Lockdown restrictions ease, again, in some regions as Victoria records 705 new local COVID cases and one death

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Victoria has recorded 705 new local coronavirus cases and one death as lockdown restrictions ease again in Geelong and across the Surf Coast and regional towns prepare to trial vaccine passports.

Monday’s case numbers come from more than 51,252 COVID-19 test results.

Coronavirus restrictions on the Surf Coast have eased, bringing the area into line with most of the rest of regional Victoria.Credit:Joe Armao

More than 29,657 Victorians rolled up their sleeves on Sunday for a COVID-19 jab, taking the number of fully vaccinated residents to 47.4 per cent while 77.5 per cent have received a first dose.

There are now 8538 active cases across the state.

The eased restrictions in Geelong and the Surf Coast will bring those areas back into line with other parts of regional Victoria, however, Mitchell Shire will remain in lockdown due to higher numbers of active cases and its proximity to the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the City of Hume.

Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are set for a slight easing of restrictions at 11.59pm on Tuesday, as Victoria is expected to reach the milestone of 80 per cent of the population vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents will be permitted to play “contactless” outdoor activities, such as golf and tennis; the 10-kilometre radius will be expanded to 15 kilometres; and personal training will be allowed with five fully vaccinated people and a fully vaccinated trainer.

Recently introduced restrictions around playgrounds will be also be lifted, allowing people to gather in groups of two or five, depending on their vaccination status, and to remove masks to eat and drink.

On Sunday, Industry Recovery Minister Martin Pakula said COVID-19 vaccine passports might be trialled at the Melbourne Cup to allow crowds to return to the spring carnival, as well as other ticketed events in country Victoria and metropolitan suburbs.

Regional hospitality, hairdressing and tourism businesses in six local government areas will be part of the two-week trial to determine how vaccine passports could be rolled out across the state, with the Premier indicating COVID-19 jabs would probably be mandated for those sectors.

Mr Pakula said the trial, beginning on October 11, would flesh out how best to determine a person’s vaccination status, including how the federal government’s immunisation register could be linked to the Service Victoria app, and alternative ways for people to prove they have been fully vaccinated if they do not have a smartphone.

“We’ll also be looking at what sort of training staff need, what sort of support business owners require, what sort of public communication or vaccine requirements will be necessary,” Mr Pakula said. “All of that will be fed into these trials.”

The businesses participating in the trial will be picked from the local government areas of Buloke, Pyrenees, Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, East Gippsland and Warrnambool, all of which have high vaccination rates and low to no coronavirus cases.

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