Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown outlined as state records 507 COVID-19 cases

Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire enter a seven-day lockdown, as the premier outlines the roadmap out of lockdown.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP

Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled Victoria's "cautious" roadmap out of lockdown, as the state recorded 507 new virus cases and another death, bringing the toll from the latest outbreak to 11.

The state recorded 535 new cases on Saturday, the highest daily number so far in the latest outbreak.

Mr Andrews also announced Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire will enter a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Sunday, meaning the regions will be under the same restrictions as Melbourne and Ballarat.

Under Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown, Melbourne's controversial curfew will be scrapped. People will also be able to travel up to 25 kilometres and have a beer outside the pub, once 70 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But the most substantial changes to the state's restrictions won't be made until 80 per cent of people are immunised, which is forecast to occur about November 5.

Roadmap out of lockdown unveiled

As part of the state's roadmap, Mr Andrews set out a provisional timeline for reaching vaccination goals and the associated easing of restrictions for the fully vaccinated. 

"We aim to have 30 visitors in your home on Christmas Day," he said. "Christmas as close to normal as possible." 

The roadmap includes a staggered return to face-to-face learning for students and an easing of restrictions in outdoor settings first. 

"We will do so faithfully, cautiously, but make no mistake we are opening up ... There will be pain. It will be challenging," Mr Andrews said.

"These are not orders, these are our hopes, these are our aspirations," he said, saying the benefits will apply to fully vaccinated Victorians. 

Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, said the pressures on the health system are being balanced against the mental health impacts of an ongoing lockdown.

"There is an issue of our wellbeing. We have to bear in mind how people sustain the behaviours they need to sustain. And we need to support people on the slow and steady pathway that we're opening up."

At 70 per cent double dose vaccination coverage on 26 October: 

  • Lockdown will end
  • Community sport resumes
  • 10 fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors 
  • Pubs, clubs, entertainment will open to 50 fully vaccinated outdoors
  • Fifty fully vaccinated people can attend a wedding or funeral outdoors 
  • For hair and beauty sessions, up to 5 fully vaccinated people can attend sessions indoors in metropolitan Melbourne 
  • All students will return to on-site and face-to-face learning for some period of time during the week

In regional Victoria:

  • Social and recreational activity returns, community sport indoors returns
  • For pubs, clubs, entertainment, the limit increases to 30 fully vaccinated patrons indoors
  • Like for metropolitan Melbourne, all students will return to face-to-face learning for some hours in the learning week
  • In religious and faith gatherings, the indoor gathering limit will be 30, increasing to 50 outdoors. 

At the 80 per cent double dose vaccination coverage on 5 November: 

  • Household gatherings can include up to 10 people, including dependents
  • Up to 150 people can dine indoors
  • Mandatory masks will only be required inside
  • Pubs, restaurants, cafes will be open for seated service, with up to 150 fully vaccinated patrons indoors. The number increases to 500 patrons outdoors. 
  • You can work in the office, if fully vaccinated
  • Hair, beauty, personal care open to the fully vaccinated
  • Retail open
  • Early learning and childcare open
  • Schools open in "as close to the normal pre-COVID fully open environment"

More pressure on the health system with peak predicted for October

Late last week, about 120,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics and allied health workers urged the state government to prioritise the health system and its workforce over easing restrictions.

Through their unions, the health workers called for "accurate modelling" on expected ambulance demand, hospitalisations, intensive care patients and deaths.

Burnett Institute modelling commissioned by the Victorian government forecasts the state will reach a peak of between 1,400 to 2,900 daily COVID-19 cases between October 19 and 31, based on current numbers.

This would lead to a peak of between 1,200 to 2,500 Victorians requiring hospitalisation, including between 260 and 550 requiring an intensive care bed.

The modelling found a significant easing of restrictions once 80 per cent of people are fully vaccinated means an almost two-in-three chance of a second epidemic peak in mid-December, which would push hospitalisations over 2,500.

High rates of symptomatic testing in vaccinated people would reduce the risk to a one-in-three chance.

The state government's roadmap out of lockdown goes further than the restrictions modelled.

As of Saturday, there more than 200 Victorians are in hospital with the virus, 56 in intensive care and 40 on ventilators to breathe.

Published 19 September 2021 at 8:57am, updated 19 September 2021 at 1:42pm
Source: AAP - SBS