Melbourne’s sixth long-running Covid lockdown will end five days earlier than anticipated as Victoria races to its 70% fully vaccinated target.
The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, made the announcement on Sunday, saying now was the time for Victorians to celebrate.
“As of 11.59pm Thursday there will be no lockdown, no restrictions on leaving home and no curfew,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Victoria reported 1,838 new local Covid-19 cases and seven deaths on Sunday.
Under the state’s roadmap, the city’s current lockdown – which has run for 73 days – was due to end on October 26, the initial date when 70% of those aged over 16 were expected to be doubled-dosed.
However, Victoria is now forecast to reach that milestone as early as Thursday because of soaring second-dose rates. The state is expected to reach 90% of first doses by Monday or Tuesday, the premier said.
From Friday, there will be no restrictions on people leaving their home or a curfew, and no travel limit within metropolitan Melbourne. People in the city still won’t be able to visit regional Victoria, however.
Ten visitors, including dependents, will be able to visit a home each day. Up to 20 people will be allowed inside at hospitality venues with 50 outside, subject to density limits.
Andrews and the chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said last week that they were open to taking the first step out of lockdown earlier in line with reaching vaccination coverage goals.
Restrictions will ease further when 80% of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses – originally projected for 5 November but now likely earlier.
“Today is a day where every Victorian should be proud,” Andrews said on Sunday. “It is absolutely amazing to be this closely aligned to New South Wales, to be only just a couple of weeks behind NSW, when we know and understand just how much extra vaccine went there, is a credit to every single Victorian.”
The latest data shows 88% of Victoria’s over-16 population have had one vaccine dose and 65% both doses.
The news comes a day after a Covid-positive teenager with other health conditions became the youngest victim of Victoria’s third wave.
Meanwhile, police squashed another would-be anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protest in Melbourne on Saturday. Officers significantly outnumbered the would-be demonstrators, several of whom were arrested as they attempted to gather at Princes Park in Carlton North.