People are seen crossing a quiet Flinders Street on September 01, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Lockdown restrictions are currently in place across Melbourne as Victoria continues to record new cases of the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, including a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am each night across the metropolitan area. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

CANBERRA, Australia — Around 80 major Australian companies called on state premiers in an open letter to cease Covid-19 lockdowns.

The restrictions have been in place since June in many Australian cities, triggering anti-lockdown protests and arrests.

“We ask governments to work together to implement the National Plan and chart a path out of the current lockdowns,” the joint letter by the firm said.

“We, the undersigned, represent businesses that employ almost one million Australians and provide products and services to people right across the country. We have seen how effectively this country can come together over the past 18 months — with state and federal governments working alongside communities and businesses.”

“We have seen the effectiveness of lockdowns in suppressing the virus last year, and in slowing its spread today while we vaccinate the population as quickly as possible,” the letter shared by the Business Council of Australia said.

“We are encouraged by the building momentum in the vaccine program, with Australia now administering more doses per capita each week than the UK or the US ever achieved in their programs.”

The businesses whose chiefs drafted the letter include retail chain operator Coles group, telecommunications company Telstra, airline Qantas and significant banks, employing up to 1 million Australians.

“Providing a light at the end of the tunnel will encourage more Australians to get vaccinated. We need to give people something to hope for, something to look forward to, something to plan around, and to be confident about their futures,” said the Business Council of Australia in the letter.

The Australian authorities aim to vaccinate 80 percent of the population, but even afterward, some restrictions will still keep in force.

“Informed by modeling from the Doherty Institute, it balances the risks from Covid-19 in a more vaccinated population, with the risks of indefinitely keeping our country divided and cut off from the world, our children out of schools, our friends apart from loved ones, and our small businesses closed,” said the Council.

“Businesses will continue to do whatever we can to support our people to get vaccinated and to provide a safe environment for our customers and the community, including the prioritization of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as originally intended.”

To date, the government has administered over 12 million vaccine doses, which was enough to fully vaccinate 35.7 percent of people aged over 16 and to give at least one shot to 59.6 percent of the population over 16 years old.

Australia registered 1194 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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