Dan Andrews backflips on his promise to ease Victoria’s suffocating month-long lockdown for another THREE WEEKS as his state records its most new Covid cases in a year – but he throws locals a bone by opening playgrounds
Tough Covid restrictions enforced in Victoria will not be lifted as planned, Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed following 120 new cases in the state – but playgrounds will reopen.
Two people also died, the state’s first Covid victims this year, a woman from Northcote aged 49 and another from Hume in her 60s.
Just 64 of the new cases are so far linked to the rest of the outbreak while 20 were isolating during their infectious period as contact tracers become increasingly overwhelmed.
While Victoria is in the midst of its sixth lockdown, Mr Andrews warned the case numbers will continue to grow and restrictions would remain in place for another three weeks.
He said that if 70 per cent of the population had at least one vaccination by September 23, the public health orders are likely to ease.
‘We will not see these case numbers go down. They are going to go up,’ he said on Wednesday.
Victoria recorded 120 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday – the highest number since August 30 last year as Melbourne nears the end of its fourth week in lockdown
Despite the huge case spike, long-suffering Victorians enduring their sixth brutal Covid lockdown will finally enjoy some freedoms as Premier Daniel Andrews backs down from his Covid-zero strategy
Some of the eased measures announced on Wednesday include the reopening of playgrounds from midnight on Friday.
‘Everything else has to stay in place until on or about the 23rd of September when we get first doses at 70 per cent across our state,’ he said.
Once that target is reached the 5km travel radius will be extended to 10km and outdoor exercise will be lengthened to three hours.
Outdoor recreation parks like skate parks and gyms will reopen while personal trainers will be allowed to exercise with two other people.
Construction can also operate at 50 per cent capacity once 90 per cent of workers have had the jab.
The premier earlier admitted the draconian rules imposed on the state to slow the spread of Delta have been ‘bloody tough’.
It was August 4 when Victoria entered what was supposed to be a week long ‘snap’ lockdown.
At the time, there were 99 active cases across the state and it had recorded no new cases the previous day.
There are now just under 1000 active cases spread across Victoria.
Instead of Mr Andrews’ zero-Covid approach, health officials will now aim to suppress any outbreaks and keep case numbers below 100 a day.
‘I am confident we can find that middle path where we have not necessarily zero but low numbers,’ he said on Tuesday.
Premier Andrews said policymaking must remain open to changes (pictured, Melburnians queue for Covid vaccination on Tuesday)
Speaking at a briefing with senior ministers and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Tuesday, the Premier conceded the mental health effects of the state’s sixth lockdown hadn’t been easy.
Victoria recorded 71 new cases of Covid on Tuesday as Mr Andrews flagged he would be abandoning his long-held zero-Covid strategy in favour of a ‘near zero’ policy.
Premier Andrews reiterated that even after achieving National Cabinet’s vaccination goals of 70 and 80 per cent set out by the Doherty Institute, many restriction may need to remain in place.
‘As a nation, we can cope with a pandemic of the unvaccinated if that unvaccinated group is quite small … we will cope with unvaccinated people becoming infected and becoming sick when we have reached the 70 per cent and, most importantly, the 80 per cent vaccination target,’ he said.
He said the increasing battle with the highly-infectious strain means there is no clear pathway out of the pandemic and that policy making must remain open to changes.
‘If we were to open up — this is the thing with Delta — you either aim for zero or a very low number and therefore keep the numbers low,’ he said.
‘If we were to open up — this is the thing with Delta — you either aim for zero or a very low number and therefore keep the numbers low,’ Premier Andrews said (pictured, two women enjoy a coffee as they walk along South Bank in Melbourne on Tuesday)
Dan Andrews backflips on his promise to ease Victoria’s suffocating four-week lockdown