Melbourne’s controversial curfew will be scrapped, with people able to travel up to 25 kilometres and have a beer outside the pub once 70 percent of Victorians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
But the most substantial changes to the state’s restrictions will not be made until 80 percent of people are immunised, in line with discussions in national cabinet and reopening plans in NSW. The 80 percent mark is forecast to occur about Nov. 5.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday unveiled Victoria’s “cautious” roadmap out of lockdown, as the state recorded 507 new cases and another death, bringing the toll from the latest outbreak to 11.
He also announced Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast, and Mitchell Shire will enter a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Sunday, putting them under the same restrictions as Melbourne and Ballarat.
According to the roadmap, when 80 percent of Victorians aged over 16 have received a single vaccine dose, outdoor tennis and golf can return and the 10 km travel limit increases to 15 km.
Once 70 percent of Victorians are double vaccinated—forecast for Oct. 26—Melbourne’s 9 p.m. t0 5 a.m. curfew will be lifted and the travel limit will increase again, to 25 km.
According to state government rules under emergency public health orders, pubs, restaurants, and cafes will be allowed to reopen outdoors, but with a limit of 50 fully vaccinated people.
Hairdressing will be legalised for the fully vaccinated with a maximum of five people in a salon.
Outdoor gatherings will be allowed for a maximum of 10 fully vaccinated people or five unvaccinated, while outdoor pools, community facilities, religious gatherings, and sport can return with a cap of 50 vaccinated people.
Year 12 students go back to face-to-face learning on Oct. 6, with a staggered return of other years starting with Prep to Year 2s on Oct. 18.
Once 80 percent of eligible Victorians are vaccinated, retail, gyms, hairdressing, and beauty services will be allowed reopen only to fully vaccinated, with strict density limits, and hospitality can return indoors. Childcare can also return.
People will be allowed to have private gatherings of up to 10 vaccinated people, while at Christmas it is expected that will increase to 30.
“We are opening up, no doubt about that, and there will be no turning back. We have got to normalise this, we have got to pass through and beyond this pandemic,” Andrews said.
“If you care about nurses, doctors, ambos, cooks and cleaners, everyone in our health system, if they’re important to you, then get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, an estimated 500 to 700 demonstrators protesters gathered in the suburb of Richmond to protest increased government lockdown and vaccine mandate powers, after the planned CBD protest was changed last minute to evade a police clampdown on public gatherings. Victoria Police arrested a total of 235 people on the day, with the vast majority of the charges for breaching health orders and some for assaulting police and riotous behaviour.
Late last week, about 120,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, and allied health workers urged the state government to prioritise the health system and its workforce over easing restrictions.
Through their unions, the health workers called for “accurate modelling” on expected ambulance demand, hospitalisations, intensive care patients, and deaths.
Burnett Institute modelling commissioned by the Victorian government forecasts the state will reach a peak of between 1,400 to 2,900 daily COVID-19 cases between Oct. 19 and 31, based on current numbers.
This would lead to an estimated peak of between 1,200 to 2,500 Victorians requiring hospitalisation, with between 260 and 550 requiring an intensive care bed.
The modelling predicts a significant easing of restrictions once 80 percent of people are fully vaccinated means an almost two-in-three chance of another peak in mid-December, which would push hospitalisations over 2,500.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton described the roadmap as a “tightrope” between protecting the health system and looking after the wellbeing of Victorians.
“There is no easy pathway,” he said.
As of Saturday, more than 200 Victorians are in hospital with the virus, 56 in intensive care and 40 on ventilators.
By Benita Kolovos. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.