Haircuts and golf in Melbourne as virus curbs ease

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Residents of Australia’s second largest city flocked to salons and golf courses on Monday as some home-stay restrictions were eased after coronavirus infection rates dropped.

Melbourne’s five million people had, with a few exceptions, been banned from leaving their homes for three months, including shopping for essentials, training or work.

You still face a litany of travel restrictions and hard-to-remember rules for even the most mundane activities, but can now get a much-needed haircut and engage in more socially distant outdoor activities.

“We are already fully booked until December,” said salon owner Daniel Choi to AFP.

“As of yesterday there are so many messages for me: ‘I want a haircut’. You want to change your style.”

Salon owners still have to grapple with restrictions on the number of people allowed on the premises at one time, which means those who want to correct self-inflicted dyeing jobs or improvised embellishments will have to wait a long time.

But there was a sense of excitement for the happy first customers.

“It’s actually a sense of relief that I was finally able to make it,” said customer Karen Ng.

“It’s nice to have some normality.”

Golfers can also tee it off again, although they have to walk around in groups of two and, according to Golf Australia “still have to wear masks when playing”.

“It’s a great sight … GOLFER ON COURSE!” Green Acres Golf Club tweeted.

However, many restrictions remain in the city.

Masks are mandatory, restaurants are limited to takeaways and deliveries, non-essential stores must remain closed, and travel is prohibited outside of the greater Melbourne area or more than 15 miles from home.

The second round of city-home-stay restrictions began in July, when the state of Victoria saw around 190 new cases every day, rising to 700 in August.

Victoria only registered four new cases on Monday.

But not everyone was happy with the limited easing, including conservative Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who criticized regional authorities for not going any further.

“It’s time for small businesses to reopen,” he said, accusing Victoria’s center-left government of “calloused indifference” to job losses following the pandemic.

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© 2020 AFP

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