VICTORIAN COVID UPDATE | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21
NEW CASES: 2232 (up from 1841 yesterday)
DEATHS: 12 (same as yesterday, total from outbreak is 187)
UPDATE, Thursday, 12.30pm: The state government has scrambled to end confusion and anger over the vaccine mandate for hospitality, hairdressers and beauty industry workers in regards to double vaccinations rules.
With just 12 hours until regional Victoria is able to ease its restrictions, deputy Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie finally gave some clarity as to the rules surrounding the affected industries.
Venues who don't have all staff fully vaccinated can continue to operate for now as long as all staff have at least one dose, but they cannot take the next step in the government's roadmap and cannot allow more people in their doors.
This would mean they remain limited to 10 patrons indoors and 30 outdoors.
The new rules begin on Friday, October 22.
Only venues with all staff in attendance fully-vaccinated can take the next step, which would mean opening to 30 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Update, 11.30am: Lockdowns will end in Victoria from midnight tonight as the state hits its 70 per cent double dose vaccination rate.
However regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will remain separated until the state hits its 80 per cent double dose target, slated for the end of October.
Movement between Melbourne and regional Victoria remains restricted to specified purposes.
Victoria has also reached the 90 per cent first dose rate in those aged 16 and over, making the state one of the highest vaccinated jurisdictions in the world.
"When the clock strikes midnight tonight, the lockdown is over," Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino said.
"This has been a long and difficult road for Victorians to reach this point and I'm so proud of everyone who has got us to this point that we are today.
"These are truly phenomenal vaccine rates; to be on track to be one of the most highly vaccinated jurisdictions in the world is a feather in the cap of every single Victorian."
As of this week, 77.1 per cent of eligible members of the community the Great South Coast region have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine while 95 per cent have received a least one dose.
240 new cases were reported in regional Victoria, including 41 in Latrobe, 28 in Greater Bendigo, 24 in Greater Shepparton, 21 in Greater Geelong and seven in Mildura.
Mildura's extended lockdown will end a day early, with the regional city to be freed at midnight tonight.
There are 779 Victorians currently in hospital with COVID-19: 141 of them are in intensive care, and 96 require a ventilator to breathe.
Hairdressers need to be double-dose vaccinated in order to get back to work from tomorrow, matching the requirements for hospitality workers, Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie confirmed to reporters on Thursday.
Victoria records more than 2000 new COVID cases on final day of lockdown
Update, 9am: Victoria has recorded 2232 new COVID cases on the state's final day of lockdown.
It is the second-highest daily figure in Victoria, just shy of the 2293 cases recorded on October 13.
With the easing of restrictions less as of 11.59pm on Thursday, there are still 22,889 active cases in the state.
There was also 12 deaths recorded yesterday.
The new deaths take the toll from the current outbreak to 187.
There were 79,544 tests returned.
Further information about the deaths and new cases will be released later on Wednesday.
In the south-west there were three new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Wednesday.
The number of active cases also continued to drop.
South West Healthcare said the two cases in Moyne Shire and one in Corangamite Shire are all linked and are in two separate households.
As of yesterday there were 24 total active COVID-19 cases in the region across five municipalities: zero active cases in Warrnambool, five active cases in Moyne across three households, one active case in Corangamite and 15 active cases in Colac-Otway Shire.
Reported yesterday: 2,232 new local cases and 3 cases acquired overseas (currently in HQ).— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) October 20, 2021
- 37,824 vaccines administered
- 79,544 test results received
- Sadly, 12 people with COVID-19 have died
More later: https://t.co/OCCFTAchah#COVID19Vic#COVID19VicDatapic.twitter.com/XHK2glmqsh
There has not been a new south-west exposure site added overnight.
However, there is fury among Warrnambool hospitality businesses after sudden rule changes from the government dictated only fully vaccinated were allowed to work from Friday.
Previously, the government had told hospitality workers they had until November 26 to have two doses.
Meanwhile, Victoria has passed its 70 per cent full COVID-19 vaccination target on the last day of Melbourne's long-running sixth lockdown.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed 70.51 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have now received both doses, a key reopening milestone in the state's roadmap.
The state government had already pledged Melbourne would emerge from lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, five days earlier than planned.
"The longest road has been journeyed in Victoria and that long road really starts to open up tonight," Mr Morrison told Seven Network on Thursday.
"But as always, all states and territories, are coming from a different starting point. They'll all cautiously find their way back. This is not a big opening in that first step."
When stay-at-home orders are wound back, Melburnians will have endured 77 full days in their current lockdown and 263 total days since the beginning of the pandemic - a record for any city across the globe.
Under the new rules, people will be able to leave their homes for any reason and travel anywhere within metropolitan Melbourne.
The curfew will be scrapped, home gatherings of up to 10 will be allowed, and hairdressers and hospitality businesses will reopen for the fully vaccinated.
However, in a last-minute change to reopening plans, all hospitality staff must be fully vaccinated to work.
This is despite online health directions stating authorised workers, including those in hospitality, must have had one vaccine dose by October 22 and a second by November 26.
Australian Hotels Association Victoria chief executive Paddy O'Sullivan said the government had "moved the goalposts" on the sector and has asked for a grace period to allow staff time to get vaccinated.
But Victoria's COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said "there is no wriggle room" on the mandate.
With some pubs in the city to reopen at midnight, staff at hospitality venues will be allowed to go into work after the curfew kicks in at 9pm to get their venues ready, but patrons will need to wait until 11:59pm to leave home.
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