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Melburnians facing a week’s wait for freedom plan

Seal Media Group, Australia

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to detail a reopening plan for Victorians within days.Amid growing calls for more hope and certainty for Victorian businesses, families and schoolchildren before term 4, Mr Andrews said on Sunday he would release a comprehensive plan “in about a week’s time”.“That will give people a sense of schools, hospitality, where they can go, who they can visit, all of those things,” he said.The state government will this week receive more Burnet Institute modelling on the effect of easing restrictions as vaccination targets are hit. The Premier has previously suggested a very minor easing of Melbourne’s lockdown, including an extension of the 5km travel limit to 10km, when the state hits a 70 per cent single dose vaccination rate – projected to be September 17.On Sunday, he said that any “roadmap in that race to 80 per cent” would include caveats based on the number of active cases and people in hospital.He also said it would include better ventilation at schools and staggered entry times for students, but refused to commit to a term 4 date when students would return to the classroom. It comes as Opposition Leader Matthew Guy called for the government to consider “social interaction bubbles”, allowing small gatherings between families, in time for the AFL grand final on September 25.“The government has got a couple of weeks now to prepare for it,” he said.“I hope they do because Victorian families deserve it. They have earnt that.”Vic Locally-acquired Covid-19It comes as the number of active Covid cases continued to grow on Sunday, seeping into regional Victoria and causing chaos for V/Line, with some services scrapped completely. Victoria recorded 392 locally acquired cases, a drop from Saturday’s 450; 107 cases were linked to existing outbreaks and the number of active cases rose to 3112. More than 48,000 tests were processed. There are 147 Victorians in hospital, including one person who is fully vaccinated; 34 of those are in intensive care and 28 are on ventilators. Authorities are scrambling to contain the V/Line outbreak, and four workers have tested positive since Friday. A regional train driver worked for four days while infectious, visiting the Traralgon and Southern Cross depots.V/Line services were brought to a halt to allow for contact tracing, with buses replacing trains where possible. Outbreaks in the northern suburbs, home to two-thirds of Sunday’s cases, continued to be of concern.The vast majority of new cases were in Hume with 137, as well as 49 in Moreland and 42 in Whittlesea.About a quarter of the cases came from the western suburbs including 30 in Wyndham, 19 in Hobsons Bay and 13 in Brimbank. Worryingly, regional Victoria reported five cases, including one in Greater Geelong, one in Mildura, two in Gippsland and one in the Macedon Ranges – linked to the V/Line cluster.Deputy chief health officer Dan O’Brien identified the Fitzroy Community School in North Fitzroy as the most “significant emerging outbreak” involving at least 30 staff and students.Deoples COVID-19 Victorian Exposure Sites Table PM, TREASURER BACK GRAND FINAL VAX HUB IDEAScott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have joined a host of footy legends in backing a special vaccination hub to give Victorians a “jab at the ’G”.But the state and federal governments are still working on how to turn the MCG into a vaccination site that could be used on the grand final public holiday and the day of the game.Victorian Covid response deputy secretary Naomi Bromley said the initiative – proposed by a Sunday Herald Sun campaign – would be a “lovely thing to do” and was “certainly one of the options on the table” as the state’s rollout expanded.Daniel Andrews said there was “no shortage of ideas” to bolster the program, although the Premier warned the government did not have “unlimited resources”. “Our priority is to take the vaccination program where the cases are,” Mr Andrews said.The federal Treasurer told the Herald Sun: “Any opportunity to drive a faster and greater take-up of vaccines using the iconic MCG is not only welcome but would be kicking a goal for Victoria.”“We would be pleased to assist the state government if they were to support this initiative,” Mr Frydenberg said.— Read the full story here and sign the petition for Jabs at the ‘G. Can’t see the petition below? Click here to sign.MCG petitionTHE 100 PRIORITY POSTCODES TARGETED IN JAB BLITZPop-up vaccination centres will be set up at schools, council buildings and places of worship across 100 priority postcodes as Victoria’s vaccination race is accelerated with a massive supply injection.The federal government is sending an extra 417,000 Pfizer and Moderna doses to Victoria over the next three weeks in a blitz aimed at the northern and western suburbs, where case numbers are soaring amid lower vaccination rates.Click here to find out which suburbs will be targeted. National – 2021 – Covid Vaccination StatsNED-4476-Covid-19-Vaccine-Rates-MelbourneCLUBS APPROACHING ‘FINANCIAL CLIFF’Clubs at the heart of regional communities are warning of thousands of job losses from density limits for their venues, with 44 per cent approaching a “financial cliff” within three months if they cannot bring more people in.The Andrews government is being urged to rethink the current capacity limits outside Melbourne for clubs, which allow just 10 visitors indoors and 20 outdoors. Community Clubs Victoria believes a fraction of its venues plan to reopen under the rules and that the restrictions are putting them in a perilous financial position.A survey of members showed 44 per cent would be in dire straits within the next 12 weeks unless they were allowed at least 100 patrons inside.Chief executive Andrew Lloyd said venues with more space needed bigger capacities and a path to plan for their future.Staff shortages are also a major concern, with 40 per cent of clubs saying they will not be able to open fully because workers have left for better job security.Those with permanent staff may be forced into redundancies because they cannot sustain paying them for a full working week under limited numbers.Mr Lloyd said many community clubs had bigger spaces than cafes or restaurants and could safely operate.Warragul Social Club general manager Jenny Smith said they would open under limited numbers but this would be extremely difficult.“Running costs are going to blow out to the extreme,” she said. “We support the community, we sponsor sporting groups and non-profit charities with the regions … Clubs are important parts of the community.“We understand the government are trying their best but we just need to get capacities lifted.”A government spokesman on Sunday evening said: “Like every decision we’ve made since the beginning of the pandemic, density limits in place in regional Victoria are based on public health advice.”

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