Melbourne’s return to normal accelerates as 80% vaccination target days away

Melbourne will see more restrictions eased this week when Victoria reaches an 80 per cent full vaccination rate.

Starting on Friday Melburnians will be free to travel throughout the state and masks will no longer be required outdoors. Restaurants and pubs will open with no caps subject to a one person per four square metres limit.

Most outdoor settings will remain at one person per two square metres limit (up to 500 people). Indoor seated venues including cinemas and theatres will open at 75 per cent capacity or up to 1000 people, and for non-seated indoor entertainment venues there will be a one person per four square metres limit with no patron cap.

Outdoor seated and non-seated entertainment venues will be open with a limit of 5000 people.

Events including music festivals will be able to host up to 5000 attendees with the option for larger events if approved by the chief health officer.

But Premier Daniel Andrews emphasised that the state will be a vaccinated economy with all the freedoms outlined for those who are fully vaccinated.

“There’s a fundamental agreement that we have reached with the Victorian community, we asked you to get vaccinated, you have done that in record time and record numbers,” Andrews said.

The state is also expected to hit a 90 per cent vaccination target by November 24, when all capacity caps will be ditched with no density limits, while masks only required in high risk indoor settings such as public transport.

“It’s our approach to try and achieve life as close to normal as possible,” Andrews said.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Paul Guerra said the changes will lead to a “business-led recovery for the state”.

“We know today’s announcement will be a massive step forward for the tourism, entertainment and events sector which can now plan to come back strong,” he said.

“Friday will be a champagne day for business which will then set us up for a spectacular summer.”

Save Victorian Events welcomed the latest good news for the events sector saying it was “a roadmap out of this crisis”.

“The roadmap isn’t perfect, but the main thing is that there is one now and we know where we stand,” said spokesman Simon Thewlis. “We can start planning.”

But the lobby group warned that event businesses were not out of the woods yet with both the Federal Government Disaster Payments and the Victorian Government’s Business CAP grants due to end shortly.

“The key thing now is ensuring that there will be financial support in place to ensure that the people and businesses in the event industry can survive until events are properly back up and running again,” said Thewlis.

“We know that for many this won’t be until early 2022 – such are the lead times of a lot of events.

“We desperately need these payments to continue for the Event Industry so that people and businesses can survive until events are properly back up and running again.”