SYDNEY, Oct 11 (IANS): As Sydney, capital of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), exited its 106-day lockdown, residents on Monday re-emerged to celebrate the long-awaited “Freedom Day”.
As some lockdown restrictions officially ended on Sunday midnight and non-essential retail re-opened their doors, locals have lined up to get haircuts, visited 24-hour retail stores, and headed to the gym since the early hours of Monday morning, reports Xinhua news agency.
Speaking at a press conference held at a bar on Monday, newly-instated Premier of NSW Dominic Perrottet referred to the easing of restrictions as the state’s “Freedom Day”.
“I see it as a day of freedom. It is a Freedom Day, it is. Businesses are opening up. But that means it needs to be done in a measured and safe way,” he said.
“There are going to be challenges, we know that. I ask again everybody right across our state to treat everybody with kindness and respect, and take personal responsibility,” said Perrottet.
He said vaccinations would make lockdowns a thing of the past.
“We need to learn to live alongside the virus, vaccination rates are the key, we’ve been doing that in New South Wales,” he said.
At present NSW’s vaccination rate sits at 73.5 per cent of the over-16 population having received both doses, and 90.3 per cent having received at least one dose.
The state boasts considerable ground on the national average, which as of Monday stood at 61.9 per cent fully vaccinated, and 82.2 per cent with at least their first dose.
In the last 24 hours, NSW recorded 496 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, and eight deaths.