Australia rules out lockdowns despite Omicron surge

COVID-19 cases have been breaking records over the last several days, the surge fuelled by the more transmissible Omicron variant, but Morrison insisted that limiting the spread of the virus comes down to personal responsibility.

"We have got to get past the heavy hand of government and we have got to treat Australians like adults," Morrison told reporters, urging authorities to shift from "a culture of mandates" when it comes to masks and social distancing rules.

"We're not going back to lockdowns. We're going forward to live with this virus with common sense and responsibility."

Swift lockdowns and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia to keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low at around 260,000 total cases and 2,154 deaths. But most of the country has been reopening over the last few weeks after higher inoculations despite the threat from the Omicron variant.

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