ACT to stick to its ‘own path’ outside the lockdown as Victoria reveals path to freedom | The Canberra Times

ACT to stick to its ‘own path’ outside the lockdown as Victoria reveals path to freedom |  The Canberra Times

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The ACT government will not be pressured to rethink the path out of Canberra’s lockdown, despite Victoria revealing a detailed roadmap for easing restrictions. Health Secretary Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT would stick to its reopening plan even as the other states battling coronavirus outbreaks begin to map out a clearer picture of what life after lockdown will look like. The release of Victoria’s roadmap has prompted ACT opposition leader Elizabeth Lee to demand from Barr government information a clear exit plan for Canberrans, which she says “quickly loses hope that life will get better”. The ACT recorded a further 17 cases of community transfer up to 8pm on Saturday. Only five people were quarantined throughout his infection period. There are now eight people in the hospital, two of them in the intensive care unit and one in a ventilator. Last week, the territory’s lockdown was extended to October 15, with only minor restrictions lifted, as authorities remain concerned about the number of mysterious cases circulating in the community. After being criticized by corporate groups and the ACT opposition for not detailing a clear plan outside the lockdown, Prime Minister Andrew Barr clarified that restrictions would slowly ease as Canberra hit key vaccination targets in October and November. This will include the return of small household collections and the reopening of hospitality venues with strict density limits, reflecting the pattern of how the city emerged from last year’s lockdown. But pressure on the Barr government to provide greater clarity on the ACT’s path to freedom must intensify this week, after Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews unveiled a “cautious” but detailed plan to reopen his state. The announcement came despite Victoria registering another 500 new infections on Sunday. According to the plan, when 70 per cent of Victorians are double-vaccinated – forecast for 26 October – Melbourne’s pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs will be able to open outdoors with a limit of 50 fully vaccinated people. Thirty visitors could be allowed to gather in a home for Christmas lunch under the plan, which is conditional on health capacity. Victorians must be vaccinated to enjoy many of the freedoms. “We are opening up, no doubt about it and there will be no going back. We have to normalize this, we have to pass and beyond this pandemic,” Andrews said. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: The NSW government also announced on Sunday relaxed restrictions for residents of Sydney’s COVID hotspots, which on Monday will enjoy most of the same freedoms as the rest of the city. Fronting reporters ahead of Mr Andrews’ announcement, Stephen-Smith said the ACT would map its own course out of the lockdown. From Monday, the ACT will begin reporting vaccination coverage for its over-12 population, rather than over-16s. As of Sunday, 78.2 percent of Canberrans over the age of 12 had received at least one dose, while 54.1 percent were fully vaccinated. “We will follow our own path and I think the Minister has actually paved that path,” she said, adding that the plan was scheduled to be revised on October 1st. Stephen-Smith challenged the suggestion that the law had a “lower risk appetite” than Victoria, noting that some of the restrictions eased for Victorians have never been imposed on Canberrans. This included a curfew at night and a limit on the distance people could travel from their homes. But Stephen-Smith acknowledged that the ACT had taken a cautious approach through the pandemic, based on health advice and its desire to prevent Canberrans in the hospital with the virus. Mrs Lee said Victoria’s roadmap included the type of details Canberrans had hoped to hear in Mr Barr’s statement on Tuesday, which she described as “terribly inadequate”. She said that according to Mr Andrew’s plan, Victorians would have more freedoms than Canberrans would have when 70 per cent of their respective eligible populations were fully vaccinated. “The prime minister said he would check in halfway through October 1,” Lee said on social media. “I urge him to do more than ‘check-in’; he must deliver a proper plan; a proper roadmap; a proper path for the Canberrans, who quickly lose hope that life will get better.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in ACT and lockdown is free for all to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you can, you can subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our regular newsletter.

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