Australian PM welcomes end of Victoria's coronavirus lockdown
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed the easing of strict coronavirus restrictions in the state of Victoria.
Victoria, the hardest-hit state in the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, reported zero new confirmed cases on Tuesday, marking the first time the state has had no new cases for two consecutive days since March. And on Monday it was the first time the state has experienced a day of zero new cases since June 9.
Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday that from 11:59 pm local time on Tuesday, Melbourne, the capital city of the southeastern state, will move from "stay home" to "stay safe," with no more restrictions on the reasons to leave home. And Melbourne's cafes, restaurants and pubs can reopen.
It marks an end to about three months of one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in the country after a second wave of COVID-19 infections spread rapidly in July which saw the state so far account for more than 90 percent of Australia's 905 coronavirus deaths.
In a joint statement with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt, Morrison said that "Victorians have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point."
"Today's announcement is a reflection of the dedication and effort of Victorians - taking the next step to reopen Victorian society and the state's economy," they said on Monday.
"After a long winter, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Victorians," it was noted. "Victorians have made great progress in reducing the rate of COVID-19 infections from the second wave outbreak in Victoria."
Australia's federal government had repeatedly called for restrictions in Victoria to be eased earlier to prevent further economic damage.