Victoria will reportedly scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated overseas travellers from November 1, returning more freedoms and bringing the state into line with NSW.
The rule change, which would apply to returning Australians and their families, is expected to be announced on Friday after cabinet ministers met on Thursday night to sign off on the plan.
It comes as cheers and clapping erupted across Melbourne at midnight as the world’s most locked down city celebrated the last of 263 days stuck at home during the pandemic by going out for a beer – or a haircut.
Residents flocked to pubs, cafes and hairdressers as businesses opened on the stroke of midnight when the city’s sixth lockdown officially ended.
Long lines formed outside popular venues as locals who had been holed up for months got their first taste of freedom and relished the opportunity to support struggling businesses.
One social media user likened the celebratory mood to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
— MrMG (@MrMG83414254) October 21, 2021
From Friday, people can leave their homes for any reason and travel anywhere within metropolitan Melbourne.
The curfew has been scrapped, home gatherings of up to 10 are allowed, and hairdressers, beauticians and hospitality businesses can reopen for the fully vaccinated.
The regional town of Mildura will also exit its lockdown at midnight, a day earlier than planned.
Even more freedoms will be earned when Victoria reaches the next vaccine milestone of 80 per cent double dose vaccinations which is expected to happen one week earlier around October 30.
At that point, Melburnians will be able to travel to regional Victoria, masks will no longer be required outdoors, retail and gyms reopen and up to 150 fully vaccinated patrons can be inside venues.
Tasmania’s border plans
Tasmania’s Premier is expected to outline his plan for reopening the island’s borders with the mainland on Friday.
Peter Gutwein, who wants the state’s 16-and-over population to be 90 per cent fully vaccinated against coronavirus by December 1, said he would also release scientific modelling on which the plan is based.
Mr Gutwein has previously indicated he wants Tasmania to reopen before Christmas.
The state is closed to NSW, Victoria and the ACT, while high-risk zones are declared in Queensland and South Australia.
More than 70 per cent of Tasmanians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated and more than 85 per cent have received one dose.
The state has had just three cases this year on the back of a hard border approach but has dodged several COVID-19 bullets.
More Qld exposure sites
Exposure sites have been listed across Brisbane and the Gold Coast after a man was infectious in the community for more than 10 days.
The man in his 30s, who is unvaccinated, is Queensland’s first locally acquired COVID case in over two weeks.
He remains on oxygen and is so sick that communication with health workers has been almost impossible, making contact tracing difficult.
The man also hadn’t checked in at venues via QR code since September 18.
Authorities confirmed he travelled to Queensland from Victoria and an investigation is underway by Queensland Police to ascertain how he entered the state from a hotspot.
Initial concerns about his occupation as a ride-share driver eased after Uber confirmed he hadn’t done that since September 19.
Meanwhile, the government will run another ‘Super Saturday’ vaccination push as pop up clinics open up across Queensland.
Up to 100 high schools will be open for people to get their jabs along with Bunnings retailers, as Queensland sets its sights on reaching re-opening targets in November and December.
NSW cases to spike
People entering NSW from Victoria will continue to be subject to public health orders until November 1, including completing a declaration and adhering to stay-at-home rules.
NSW Health released the advice on Thursday night.
Unvaccinated people who have been in Victoria in the previous 14 days will not be able to enter NSW for a holiday or recreation.
Meanwhile NSW is bracing for a post-lockdown spike in cases after infections climbed above 300 for the first time in three days.
Almost two weeks after stay-at-home orders lifted across the state, health authorities are expecting cases to begin rising from next week.
But they hope high vaccination rates will suppress the rapid spread of the virus — or at least keep a lid on hospitalisations.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said Wednesday’s numbers were still well below expectations.
“There will be increasing numbers, there will be an increase in hospitalisations,” he said.
“And that’s why I say to everyone across the state as we do open up, please follow the rules that are in place because those rules aren’t there for the sake of it.”
Chief health officer Kerry Chant warned earlier this week the expected rise in cases was yet to come and said her sights were set on getting at least 95 per cent of the state vaccinated.