Australia live news updates: Victoria records 15 Covid deaths, NSW 11 and Qld eight; flood fatalities as Queensland battered by rain

New South Wales and Victoria have reported 26 coronavirus-related deaths and a combined 12,891 new cases.

It comes at the start of a weekend when mask mandates have lifted and dance floors have reopened across the eastern states after several jurisdictions announced an easing to restrictions from Friday.

In NSW, Victoria and the ACT mask wearing is still required in high-risk settings such as public transport, aged care facilities, airports and hospitals.

There are exceptions for some school students in Victoria and the ACT, who will still have to keep their masks on for now.

Queensland is set to ease its mask rules and density limits next week.

Mask mandates remain in Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The eased restrictions come as a new vaccine is approved for use in Australia, specifically for people who haven’t been able to have a dose of existing vaccines.

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