Extra freedoms for Victoria could be coming sooner than expected

Author
Newstalk ZB, news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Sep 2021, 10:50AM
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a snap 5-day lockdown for the state. Photo / Getty Images
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a snap 5-day lockdown for the state. Photo / Getty Images

Extra freedoms for Victoria could be coming sooner than expected

Author
Newstalk ZB, news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Sep 2021, 10:50AM

Victorians could be enjoying eased lockdown rules sooner than originally thought, with the state making impressive progress on it’s Covid-19 vaccination goals.

Last week, Premier Daniel Andrews announced when 70 per cent of the population has received one dose of the vaccine then modest eased restrictions could be brought in.

This was initially due to happen on September 23 but with vaccination rates ramping up, the rules could be eased as soon as September 19.

Premier Daniel Andrews arrives to peak to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Daniel Pockett

Premier Daniel Andrews arrives to peak to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Photo / NewsCorp Australia

When that goal is reached the following changes will apply:

  • The 5km travel radius will increase to 10km
  • Exercise will increase from two to three hours a day
  • Outdoor gym equipment and skate parks will reopen
  • Outdoor personal training will be allowed with up to two people plus the trainer
  • Childminding for school-age children will be allowed if both parents are critical workers
  • Construction sites will increase to a 50 per cent capacity when 90 per cent of workers have received at least one vaccine dose
  • Inspections of unoccupied premises will be permitted

The Premier also noted that the majority of regional Victoria was on track to exit lockdown this week, though he said some restrictions would still remain in place.

There are also plans to trial a new check in system that will allow business owners to see if residents are vaccinated. This comes as part of plans to later reopen extra freedoms like pubs, sporting games and cinemas to fully vaccinated Victorians.

Mr Andrews said regional Victoria was a “safe place” to trail the technology.

“That will be predominantly outdoors, we’re already talking with the hospo industry for instance so there will be trials,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get regional Victoria out of the lockdown next week. That’s great news for regional Victoria but it would also be a pretty logical place for us to do some of this piloting work.

“It doesn’t mean that regional Victoria would only be opened to vaccinated people, it would be open to everyone in regional Victoria, but that’s a safe place where we can do some of these trials and pilots.”

Ethnic communities being targeted by anti-vaxxers

Anti-vaxxers have been targeting ethnic communities in Victoria as a way of spreading fear and misinformation around Covid-19 and the vaccines.

Ahmed Hassan, co-founder and Executive Director of Youth Activating Youth, experienced this kind of attack first hand after he was hospitalised with Covid-19 in Melbourne last year.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, Mr Hassan said he spent two stints in the hospital between June and July 2020, which he described as a “very terrible experience”. His grandmother and aunty were also hospitalised with the virus.

“Straight after I came out, I wanted to let not only young people across Victoria, but across Australia, know about what is Covid, and that it’s real, that it can impact you. It can impact your life. I was one of the lucky ones that I actually came out of hospital. Many people didn’t at the time,” he said.

“Basically, I was targeted by people who didn’t believe in the virus. People who were conspiracy theorists. People who were saying some wild and bizarre stuff about me and my family, that we had contributed to the second wave. And as a result, that’s why the lockdowns happened.”

Protesters march through the streets during an anti-lockdown and anti-vax rally in Melbourne in August. Picture: William West/AFP

Protesters march through the streets during an anti-lockdown and anti-vax rally in Melbourne in August. Photo / AFP

Mr Hassan then sifted through the information being circulated by these conspiracy theorists and found much of it was deliberately misleading.

“And unfortunately, it’s still spreading in 2021. And it’s spreading wildly in many communities and it’s worrying, because a lot of people can’t make up their mind because of this misleading information,” he said.

Mr Hassan said there is a lot of fear around the vaccines across different communities because of this misinformation, which is then leading to people being hospitalised because they don’t understand the true risks of Covid-19.

“There is a lot of misinformation and it is so consistent and persistent in terms of targeting different cohorts and in social media,” he said.

Dan defends strict lockdown rule

Premier Daniel Andrews has defended his decision to enact a curfew for Melbourne after criticism the harsh measure hasn’t helped to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The state government enforced the curfew last month, with people in greater Melbourne required to stay home between 9pm and 5am every day.

The tough measure, which was put in place during last year’s second wave, has received widespread criticism after health experts last year admitted it made no difference in curbing the spread.

Asked on Sunday why it was necessary this time around, Mr Andrews said there were specific and targeted reasons for bringing back the curfew in the outbreak of the more infectious Delta strain.

He said road and public transport travel was down by 20 per cent during curfew hours.

“What that tells me is that it wasn’t people doing their shopping at midnight or 1am, it was people going and visiting others, which they are not allowed to do, and they were taking the virus with them, perhaps,” Mr Andrews said.

“So that‘s what the curfew achieves. It means less people out and about.”

‘Every possibility’ Victoria is following in NSW’s footsteps

With Victoria’s seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases in the past few days, there are concerns the state could be on the same trajectory as NSW.

On Saturday, chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton admitted there was “every possibility” Victoria was following in the footsteps of its northern neighbour.

People line up to be vaccinated for Covid-19 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Luis Ascui

People line up to be vaccinated for Covid-19 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Photo / NCA NewsWire

“I think a lot of people are a bit concerned now that we’re on the same trajectory as Sydney and we’re maybe three or four weeks behind Sydney,” Professor Sutton said.

“I mean, we could be. That is a scenario. There’s every possibility that we’re following a slow and steady increase in the way that NSW has.”

Premier Daniel Andrews warned last week that cases would continue to rise as he announced the state was moving away from a Covid-zero strategy and focusing on vaccination rates.

Over the weekend, Professor Sutton said it was still unclear when the state’s infections would peak.

“The trend over seven-day periods has been incremental increasing and I expect that to happen until we get higher vaccination coverage,” he said.

Text by Ally Foster, news.com.au