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  • Joy as virus restrictions ease, for now

    Author: AAP

Residents of NSW, Victoria and the ACT have enjoyed their first night back on the dancefloor as the summer COVID-19 outbreak appears to subside.

Health officials in the jurisdictions say cases have plateaued, with some also scrapping most QR check-in requirements and density limits.

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Indoor dancefloors reopened as part of a mass easing of restrictions on Friday, with the changes coming as calls grow for consistency in COVID restrictions across Australia.

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox says bringing the myriad of rules together Australia-wide should be a top priority for the next national cabinet meeting, due to be held in the second week of March.

Victoria recorded 20 new virus deaths on Saturday, as well as 6820 fresh infections, while New South Wales reported 12 deaths and 7615 new virus cases.

There were another 10 deaths in Queensland together with 4919 cases, while the ACT recorded 355 new infections.

Tasmania recorded one additional fatality, a man in his 60s who was being treated for pneumonia and tested positive to COVID-19 the day before he died, and 585 new cases.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday said Australia had passed 53 million COVID-19 vaccines administered and more than 60 per cent of eligible people had received a booster.

But health experts are warning some restrictions may need to be reintroduced in the lead-up to winter.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely welcomes the eased restrictions but warns new variants of the virus could emerge in the next few months.

"It's like a tabletop mountain. We've gone up the curve, we're coming down, and as we come down, that's the time you release these restrictions," he told the Seven Network on Friday.

"There will be some little bumps on the way into winter with extra infection happening amongst those people who weren't infected in the first wave, and also some of us whose vaccine immunity wanes."

Thirty-six deaths were reported nationally on Friday including 15 in NSW, 14 in Victoria, six in Queensland and one in the Northern Territory, as well as 24,910 new cases nationwide.

Western Australia has announced it will reopen its borders from March 3, bringing to an end almost 700 days of seclusion.

Interstate travellers who are fully-vaccinated - including a third dose if eligible - will be able to travel without quarantining, although unvaccinated interstate travellers will remain locked out.


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