Brisbane lockdown ends ahead of Easter weekend

The Australian city of Brisbane exited its snap three-day lockdown on Thursday after only one local Covid-19 case was reported in the previous day.

The outbreak in Queensland's capital - home to two million residents - has grown to 16 infections in total.

State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the low number of new infections meant the lockdown could be lifted in time for the Easter holiday weekend.

Some restrictions will still apply including mask-wearing in indoor areas.

Gathering numbers are also limited to 30 people in a household, while church services will be able to operate at full capacity if people remain seated and have tickets.

"This is really important that we are doing this for the next two weeks because we are not out of the woods yet," said Ms Palaszczuk.

In Australia - where infections are very low - snap lockdowns have proved to be an effective health measure to help suppress outbreaks early on. But the unpredictable shutdowns have also left an economic toll, experts say.

Ms Palaszczuk noted the impact of the sudden lockdown on businesses, but said "the consequences of not acting are far worse".

"You only have to see what is happening around the world," she said, referencing infections in France and the US. "We don't want to see that here."

The government began its vaccination programme in February, but fell 85% short of its delivery target for the end of March.