Victoria, we have good news and bad news – but mostly bad. The bad news is that your lockdown is being extended until at least 70% of people have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, which is forecasted to be around September 23. The good news is that at least a target has been set for reopening, although the ‘freedoms’ coming in at 70% first dose are still very much in line with lockdown conditions.

It comes as the state records 120 new cases and two deaths, with Premier Dan Andrews admitting “COVID zero” is no longer the goal, nor is it likely even possible. Basically, the aim now is to buy as much time as possible to allow people to be vaccinated.

“Over the past 72 hours, the advice from our public health team has been that we still had a promising chance to bring this under control and to bring cases down. We were charting our way out of this outbreak with easing at thresholds of lower cases,” Andrews said.

“Last night, with cases already in triple figures, too many mystery cases and too many people infectious out in the community, that advice changed.

“With the number of positive cases this high, the speed at which this Delta variant is spreading and so many Victorians still to be vaccinated, our Chief Health Office advises it is unlikely we will be able to bring our case numbers down.”

Until that 70% vaccination, the five reasons to leave home remain: shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise, and getting vaccinated. Face masks will still need to be worn.

However, Andrews said it’s possible that regional Victoria – with the exception of Shepparton, which is experiencing an outbreak – could end next week. He also said he’ll provide more details next week.

Once 70% vaccination (first dose) has been hit, then a few more freedoms come into play. It’s worth noting that even with these “freedoms”, it’s still essentially a lockdown.

  • The 5km radius will expand to 10km (or further, if the closest shop to you is more than 10km away)
  • You’ll be granted an additional hour for exercise, bringing the total to three hours
  • Outdoor training will be allowed with up to two people plus a trainer
  • Outdoor gym equipment and skateparks will reopen
  • Private inspections of unoccupied premises (for new purchases or end of lease) will be permitted, but only one household attending at a time, with the real estate agent waiting outside
  • Construction workforce will increase to 50%, but only when 90% of the workers have received at least one vaccine dose
  • Up to five staff will be able to work onsite at entertainment venues to broadcast performances

Parents are also getting a few allowances to help them through this stressful time: playgrounds are reopening from 11.59pm this Thursday (September 2) for children under 12, and babysitters will be allowed for school-aged kids (as long as their parents are both authorised workers).

Year 12 students will also be placed in a priority vaccination program from Tuesday 7 September. They’ll be given priority access at the state-run vaccination clinics, along with teachers and examiners.

“The best vaccine is the vaccine you can get today – while we’re limited on Pfizer appointments because of supply, there are 72,745 Astra Zeneca appointments available across Victoria over the next three weeks,” Andrews said.

“AstraZeneca is a safe and effective vaccine – and if that’s what’s available, then that’s what you should get.”

Just under 500,000 doses have been administered in three weeks, meaning efforts to get vaccinated need to ramp up if the state is going to hit its 1 million doses goal in two weeks’ time.

As of August 30, more than half (56.1%) of Victorians aged 16 and over had received their first dose, while 34.7% were fully vaccinated.

Once Victoria hits 70% and 80% fully vaccinated, more restrictions are set to ease. We cannot stress this enough: please get vaccinated with the vaccine available to you.

All adult Aussies (yep, even if those of us under 40) are currently able to get vaccinated. Click here to see which clinics are offering it, and talk to a doctor for more info. 

The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.