With Victoria expected to hit the 80 per cent first dose vaccination target tomorrow, some of the state’s regions will begin trialing the rules which will govern life after lockdown from mid-October.
Up to 20 regional areas that are highly vaccinated will take part in the trials in the fortnight before 26 October - the date when Victoria is aiming to reach the key 70 per cent full vaccination mark, triggering greater freedoms for vaccinated people.
Scheduled to start on 11 October, the trials will cover hospitality, beauty services and tourism businesses, and events such as race meetings, community celebrations and concerts, allowing higher patron numbers if all attendees are confirmed as being fully vaccinated.
The Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, Pyrenees, Warrnambool, Buloke and East Gippsland will be the first invited to participate in the trials, as these regional hubs have high population rates and low or no COVID-19 cases.
Pending the outcomes of the first phase, a second phase of trials using 80 per cent double dose settings will be held, prior to Victoria achieving that threshold. These trials will be used to hold larger events in metropolitan Melbourne to test the systems and technologies with larger crowd sizes.
"Businesses and events are on the front line of this vital campaign to keep Victorians safe and our economy recovering strongly,” Victorian Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula said.
“We’ll do the work on these trials and provide businesses with the support they need to maintain and build on the gains that continue to be enabled by vaccination.”
It comes ahead of Victoria expecting to hit the 80 per cent first dose vaccination target tomorrow, enabling the State’s health authorities to recommend a “modest” easing of restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Residents of metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas in lockdown will be able to undertake ‘contactless’ recreation at outdoor facilities, such as boating, tennis or golf.
In regional Victoria, outdoor settings for restaurants and cafes will have their outdoor venue cap increase from 20 to 30 people. Masks may be removed if the service requires it in hair and beauty salons, so facials and beard trimmings can recommence.
The gathering size outdoors can increase to up to five adults, from two households, if all adults are fully vaccinated. The 10km radius will also expand to 15km – so exercise and shopping can take place up to 15km from the home.
Personal training will be able to take place with five fully vaccinated people outside plus a fully vaccinated trainer. The additional restrictions on playgrounds will be lifted – normal public gathering limits apply, and masks can be removed to eat and drink at the playground.
Separately, the City of Greater Geelong and Surf Coast Shire exited lockdown at 11:59pm last night – with public health teams confident that caseloads, which are largely contained to existing contacts, can be well managed by the local public health unit.
Mitchell Shire – with more than twice the number of active cases as Greater Geelong – will remain in lockdown due to its close proximity to areas of highest concern in metropolitan Melbourne.
Updated at 10.06am AEST on 27 September 2021.
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