Mercury (Hobart)

Victoria hanging on vaccinatio­ns


VICTORIANS will still be living under tough restrictio­ns even after 80 per cent of the state is fully vaccinated.

The state’s freedom plan has been dubbed a “road map of roadblocks”, with Melbourne’s lockdown to continue until at least October 26 but some restrictio­ns flagged to ease earlier in regional areas.

Under the long-awaited plan, unveiled by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, Victoria will only begin to open gradually once restrictio­ns in metropolit­an Melbourne and regional Victoria align at 80 per cent vaccinatio­n coverage – expected to be November 5.

And in a further blow, people in NSW will be able to visit family and friends in their homes at 70 per cent double dose, while Victorians must reach 80 per cent to do so. Mr Andrews insisted his plan was about opening the state up.

“Make no mistake, we are opening up … and there will be no turning back,” he said.

“We have got to normalise this, we have got to pass through and beyond this pandemic. We cannot permanentl­y suppress this virus.”

The Burnet Institute modelling that drove the road map predicted the state’s case numbers would peak at 4500 on December 15, with Covid-related deaths to hit 2200 by January. Mr Andrews said a “catastroph­ic” number of people would become very ill if the state opened too soon.

“These are sobering numbers,” he said. “The notion of opening this place up very quickly at 70 per cent or 60 per cent, or today, simply cannot be done.”

NSW used the same modelling but allowed more freedoms at 70 per cent, as Victoria waits to reach 80 per cent.

Sydney’s Everest horse race will be run in front of up to 5000 fans, while Victoria’s spring racing carnival is not guaranteed a crowd, despite Victoria on Sunday recording 507 new Covid-19 cases and one death, while NSW had 1083 cases and 13 deaths.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra questioned the “fundamenta­lly different” plan for each state.

“Every Victorian business was looking for a path to prosperity but what we got delivered was a road map of roadblocks,” Mr Guerra said.

Chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said the map provided a “tightrope between ensuring our health system is not overwhelme­d (and protecting) us from those other harms … from lockdown”.

 ??  ?? Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Luis Ascui
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Luis Ascui

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