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'None Of This Has Been Easy': Melbourne, Australia, Ends Its 111-Day Lockdown

People enjoy eating outdoors on Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia. Lockdown restrictions in the city were lifted after 111 days, allowing people to leave their home for any reason.
People enjoy eating outdoors on Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia. Lockdown restrictions in the city were lifted after 111 days, allowing people to leave their home for any reason.

Melbourne, the second-most populous city in Australia, ended its 111-day lockdown on Wednesday.

The state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, eased restrictions after recording zero new coronavirus cases on Monday — for the first time since June.

"Now is the time to open up," Daniel Andrews, the state's top official, said during a media briefing. "Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course."

The city of 5 million people will still limit residents to traveling within 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) of their homes. A border between regional Victoria and Melbourne will also remain.

But Melbourne residents can now leave their homes without permission. Shops, cafes, salons, restaurants, bars and places of worship can reopen — affecting 180,000 jobs, according to the state government.

The city plans to continue shedding restrictions in the coming weeks.

While most of Australia has seen relatively low coronavirus numbers, cases began spiking in July and August.

Over the last five weeks, Australia has reported a weekly average of about 123 new cases. The continent reported 907 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began, 819 of which were in Victoria.

"None of this has been easy," Andrews said. "But Victorians have shown what they're made of."

Reese Oxner is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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