COVID cases expected to surge as lockdown ends
VICTORIANS have been warned COVID-19 case numbers could hit fresh highs as Melbourne reopens after its sixth lockdown.
With stay-at-home orders repealed from today (Friday, October 22) Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said infections would likely rise and urged people to follow check-in and mask rules.
“There will be more COVID in the community really than at any other point in time,” he told reporters.
Of more than 23,000 active cases in the state, 784 are in hospital battling COVID-19 including 145 in intensive care.
Some 88 per cent of COVID-19 patients in hospital are not fully vaccinated, while 94 per cent of those in ICU are not double-dosed.
Premier Daniel Andrews said further boosting vaccination rates would be crucial to protecting the health system.
“Those numbers tell you the story. They tell you the only story you need to know: if you get vaccinated, you will not finish up in hospital,” he said.
Mr Andrews confirmed Victoria is poised to pass its 80 per cent full vaccination target next weekend, prompting further easing of restrictions.
“We will be out quite soon to clarify what we hope can happen at the end of next week,” he said.
It comes as Melburnians taste freedom for the first time in months.
When the clock stuck midnight, loud cheering and applause broke out from apartment buildings and in the streets.
City dwellers didn’t waste any time, dropping into pubs and restaurants to celebrate with a late-night drink or feed.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp was among late-night revellers to check in at Angel Music Bar on Bourke Street, saying she didn’t want to miss the moment.
“The buzz is officially back,” she tweeted.
Hairdresser Joey Scandizzo opened his South Yarra salon at midnight to five lucky people for a makeover before getting straight back to business on Friday morning.
The salon, which would normally service 100 clients a day, has 40 bookings for Friday due to restrictions only allowing five patrons at a time.
Their phones have been ringing off the hook and the salon is already booked out until December.
“People are booking their appointments now and then booking the next one just because of the backlog,” Mr Scandizzo told AAP.
Customer Emma said she couldn’t get through over the phone but was slotted in after dropping in on a whim.
As a health worker, she is slightly anxious about the city reopening.
Amie Mita, owner of Skin Essentials beautician in Elwood, said eyebrow shaping is the most popular service since swinging the doors open.
She hopes mask rules for beauticians are eased in the coming months and businesses are not tasked with checking vaccine passports for too long.
“It’s nerve-racking, you’re apprehensive to know what people are going to say and not knowing how to deal with it if it goes wrong,” Ms Mita said.
The premier enjoyed a wine with wife Cath as part of a mother’s group this morning, and urged people to be patient as hospitality workers navigate the “vaccinated economy”.
“There’s bound to be a few issues here with check-ins and queuing and those sorts of things,” Mr Andrews said.
Melbourne’s latest lockdown lasted 77 days and its residents have endured 263 days under stay-at-home orders since March 2020.
Victoria recorded 2,189 new COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths on Friday, the highest daily tally of the state’s third wave.
The latest deaths lift the toll from this outbreak to 203.