Restrictions easing earlier
by SANDI MILLER
17th October 2021
With Victoria set to hit its 70 per cent double dose vaccination target in the Roadmap nearly a week early, significant restrictions are set to be eased.
In a press conference on Sunday morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria’s Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan has set Victoria on a hopeful path to opening while preserving the health system and ensuring Victorians can still get the healthcare they need when they need it most.
The Roadmap was developed based on expert modelling from the Burnet Institute and is set against COVID-19 thresholds, including hospitalisation rates and the vaccination targets already set out in the National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response.
With first dose vaccination rate at almost 90 per cent, Victoria will this week hit a significant milestone on the Roadmap, with 70 per cent of Victorians 16 years and over having received both their vaccine doses.
Because of this, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has determined that at 11:59pm on Thursday, October 21, Victoria will move forward in opening up and more restrictions will be eased.
With more than 3.5 million Victorians now fully vaccinated and having taken the necessary steps to protect themselves, their family, their friends and the entire community, Victoria is heading towards being one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world.
Mr Andrews said he was proud of the work Victorians have done in stepping up and getting vaccinated.
“Victorians have sacrificed so much to protect their families, friends and the whole community from coronavirus – and have saved countless lives because of it.”
“The milestone we’re about to hit marks a new and hopeful path for the whole state – allowing businesses to reopen and Victorians to get back to things they love.”
These vaccination rates, in addition to revised Burnet modelling and lower than predicted length of stays in hospital mean further steps will be able to be taken at the 70 per cent double dose that were not previously outlined in the Roadmap, including visitors to the home and larger patron caps in certain businesses.
The Premier announced up to 10 people (including dependents) per day will be able to visit homes in both regional and metropolitan Melbourne.
He said to ensure this is done safely, it’s highly recommended that Victorians only permit people aged 12 years and over who are fully vaccinated to visit them at home.
Retail will not reopen until the next step in the roadmap, however hair and beauty salons are able to reopen for five fully-vaccinated patrons on October 22.
In metropolitan Melbourne, the curfew and the 15km travel radius will be lifted, however movement between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will only be allowed for permitted reasons.
This is to ensure Melburnians don’t spread the virus further into regional Victoria while the state pushes to the 80 per cent double vaccinated target.
Health Minister, Martin Foley said the rate at which Victorians have been getting vaccinated is “nothing short of incredible”, but, he said, if we want to ensure our health system isn’t overwhelmed and our hospitalisation rates aren’t too high as we open up, we need to keep that momentum going.
“Today is the day to book that vaccine appointment.”
People in metropolitan Melbourne must continue to work from home if they can.
Continuing from the rules that were rolled out last Friday, anyone on the authorised workers list is required to have had at least one dose of the vaccine in order to work on site.
Childcare will be open to children who are already attending, as well as children whose parents or guardians are fully vaccinated.
The return to school plan will also be brought forward in line with the rest of these settings, with the start of the staggered return of Grade 3 to Year 11 in metro Melbourne commencing on Friday 22 October.
The Premier said an easing of kids back to school after such a long time out of the classroom has been welcomed by parents and educators, especially for young children who have not had sufficient socialisation during home schooling.
Religious gatherings, weddings and funerals will be able to take place with up to 50 people outdoors and 20 people indoors subject to density limits and only if all attendees are fully vaccinated.
Or, if vaccination status is unknown, 10 people are permitted indoors for funerals, weddings and religious gatherings.
Most outdoor settings – outdoor cafes, cinemas, and physical recreation facilities like pools – will open with up to 50 people per venue but are subject to density limits and only for those fully vaccinated.
Indoor settings like pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to reopen with up to 20 people indoors with density limits, and only if all attendees – including workers – are fully vaccinated.
This is a higher cap than planned in the initial Roadmap and the change has been made after discussions between the sector and the public health team.
Large scale construction sites will increase to 100 percent capacity but only if all workers are fully vaccinated.
Masks will still be required both indoors and outdoors for all Victorians.
The Premier said in terms of Halloween, he would expect a click-and-collect arrangement, encouraging trick or treaters not to enter properties and knock on doors, but for treats to be distributed from the driveway.
Announcements on events and other arrangements over summer will be announced over the coming weeks, which would include events such as Warrandyte Festival, the Pottery Expo and local theatre productions at the Mechanics Hall.
In regional Victoria, indoor settings – like restaurants, cafes and gyms – will increase from 10 to 30 people per venue, if everyone is fully vaccinated.
Outdoor venues will increase from 20 to up to 100 people per venue, but only if everyone is fully vaccinated.
If vaccination status is unknown, the venue can only have a total of 20 people.
The next milestone in the Roadmap will be when Victoria hits the 80 per cent double dose vaccination target, which is predicted to be the first week of November.
It’s important to remember the more Victorians who get vaccinated, the sooner we will hit the next target and the more restrictions we can lift.
Mr Andrews encouraged Victorians to continue to book an appointment for a vaccination if they have still not received their first dose.
He said over the next week there are 52,465 first and second dose Pfizer appointments available, 6,244 first and second dose AstraZeneca appointments available and 15,477 first and second dose Moderna available.
Victorians can also book a vaccine appointment through their GP or pharmacist.
For more info on the Roadmap or to book a vaccination visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covidsafe-settings.