Premier Dan Andrews has revealed when he will consider reopening the state as Victoria’s sixth lockdown is extended for at least one more week.
Mr Andrews provided residents with a small glimmer of hope during his Covid update on Sunday, as the state recorded 92 new cases of coronavirus.
A reporter asked the state leader if Victoria would reopen after a 70 per cent vaccination rate had been achieved even if case numbers were still high.
The premier said that while having 70 per cent of Victorians double-jabbed was a good benchmark, the significant shift would occur at 80 per cent.
Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) has revealed when he will consider reopening the state as Victoria’s sixth lockdown is extended for at least one more week
‘And hopefully we can go beyond that. Because every extra dose helps,’ he said.
‘Basically what we’re going to move to is a pandemic that is applicable to everybody, it’s going to move to a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
‘The smaller the unvaccinated group is, the more manageable from a health service type of view those inevitable positive cases will be and very serious illness.’
He reiterated that with 70 per cent vaccinated restrictions could be eased in certain areas but it was 80 per cent that would see significant change state-wide.
‘Yes we do move away from a “every single case matters” to the point where we’re being obsessively focused on every single one, we move to a system that’s much more about trying to balance and preserve sufficient capacity in hospitals,’ he said.
‘So hospitalisations in many respects become a more meaningful measure.’
The premier said this could only occur after a ‘safety net’ had been created by eight out of ten eligible people had received two doses of the vaccine.
‘The national plan is very clear. When you get to 70 [per cent] you have more options, there are things you can do that you can’t do now,’ he said.
‘Lockdowns are not impossible, but they’re less likely. At 80 per cent you wouldn’t be locking down the whole community to keep safe those that wouldn’t keep themselves safe by going to get getting vaccinated.’
A reporter asked Mr Andrews if borders would reopen at 70 per cent vaccinations.
Mr Andrews said that while having 70 per cent of Victorians double-jabbed was a good benchmark, the significant shift would occur state-wide at 80 per cent (pictured, a resident receives a dose of Pfizer in Melton)
Victoria recorded 92 new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus on Sunday (pictured, a police car on an empty Melbourne street)
‘Not necessarily,’ the premier replied, adding that while the national plan could be backed up by modelling it was depend on ‘what was happening at that time’.
Mr Andrews gave the example of coronavirus running rampant through an unvaccinated community and resulting in thousands of hospitalisations.
‘Then we would have to look at that. You can’t just pretend that isn’t happening. That will be the really challenging part. How do you balance opening up, giving people freedom, that will promote infection.
‘If you’ve got too few people vaccinated at that point, or too few vulnerable people then you will finish up with many, many people very ill and they will finish up in hospital.’
The premier then reiterated that 70 per cent gave options but 80 per cent was ‘the really important marker’.
His comments come after the state’s sixth lockdown will be extended for at least another week as another 92 new cases are recorded – the most in a year.
Mystery cases not yet linked to the rest of the outbreak jumped by 31 and health authorities are not yet sure how many were infectious in the community.
Of the latest infections, 61 are linked to existing outbreaks with at least 19 of the cases in full isolation during their entire infectious period.
The cases were diagnosed from 51,030 test results, while 31,436 vaccine doses were administered on Saturday. There are 773 active cases across the state.
Mr Andrews announced during Sunday’s Covid update the state had recorded far too many cases to consider ending the lockdown on Thursday.
The 92 new cases were diagnosed from 51,030 test results, while 31,436 vaccine doses were administered on Saturday. There are 773 active cases across the state (pictured, people wait outside a Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Melbourne)
Hopes of Melbourne’s September 2 lockdown lift seem unlikely amid talks Senior Ministers are concerned with rate of which people are passing on the virus (pictured, people exercising at St Kilda during Victoria’s sixth lockdown)
‘Obviously with almost 100 cases today, where many of them remain mysteries, many of them were out in the community during their infectious period, it is not going to be possible for us to open up our Victorian community in just a couple of days’ time,’ he said.
The premier said it was too early to provide details on when the statewide lockdown will finally be lifted and what restrictions will remain in place.
‘We don’t yet have advice from the chief health officer as to what is possible, what is safe later on this week,’ he said.
Mr Andrews admitted it was ‘bloody tough’ for everyone when asked if the government’s strategy was working, but pointed to Sydney’s Covid situation – with 1,218 cases on Sunday and hundreds in hospital – as a reason why lockdown was remaining.
‘We are still a chance to drive this down to very low numbers, and then be able to be open up. We will have to wait and see, but we’ll have options,’ he said.
The premier said the states increasing case numbers were a result of people not following the rules, waiting too long to get tested, undetected transmission and asymptomatic people in the community.
The Premier said the states increasing case numbers were a result of people not following the rules, waiting too long to get tested, undetected transmission and asymptomatic people in the community (pictured, a tram on a quiet Melbourne street on Sunday)
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) announced during Sunday’s Covid update the state had recorded far too many cases to consider ending the lockdown on Thursday
Mr Andrews urged residents not to ‘sit on Covid symptoms for days’ and warned not to waste time coming forward for a test.
‘We have people from all age groups in our hospitals at the moment and some of them are gravely ill. If that doesn’t convince you, have a look at what’s happening in Sydney, have a look at what’s happening in other parts of the world,’ he said.
‘This is not a good thing to get. The key point is you can make a difference, you can take control of this. If you’ve got symptoms, get tested and get tested quickly.’
He said in a ‘very productive’ conversation with Scott Morrison the PM had assured him NSW would not be receiving any additional doses of Covid-19 vaccines or special treatment.
‘You can’t ignore the fact that New South Wales has received significant additional support. We don’t begrudge them that,’ he said.
‘But we are now in a set of rules here in Victoria, with case numbers too high to be able to safely open up, and that means that we have many challenges as well.
‘It is only fair that we distribute vaccines based on our population share and need.’
There are currently 44 people hospitalised with Covid-19 including 13 in intensive care and nine people on ventilators.
Victorian Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar (pictured) announced there is currently 44 people hospitalised with Covid-19, including 13 in intensive care and nine on ventilators
The latest cases include nine linked to the Shepparton outbreak, 12 linked to the Broadmeadows area and twelve linked to the wider Newport cluster.
Another nine cases are household contacts linked to earlier school outbreaks, with four cases linked to the Woolworths in Altona North, one case in a Flinders Street apartment building and one linked to a Port Melbourne site.
Mr Andrews said more than 500 of the active cases in the state are in Melbourne’s north and west and said efforts to curb the virus would be focused in these areas.
Shepparton in the city’s north now has 94 active cases across 37 households, with 1,300 members of the community coming forward for a test on Saturday.
He said two of the school campus sites had been demoted to Tier 2 sites with 1000 residents no longer considered close contacts.
One new Covid-19 case in Traralgon, a town more than 160km from the city’s CBD, has revealed worrying evidence the virus has spread further into the states regions.
Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the positive case – the first in Latrobe City this year – had travelled to Melbourne for a funeral.
‘We understand the acquisition was there (at the funeral),’ Mr Weimar said, adding the positive case had ‘very limited’ movements within the community.
Andrews government ministers are divided over whether some of the harsher lockdown restrictions – including curfew and a ban on playgrounds – should be removed despite steady Covid cases (man practicing golf in Carlton on Saturday)
Mr Weimar also pointed to the increasing number of new infections in younger age groups across the state.
‘We have 300 people under the age of 20 in our 773 active cases,’ he said.
The Covid-19 Commander said 171 people under the age of ten were currently fighting the disease with 131 aged between 10 and 19.
‘I particularly appeal to those people in their 20s and 30s, this virus is very active in your age group at this point in time,’ he said.
‘Please be mindful of any symptoms you have and any contact to exposure sites you may have.’
In positive news, the premier revealed 80 per cent of those aged between 60 and 69 had received their first dose of a vaccine and 86 per cent of those aged 70 and over have had one jab.
‘These are very, very strong numbers, and those who are most vulnerable, although having said that, anybody is vulnerable to significant illness, to severe illness if they are not vaccinated,’ he said.
The Victorian Government has vowed not to follow NSW’s lead and ease restrictions if cases continue to rise (people are pictured above relaxing in Melbourne’s inner-north)
Prestige Carwash in Port Melbourne (pictured) was listed as a Tier 1 exposure site – anyone who attended at the listed date and times must immediately get tested isolate for 14 days
The series of record case spikes has a group of MPs pushing for Mr Andrews to concede a zero-Covid target is unrealistic and lift some of the harsher restrictions.
Senior ministers told the Sunday Herald Sun residents and businesses should hold little hope of coming out of the scheduled end to lockdown on September 2, given the rate at which the virus is spreading.
Concerns were flagged on Saturday when wastewater tests found virus fragments in suburbs between Mordialloc and Seaford, suggesting there were undetected cases active in Melbourne’s southeast.
The state recorded 64 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday – with half of those infectious while in the community.
Of the 64 cases, four infections were identified in Port Melbourne, with Mr Weimar directing anyone who attended the new Tier 1 exposure sites to get tested immediately.
The health advice applies to anyone who attended the Port Melbourne Auto Mega Warehouse and Prestige Hand Carwash from August 21 to August 27 between the times of 12am and 11.59pm.
NEW EXPOSURE SITES – SATURDAY NIGHT
Anyone who has visited the following locations during the listed times must get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days from time of the exposure.
Hoppers Crossing: Barakat International Goods – August 16 to August 23, all days between the times of 10am to 8pm
Port Melbourne: Auto Mega Warehouse – August 21 to August 27, all days between the times of 12am to 11:59pm
Port Melbourne: Prestige Hand Carwash – August 21 to August 27, all days between the times of 12am to 11:59pm
Additional Tier 2 exposure sites can be found on the Victorian Department of Health website.
Ten Labor ministers and backbenchers spoke to The Sunday Age about Victoria’s lockdown laws, as fears grow over the high number of mystery cases and people infectious in the community recorded each day this week.
A majority of the MPs said some of the state’s more controversial measures – including the curfew and playground ban – should remain until Victoria is able to reduce the amount of infectious people in the community to zero.
But three MPs told the publication they believed some of the restrictions could be eased without a serious spike in cases.
‘I don’t see us getting to zero. So can we allow some limited things like allowing double-vaxxed people to visit loved ones or relatives in aged care under very controlled rules?’ one senior MP said.
‘How can we take the pressure off to make people’s lives easier?’ asked another in favour of a lighter lockdown.
Of the new cases recorded on Saturday, 49 are linked to existing infections in the current outbreak and there are 15 ‘mystery’ cases where the source is not yet known.
Victorians took 55,333 Covid tests on Friday – a jump of nearly 5,000 on the previous day – and 35,753 vaccines doses were administered.
Regional Victoria followed the capital into lockdown on August 21 after a spike in community transmissions.
Victoria’s lockdown – which is due to end on September 2 – is likely to be extended for at least a week as health authorities scramble to contain outbreaks (ADF are seen outside a house in Shepparton)
A growing list of exposure sites have been identified on Saturday with two Tier 1 venues located in Port Melbourne (pictured, Victorians line up for takeaway food)