Canberra could remain in lockdown for WEEKS after reaching 70 percent vaccination rate as it waits for other states to catch up
- Even if the national jab rate hits 70 percent, ACT could remain in lockdown
- Comes after lockdown was extended by four weeks on Tuesday after 22 cases
- In Canberra, more than 50 percent of residents 12 years and older double dose
Canberra will remain in lockdown until the national vaccination average reaches 70 percent – even if the ACT hits the feat weeks early.
The Australian capital will begin to open gradually after the lockdown, which is expected to end on October 15 after a four-week extension.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr expects the ACT to be in a strong position to gradually reopen as national vaccination thresholds of 70 percent are reached from mid-October and 80 percent from early November.
He argued that ending the lockdown before the national average has caught up would violate the national reopening plan and would be risky as so many people moved in and out of Canberra.
Canberra will remain on lockdown until the national vaccination average reaches 70 percent – even if the ACT reaches the feat weeks earlier (pictured, a woman recently getting a vaccination shot in Canberra)
In Canberra, more than 50 percent of residents aged 12 and older are currently receiving a double dose (pictured, a woman outside the Australian Institute of Sport’s Covid Vaccination Clinic)
“We are an island jurisdiction within NSW without the capacity to have hard boundaries. So we also need the population coming into the city to get vaccinated,” Barr told reporters on Wednesday.
“We expect restrictions to gradually change as we move through these vaccination phases in October and November, with the caveat that they may need to be adjusted to respond to an increased risk of spreading Covid-19.”
In Canberra, more than 50 percent of residents aged 12 and older receive a double dose.
As of Wednesday, 75 percent had been partially vaccinated.
Barr held on to his guns as he dabbled with reporters who noted that Canberra was expected to become 70 percent fully vaccinated 20 days before the national average.
However, he acknowledged that in the highly unlikely scenario of NSW and Victoria vaccination rates ‘falling into a hole’ and the gap becoming ‘unsustainable’, he would reconsider the issue.
The prime minister said the ACT would soon have the first doses delivered to anyone who wants one.
“Then the balance of the vaccination program will shift to second doses and the pace will pick up significantly,” he said.
The ACT registered 13 new infections – eight with household contacts and five of the total in quarantine – a day after the lockdown was extended for the third time.
The situation will be reviewed in two weeks, with minor liberties in the meantime and the expected return of the twelfth to class before the start of the fourth semester.
The Canberra lockdown was previously scheduled to last until 11:59pm this Friday.
But authorities stepped on the brakes due to ongoing unlinked cases and contagious people in the community.
Mr Barr pushed for higher limits on the number of people allowed to gather outside and the gradual reintroduction of home visits from later in October if all goes well.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr (pictured) expects the ACT to be in a strong position to gradually reopen as national vaccination thresholds of 70 percent are reached from mid-October and 80 percent from early November.
Lockdown was extended in the ACT until Tuesday, October 15 after 22 new cases (photo, residents at the Canberra Center in the CBD)
For companies, density limits of one person per four square meters would apply. This would then change to one person per two square metres.
Locations considered higher risk would remain closed for longer or face greater restrictions.
“Right now, however, we need to give more than 100,000 Canberrans the opportunity to get vaccinated in the next four weeks while we contain our current outbreak,” Barr said.
“Our goal through all of this is to keep our community safe and work towards a safe and happy Christmas and summer holiday season for everyone.”
ACT hospitals also expect to accept Covid patients from regional NSW in the coming months.