Residents of Sydney, the capital of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), have re-emerged to celebrate a long-awaited "Freedom Day" after the city's 106-day lockdown ended on Sunday.
Local Australians have been lining up for haircuts, visiting 24-hour retail establishments, and going to the gym since the early hours of the morning, as certain lockdown restrictions formally expired at midnight on Sunday, and non-essential retail reopened their doors.
Newly installed Premier of NSW Dominic Perrottet referred to the lifting of restrictions as the state's "Freedom Day" during a press conference held in a bar on Monday.
"It is, in my opinion, a day of liberation. It is, after all, a Freedom Day. Businesses are sprouting up everywhere. However, it must be done in a controlled and safe manner "he stated
"We are aware that there will be difficulties. I again implore everyone in our state to treat one another with love and respect, and to accept personal responsibility "Perrottet stated.
He said that immunizations would eliminate the need for lockdowns.
"We need to learn to live alongside the virus, vaccination rates are the key, we've been doing that in New South Wales," he said.
Currently, 73.5 percent of NSW's over-16 population has got both rounds of vaccine, with 90.3 percent having had at least one shot.
The state has made significant progress compared to the national average, which stands at 61.9 percent completely vaccinated and 82.2 percent with at least their first dose as of Monday.
In the 24 hours leading up to 8:00 p.m. Sunday, NSW documented 496 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with eight deaths.
In the 24 hours leading up to midnight Sunday, the neighboring state of Victoria recorded 1,612 new locally acquired cases and eight new deaths.