CANBERRA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- The coronavirus lockdown in Australia's capital has ended after more than two months as the country continues to battle the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Friday emerged from a lockdown that started on Aug. 12 and was initially meant to last only seven days.
As of Friday Canberrans are allowed to gather in groups of up to 25 people outdoors and have five visitors to their homes.
Cafes, restaurants, bars, personal care services and non-essential retail have re-opened subject to strict patron density restrictions.
Nationally, Australia recorded more than 2,600 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths on Friday morning.
The ACT reported 35 new locally-acquired COVID-19 infections on Friday, taking the number of cases linked to the outbreak that triggered lockdown to 1,394.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the government's focus would shift from the daily number of cases to the number of hospitalizations.
"A potential concern for us would be if fully vaccinated people were finding themselves in hospital or intensive care, but the evidence so far is that the vaccines have been working to reduce the proportion of cases that require hospitalization or intensive care," Barr said.
Restrictions will ease further on Oct. 29 under Barr's plan to reopen slowly.
So far about 83.6 percent of Australians aged 16 and over have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 65.4 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the latest data released by the Department of Health.
Australia's medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), recently announced it has approved three COVID-19 rapid antigen self-tests.
Starting from Nov. 1, the Chinese-made antigen tests from Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co Ltd will become available as the at-home tests used in Australia.