Victoria records 1,903 local COVID-19 cases as state prepares for end of lockdown

The state government on Monday announced businesses and councils can apply for a share in a $54.5 million fund to move towards outdoor trading as Victoria emerges from lockdown.

Empty outside dining tables in South Wharf are seen on 17 October, 2021 in Melbourne.

Empty outside dining tables in South Wharf are seen on 17 October, 2021 in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Victoria has reported 1,903 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and seven deaths, as it prepares for an early exit from lockdown. 

The health department on Monday confirmed the state now has 22,327 active cases.

There were 69,825 tests processed and 32,405 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at state-run hubs on Sunday.

The new deaths take the toll from the current outbreak to 152.

It comes as the state readies to emerge from lockdown a week earlier than expected and is poised to scrap hotel quarantine for international travellers fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, Premier Daniel Andrews says the state will not follow NSW in abolishing all quarantine requirements for double-dosed international arrivals from 1 November.

Instead, he has foreshadowed travellers who have had both shots will be able to isolate at home for fewer than 14 days.

"It will be less," he told Seven's Sunrise on Monday.

"If you are double-dose vaccinated, you will be able to quarantine at home and hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past."

The premier has also confirmed Victoria will not lock down the entire state in future and instead opt for targeted restrictions in "very narrow circumstances".

"What we are moving away from is instead of locking people down, we are locking people out," he said.

"If you are not double-dose vaccinated, you won't be able to go to the pub."

Phones will be running hot for pubs, hairdressers and restaurants on Monday as fully vaccinated Melburnians look ahead to eased restrictions.

From 11.59pm on Thursday, all restrictions for leaving home will be dumped along with the city's nightly curfew as lockdown ends five days earlier than previously planned in line with the state reaching its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target.

Up to 10 visitors will be allowed in a home per day, but retail and gyms in metropolitan Melbourne have to remain closed.

Hairdressing and beauty salons can open for up to five fully vaccinated people at a time, while pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will be able to host 20 fully vaccinated customers indoors and 50 outdoors.

Isolation orders for fully vaccinated non-household primary close contacts will also be halved from 14 days to seven.

Victoria to emerge from lockdown early

People in regional Victoria will also be able to welcome 10 people to their home, including children, provided everyone 12 or above is vaccinated. Indoor venues will be able to welcome 30 fully vaccinated people, while outdoor settings will be able to host 100 people.

All students in Melbourne and regional Victoria will return to school on Friday 22 October.

Restrictions are slated to ease further when 80 per cent of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses, forecast by some data analysts to be as early as 31 October.

Meanwhile, businesses and councils can now apply for a share in a $54.5 million fund to move towards outdoor trading.

The state government on Monday announced the cash so venues can create outdoor dining and bars.

Part of the money will be put aside for a COVIDSafe outdoor activation voucher program of $2,000 grants for more than 7,000 businesses, valid for expenses including buying and hiring marquees, screens and umbrellas, obtaining insurance and promoting outdoor operations.

Hairdressers, beauty services, retail shops, dance studios and gyms will also be eligible to apply for vouchers.

The remaining $40 million will help local governments create outdoor areas such as upgrading street furniture and creating precincts.

Published 18 October 2021 at 9:16am, updated 18 October 2021 at 12:31pm
Source: AAP - SBS