As Melbourne mirrors a ghost town in the midst of its seven-day Covid lockdown, much of the US appears to have returned to life as normal as millions gathered for the Memorial Day holiday.
Melbourne's Covid outbreak reached a total of 54 cases on Tuesday morning as Victoria entered its fifth day of a statewide lockdown.
However photos from California in the US appear to tell a completely different story of life across the other side of the Pacific.
To celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, thousands gathered at Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles with social distancing and mask wearing ignored by many.
Swarms of people were photographed packed onto Santa Monica Pier in scenes not witnessed since before the Covid pandemic gripped the globe at the start of 2020.
While cases have started to drop in Los Angeles County, it still reported 174 new cases and five deaths on Monday, and 175 new cases and four deaths on Sunday.
People were already fearing cases were again rising, with the county reporting 139 new cases a week earlier.
"Going up again," one wrote on Twitter.
While there are about 10 million people living in LA County, in comparison, the state of Victoria, with a population of about six million, remains locked down with nine new cases reported in the 24 hours through to midnight on Monday.
'This disease has not gone away'
The coronavirus has ravaged the US, with more than 33 million cases in the country since the start of the pandemic and almost 600,000 deaths.
LA has suffered the highest number of Covid cases of any county in the country, with a total of about 1.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The LA Times reports officials urged people to remain vigilant over the Memorial Day weekend, with less than 50 per cent of residents in LA County fully vaccinated.
Tourists and residents in the country were still urged to wear masks and gather outdoors rather than indoors.
"This disease has not gone away," California Governor Gavin Newsom said ahead of the weekend, the LA Times reported.
"It's not taking Memorial Day weekend off."
There are suggestions too the new case numbers in the county released over the weekend will have been undercounted due to reporting delays.
Fear of surge in cases
CNN reports there were fears of another Covid spike due to the Memorial Day holiday – the first time in over a year people in the US could gather without masks and social distancing.
With the majority of Americans still not vaccinated, a professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University, Dr Jonathan Reiner, said there could be another surge in cases.
"To people who are travelling and people who have been fully vaccinated, have a great time," Dr Reiner told CNN.
"But for folks who have not been vaccinated, you can still get this virus and you can still die. We still have about 500 deaths a day."
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said ahead of the Memorial Day weekend fully vaccinated people could return to pre-pandemic activities, with social distancing and mask wearing no longer necessary.
It comes just three months after the CDC was encouraging people to double-mask.
A study from the CDC earlier this year found wearing close-fitting surgical masks under cloth masks could reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting Covid-19.
People baffled by new mask rule
In light of new rules for fully-vaccinated people, Americans were perplexed about how there could be such a drastic change in a short period of time.
"How were we at 'double mask' a month ago just to go to 'no more masks' now?" one questioned.
"I'm legit baffled that the CDC gave the OK for anyone who isn't vaccinated to say 'I'm vaccinated' so they don't have to wear a mask," another tweeted.
"Like, they have to realise that people will just lie, right?"
"Just trust that unmasked people are all vaccinated is not a game I’m playing," a third added.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said 7.1 million people were screened at US airport checkpoints from Thursday through Sunday.
Friday was the highest single travel day since March 2020, when COVID-19 slashed air travel demand, as 1.96 million people were screened.
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