MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – The Australian state of Victoria had its eighth day in a row of no new virus cases or deaths, ahead of another move back to normal living including no limits on travel outside of Melbourne and the resumption of flights to New Zealand.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce another relaxation of rules on Sunday, including the removal of Melbourne’s so-called “ring of steel.” No longer confined within a 25-kilometer (15-mile) radius, the city’s residents will be allowed to travel throughout the state.
Travel freedom is expected to expand again when the border with New South Wales state reopens to Victorians on Nov. 23.
“They will be big steps, they’ll get us much closer to normal than we’ve been for six or seven months, which is very significant,” Andrews said.
On Monday, the state will see the resumption of direct flights from New Zealand, the first international flights into Melbourne since June 30.
Victoria’s latest virus wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, has been traced to outbreaks among staff at two hotels that were acting as quarantine locations for arriving overseas passengers.
A report released Friday on the much criticized program suggested among its 69 recommendations that travelers returning to Victoria should be able to quarantine at home, potentially with an electronic ankle or wrist bracelet to track movements and enforce compliance.
Three other Australian states – Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia – reported a total of 12 locally transmitted cases in the past 24 hours.
Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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