News State Victoria News Big drop in Victorian COVID cases, ahead of next major easing

Big drop in Victorian COVID cases, ahead of next major easing

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Virus rules will ease across Victoria again on Friday, with the state rapidly approaching an 80 per cent vaccination rate. Photo: AAP
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Victoria has reported its lowest daily tally of COVID cases in nearly a fortnight as it races towards its next significant easting of virus rules.

There were another 1461 local infections across the state on Monday – the lowest daily number since 1466 reported on October 12, and well down on the recent recent pandemic highs of nearly 2300.

A further seven deaths were reported, taking the toll from the current Delta outbreak to 230. One was a woman in her 20s, while the others were two women in their 80s and four men aged from their 60s to their 90s.

Monday’s update came from nearly 57,000 test results – also a drop on the near-70,000 the state has often reported recently.

Hospital admissions have also ticked up, with 802 virus patients in Victorian hospitals.

It came after Premier Daniel Andrews announced major changes to Victoria’s roadmap on Sunday, for when the state reaches its next two major vaccination milestones.

With Victoria set to hit its 80 per cent full vaccination target ahead of schedule sometime next weekend, restrictions will ease further and align across the state from 6pm on Friday.

The ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be scrapped, reconnecting the state for the first time since the city’s 77-day lockdown lifted.

Masks will no longer need to be worn outdoors, entertainment venues, gyms and retailers can reopen indoors for fully vaccinated patrons, and capacity limits will increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Students from every year level across the state also return to full-time, face-to-face learning on November 1 before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday.

Longer term, Mr Andrews laid out a plan for the state once 90 per cent of the 12-plus population are fully vaccinated. That is forecast on or about November 24.

“There will be a fundamental change, a massive change, in many respects, to the rules that we have all been living under,” Mr Andrews said on Sunday.

All venue caps and density quotients will be scrapped at that point, along with mandatory indoor mask rules except in high-risk or low-vaccinated settings such as hospitals and schools.

Limits on home and outdoor gatherings will be shelved, paving the way for families to come together en masse at Christmas, while vaccine passport requirements expand to staff and patrons of non-essential retail stores.

Mr Andrews warned Victoria’s “vaccinated economy” would remain into 2022, with those who refuse to get the jab excluded from workplaces, venues and major events.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the easing of restrictions was too slow and not in line with national cabinet’s plan.

“What the government says applies at 90 per cent should apply at 80 per cent,” he said.

-with AAP