September 17, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo | Image: Visit Victoria

Despite recording 514 new cases yesterday, its largest daily increase since August 2020 – and another 510 today – Victoria will gain some promised freedoms as the state hits its 70 per cent first-dose vaccination target.

Melbourne in particular has been under a tight 5km lockdown, no visitors or outdoor gatherings and a night curfew for the past 42 days and for a total 229 days since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Under the new arrangements your amount of freedom depends on your vaccination level: outdoor gatherings are limited to groups of two if you have no or one vaccine dose; the fully vaccinated can meet in groups of five.  The 5km limit extends to 10km and you may have twice the exercise time, now up to four hours.

However the new moves will mean little to the business events sector with Melbourne’s city hotels and business events businesses shuttered, but hopeful the Spring Racing Carnival may provide some relief when it starts in earnest next month.

Meanwhile Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) remains busy as a major vaccination hub, having facilitated more than 160,000 jabs.

While Melburnians are “over lockdown” most will not march at the anti-lockdown rally scheduled in the city tomorrow. In a move to thwart the protest, the Andrews government moved quickly this week to completely shut down train, bus and tram services to the city tomorrow between 8am and 2pm.

Residents in suburbs not currently affected by rising infection cases are asking why they should remain locked down when the major focus has been in Melbourne’s north and west.  They ask why Melbourne has not adopted the Sydney approach to lock down suburbs most affected and they expect achieving the vaccination milestone should result in an easing of the 5km limit and the 9pm to 5am curfew.

But despite the promised easing, the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has come out against the national reopening plan saying it would be “reckless” to reopen until after the state reached 80 percent of all those 12 and over fully vaccinated.  This target is not expected to be hit until November, although this week Lt. General Frewen who is in charge of the vaccine rollout nationally said overseas experience suggested that lifting the vaccination rate from 70 percent to 80 percent was more difficult and that may take until next year.