Australia’s NSW state to ease restrictions after 17 days COVID-19 free

Pedestrians cross a street in the city centre of Sydney

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales said on Wednesday it will ease pandemic restrictions on restaurants and cafes this week after recording 17 days with no local COVID-19 cases.

The move comes as the city of Perth, on the country’s west coast, recorded a third day without a fresh coronavirus case, having started a five-day lockdown on Monday after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive.

New South Wales tightened coronavirus restrictions in December after more than 100 cases were detected in the state’s north and west.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new limits would double the number of customers allowed in venues from Friday, helping business recover.

Western Australia on Sunday ordered about 2 million people in state capital Perth into lockdown after a security guard tested positive, raising fears of more community transmission.

The vast, largely isolated state has been known in Australia for a hardline COVID-19 response that included keeping its border closed to the rest of the country until recently when it reopened to some regions.

Australia has managed to largely contain its novel coronavirus epidemic – limiting cases to less than 29,000 and deaths to 909 – with the sort of rapid action seen in Perth, and tight border controls.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin)

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