Canberra will start reopening gradually from mid-October, in line with national vaccination thresholds of 70 and 80 per cent.
While the nation’s capital is expected to reach those targets earlier, its lockdown is slated to run until October 15 following a four-week extension.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr expected the ACT to be in a strong position to start reopening gradually as national vaccination thresholds of 70 per cent from mid-October and 80 per cent from early November were reached.
“We are an island jurisdiction within NSW without the capacity to have hard borders. So we also need the population that’s coming into the city to be vaccinated as well,” Mr Barr said on Wednesday.
“We expect restrictions to gradually change as we transition through these vaccination phases in October and November, with the caveat that they may need to be adjusted to respond to increased risk of COVID-19 spread.”
In Canberra, more than 50 per cent of residents aged 12 and older are double-dosed. As of Wednesday, 75 per cent were partially vaccinated.
“Soon, though, we will have administered first doses to everyone who wants one,” he said.
“Then the balance of the vaccination program will shift to second doses and it will significantly pick up pace.”
The ACT had 13 more infections – eight household contacts and five of the total in quarantine the whole time – a day after extending its lockdown for a third time.
The situation will be reviewed in two weeks, with small freedoms added in the meantime and the expected return of year 12s to classrooms for start of term four.
Canberra’s lockdown had previously been scheduled to run until 11.59pm this Friday.
But authorities hit the brakes because of continued unlinked cases and people infectious in the community.
Mr Barr floated greater caps on the number of people allowed to gather outdoors and the gradual reintroduction of home visits from later in October, if things go well.
Density limits of one person per four square metres would apply for businesses. This would then change to one person per two square metres.
Venues considered higher risk would remain closed or face greater restrictions for longer.
“Right now though we need to give more than 100,000 Canberrans the opportunity to get vaccinated in the next four weeks as we suppress our current outbreak,” he said.
“Our objective through all of this is to keep our community safe and to work towards a safe and happy Christmas and summer holiday period for everyone.”
ACT hospitals anticipate taking COVID patients from regional NSW in coming months.