- December 15, 2019 8:11 AM
- December 6, 2019 5:03 AM
- July 22, 2021 4:01 PM
CANBERRA-- Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for governments to "step back" out of people's lives and ease COVID-19 restrictions as the vaccination coverage improves amid the country's battle against the third wave of infections.
Morrison on Friday condemned violent protests against proposed pandemic laws in the state of Victoria but said he sympathized with Australians frustrated with the ongoing restrictions.
"I completely and totally and continue to denunciate any violence, any threat, any intimidation," he told reporters.
"Australians have done their part. It's now time for them to be able to step forward with their lives and for governments to step back out of their lives."
On Friday morning, Australia reported 1,508 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.
The majority of new cases were in Victoria, the country's second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, where 1,273 cases and eight deaths were reported.
The Northern Territory (NT) recorded two new cases on Friday, taking the number of infections linked to an outbreak in two remote communities to 25.
Michael Gunner, the Chief Minister of the NT, said the low case number was "extremely good news" but said the Territory-wide mask mandate must remain in place while authorities investigate how far the outbreak has spread.
"Worst case scenario, this has been silently spreading for a week and we are a day or two away from discovering a disaster," he said.
"The only way to get to the bottom of this is by testing the hell out of the community."
As of Thursday, 91.2 percent of Australians aged 16 and over had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 84.6 percent were fully inoculated, according to the Department of Health.