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‘Feels like New Year’s Eve’: Revelry in Melbourne as lockdown ends

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Melburnians have flocked to bars and restaurants in a celebration of the four-month lockdown lifting at midnight.

Melburnians have flocked to bars and restaurants and even Kmart in a celebration of the four-month coronavirus lockdown lifting at midnight.

With restrictions still on how many people are allowed in certain venues, bookings were made hours in advance by those eager to finally "get on the beers".

And over 10,000 people ahd been through the doors at Kmart since 6am this morning, the group's managing director Ian Bailey told 3AW.

"I now officially declare Melbourne restaurants open for business," Angus and Bon steakhouse owner Liam Ganley said as he cut a ribbon to cheers, confetti and applause.

How are you marking lockdown easing in Melbourne tonight? Send your photos and stories to stories@nine.com.au.

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READ MORE: Your five-minute guide to Victoria's COVID-19 restrictions easing

Limits are capped at 20 people indoors and 50 outside, which some businesses say will be hard to make a profit but are happy they can reopen again after 16 weeks of closures.

Mr Ganley said his venue was inundated once the reopening was confirmed by the premier.

"(We) opened the bookings up, had 2000 book in two or three hours. So we are booked weeks in advance."

One diner taking advantage of the midnight opening said it "feels like New Year's Eve".

Angus & Bon

Pubs were allowed to reopen at 6am and patrons are very eager to take advantage of the newfound freedoms.

"We are booked solid for the next four or five days," publican Vinny McGrath told Today this morning.

"It is awesome. It is a great day, a really good day. The elation yesterday of just getting delivery drivers in, getting beers delivered, getting wine delivered, it is awesome."

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Overnight, the Chapel Street Precinct's official Facebook page posted at 11pm that it was "buzzing already".

"People tooting their horns, pretending to give each other high fives (COVIDSafe version).

"The future is exciting."

9News reporter Elisabeth Moss said champagne was on ice for some businesses ready to fling open their doors.

"The venues we've spoken to say they're already at COVID capacity for tonight. That means that come midnight, many of them will have 20 people seated, at a distance, having dinner, enjoying a drink again," she said.

READ MORE: Shopping centres, food courts, and beauty salons can reopen

https://twitter.com/Elisabeth_Moss9/status/1321061725492310024

READ MORE: Melburnians allowed two visitors at home per day as restrictions ease

Mr Ganley told 9news.com.au earlier the response from customers had been "crazy".

"We have been inundated since yesterday," he said.

"We are just trying to juggle everything. Everyone is just scrambling to get a table."

Hotels and restaurants still are subject to strict customer limitations and must abide by COVID-safe regulations.

Retailers across the city also welcomed back loyal clientele as the clock struck midnight.

READ MORE: What retail stores will be reopening in Melbourne and when

https://twitter.com/heidimur/status/1321205091534163969

Hundreds of loyal Kmart fans rushed in store, taking advantage of the retailer's plans to stay open for 24 hours, while Spotlight doesn't plan to close until 8pm.

A booking system was alkso introduced for shoppers depserate to get into Kmart.

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At Chapter One, a women's clothing boutique in Ivanhoe, in Melbourne's northeast, family and friends gathered to pop the champagne, raise a glass, and share a few snacks.

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Kmart Burwood

"It's been a long time without having your best customers through the door," Jacqui Bonnett told 9News.

"We've really missed them."

Beauty salons will also reopen from this morning but customers must wear a face mask.

Some salon owners say that rule will make it near impossible to do their jobs.

As Melbourne opens up from today, Victoria's contact tracers will be in the spotlight to quickly identify any potential virus cases that emerge.

The government is reportedly considering bringing in a QR code check-in system, similar to what many businesses use in NSW and the ACT.

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800 512 348

For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-melbourne-lockdown-midnight-celebrations-as-restrictions-ease/199ebd1c-b42e-4ae4-8ab9-6114f179c4c9

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