Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed that the state’s “vaccinated economy” will remain in place for 2022, effectively banning unvaccinated people from attending or working in many Victorian workplaces and events.
Andrews also confirmed that the unvaccinated would be barred entry from even a bookshop and a pub—as well as a football match—until at least 2023.
“We will retain the vaccinated economy, all those requirements, although settings, where you only get in if you are double vaccinated, and you can tap and verify that for everybody,” Andrews told reporters on Oct. 24.
“In fact, we will add to the vaccinated economy by asking and mandating that all non-essential retail will have to be vaccinated as well, both to go in, and also to work on those settings.”
This is in contrast to Victoria’s northern neighbouring state, New South Wales, where unvaccinated persons will be allowed the same freedoms as the vaccinated from Dec. 1. Proof of vaccination will also no longer be required.
In Victoria, most businesses and venues are required to check the vaccination status of all visitors and staff over the age of 16 before they enter the premises. This directive came into effect from Oct. 22.
Victoria Eases Restrictions Ahead of Schedule
Victoria is set to reach its full vaccinated target of 80 percent ahead of schedule with restrictions easing further from 6 p.m. on Oct. 29.
Masks will no longer need to be worn outdoors, entertainment venues, gyms and retail stores can reopen indoors for fully vaccinated patrons, and capacity limits will increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.
The ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will also be scrapped
Students from every year level across the state also return to full-time, face-to-face learning on Nov. 1 before the public holiday on Nov. 2.
Additionally, Andrews announced “a massive change” once 90 percent of Victorians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, which is forecasted on or around Nov. 24.
By then, all venue caps and density quotients will be scrapped, along with mandatory indoor mask rules except in high-risk or low-vaccinated settings such as hospitals and schools.
Limits on home and outdoor gatherings will be scrapped, paving the way for families to come together at Christmas, while vaccine passport requirements expand to staff and patrons of non-essential retail stores.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the easing of restrictions was too slow and not in line with national cabinet’s plan.
“What the government says applies at 90 percent should apply at 80 percent,” he said.
Further, Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the retail industry lost $55.2 million a day under Victorian lockdowns, and needed a post-90 percent vaccination plan, reported the Herald Sun.
“Christmas is the most important time of the year for retailers and this will be make or break for many,” Zahra said.
Simon Thewlis, from Save Victorian Events, welcomed the announcement telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that it provided certainty on what Victoria’s future looks like.
However, under the current roadmap, the 500-person limit for outdoor events for the 80 percent fully vaccinated was not “viable,” Thewlis told the Herald Sun.
“Be it a concert, festival, community day, school fete, food and wine events, fun run … there are a huge number of events in the balance at the moment.”
“None of us know what the limits will be at 90 percent and beyond meaning we are currently seeing events in the first part of 2022 being cancelled or moved to Sydney.”
As part of the Andrews government’s vaccinated economy trial, around 4000 vaccinated people will be able to attend the “Play On Victoria” live music event at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Oct. 30.
Currently, the Andrews government is conducting a series of “vaccinated economy trials” in regional Victoria to determine how vaccine passports could be rolled out across the state.
AAP contributed to this report.