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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 2021 Australian Open, which begins Monday, will be the most normal sporting event the world has seen in nearly a year.

Driving the news: Up to 30,000 spectators a day will be allowed to attend the two-week event, Victoria state sports minister Martin Pakula said this weekend.

"Over the 14 days, we will have up to 390,000 people here at Melbourne Park and that's about 50% of the average over the last three years."
— Martin Pakula

The state of play: This news comes as hundreds of players who traveled from overseas emerge from quarantine.

  • Most were allowed out of their hotel rooms for five hours a day to train, and stars like Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are already playing exhibitions in front of thousands of fans.
  • But 72 players were forced to endure a strict 14-day lockdown after passengers on their flights tested positive — and those players only just began practicing this past weekend.
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Australia has largely contained the pandemic, limiting cases to less than 29,000 and reporting zero community transmissions on 15 of the last 16 days.

  • Fewer Australians have died in total (909) than the average number of deaths per day currently in the U.S. and Britain.
  • Offices and restaurants are open. Masks are recommended, but not required. In some respects, life has returned to near normalcy.

What's working: While the U.S. and Europe seem to prefer "the half-baked lockdown," Australia has subdued the virus through much stricter methods.

  • A single positive case in Perth on Sunday led to a five-day lockdown for 2 million people. Melbourne residents weren't allowed to leave their homes for more than an hour each day from June to October.
  • Australia has benefited from its geographic isolation, but it's also taken decisive steps like mandating hotel quarantine for international arrivals since last March — something the U.S. only just made mandatory last week.

Go deeper

Feb 2, 2021 - World

Bushfire burns Perth Hills homes while Australian city is on lockdown

A local resident takes a picture of the bushfire and Perth city center on her phone on Tuesday. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

A massive uncontained bushfire has destroyed at least 30 homes in the Perth Hills, Western Australia, officials told the Australian Broadcasting corporation Tuesday.

Why it matters: Per state Premier Mark McGowan, "Right now WA is battling two different kinds of emergencies — a dangerous fire emergency and a COVID-19 lockdown emergency." He said there are "threats to lives and homes" from the wildfire.

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."