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Melbourne lifts lockdown, but questions remain over return of tennis fans

Snap lockdown quashes Melbourne outbreak tennis fans poised to return

In New Zealand, nearly two million Aucklanders will enjoy similar freedoms after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a three-day lockdown had quelled the city's most serious outbreak in nearly six months. "We're going to finish up with people being able to move freely because this short and sharp circuit-breaker lockdown has worked".

The bulk of these cases were linked to Melbourne Airport's Holiday Inn and all were presumed to be the United Kingdom strain of the virus, which is proving to be highly contagious and more hard to contain than the original variant.

Both countries, known for their strict measures, have seen relatively few deaths and cases during the pandemic.

"There was simply no alternative but to follow the advice provided", he said.

Can I go back to work?

He did not say whether spectators would be allowed to return to the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne for the finals week.

Schools and businesses will reopen.

However, masks will remain mandatory in all indoor settings except at home and also outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.

Snap restrictions were ordered last Friday after a small outbreak of the more infectious United Kingdom coronavirus variant prompted fears Australia's successful battle to contain the pandemic could be undone.

Despite the positive developments, Andrews said today's announcement doesn't preclude further lockdowns in response to future outbreaks.

He said he could not guarantee Victorians that lockdowns were a thing of the past after enduring its third in less than 12 months.

But some experts - including the Australian Medical Association - have been calling for a review of hotel quarantine environments due to concerns about airborne transmission.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the lockdown would end as planned at midnight, even though three more locally transmitted cases have since been discovered.

The Australian Open women's semifinals begin Thursday, highlighted by 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams facing Japan's Naomi Osaka in a highly anticipated rematch of the 2018 US Open final.

"We wanted to make sure we took a cautious approach because that's much, much better than getting it wrong and having a large scale outbreak and a long lockdown", she explained.

Are restaurants open? Hospitality venues - including restaurants, bars and cafes - can once again reopen with the same density limits that were in place last week. Public gatherings are limited to 20 people from any number of households.