Victoria gives unvaccinated some freedoms
The Victorian Government will ditch some of its COVID-19 mandatory vaccination rules, as the state records 1,405 new cases and three deaths.
Victorians will no longer need to be fully vaccinated for non-essential retail, weddings, funerals and to use real estate services under cautious changes to the state’s public health orders.
The state reported 1,405 new COVID-19 cases and a further three deaths today (Wednesday, December 15), the same day Health Minister Martin Foley will sign pandemic orders under new laws.
The orders will come into effect at 11.59pm and continue until January 12 and bring with them several “tweaks” to public health rules.
“Those tweaks are of course informed largely by the relative uncertainty that the Omicron variant brings, as we start to learn more about what that means,” Mr Foley told reporters in Melbourne.
Among the changes, mandatory vaccination requirements will be removed for all customers in retail, real estate and for those attending weddings, funerals or places of worship.
However, hair and beauty customers must still be fully vaccinated, same with patrons of restaurants, bars and cafes.
Children under 18 will no longer have to show proof of their vaccination status.
Face mask requirements, which Premier Daniel Andrews flagged would change last month, will remain in retail settings and for hospitality workers, but will no longer be required at weddings, funerals or in other ceremonial settings.
Deep cleaning rules will be scrapped for workplaces, tour and transport operators, gyms, theatres and cinemas.
Elective surgeries in regional and rural areas will increase by 25 per cent capacity to 75 per cent of normal surgery activity.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria had recorded another four Omicron cases, bringing its total to 10.
“We will see a significant increase in our Omicron cases,” he told reporters.
“The story globally is it is doubling every two to three days. It is replacing the Delta variant.”
He said 330,000 Victorians eligible for a vaccine had not yet received their first dose.
“Our behavioural surveys tell us that maybe 150,000 of those are determined not to get a vaccine,” Professor Sutton said.
Those remaining had not “gotten around to it or are ambivalent”.
There are 365 people in hospital, 84 of whom are in intensive care and 46 on ventilators.
Prof. Sutton said 73 per cent of those in hospital were not fully vaccinated, and of those in ICU that number grew to 91 per cent.
“We’re seeing a tiny proportion who are fully vaccinated,” he said.
“If that is not a story of the protection of vaccines, I do not know what is.”
It comes as more than 700 Victorians are being plunged into isolation after attending Sircuit Bar in Fitzroy or the Peel Hotel in Collingwood on Friday night.
A positive case infected with Omicron visited Sircuit between 9pm and midnight on Friday and the Peel between 11.30pm and 3am.
About 410 people were at Sircuit and 320 were at the Peel during those times, with all deemed close contacts. They must get a PCR test immediately and isolate at home for seven days if fully vaccinated, or 14 if not.