COVID-19 Informer: Welcome to Freedom Friday - well, in NSW.

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Gladbach has started putting the cardboard fans in their seats. Photo: @borussia_en on Twitter

Gladbach has started putting the cardboard fans in their seats. Photo: @borussia_en on Twitter

As the most populous state in Australia wakes to eased coronavirus restrictions, imagine the countdown going on in Germany.

The virus shackles officially ease today in NSW with pubs and clubs, cafes, restaurants, and places of worship opening their doors in a socially-distanced way again.

From today, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed and up to five people, including children, can visit households.

It's a fun idea that catch-ups are not quite as limited as they were once and business is stuttering its way back to life, but as we know so well, complacency isn't cool - hygiene and personal safety are still all-important.

We're still weeks away from organised sport returning but in Germany it's just around the corner.

Germany's top-flight football competition, the Bundesliga, resumes on weekend, with most other European leagues either suspended or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga has the highest average attendance of any football league in the world and it restarts on Saturday.

Stadiums will be devoid of live fans but for the snappy price of $30 your cardboard cut-out could "watch" Borussia Monchengladbach's games.

And, in no surprise, the club is happy to take in fans from any club in the league. Demand is overwhelming and on Saturday, 8000 cardboard fans will be there. The club has said profits "will go towards local causes".

Meanwhile in Italy the government is paying people to get out and about - on bikes.

Authorities have approved subsidies of up to $A840 for people who buy a new bicycle or electric scooter or even sign up to sharing services.

Buses, trains and metro carriages are supposed to carry far fewer passengers now so the intention is to encourage alternatives.

Bike lobby groups are thrilled, as are bike shops, and now several cities, including Rome and Milan, have announced ambitious plans to expand their bike lane networks.

On another sporting front, Sydney to Hobart yacht race organisers expect a small overseas contingent for this year's race and less of the dominant line honours- chasing supermaxis.

"We are planning for Hobart as usual, the Notice of Race comes out in two or three weeks time," Billingham said. "I guess the down side is going to be the prospect of international entries other than New Zealand are very slim."

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This story Welcome to Freedom Friday - well, in NSW first appeared on The Canberra Times.