Victoria has dramatically expanded compulsory vaccination orders to cover all essential workers, as it tries to keep its reopening plan on track.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the boosted vaccine mandates on Friday, after Victoria confirmed another 1143 local virus cases on Friday.
It was down on the record 1438 on Thursday.
“Yesterday’s cases took a lot of people by surprise … many people would have been quite concerned, scared even see a number as high as that,” he said.
“Today obviously is less than that and we are pleased, although we shouldn’t underestimate the challenge that 1143 COVID patients present, whether it be our hospitals in the ultimate sense, contact tracers, all the other support services.
He said requiring all essential workers – which range from cleaners to medical staff and even athletes – to be vaccinated was designed to protect the state’s plan to reopen. They will have until October 15 to have at least one COVID shot.
“This is about going the extra mile to protect the roadmap to opening, to protect 26 October or perhaps even a few days earlier, and to make sure we can open, be free, not have our health system overwhelmed with patients who are completely avoidable,” Mr Andrews said.
The announcement dose not affect timelines for groups such as healthcare and construction workers, who already had mandated shots.
There were also three more deaths in Victoria confirmed on Friday – a man and a woman in their 70s, and a man in his 80s, all from Melbourne. The death toll from the state’s current COVID outbreak so far is 44.
There were 62,883 tests processed and 34,935 vaccine doses administered at state hubs in the 24 hours to midnight on Thursday.
Just over 50 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated against the virus, while 80.9 per cent have had one dose.
Victoria has 10,944 active virus cases.
Elsewhere, the state’s construction industry has been given the go-ahead to restart from next Tuesday. It was shut down almost a fortnight ago after the virus spread across worksites and amid repeated flouting of virus rules.
The abrupt shutdown followed a violent protest outside the construction union headquarters, outside the Melbourne CBD. The building has since become a COVID exposure site, with several infections linked to it.