Premier Daniel Andrews has unveiled Victoria’s roadmap to freedom one day after violent clashes between anti-lockdown protestors and police over the weekend.
The four-step plan is based on vaccination rates, with some wind back of restrictions expected from September 26 when Victoria sees 80 per cent of the eligible population receiving their first jab and an end to lockdown on October 26 when 70 per are fully vaccinated.
However, further freedoms will not be granted until 80 per cent are immunised which is expected to happen in the first week of November. At this point up to 150 fully vaccinated people will be able to attend indoor venues with density limits in place, while up to 500 people will be able to attend an outdoors event. For people who are not fully vaccinated, the rules will not change at this stage.
Andrews described the roadmap as “cautious” but added that there was “no turning back”.
“There will be no turning back,” he said. “It is absolutely possible that 2,000 to 3,000-plus patients are in hospital and we have to fundamentally change the way we deliver health services. We only have so many nurses and doctors … so that stress will be there. We’ve got to do everything we can so they’re not overwhelmed.”
But Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said people were hoping for “bigger steps forward” after what will be 230 days in lockdown by the time the restrictions are lifted.
“The immediate response has been really despondency,” she told Today.
“People were hoping for much bigger steps forward and these have really been baby steps.
“Unfortunately, the baby steps forward mean that we will definitely be the city that’s had the most lockdown days in the world; that even as we start to reopen, those steps are very incremental when people were hoping to step more confidently into the future.
“I think because Victorians have been so good, so compliant, so respectful of the rules, they’re wanting something back from the State Government to recognise that effort, and it isn’t really demonstrated in these first two steps.”
Save Victorian Events said the announcement that five people are allowed at an event venue or a virtual event studio was a start.
“While we’d prefer more people to be allowed, this is a start which will help more virtual events to happen until the next stage of opening up,” said Simon Thewlis, spokesman for Save Victorian Events.
“We will certainly be continuing to work to try to get the numbers increased.
“This also marks a growing understanding within government of the important role that events, including virtual events, play in helping organisations to really engage with their teams, their stakeholders and their communities. And that this is critically important in challenging times.”