Australia eases restrictions for Christmas

Australia's government announced Wednesday (December 23) that its most populous state will have eased coronavirus restrictions on Christmas, while Sydney's northern suburbs will remain on lockdown.

This announcement came as New South Wales reported a second straight day of low case numbers, an indication that social distancing and mass testing measures are containing Australia's latest outbreak, in Sydney.

State premier Gladys Berejiklian said restrictions will be back in place after the holiday.

"Can I be very clear that whatever we have in place today goes back on the 27th and in between, they're very modest tweaks and modest changes to account for the fact that everybody has had a very difficult year."

Over the weekend, almost a quarter of a million Sydney residents were told not to leave their homes for five days unless for groceries or emergencies. Meanwhile, authorities rushed to contain an outbreak of almost 100 cases.

With restrictions eased, Greater Sydney residents may host 10 people in their home, the exception being northern suburbs where residents are allowed up to five on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day so long as they're from the area.

Australia has reported more than 28,000 coronavirus cases and 900 deaths since the global health crisis began.