Regional lockdown could lift next week, playgrounds back
REGIONAL Victoria could leave lockdown next week, aside from Greater Shepparton, with significant restrictions still in place.
The controversial ban on playgrounds will be lifted, but Melbourne residents will remain under curfew, in a cautious exit plan out of the state’s sixth lockdown.
Victoria recorded 120 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with only 64 linked to known cases and 100 people out in the community while infectious.
Two women, aged in their 40s and 60s, are also the state’s first COVID-19 victims this year, dying in their homes on Tuesday.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday revealed minor changes to the current restrictions and an idea of what life might look like when 70 per cent of Victoria’s eligible population have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
“It is simply not possible to make wholesale changes, to have our freedom day if you like, or an opening up day in metropolitan Melbourne in the next few weeks,” he said.
“That is going to require us to hit our vaccination targets because that’s what gives us the protection against infection and most importantly it gives us the protection against hospitalisation.”
Playgrounds will reopen on Friday for children aged 12 and under with the supervision of just one parent or guardian who must wear a mask at all times.
Playgrounds will also have QR codes for checking in.
In-home carers, such as babysitters, will be expanded to include school-aged children, but only if both parents are authorised workers.
But Victoria will have to reach 70 per cent first dose vaccinations in the eligible population before any further easing of restrictions. That target is expected to be reached on 23 September.
At 70 per cent vaccination coverage, the five-kilometre travel limit will be expanded to 10 kilometres, the time limit on exercise will increase by an hour to three hours, outdoor personal training will be allowed, communal gym equipment and skate parks will reopen and private inspections of unoccupied premises for a new purchase or end of lease will be permitted.
To get year 12 students vaccinated before exams start on 4 October, they will be given priority on bookings, along with teachers and examiners.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton acknowledged Wednesday’s numbers were difficult.
“It shows us why we need to continue our very substantial efforts to slow the spread of the virus, to put a cap on the numbers that we might get to until enough of us have vaccinated,” he said.
“But 120 is still far less than we would have seen otherwise if we hadn’t had the restrictions that we had in place and continue to have in place. It shows that applying the pressure avoids cases today that is avoiding dozens of cases next week, hundreds of cases next month, thousands of cases.”
– BY AAP