As Sydney, capital of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), exited its 106-day lockdown Sunday, residents have re-emerged to celebrate a long-awaited "Freedom Day".
As some lockdown restrictions officially ended at midnight on Sunday and non-essential retail re-opened their doors, local Australians have lined up to get haircuts, visited 24-hour retail stores, and headed to the gym since the early hours of the morning.
Speaking at a press conference held at a bar on Monday, newly instated Premier of NSW Dominic Perrottet referred to the easing of restrictions as the state's "Freedom Day".
"I see it as a day of freedom. It is a Freedom Day, it is. Businesses are opening up. But that means it needs to be done in a measured and safe way," he said.
"There are going to be challenges, we know that. I ask again everybody right across our state to treat everybody with kindness and respect, and take personal responsibility," said Perrottet.
He said vaccinations would make lockdowns a thing of the past.
"We need to learn to live alongside the virus, vaccination rates are the key, we've been doing that in New South Wales," he said.
At present NSW's vaccination rate sits at 73.5 percent of the over-16 population having received both doses, and 90.3 percent having received at least one dose.
The state boasts considerable ground on the national average, which as of Monday sat at 61.9 percent fully vaccinated, and 82.2 percent with at least their first dose.
At the same time, NSW recorded 496 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8:00 p.m. Sunday night, and eight deaths in the same period.
The neighboring state of Victoria recorded 1,612 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to midnight Sunday and recorded a further eight deaths.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service