Fri, 22 Jan 2021

SYDNEY, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Australian state of Victoria saw restrictions eased over the COVID-19 pandemic as it has remained case-free for more than three weeks.

Victoria, the epicenter of Australia's second wave of coronavirus infections recorded its 24th straight day of zero new COVID-19 cases and deaths on Monday, with only one active case left, as more restrictions eased in the state.

"Three months ago, Victoria had 4,293 active cases. Today we have one," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said while announcing a series of changes on Sunday.

"It's an incredible achievement. Back then, the goal was something a little more 'normal' for Christmas. Today, because of the efforts of every Victorian, that's exactly what we've been able to achieve," he said in a statement.

From Monday, Victorians were able to host up to 15 visitors to their homes per day and the limit on outdoor gatherings eased to allow 50 people.

Restaurants, cafes, bars were allowed to host up to 300 patrons, including a maximum of 150 people indoors as long as the four-square-meter-rule is maintained.

Weddings, funerals and indoor religious ceremonies also had their attendance caps increased to 150 people, as did cinemas, galleries and museums.

Community sports resumed, and wearing masks was no longer mandatory outside if physically distancing can be maintained.

Andrews said Victorians will be able to have up to 30 visitors to their home per day from Dec. 13, and 25 percent of staff will return to workplaces from Nov. 30.

Moreover, from Monday Victorians could travel freely to the state of New South Wales (NSW) without quarantine, the first time in more than four months.

NSW, which recorded no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases for the 16th day in a row on Monday, however, was still having feud with neighboring State of Queensland over border lockdown rules.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged her Queensland counterpart to show compassion as Christmas is around the corner.

"So again I just ask other premiers to consider some compassion because I know when I'm visiting communities and people come up to me and burst into tears when they think about the fact that they can't visit their relatives," she said.

Nevertheless, a couple of restrictions were lifted within NSW from Monday. Up to 3,000 people were allowed to gather for outdoor ticketed events such as concerts. Berejiklian said further easing of restrictions was imminent this week.

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