Australia's second largest city comes out of 3rd lockdown

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People walk and cycle at St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, will relax its third lockdown restrictions after authorities contained the spread of a COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine. (Erik Anderson/AAP Image via AP)

MELBOURNE – Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, will relax its third lockdown on Wednesday and allow spectators to return to the Australian Open tennis tournament after a five-day absence.

Rod Laver Arena will be allowed 7,477 spectators — around 50% of its capacity — for the final four days of the first Grand Slam event for 2021, tournament organizers said.

Up to 30,000 tennis fans a day had been allowed into three zones in the tournament venue, Melbourne Park, before the statewide Victoria lockdown.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews earlier said health authorities would decide the tennis crowd numbers.

“We’ll finish up with crowds at lots of different places,” Andrews said. “We’ll finish up with people being able to move freely because this short and sharp circuit-breaker has worked.”

The lockdown has been enforced across Victoria, with a population of 6.5 million people, to prevent the virus from spreading from the state capital.

Most restrictions will be lifted from 11:59 p.m. after no new infections were detected in the latest 24-hour period, Andrews said.

Schools and businesses will reopen.