Australia

Vic plan to reopen criticised by business

But lockdown will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians are double vaccinated, which is forecast for October 26.

At that stage, the city’s curfew will be lifted, the travel limit will increase to 25km and hospitality can open outdoors with a limit of 50 fully vaccinated people.

Fully vaccinated people will also be able to get a haircut and gather outdoors in groups of 10.

Once Victoria reaches its 80 per cent double-dose target, forecast for November 5, the travel limit is scrapped altogether, retail, gyms and beauty services can reopen for the fully vaccinated and hospitality can resume indoors.

Home gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, while at Christmas the figure is expected to increase to 30.

The reopening of schools will not be tied to vaccination coverage, with Year 12 students going back to class on October 6 and a staggered return of other years starting with Prep to Grade 2s on October 18.

Mr Andrews said the plan was “cautious” and would prevent the state’s hospital system from being overrun.

But the opposition and business groups have described it as conservative, given Sydney is on track to enjoy far more freedoms about a fortnight earlier than Melbourne, despite having recorded more COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

“Victorian businesses wanted a pathway to prosperity, but instead we got a roadmap with roadblocks,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said in a statement.

“It is extremely tough to look over the border and see our NSW neighbours get back to relatively normal life while we continue to be locked down in a holding pattern.”

The Australian Hotels Association Victorian president David Canny said he was “gutted” and called for consistency between states.

The Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the road map was “disappointing” and would cost the industry $6 billion.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 507 new COVID-19 cases and the death of a man in his 90s, bringing the toll from the latest outbreak to 11.

Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire also entered a seven-day lockdown due to a rise in infections.

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