Final Indigenous vax push as state reopens
VICTORIA is embarking on a final push to get Indigenous residents vaccinated against COVID-19 as Melbourne prepares to reunite with the regions.
Vaccination programs will be expanded in coming days and weeks to Seymour, Warrnambool, the Mornington Peninsula and Grampians regions with pop-up sites to boost rates that are behind the wider Victorian population.
Almost 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 12 in Victoria have had their first jab and 58 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Both of those levels are below the Victorian average, but higher than the national average.
Health Minister Martin Foley said today the push was designed to ensure the state’s Indigenous community was “not left behind” as the state reopened.
With Victoria set to hit its 80 per cent full vaccination target sometime next weekend, restrictions will ease further and align across the state from 6pm on Friday.
The ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be scrapped, reconnecting the state for the first time since the city’s 77-day lockdown lifted.
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.
Students from every year level across the state also return to classrooms full-time on 1 November, four days ahead of schedule, before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday.
The Victorian government has also announced almost all COVID-19 restrictions will end next month once 90 per cent of the 12-plus population are fully vaccinated.
At that point, all venue caps and density levels 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 shelved, while double-dose vaccination entry requirements expand to patrons of non-essential retail stores.
Premier Daniel Andrews flagged the lockout of unvaccinated Victorians from basic services could last “for the entirety of 2022”.
Victoria recorded 1461 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and seven deaths on Monday, including a woman in her 20s.
Their deaths take the toll from the current outbreak to 230.
There are 802 people in hospital, keeping the seven-day average at 793. Of those, 152 are in intensive care and 92 on a ventilator.
Victoria has 74.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and over fully vaccinated.
– BY AAP