Victoria’s dramatic surge in Covid infections reached new heights with 176 new cases recorded just as Dan Andrews abandons eliminating the virus.
The state’s huge spike from 120 on Wednesday marks the most new cases it has recorded in a day since August 19 last year during its deadly second wave.
Only 83 cases have yet been linked to the rest of the outbreak with a 2021 record 93 still being hunted down by overwhelmed contact tracers.
They were diagnosed from 48,372 tests and 33,720 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday.
Premier Andrews on Wednesday finally admitted Victoria would never bring the outbreak back to zero cases and joined NSW in relying on the vaccine.
Victoria’s dramatic surge in Covid infections reached new heights with 176 new cases recorded just as Dan Andrews abandons eliminating the virus
Victorians are only allowed outside to buy groceries and an hour’s exercise, which is the only time they don’t have to wear masks
He announced a roadmap out of lockdown that will free regional Victoria next week, but Melbourne will not get any significant relief until September 23.
Playgrounds will finally reopen for long-suffering Victorians in their sixth lockdown but night curfews and wearing of masks are here to stay.
Many more restrictions will be eased once 70 per cent of Victorians have had their first jab, including reopening of state parks and outdoor gyms and construction sites to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Up to three hours of exercise will also be allowed while the dreaded 5km travel radius will be doubled once the milestone is reached.
That target is expected to be reached in the next three weeks as a vaccination blitz for year 12 students ramps up.
The night curfew will stay and Melburnians will remain in lockdown until at least September 23, which could be extended another month until at least 70 per cent of the state is fully vaccinated.
The state’s huge spike from 120 on Wednesday marks the most new cases it has recorded in a day since August 19 last year during its deadly second wave
Victorians can look forward to eased restrictions in the coming weeks, despite 120 new cases on Wednesday (pictured woman in Melbourne)
‘These will be the settings that we all have to live with for a period of time until we reach not just first dose vaccination thresholds, but second dose vaccination thresholds, as outlined in the National Cabinet plan,’ Mr Andrews said on Wednesday.
‘That is the difficult but unavoidable position we find ourselves in.’
Much of regional Victoria, with the exception of Shepparton, could be lifted from lockdown as early as next week.
Playgrounds will reopen on Friday for children under 12 with only one parent or carer, and adults should not remove their masks to eat or drink.
Playgrounds will also have QR codes for checking in.
In-home carers, such as babysitters and nannies will be expanded to include school-aged children, but only if both parents are authorised workers.
The five essential reasons for leaving home- shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise, and getting vaccinated remain in place.
The state’s dreaded 5km travel radius will be extended to 10km and outdoor exercise will be increased to three hours once 70 per cent of eligible Victorians have had their first dose.
Outdoor recreation parks like skate parks and gyms will reopen at that stage while personal trainers will be allowed to exercise with two other people.
Playgrounds will reopen across Victoria from Friday but strict rules will remain (pictured a closed playground in Melbourne)
Construction sites will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity once 90 per cent of workers have had the jab.
Private inspections of unoccupied homes for sale or lease will also be permitted.
Only one household can be inside the premises at any time and the real estate agent must remain outdoors during the inspection.
Up to five staff will be able to work onsite at entertainment venues to broadcast performances.
Year 12 students, teachers and examiners will be given priority booking access at state-run clinics between September 7 and 17.
They will need to book an appointment online prior to their appointment.
The Department of Health and the Department of Education will work directly with schools, and students and parents will receive the advice on how to arrange a booking through their schools.
Face to face learning in schools would not return this term with a ‘detailed plan’ for what the final term will look like to be unveiled next week.
More restrictions are expected to be eased later in September (pictured Melburnians exercising in St Kilda)
Outdoor gyms (pictured) across Victoria are expected to reopen later in September
Of the 120 new cases reported on Wednesday, 64 are linked to existing virus outbreaks, leaving 56 potential mystery cases.
Only 20 were in isolation for their entire infectious period.
The last time Victoria’s case numbers exceeded 100 was on September 2 last year.
Two women, aged in their 40s and 60s, are also the state’s first COVID-19 victims this year, dying in their homes on Tuesday.
With the case numbers and proportion of people not in isolation while infectious still growing, most of the current restrictions will remain in place until about September 23, when the 70 per cent of the eligible population is expected to have received the first dose of vaccine.
Of the 900 active cases in Victoria, 58 are in hospital, including 21 in intensive care, while 14 on a ventilator.
Year 12 students such as Padua and Lucca Beaves (pictured) will soon get priority access to book in their Covid vaccine
Everything you need to know about Victoria’s latest restrictions
From 11.59pm Thursday (September 2)
*Playgrounds will reopen but strict rules will remain in place. Children under-12 can only be supervised by one adult/carer who must wear a mask.
*In-home carers, such as babysitters and nannies will be expanded to include school-aged children, but only if both parents are authorised workers.
The following restrictions will be eased once 70 per cent of Victorians have had their first dose, expected to be September 23
*Exercise limit will be extended from two hours to three
*5km radius of leaving home will be extended to 10km
*Outdoor recreation parks like skate parks and gyms will reopen
*Private inspections of unoccupied homes for sale or lease will be permitted. Only one household can be inside the premises at any time and the real estate agent must remain outdoors during the inspection
*Construction sites can operate at 50 per cent capacity if 90 per cent of workers have received their first dose