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Canberra Covid-19 lockdown: Freedom day for the ACT, Australia’s most vaccinated jurisdiction

The Australian city set to become the most vaccinated place in the entire world has exited lockdown. “Freedom day” has arrived for the most vaccinated jurisdiction in the country, but its public health restrictions still look very different from other states and territories.

The ACT’s nine-week lockdown officially ended at 12am on Friday, with pubs, restaurants, gyms, entertainment centers, sporting venues, and hairdressers all reopening.

Canberra is set to claim the crown as the world’s most vaccinated city next month. By November, almost 100 percent of Canberrans are expected to be double-dosed. Portugal’s capital city Lisbon and the city-state of Singapore are currently believed to have the highest double-dose vaccination rates in the world. 86 and 80 per cent of the cities’ populations have been fully vaccinated respectively.

“The current evidence suggests that the ACT will be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Wednesday.

“We expect to be at around 99 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November. It’s a testament to ACT residents and their willingness to protect themselves, their family and their community.”

But a high vaccination rate has not meant a high level of freedom for ACT residents. Mr. Barr has taken a more cautious approach to “freedom day” than the ACT’s close neighbor NSW.

While NSW residents only have to wear a mask while indoors, Canberrans are still required to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors, unless they are eating or drinking.

There is no cap on numbers at hospitality venues in NSW, but ACT cafes and restaurants are limited to 25 people or one person per four square meters – whichever is lesser.

“Today is a gentle step forward. The pandemic isn’t over,” Mr. Barr told the ABC on Friday. “Right now, I would urge caution. There is a range of things you can do today that you wouldn’t do yesterday, and people will be doing that. But do so in a safe way.”

In keeping with the NSW government’s public health distinction between Greater Sydney regions, the ACT government will allow some travel between Canberra and regional NSW, but not Sydney.

NSW Residents living within a radius of around 150km of the ACT will be permitted to enter the jurisdiction without an exemption and without quarantine for work, school, university, essential shopping, healthcare, and visiting friends and family.

ACT residents will only be permitted to enter regional NSW without an exemption for work, childcare, school, animal care, weddings, or funerals at this stage.

Mr. Barr said the jurisdiction’s public health restrictions would evolve as vaccination rates in NSW and the ACT increased.

“Although (the ACT’s travel bubble) won’t be extending to greater Sydney at this time … That’s going to change in time as well,” he said.

“I think it can be done safely and in an enduring way in a few weeks once the vaccination rates have increased further.”

The Chief Minister cautioned that while the ACT’s vaccination rates were impressive, Canberrans enjoying their new freedoms should still be mindful that a quarter of the population is yet to be protected by their second dose.

“There are still about 90,000 people who need to get their second dose. They mostly are under 40, and that is what the next two or three weeks are about,” Mr. Barr said.

“Our number one motto through all of this is that a fully vaccinated Canberra is a safer Canberra and we are well on our way.” A full list of Canberra’s updated public health restrictions can be found on the ACT government website. Published initially as ACT exits nine week lockdown as Canberra looks to become the most vaccinated city in the world

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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