'No turning back': Vic maps path to reopen

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the state is opening and 'there will be no turning back'.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the state is opening and 'there will be no turning back'.

Melbourne will be in lockdown until late October, with greater freedoms to be granted to fully vaccinated Victorians once the state reaches the 80 per cent double-dose target.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday unveiled Victoria's "cautious" roadmap out of lockdown, as the state recorded 507 new COVID-19 cases and the death of a man in his 90s, bringing the toll from the latest outbreak to 11.

According to the plan, outdoor sports such as golf and tennis can return and the 10-kilometre travel limit will increase to 15km when 80 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received a single vaccine dose, which is forecast for September 26.

Melbourne's restrictions will then remain unchanged 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 10km travel limit will increase to 25km and pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to 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, while religious ceremonies and community sport can also resume outdoors.

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

Mandatory masks will remain only indoors.

Home gatherings of up to 10 vaccinated 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 Year 2s on October 18.

"We are opening up, no doubt about that, and there will be no turning back," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"There will be pain, it will be challenging, it will be very hard on our amazing doctors, nurses and ambos and the whole team in our hospitals. We will support them, we'll stand with them."

Burnett Institute modelling commissioned by the Victorian government forecasts the state will reach a peak of between 1400 to 2900 daily COVID-19 cases between October 19 and 31, based on current numbers.

The demand on the healthcare system will grow as a result, with an estimated 1200 to 2500 COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation, and between 260 and 550 requiring intensive care treatment.

The modelling also forecasts a "second epidemic peak" in mid-December after restrictions are eased, which could push hospitalisations over 2500.

The modelling has an underlying assumption that vaccines will be mandatory for authorised workers, teachers, childcare workers, parents of childcare workers, hospitality workers and hospitality patrons.

Mr Andrews said Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton is considering mandating vaccines for several industries, noting rules have already come into effect for aged care, healthcare, construction and freight workers.

Professor Sutton described the roadmap as a "tightrope" between protecting the health system and looking after the wellbeing of Victorians.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy described the plan as "too harsh for too long", while the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Hotels Association were among businesses groups describing it as conservative when compared with NSW.

Meanwhile, Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire will enter a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Sunday, putting the areas under the same restrictions as Melbourne with the exception of curfew.

Australian Associated Press