Melbourne residents are enjoying their first weekend out of lockdown, as Australia’s airlines prepare for the return of international travel.
The Victorian capital exited its sixth lockdown on Friday after the state reached vaccination targets that it had set before it would allow people able to leave their homes for any reason.
The state registered 1,750 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and nine deaths.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the multiple lockdowns, which had contributed to Melbourne having the longest lockdown of any city in the world, were a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, Qantas has unveiled plans for its flight schedule, once international borders reopen on Nov. 1.
Flights to New York and London will begin that day, while flights to destinations such as Singapore, Fiji, and Johannesburg have been brought forward.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the return of more Qantas routes but said government support to the airline industry would cease if flights returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Victoria’s decision to remove quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers will also see the national carrier bring forward flights from Melbourne to London and Singapore in November.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was in discussions with Singapore to establish two-way travel without restrictions.
It comes as Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced plans for when the state would reopen its borders.
Travellers will be able to come into Tasmania from Dec. 15, which is expected to be when the state reaches a vaccination rate of 90 percent.
NSW registered 332 new cases on Saturday, as the state reported instances of COVID-19 transmission in bars and gyms.
Some 24 infections were diagnosed in the ACT.
Restrictions eased in the capital on Friday, with the reopening of non-essential retail, one week earlier than planned.
Free travel will be back on the cards between Victoria and the ACT from Nov. 1, in line with arrangements between Victoria and NSW.
The latest vaccine statistics have shown the national double-dose rate has hit 71.7 percent of people 16 and over.
The ACT continues to lead the nation for the most-vaccinated jurisdiction, with 85.1 percent of its residents having had two doses, while NSW is not far behind on 83.7 percent.
The two states furthest behind in the vaccine rollout, Western Australia and Queensland, are both set to reach double-dose rates of 60 percent within days.
The Sunshine State is at 59.4 percent of its over-16s fully vaccinated, while 58.3 percent in WA have had both jabs.
By Andrew Brown