People walk past a cafe after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased.
Gulf Today Report
Australians were celebrating Easter Sunday in a relatively unrestricted manner as the country reported no new locally acquired coronavirus cases.
Queensland, the epicentre of a recent, small COVID-19 community outbreak, has had only one infection in the past three days. The state has the tightest restrictions on public gatherings.
Elsewhere, Australians flocked to the beaches, capitalising on the warm weather in many parts of the country, or gathered with families, in a stark contrast to last year's Easter when a nationwide lockdown kept people confined to their homes.
While many countries have imposed fresh lockdowns or curtailed services for the major Christian holiday trying to keep the third wave of coronavirus from further spreading, Australia's churches were open and many were attending services during the four-day weekend.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people, and 86% of religious Australians, identifying as Christians, according to the 2016 census.
Australia has been one of the world's most successful countries in curbing the pandemic, with snap lockdowns, border closures and swift tracking limiting coronavirus infections to just over 29,300 infections, with 909 COVID-19 deaths.
The country has had much less, however, with its inoculation drive, missing a March target by about 3.3 million doses as states and the federal government bickered over the blame.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that the country is on track to give a first dose of the vaccine to all Australians who want it by October.
"As the supply has increased with the sovereign vaccine manufacturing, so has the rollout," he said.
Christmas is coming, but in Santa's home village in northern Finland, the COVID pandemic means that the flocks of tourists who usually start to make merry in Rovaniemi at this time of year are not.
In the capital of Victoria state, Melbourne, residents were enjoying the first weekend of cafés and restaurants to walk-in customers, which had the highest number of cases in the country.
The good news comes in the wake of an ecological crisis where more than 50 per cent of corals that once made up the Great Barrier Reef have died over the last 25 years due to environmental damage.
If there is one sector that has taken a body blow from the coronavirus pandemic, it is the global travel and tourism industry. This sector is on course to lose 174 million jobs this year if current restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus remain in place.
Our species has returned the favour by dumping mountains of plastic waste into the sea, emptying the deep blue of big fish, and poisoning coastlines with toxic chemicals and agricultural runoff that create dead zones bereft of oxygen.
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