Melbourne’s lockdown will end five days earlier than anticipated – and with a greater easing of restrictions than planned – as Victoria races to its 70% fully vaccinated target. The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, made the announcement on Sunday and said Victorians could celebrate the imminent end of their sixth lockdown.
“As of 11.59pm Thursday there will be no lockdown, no restrictions on leaving home and no curfew,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Under the state’s roadmap, the city’s current lockdown – which has run for 73 days – was due to end on 26 October, the initial date when 70% of those aged over 16 were expected to be doubled-dosed. However, Victoria will reach that milestone by Thursday because of soaring second-dose rates. The state was expected to reach 90% of first doses by Monday or Tuesday, the premier said. From Friday, there will be no restrictions on people leaving their home or a curfew, and no travel limit within metropolitan Melbourne. People in the city still won’t be able to visit regional Victoria, however.
Ten visitors, including dependents, will be able to visit a home each day. Outdoor gatherings will increase to 15 people. Up to 20 fully vaccinated people will be allowed inside at hospitality venues with 50 outside, subject to density limits.
The scrapping of travel limits and allowing home visits along with indoor dining and drinking were all changes to the original reopening roadmap. All school students in Melbourne will return to classrooms at least part-time from Friday while regional students will return to school-based learning full-time.
Andrews said Burnet Institute modelling showed that while case numbers were slightly higher than expected, people were not falling as ill, meaning there had been less of an impact on hospitals and restrictions could be eased further. Andrews and the chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said last week that they were open to taking the first step out of lockdown earlier, in line with reaching vaccination coverage goals.
Restrictions will ease further when 80% of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses. That was originally projected for 5 November, but now likely earlier. “Today is a day where every Victorian should be proud,” Andrews said on Sunday. “It is absolutely amazing to be this closely aligned to New South Wales. To be only just a couple of weeks behind NSW, when we know and understand just how much extra vaccine went there, is a credit to every single Victorian.”
The latest data shows 88% of Victoria’s over-16 population have had one vaccine dose and 65% both doses.
Taken from www.theguardian.com