FILE PHOTO: People enjoy sunset in front of the Sydney Opera House as the state of New South Wales continues to report relatively low numbers for new daily cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, September 7, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria state maintained its steady downward trend in new infections on Wednesday as states began easing internal border closures, fuelling optimism about a return to normal.

Victoria’s quick containment of a second wave of the outbreak prompted Western Australia state to relax its travel restrictions, allowing travelers from the southeastern state to quarantine at home rather than in a hotel from Monday.

Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House, a national symbol, said it would work to reopen its venues from November after the New South Wales state government raised the seating capacity in theatres to 50% from Thursday.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, said cases rose slightly from the previous day but the key indicator of 14-day average cases in the state capital of Melbourne fell below 17.

Authorities have promised to ease more curbs in Melbourne when average cases fall below five. Victoria on Wednesday reported 13 new cases, far away from a peak of more than 700 cases logged in early August.

Australia has so far reported more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases and 886 deaths, with Victoria accounting for 75% of infections and 90% of deaths.

Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Richard Pullin



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