Victoria will reach its 80 per cent double dose vaccination milestone almost a week ahead of schedule, on Friday 29 October. A 90 per cent vaccination rate is predicted to be achieved as early as 24 November.
Record vaccination rates will soon see Victoria become one of the most vaccinated cities in the world. With the high vaccination rate, Victorians will enjoy increased freedoms making the state well on its way to achieving a new normal in the post-COVID world.
Eighty per cent vaccination rate
Changes to restrictions once Victoria’s vaccination rate hits 80 per cent on Friday 29 October at 6:00 pm include:
- The opening up of regional Victoria to Melbourne residents
- Indoor settings, including restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers, will open with no caps subject to a 1 per 4sqm limit if all staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.
- Most outdoor settings will remain at a 1 per 2sqm limit up to 500, where staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.
- Entertainment venues will reopen at 75 per cent capacity for seated venues and uncapped for no-seated venues applying the 1 per 4sqm rule.
- Events – such as music festivals – will be able to host up to 5,000 attendees, subject to any restrictions related to the venue.
- Masks will remain mandatory indoors but are no longer required outdoors.
Increased freedom at 90 per cent
Once 90 per cent of Victorians are vaccinated, significant easing of all major restrictions will occur, putting lives, businesses, and the Australian economy back on track.
At 90 per cent Victorians can look forward to the removal of caps or density quotients from all settings, and masks will only be mandatory indoors in some high-risk environments such as hospitals, aged care, public transport and justice and correctional facilities.
From this point, indoor and outdoor events will have no restrictions provided they follow COVID Safe rules, including vaccination requirements.
While the vaccine remains unavailable for children, events with significant numbers of children may not be able to operate at total capacity. Caps will stay for religious ceremonies, weddings and funerals where vaccination status is unknown.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “Victorians have met this challenge beyond any of our expectations and these vaccination rates are an incredible achievement. We’re on our way to being one of the most vaccinated and, therefore, one of the safest places in the entire world.
“We made a deal with the Victorian community – we asked them to get vaccinated and promised that when they did, we would open up and begin to live alongside the virus. Today we are delivering on that promise.”
Business community celebrates
The rolling back of restrictions in the world’s most locked-down city couldn’t come sooner for businesses across Victoria. Tim Piper, the Victorian Head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said the coming changes would deliver real freedoms and, importantly, certainty to Victoria and Victorians.
Mr Piper said, “Everybody in the community will benefit from the reopening. Victorians need to get their mojo back, and we can all feel better about ourselves. Businesses that had been all but mothballed can return to full steam and provide jobs and services that will help start the long climb back to normal.
“Businesses are pleased the government has recognised the call to provide certainty and to open up ahead of next weekend when people will be taking long weekends, wanting to travel and shop and to attend the Cup Carnival.
“The fewer restrictions should enable a greater normalisation of commerce, and, very soon, also enable us to be working across state borders.”
Interstate and international borders
Increased freedoms in Melbourne and Sydney have been celebrated and welcomed by businesses and individuals alike. However, Mr Piper said Australia would not see a full COVID recovery until borders open. Mr Piper said, “However, these restrictions are by no means at an end for the country as a whole, and we need all other states to open as quickly as possible.”
Some state borders are expected to be open by Christmas; Queensland announced it will open its doors to all Australians on 17 December. Tasmania announced similarly it will open borders on 15 December. Other states remain undecided on when they will fully open to interstate travel.
International borders will reopen in November for states that have reached 80 per cent vaccination rates, starting with New South Wales.
Mr Piper said that while national and international borders remain closed, Victorian businesses will continue to need government support. He stated, “The Victorian economy is coming from a long way back. Some businesses will continue to need support and encouragement from the government and, indeed, from consumers. But manufacturers can now ramp up, retailers can open, and our community mindset will improve as these restrictions are removed.”
He continued: “The State needs no more lockdowns, curfews and mindless restrictions. Victorians have suffered enough. The time is now to look forward and get the state and our economy back on its feet. It will not be easy, and we need to absorb the lessons learned and not repeat mistakes.”
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