On Wednesday morning Victorians awoke to an easing of public health orders that mean a lifting of the five reasons to leave your home rule and no more limits on how far people can travel, but Greater Sydney is bracing itself for news of another four weeks of lockdown at least.
Victoria unshackles from lockdown
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the end to lockdown in his state would start from Wednesday, with gradually relaxing restriction settings requiring that people still wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings and people still expected to work from home if possible.
People cannot invite visitors to their home, and if they want to book accommodation, can only do so to share with the people living in their household (or a nominated person included in their single household bubble).
“It’s because of the hard work of every single Victorian: following the rules, getting tested even with the mildest of symptoms, playing your part to keep your family and every family safe.
“This work is taxing, it’s a pain, it’s difficult, it’s very, very challenging but it’s the only thing that works against this virus,” Andrews told a press conference on Tuesday.
But the authorised worker list no longer applies in Victoria, meaning business and venues can reopen in step with density limits of one person per four-square-metres. And seated service will be available for patrons in cafes and restaurants once again.
Victorian schools will welcome students back into the physical classroom with mask-wearing rules still in place. The doors to music venues, dancing lessons, gyms and other physical recreation facilities will also be allowed to open in accordance with density rules.
Guests up to 50 people will be permitted to attend weddings and funerals in Victoria, with children under 12 months not included in the headcount.
On Wednesday Victoria recorded eight new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, which were all linked to current outbreaks and isolating during their infectious period.
Reported yesterday: 8 new local cases and no new case acquired overseas.
– 19,349 vaccine doses were administered
– 35,862 test results were received
More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/9Kg5QIKkmX
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) July 27, 2021
Thousands of Victorian citizens who have been identified as close contacts in the state’s recent outbreak remain isolated at home for 14 days.
“Today is welcome news but with thousands of Victorians in quarantine, we need to remain vigilant to keep each other safe – so please check in everywhere, every time, wear a mask and get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible,” Victorian health minister Martin Foley said.
Victoria continues to see the escalating number of cases in Sydney and some parts of neighbouring NSW as a public health threat. In response to the perceived threat, on Tuesday Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton made changes to the cross border bubble ruling out the city of Wagga Wagga, Hay Shire Council, Lockhart Shire Council and Murrumbidgee Council from the cross border bubble arrangement.
Victoria has classified these local government areas in NSW as extreme risk zones along with most other parts of NSW. People moving from these areas into Victoria will need a special permit or exemption to do so.
At least four more weeks for NSW
As case numbers in NSW climbs, so too does the state’s list of exposure sites, which shows the spread of the Delta variant taking over more areas in western Sydney. Among them are banks, bakeries, takeaway fast food restaurants, pharmacies, hardware shops and major grocery stores.
Two hospitals, in Liverpool and Fairfield, have also had staff and patients test positive (in the case of Fairfield hospital it was a patient who was transferred from Liverpool).
Tuesday was another record day of cases for NSW, with 172 locally acquired cases of COVID-19. A total of 87 of the 172 cases have not been linked to other known cases and 60 cases were moving about the community while infectious.
NSW recorded 172 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. Of these locally acquired cases, 85 are linked to a known case or cluster – 66 are household contacts and 19 are close contacts – the source of infection for 87 cases is under investigation pic.twitter.com/yS2PLDxXKw
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) July 27, 2021
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said there was no playbook for COVID-19’s Delta variant and the only guarantee was that the more people who got infected, the higher the death toll would be. So far 10 people in NSW have died from COVID-19 related to the state’s latest outbreak.
“You’d have to assume the more people who get the virus, the more deaths we will have. And as we saw very sadly, the day before yesterday, a young woman only 38 years old, with no other illnesses died,” Hazzard said.
“Stay at home. Our government does not make laws or rules to require you to stay at home just for fun. It’s to actually keep people safe.
“So don’t go out. Don’t do anything you shouldn’t be doing. And don’t go and visit other households.”
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce later today a four-week extension to the lockdown for Greater Sydney. Restrictions are unlikely to be tightened, and it is understood the construction ban will be lifted from July 31 (construction will still be banned in Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland) and a singles’ bubble introduced for those living alone.
When asked by a member of the press pack on Tuesday whether the situation facing NSW was because she did not lockdown the state soon or hard enough, the premier dismissed the suggestion and said it was important to recognise every state and territory in Australia had its own unique journey.
“Victoria is emerging out of its fifth lockdown. I appreciate people want to make comparisons but it’s also important to note that every state has had its own course, every state has its own history of how they’ve dealt with the pandemic,” Berejiklian said.
“And it’s fair to say that until this point in time, we had our citizens leading a relatively free life, as well as staying safe. But there’s no doubt the current challenge we have is a serious one.”
Authorities in NSW are also urging all adults to seek out a COVID-19 vaccine. Berejiklian said that she wanted August to be the month where everybody comes forward and gets the jab.
“I don’t believe that people should sit back and wait. If you’re able to have the vaccine, if there’s no reason for you not to come forward and have the vaccine, please do so.
“If you’re worried about your health, please check with your GP if you have underlying conditions or you’re concerned,” the premier said.