Zero new local infections across three states

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Residents across three Aussie states can breathe a collective sigh of relief today after all recording no new Covid-19 infections despite a recent scare placing officials on high alert.

Victoria, NSW and Queensland all recorded zero new locally acquired infections overnight, which is very welcome news ahead of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

There were fears of a rise in infections across all three states after an infected Melbourne couple left Victoria and travelled through NSW up to Queensland.

The 44-year-old woman and her husband left Melbourne on June 1, four days after a statewide lockdown had come into force.

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Along the way they stopped at numerous spots in regional NSW, including Gillenbah, Forbes, Dubbo and Moree before crossing the Queensland border at Goondiwindi and stopping at Moffat Beach, Kings Beach and Buddina.

The woman then tested positive to Covid-19 on June 8 in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, with Queensland health officials confirming on Thursday her husband had also contracted the virus.

With dozens of exposure sites across NSW and Queensland, there was a major concern the states would see new cases emerge.

But quick response from health authorities and contact tracers seems to have so far kept the virus at bay, with communities turning out in great numbers to get tested, with both states confirming no new locally acquired cases.

There were also concerns for Victoria after the state recorded four new infections on Thursday. The cases came from the same household but authorities haven’t been able to discover the source of the cluster.

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The news came less than 24 hours after Melbourne was set to lift lockdown restrictions. While the lockdown exit still went ahead, authorities made one small change to the easing of restrictions, requiring masks to remain mandatory outdoors.

“We’ve always said that, when we could ease restrictions, based on that advice, we would,” Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters on Thursday.

“We also said yesterday – and we’ve been saying every single day – this is not over yet and the risks of this virus will be a factor in our lives in the long term and in the short term so in the short, that means we are moving ahead but we are on high alert and the public health advice is very, very clear.”

Victorians, businesses react to lockdown end

As Melbourne residents set out on their first day out of lockdown in two weeks this morning, they were met with the welcome news of zero new locally acquired coronavirus infections.

Victorians and local businesses are celebrating the end of the lockdown, though many have warned there won’t be a “snap back” to life as usual.

“This is a good day. Everyone should be absolutely proud of what we have all achieved together,” Mr Merlino said.

He said collective efforts had stemmed the outbreak in the city, which has seen more than 80 people test positive for either the Kappa or Delta strains that originated in India.

“But we know this isn’t over yet, and until we have widespread vaccination across Victoria and across our country, the virus will still be with us,” Mr Merlino said.

Those on social media had mixed reactions with some feeling proud, others depressed and many commenting that they wouldn’t notice much of a change after exiting lockdown.

Melbourne residents still cannot travel more than 25km from their homes or have visitors over, but may gather in groups of up to 10 outside.

Schools, cafes and beauty salons can reopen, but gyms and nightclubs must remain closed for at least another week.

In regional Victoria, hospitality and entertainment density limits will increase, masks can come off indoors (including for beauty services) and indoor sport, gyms, pools and recreation can open. However, Victoria’s tourism sector won’t see any rebound with restrictions on travel for metropolitan residents to continue.

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