ACT confirms end to virus lockdown
Lockdown will end in the ACT at midnight on Thursday, despite the national capital confirming another 28 community COVID cases.
Of Tuesday’s cases, 22 were linked to known infections, with 14 of those being household contacts.
Nine cases were in quarantine for their entire infectious period, with 16 also being assessed as presenting a risk to others in the community.
But, with vaccination rates in the ACT reaching astonishing levels, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he would push ahead with eased virus measures.
“[Some] 72 per cent of our eligible population are now vaccinated. Our first-dose levels indicate that this will reach close to 99 per cent fully vaccinated towards the end of November,” he said on Tuesday.
“Our growing vaccination coverage will provide better protection for our community in the weeks and months ahead as the virus increases its spread throughout the community.”
When the lockdown lifts, Canberrans will be able to enjoy returned freedoms, including:
- Outside gatherings of up to 25 people, and up to five people visiting another household;
- Licensed venues will be allowed either five customers or one per four square metres, whichever is less. Up to 50 patrons will be allowed outside, on the same one-person-per-four-square-metres rule;
- Hairdressers and personal care business can reopen, with up to five clients at a time;
- Outdoor sporting team training can resume with up to 25 people in each outdoor space. Swimming pools will reopen with up to 25 swimmers across the venue, and only two swimmers per lane;
- Non-essential retail will continue to be mostly click-and-collect or delivery until October 29.
Canberra’s COVID lockdown began on August 12, with confirmation of the territory’s first virus infection in more than a year. It was extended several times as the outbreak spread, before Mr Barr promised it would end on October 15.
“Case numbers are expected to increase as restrictions are eased. But being fully vaccinated provides you with protection,” he said on Tuesday.
“It may not prevent you from getting the virus but it does reduce the likelihood and being fully vaccinated provides very effective protection against severe disease.”
The number of people in Canberra hospital’s with the virus rose to 19 on Tuesday. It includes eight in intensive care, six of them on ventilators.
ACT health authorities have said the number of COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreak had risen to 1262, with 806 of those having recovered.
The ACT will also ease border restrictions with NSW. From Friday, travel will be allowed from a large area immediately surrounding the national capital, including areas such as Goulburn, Gundagai and the Snowy region.
NSW residents in exempt border postcodes will be able to visit the ACT for work, study, shopping, healthcare and to visit family and friends.
Mr Barr said ACT residents would remain barred from travelling to NSW unless it was for essential work, childcare or providing urgent care to a vulnerable individual. He expected “more significant changes” as both jurisdictions reached 80 per cent fully vaccinated.
“With further easing of restrictions this Friday, we ask that you continue to be careful,” he told Canberrans.
“This will help prevent you from getting the virus and bring it home to the people you love.”
NSW restrictions eased on Monday following the lifting of the state’s lockdown.