Victorians raring to shop and reunite as state records 1656 new cases of COVID-19, 10 deaths

Victorians raring to shop and reunite as state records 1656 new cases of COVID-19, 10 deaths

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Victoria has recorded 1656 new cases and 10 deaths ahead of gyms, indoor retail and entertainment reopening and regional borders dissolving at 6pm on Friday as the state closes in on 80 per cent of the population being double-dosed.

There are now 738 people in hospital with coronavirus, with 130 in ICU and 85 on a ventilator, according to the Department of Health.

Under the state’s road map, most COVID-19 rules will fade into history today at 6pm.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Victoria has 23,730 active cases. There were 20,361 vaccination doses administered across Thursday, with more than 70,000 test results returned.

Around 78 per cent of Victoria’s eligible population over 16 is fully vaccinated.

From 6pm on Friday night, travel will be allowed between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne, with masks no longer required outdoors.

Gyms, indoor entertainment and retail will be able to throw open their doors for the first time in three months.

Most indoor settings, including restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers, will be subject to a one-person per 4sqm limit as long as staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.

Paul Guerra, the head of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Friday would be a “champagne day” for business, but more work would need to be done on getting office workers to return to the CBD, as well as international students back into the state.

“We’ve been waiting 20 months for this but finally every business in the state not only gets to open, but we think they can all trade viably,” he told

Children will return to full-time schooling from Monday.

The latest tier-1 exposure sites identified by health authorities across regional Victoria include restaurants, a whitegoods and furniture store and a laser clinic.

Harvey Norman in Mildura, in the state’s far north-west, was declared a tier-1 site across eight different days between Friday, October 15 and Tuesday, October 26.

At Moe in the Latrobe Valley, Indulge Yourself Beauty Therapy Spa and Laser Clinic was listed as a close contact site over three days from Wednesday, October 20, while Turfside Bar and Grill at Moe Racing Club was listed as tier-1 on Saturday, October 23.

D’Amicos Italian Restaurant at Wangaratta was also listed as a tier-1 site, as was BOUNCEinc at Geelong.

Victorian hospitals are buckling under the strain of coronavirus, with the Department of Health’s latest annual report showing almost every part of the health system is failing to meet key performance targets, costing taxpayers and risking lives.

Only 68 per cent of emergency patients were treated on time (considerably fewer than the department’s 80 per cent target) while only 54 per cent of emergency mental-health patients were admitted to a bed within the required eight hours (also worse than the 80 per cent target).

“Quite frankly it is going to get worse before it gets better and we have staff who are severely burnt out,” Australian Medical Association state president Roderick McRae said. “The situation is very likely to deteriorate before it improves.”

With Cassandra Morgan, Farrah Tomazin and Melissa Cunningham

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