Victoria records 1,890 new COVID cases, crowds of 10,000 to be allowed at Melbourne Cup
Victoria has recorded 1,890 new cases of COVID-19 and five people have died as plans to hold events with thousands of fully vaccinated people in less than a month have been unveiled.
One of the new cases was initially reported as a locally acquired case, but has since been reclassified as one that emerged in hotel quarantine.
The Victorian government has announced that the Melbourne Cup will go ahead with crowds of up to 10,000 people on Tuesday, November 2.
Premier Daniel Andrews said holding events was an "important signal" of how the coming months would look.
"That is, we're going to normalise this virus, we're going to move through this difficult gateway, we're going to open up and we're going to be back doing what we do best," he said.
The deaths recorded in the state in the past 24 hours were two men in their 70s from Maribyrnong and Wyndham, a woman in her 80s from Yarra, and two men in their 50s from Melbourne and Brimbank.
The death toll for the current outbreak sits at 85.
The new cases bring the total number of active cases in the state to 18,342.
More than 85 per cent of Victorians aged 16+ have now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and more than 58 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Crowds of 10,000 to be at Melbourne Cup
On Saturday, October 30, a live music event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne will be one of the first large gatherings in a series planned to take place as Victoria starts reopening.
Mr Andrews said more planning needed to be done to work out how many people could attend, but it would be an event for fully vaccinated people only and it would involve a few thousand people.
On November 2, 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup and similar crowds are planned for Oaks Day and Stakes Day.
Mr Andrews said the crowd for the Melbourne Cup was "guaranteed" but numbers for the other racing events would depend on the state reaching its target of 80 per cent of those aged 16+ being fully vaccinated.
"Whether you're a racegoer or not, whether you're a fan of that sport or not, that will be a really important day for every single Victorian, I think," he said.
Racing Minister Martin Pakula confirmed that if the state does not reach its 80 per cent full vaccinated goal by Melbourne Cup Day, only people who live within 25 kilometres of Flemington Racecourse would be able to attend.
Attendees will need to be fully vaccinated, wearing a mask and will be separated into distinct zones to try to minimise risk.
Mr Pakula addressed the backflip the state government made last year after it faced criticism for allowing crowds at racing events in October when the city was locked down.
"I put my hand up at the time to say that was a misreading of the mood of the public given what we had been through," he said.
"I think things are quite different now.
"A, it's a vaccinated economy trial, it's actually a very important thing for us to do. But secondly, this pandemic has now been running for over 18 months and I think that there is a powerful, powerful emotion and urge in the community for us to get open."
People will be able to upload their COVID-19 vaccine certificate to the Service Victoria app from tomorrow, and the way people check in to venues will change.
Under the roadmap laid out by the state government, it was estimated 70 per cent of Victorians aged 16+ would be vaccinated by October 26, and 80 per cent by November 5.
Mr Andrews said the state was "looking very, very solid" to reach the 70 per cent target ahead of schedule.
Regional cinemas, pubs to host more people from Monday
As many as 15 venues in six local government areas have been chosen for the vaccinated economy trial and they will be able to operate at higher density and capacity limits than allowed under current rules from Monday.
Those venues include art galleries in Warrnambool, Bairnsdale and Bendigo, pubs in Cowes, Avoca and Wycheproof, real estate agents in Traralgon and Warrnambool as well as a gym and church in Bendigo.
Chris Fuhrmeister owns Lakes Squash and Movie Theatre at Lakes Entrance in Gippsland, which is among the regional businesses selected to take part in the trial.
From Monday, 30 fully vaccinated people will be able to go to the cinema rather than the cap of 20 that applies under current rules.
Mr Fuhrmeister said the businesses selected had been given some training.
He said he wanted to be part of the two-week trial to be a part of helping cinemas recover from the effects of the pandemic.
"Cinema has suffered horribly through the last two years," he said.
Mr Fuhrmeister said he had some concerns about enforcing the rules about vaccination, but he was still looking forward to taking part.
"And, after two weeks, it's something we are all going to have to come to grips with.''
Buloke Shire Mayor Daryl Warren said he was glad to hear that the Terminus Hotel in Wycheproof would be part of the trial.
The local government area, in the state's north west, has not recorded a COVID-19 case since the pandemic began.
He said the trial would help other businesses work out how the vaccinated economy would work once it rolled out statewide.
"At the end of the day, the staff will be the people out there policing this, not the government," he said.
Cr Warren said it was only a matter of when his shire would record its first COVID-19 case.
"I'm confident our community will do what they've done all through the pandemic, which is adhere to the rules, play their part and be very vigilant, and so forth," he said.
Half of new cases across six LGAs
COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said a quarter of Sunday's new cases were aged under 20, and two-thirds were aged under 40.
Half of the infections emerged across six local government areas, which were Hume, Casey, Melton, Brimbank, Whittlesea and Wyndham.
In regional Victoria, there were 18 new cases in Mildura, which means there are now 55 active cases in that community. Mildura has been in lockdown since Friday evening.
In other regional areas, there were 16 new cases in Shepparton, 12 in Geelong, 12 in the Macedon Ranges, 11 in Latrobe and 18 in Baw Baw Shire.
There are 609 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 126 requiring intensive care and 88 on a ventilator.
Mr Weimar said there was evidence of spread of Delta slowing in the Hume local government area, which has been one of the hardest hit during this outbreak.
"We're seeing a definite cooling often the case growth rate in Hume, which is a very welcome step forward," he said.
Leading GP says legitimate vaccine exemptions 'exceedingly rare'
The latest vaccination figures come as health authorities acknowledged reports of some Victorian GPs giving their patients medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I have heard those reports. There are very specific reasons for exemptions under the CHO directions and they relate to specific contraindications to the vaccine," deputy health secretary Kate Matson said.
Exemptions may be given if a person has suffered anaphylaxis after a previous dose of a vaccine.
Ms Matson said legitimate reasons for exemptions being granted were rare and that giving an unnecessary exemption was considered a breach of public health orders.
"The penalties are well outlined in the CHO directions and in the public health and wellbeing act."
Karen Price, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said the upcoming deadline for mandatory vaccination of authorised workers in Victoria may have spurred people to seek exemptions.
"There's certainly been a lot more anecdotal evidence that people are starting to ask about them," she said.
Dr Price said she had heard of only one case in the western suburbs of a doctor giving out unwarranted exemptions.
"I have heard that it was widely known within that community and that there was a community group where it was talked about that you could get a medical exemption," she said.
Dr Price also acknowledged anecdotal reports from colleagues of some Victorians visiting many different doctors in a row looking for a medical professional to sign off on an exemption.
She encouraged people to speak with their GP about any vaccine concerns but said it was safe for the vast majority of people.
"We're happy to have a conversation about it but we know that the exemptions for vaccinations are vanishingly rare," she said.
Dr Price also said immuno-compromised people should not avoid the vaccine, and would more than likely be recommended to receive a third dose for additional protection.