Dan Andrews backs up on his promise to ease Victoria’s stifling months-long lockdown for another THREE WEEKS as his state records most new Covid cases in a year – but he’s throwing locals a bone by opening playgrounds
The strict Covid restrictions imposed in Victoria will not be lifted as planned, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has confirmed after 120 new cases in the state – but playgrounds will reopen.
The new infections on Wednesday are the highest number since August 30 last year as Melbourne nears the end of its fourth week in lockdown.
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.
Only 64 of the new cases so far have been linked to the rest of the outbreak, while 20 have remained in isolation during their contagious period as contact tracers become increasingly overwhelmed.
While Victoria is in the midst of its sixth lockdown, Andrews warned that the number of cases will continue to grow and the restrictions will remain in place for another three weeks.
He said that if 70 percent of the population has had at least one vaccination by Sept. 23, public health regulations are likely to relax.
“We will not see these case numbers fall. They’re going up,” he said on Wednesday.
Victoria registered 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 spike in cases, long-suffering Victorians undergoing their sixth brutal Covid lockdown will finally enjoy some freedoms as Prime Minister Daniel Andrews pulls back from his Covid zero strategy
Some of the easing measures announced on Wednesday include the reopening of playgrounds from midnight Friday.
“Everything else has to stay in place until on or about Sept. 23, when we get the first 70 percent doses in our state,” he said.
Once that goal is reached, the 5km travel radius will be expanded to 10km and outdoor training will be extended to three hours.
Construction can also run at 50 percent of capacity once 90 percent of workers have had the shot.
The prime minister previously admitted that the draconian rules imposed on the state to slow the spread of Delta were “damned harsh.”
It was August 4 when Victoria entered what should be a week-long ‘snap’ lockdown.
At that time, there were 99 active cases in the state, and no new cases had been registered the previous day.
There are now just under 1000 active cases across Victoria.
Instead of Andrews’ zero-covid approach, health officials will now strive to quell all outbreaks and keep the number of cases below 100 per day.
“I’m convinced we can find that middle ground where we don’t necessarily have zero, but low numbers,” he said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Andrews said policy making must remain open to change (pictured, Melburnians queue up for Covid vaccination on Tuesday)
During a briefing with senior ministers and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Tuesday, the prime minister admitted the mental health effects of the state’s sixth lockdown had not been easy.
Victoria registered 71 new cases of Covid on Tuesday as Mr Andrews indicated he would abandon his long-held zero-covid strategy in favor of a ‘near-zero’ policy.
Prime Minister Andrews reiterated that even after meeting the National Cabinet’s 70 and 80 percent vaccination targets set by the Doherty Institute, many restrictions may have to remain.
“As a nation, we can deal with a pandemic of unvaccinated people if that unvaccinated group is quite small… we will deal with unvaccinated people who get infected and get sick when we get to 70 percent and, most importantly, the 80 percent vaccination target,” he said.
He said the increasing battle with the highly contagious strain means there is no clear way out of the pandemic and policymaking must remain open to change.
“If we were to open up — this is the problem with Delta — you’re either aiming for zero or a really low number and therefore keep it low,” he said.
“If we were to open up – this is the thing with Delta – you’re either aiming for zero or a really low number and that’s why you keep the numbers low,” said Prime Minister Andrews (pictured, two women enjoy a cup of coffee as they pass South Bank walk in Melbourne on Tuesday)