ACT's COVID-19 lockdown comes to an end

After nine weeks, the ACT's lockdown has lifted as the state approaches 75 per cent double-dose vaccine coverage.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Source: AAP

After more than two months, Canberra's COVID lockdown has ended.

Restrictions were formally eased at midnight on Friday, allowing cafes, restaurants and pubs to reopen, while Canberrans can have up to five visitors at their homes.

But the reopening of the ACT has come with a warning from Chief Minister Andrew Barr of a rise in virus case numbers as movement increases across the territory.

"We have done a lot as a community, this next step needs to be taken carefully," he told reporters.

"It does not mean the end of COVID risk, which is why the first step out of lockdown will be a gentle and measured step forward."

While there has been some criticism the easing of lockdown restrictions are too cautious - with retail not able to reopen to customers in-store until October 29 - Mr Barr defended the measures, saying it put public health first.

"It ensures the safest activities are recommencing and the riskiest ones will wait until more of the population are fully vaccinated."

The latest figures show 98.8 per cent of Canberrans aged over 12 have received one dose of the vaccine, while almost 75 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The chief minister said as Canberra came out of lockdown, the emphasis would not be on daily case numbers but on vaccine coverage.

"We want to see our world-leading first dose vaccination rate translate into a world-leading, fully vaccinated rate," he said.

"The statistic that matters and the one we will focus on is the percentage of our community which is fully vaccinated."

Health authorities predict a rise in case numbers in the days and weeks ahead, but the increase is not expected to be sharp.

Canberrans are also now able to enter Victoria, provided they apply for an exemption and isolate until they get a negative test result.

A decision from the NSW government allowing travel between Canberra and regional parts of the state is expected to be made following the end of the lockdown.

During the nine weeks of lockdown, there were 1,359 COVID-19 cases reported, including 46 on Thursday.

There were seven deaths from the outbreak, six of them linked to an aged care facility in Canberra's north.

Published 15 October 2021 at 5:57am, updated 15 October 2021 at 6:27am
Source: AAP - SBS