Victorian authorities have issued a dire message to the unvaccinated warning they “will be left behind” as the state emerged from months of restrictions.
Victoria is expected to hit its vaccine milestone of 80 per cent double doses this weekend as residents enjoyed greater freedoms following months locked down.
Despite the state having not quite hit the 80 per cent double dose mark on Saturday, authorities proceeded with winding back restrictions on Friday, which will mean 10,000 punters can attend Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
Victoria recorded 1355 new Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths on Friday amid mask rules being scrapped and retail opening up.
“If you’ve not yet been vaccinated, you’re overdue,” Covid commandert Jeroen Weimar said.
“You really must get it done now because you will be left behind.”
As of Saturday, 91.46 of eligible Victorians have had one dose of their Covid vaccine, while just over 79 per cent are fully vaccinated.
There are 747 people in hospital, 135 of which are in intensive care. Authorities say 83 people currently require ventilation.
Restrictions eased in the state on Friday evening, with shops, gyms and other retail businesses reopening.
Masks were also scrapped outdoors and most indoor settings – including restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers – opened with no caps if all staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.
Most outdoor settings now have a limit of up to 500 people, where staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.
The same indoor and outdoor settings now also apply to host weddings, funerals and religious gatherings if all attendees are fully vaccinated, with caps of 30 people for weddings, funerals and religious gatherings if vaccination status is unknown.
Under the eased restrictions, regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne were reunited after months apart.
Authorities are reporting a continued increase in cases around the Latrobe Valley and Albury-Wodonga.
Mr Weimar said there would be an increase in cases with the state continuing to open up and people travelling around the state more.
“This is a time where we will expect to see ongoing spread of cases across the community with more movement,” Mr Weimar said.
“Getting tested is going to be important but also particularly in our regional Victoria locations.”
Saturday’s press conference has closed a chapter for the state of Victoria, with Mr Weimar announcing it would be the last daily Covid update.
It follows 21 months of consistent updates as the state battled outbreaks from the beginning of the pandemic.
There will continue to be online updates, with press conferences now being held sporadically.
“I think all Victorians are excited about getting to 80 per cent and being able to ease off those restrictions, but the hard work continues,” Mr Weimar said.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but I don’t think anybody needs me to stand up every day to keep sending that message.
“There’s a lot to do and a long way to go yet before we really get back to having sustained freedom to we can really start to get on with our lives.”