Residents flocked to Melbourne's bars, restaurants, and hair salons in the early hours of Friday as the world's most locked-down city lifted its latest round of restrictions aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19.
Since March 2020, Australia's second-largest city has
been subjected to 262 days of restrictions, or nearly nine months, during six different lockdowns, the world's longest cumulative lockdown.
Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, was put on lockdown for 234 days last year.
When the lockdown restrictions that had been in place since early August expired at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, residents in Melbourne were spotted shouting and clapping from their balconies, while automobiles honked their horns repeatedly.
For the occasion, several businesses, including restaurants and even hair salons, opened at an uncommon hour.
According to Reuters, Josh Mihan, proprietor of Melbourne's The Bearded Man barbershop, is virtually booked out for the next month and is urging clients to schedule appointments for Christmas.
"We all love cutting hair and being on the floor is such a lovely feeling, being around people," he said. "I have urged our customer base, make sure you have booked in your Christmas cut."
Similar happy scenes were observed roughly two weeks earlier in Australia's largest city, Sydney, when officials began loosening restrictions as COVID-19 vaccination rates climbed.
Over 70% of Australian people are now completely vaccinated, and many locals are preparing to travel internationally again when international border restrictions begin to relax in November.