state capital Perth and the Southwest region, home to about two million people, will emerge from the lockdown starting at 6 p.m. local time on Friday, said State Prime Minister Mark McGowan, adding that the only reason that could change is if local cases are registered before that time. “I am so relieved that we have reached this point and that we can reopen businesses and our economy with full confidence,” McGowan told reporters in Perth. As community infections in the country have remained low in recent days, Australia will relax limits on international arrivals. Australia will reestablish previous limits on international travelers allowed to return each week to some states, after cutting the number by almost half to around 3,000 in early January after the discovery of new virulent variants of the coronavirus. “As of February 15, the limits will return to previous levels for New South Wales and Queensland. Therefore, we will see that increase in capacity again,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Since last March, the country’s international border has been closed to everyone except non-citizens and permanent residents who have to go through a mandatory two-week quarantine at the hotel upon arrival at their expense. Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, did not report new cases on Friday that have relieved organizers of the Australian Tennis Open, which will begin on February 8, after a worker at a hotel where some players were staying contracted the virus. The infection of quarantined hotel workers, reported late Wednesday, put 500 players and staff in isolation while they were examined. Tournament officials said Friday that nearly everyone has tested negative so far for the virus. Australia has reported just under 29,000 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths, far fewer than many other developed countries, due to strict border controls, widespread testing, social distancing rules and closures.