Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed the state's long-awaited roadmap out of lockdown, with extended travel limits in Melbourne, outdoor dining, and face-to-face school classes set to return next month.
The roadmap is set to begin once 70 per cent of Victorian's eligible population (those over 16) are vaccinated, with relaxed restrictions being introduced "cautiously" at first, with fears a spike in cases predicted in December could overwhelm the hospitals.
Mr Andrews warned about opening up too soon, saying lockdown has been about "buying time" to get vaccination rates to where they need to be, which is now only days away.
"We are fast approaching those milestones. At that point we have got to open the place up, because remaining closed forever has its own cost in every sense of that word. This is a very difficult balancing act."
Year 12s are expected to return to school first in the first week of October, there will be a staggered return for other year groups.
Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown
The biggest changes aren't likely to happen until 80 per cent of people are fully vaccinated – which is predicted to be in November.
According to the roadmap, at 70 per cent fully vaccinated— predicted to be October 26 — hospitality can open outdoors, hairdressers can open for fully vaccinated people, weddings and funerals with 50 guests can resume.
At 80 per cent fully vaccinated— predicted to be November 5— all school face-to-face learning will return, hospitality open for indoor dining if fully vaccinated, intrastate travel can resume, masks only indoors, weddings with up to 150.
Today we are releasing our roadmap.
As well as laying out how we will deliver the National Plan, the roadmap lets Victorians know when we can catch up with friends and family, and get back to the things we love. pic.twitter.com/ogMuUGrdGA
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) September 19, 2021
After 80 per cent single dose — estimated September 26
Outdoor recreation and sports allowed - same limits as picnics
Personal training for up to five vaccinated people in regional Victoria
Masks can be removed for hairdressing appointments in regional Victoria
Final year students can return to on-site learning in regional Victoria
At 70 per cent fully vaccinated — estimated October 26
The curfew will no longer be in place
Travel limit increased to 25km
10 fully vaccinated people will be able to gather outdoors
Physical recreation and community sports training will return with limits in place
Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can host 50 people outdoors
Weddings and funerals will be open for 50 fully vaccinated people, again, outdoors
All school students will return to on-site learning for at least part of the learning week
Hairdressing and personal care open for up to five vaccinated people inside
Community sport returns indoors, with caps in place
Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will remain open indoors for fully vaccinated patrons
All students will return to on-site learning for at least part of the week
Funerals and weddings will be allowed 30 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
At 80 per cent fully vaccinated — estimated November 5
Once 80 per cent of the state is fully vaccinated — around November 5 — regional Victoria and Melbourne will move to the same set of restrictions.
Regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will be on the same set of rules
No travel limit
Up to 10 people, including will be allowed to visit your home
Up to 150 fully vaccinated people can dine indoors and up to 30 can gather in public can outside
Indoor community sport will be open
Masks will only be required inside
Pubs, restaurants and cafes can open for seated service only, up to 150 fully vaccinated patrons inside, and up to 500 patients outside.
Workers can return to the office if fully vaccinated if they cannot work from home
All retail will be open
Early childhood education and childcare will be open fully
Gyms to open to the fully vaccinated
Hope for guests to be allowed to visit on Christmas Day
Mr Andrews said the government aims to allow up to 30 people to visit people's homes by Christmas Day.
"International travel will happen. I hope interstate travel can happen," he said.
"There will be a number of travel bubbles where people will be able to freely move into the country and therefore into our state."
The Burnett Institute’s full modelling predicts cases numbers to peak in mid-December, with hospital admissions predicted to spike towards the end of December.
"It models out and projects that on or about the 15th December, cases will peak at about four and a half thousand," Mr Andrews said.
"Towards the end of December, admissions to hospital will peak at about 3,150, and in January, deaths due to Covid-19 in the Delta variant will peak at around 2,200.
"These are sobering numbers. The notion of opening this place up very quickly at 70 per cent or 60 per cent simply cannot be done."
Mr Andrews said aiming for zero Covid-19 cases in the state was never the target.
"We were never going to zero, we were actively, aggressively suppressing the virus. Victorians did such a good job of that, that we did get some days of zero [cases]," he said.
"You've got a number of states that have zero, but they won't be at zero forever. It is almost inevitable, the experts tell me."
The Victorian Roadmap released today has been developed based on expert modelling from @BurnetInstitute showing the key to opening up and reducing risk in Victoria. View the modelling at https://t.co/c7lXt5FvQo. @VictorianCHO @VicGovDH @MartinFoleyMP pic.twitter.com/M9HESyVhDp
— Burnet Institute (@BurnetInstitute) September 19, 2021
Victoria recorded 507 cases of Covid-19
Victoria has recorded 507 new local cases of Covid-19 on Sunday and one Covid death.
The 507 cases came from 58,619 tests conducted in the most recent 24-hour period, the state's health department said this morning.
Three regional LGAs in Victoria to go into lockdown for seven days from 11.59pm Sunday night: Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast Shire and the Mitchell Shire.
The Victorian health minister Martin Foley says restrictions will be the same as Melbourne, apart from the curfew.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.