What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

World’s most locked-down city eases pandemic restrictions

Melbourne residents flocked to the city’s pubs, restaurants and hair salons in the early hours of Friday after the world’s most locked-down city emerged from its latest spate of restrictions designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

People were seen cheering and clapping from their balconies, while cars honked horns continuously at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday when lockdown restrictions in place since early August ended. Many venues, including food outlets and even haircutters, opened at the unusual hour for the occasion.

Hong Kong halts cruise to nowhere as COVID-19 suspected in crew member

Hong Kong authorities stopped "Spectrum of the Seas", a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, from departing its terminal late on Thursday on a "cruise to nowhere", as a crew member was suspected to have COVID-19 after routine testing, the government and the cruise operator said.

About 1,000 passengers out of a total of 1,200 had already boarded the ship before the four-night trip was cancelled. All have to undergo compulsory testing but were allowed to leave the ship as they did not have direct contact with the crew member.

U.S. CDC signs off on vaccine boosters, mix-and-match shots

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine boosters for recipients of the Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson shots, and said Americans can choose a different shot from their original inoculation as a booster.

The panel struggled with trying to make the language of its recommendations as clear as possible, and also offer flexibility for patients to get a vaccine of their choice.

"A really important aspect of all of this is being clear and not dancing on the head of a pin, so that we don’t further confuse the American people," said Dr. Beth Bell, a panel member and clinical professor in the department of global health at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Thailand to allow quarantine-free travel from 46 countries

Thailand will let vaccinated visitors from 46 countries forgo COVID-19 quarantine from next month, up from 10 previously announced, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday.

The 46 countries include Britain, the United States, China, Singapore, Germany and Australia, according to the ministry of foreign affairs.

Prayuth said the visitors could skip mandatory quarantine as long as they arrive via air, have been fully vaccinated and have a document to show they are virus-free.
New Zealand sets 90% vaccine target for ending lockdown

New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures and restore more freedoms only when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Some 68% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and 86% have had one dose.

When the vaccine target is reached, the country will move into a new traffic-light system to manage outbreaks in regions.

Vaccine certificates will be central to the new system, which will also use three settings - green, orange and red - to manage fresh outbreaks and cases, Ardern said. The new system would also mean an end to nationwide lockdowns.