Victorians have been given a glimpse of life when nine out of 10 people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as city and regional residents prepare to reunite.
Premier Daniel Andrews has announced major changes to Victoria’s roadmap when the state reaches its next two major vaccination milestones.
With Victoria set to hit its 80 per cent full vaccination target ahead of schedule sometime next weekend, restrictions will ease further and align across the state from 6pm on Friday.
The ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be scrapped, reconnecting the state for the first time since the city’s 77-day lockdown lifted.
Masks will no longer need to be worn outdoors, entertainment venues, gyms and retail stores can reopen indoors for fully vaccinated patrons, and capacity limits will increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Students from every year level across the state also return to full-time, face-to-face learning on November 1 before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday.
Longer term, Andrews laid out a plan for the state once 90 per cent of the 12-plus population are fully vaccinated, forecast on or around November 24.
“There will be a fundamental change, a massive change, in many respects, to the rules that we have all been living under,” the premier told reporters.
All venue caps and density quotients will be scrapped at that point, along with mandatory indoor mask rules except in high-risk or low-vaccinated settings such as hospitals and schools.
Limits on home and outdoor gatherings will be shelved, paving the way for families to come together en masse at Christmas, while vaccine passport requirements expand to staff and patrons of non-essential retail stores.
Andrews warned Victoria’s “vaccinated economy” would remain into 2022, with those who refuse to get the jab excluded from workplaces, venues and major events.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the easing of restrictions was too slow and not in line with national cabinet’s plan.
“What the government says applies at 90 per cent should apply at 80 per cent,” he said.
Victoria reported 1935 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Sunday, taking the toll from its current outbreak to 223.