Victoria premier Dan Andrews has doubled down on his decision to send Melbourne into the world’s longest lockdown in a media blitz of breakfast TV interviews.
The beleaguered Labor leader did back-to-back interviews on Today and Sunrise to defend his record as Victoria finally starts to re-open this week,
He rejected criticism of his lockdown policy that saw Melbourne forced into six shutdowns since the start of the pandemic.
By the time restrictions start to ease on Friday, the city will have endured a total of 262 days in lockdown, the most of anywhere on the planet.
But Mr Andrews insisted: ‘Unless you want cases to race and have our hospital system completely overwhelmed, you have to use the tools available to you.’
Victoria premier Dan Andrews (pictured) has doubled down on his decision to send Melbourne into the world’s longest lockdown in a media blitz of breakfast TV interviews
Mr Andrews said lockdowns were the only option before there was a vaccine and until it had been widely distributed throughout the population.
But with Victoria now close to reopening on Friday after hitting 70 per cent adult vaccine penetration, he promised a change of approach was coming.
‘We have a vaccine now,’ he told Nine’s Today show. ‘People have got that vaccine in record numbers. That means we’re into a different phase now, normalising this.
‘It’s not a perennial suppression. We’ll move through this difficult gateway and normalise this virus. Get our freedoms back. Repair the damage. Heal those wounds that are particularly considerable.
By the time restrictions start to ease on Friday, Melbourne will have endured a total of 262 days in lockdown, the most of anywhere on the planet. (Pictured, a couple soak up the sun at St Kilda on Sunday)
‘But we will do that with the same sort of speed that Victorians have gone and got the jab.’
He defended his plan for staggered re-opening – which bizarrely sees hairdressers and nail salons opening up before indoor retail shops – as part of the process.
‘This has to be done in a staggered way,’ said Mr Andrews. ‘They’re difficult decisions to make.
‘You can’t do everything that is foreshadoweded at 80 per cent when you’re only at 70 per cent. Good news is we’ll get to 80 per cent on the Melbourne Cup weekend, only a week later.
‘I know it’s frustrating for those who are in 80 per cent easings rather than 70. ‘
But he added: ‘Victorians are getting vaccinated so fast we’ll achieve 80 per cent quite soon after we achieve 70 per cent.
‘Victorians have done an amazing job in getting vaccinated in record numbers and in record time. So Friday will be a very big day’
From 11.59pm on Thursday, all restrictions for leaving home will be abolished, along with the city’s nightly curfew.
Up to 10 visitors will be allowed in a home per day, and pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will be able to open to 20 fully vaccinated customers indoors, and 50 doubled-dosed people outdoors.
Changes will also be made to isolation orders, with fully vaccinated people who are identified as a primary close contact of a confirmed case they do not live with having to quarantine for seven days rather than 14.
The premier also confirmed Victoria will not lock down the entire state moving forward and instead opt for targeted restrictions in ‘very narrow circumstances’.
‘No more statewide lockdowns. What we are moving away from is instead of locking people down, we are locking people out,’ he said.
‘If you are not double-dose vaccinated, you won’t be able to go to the pub.
‘You’re not going to get to go to the cinema, you’re not going to get to do all the things that you’ve yearned for, and missed so much.
‘So there’s every reason to get vaccinated, it’s safe, it works. It’ll keep you out of hospital, and it will mean you’re able to participate across the Victorian economy.’
Fully-vaccinated travellers to Victoria will soon be able to dodge hotel quarantine too under the new changes, but Mr Andrews ruled out following the NSW lead and scrapping quarantine completely from November 1.
Instead, he has foreshadowed travellers will be able to isolate at home for fewer than 14 days.
‘It will be less,’ he told Seven’s Sunrise. ‘If you are double-dose vaccinated, you will be able to quarantine at home and hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past.
‘Once this is all over, we’re going to finish up being one of the most vaccinated places anywhere in the world.
‘And that’s something that every Victorian should be absolutely proud of.’
More to follow