Melbourne finally freed from lockdown despite 2232 new cases

“I hope everyone enjoys those first reunions with their families, the first netball, cricket training with their kids, the first pot and parma at the pub. Every single Victorian has earned this.”

The state soared past both the 70 per cent double dose and 90 per cent first dose thresholds on Thursday.

For Daniel Adgemis, who owns the Union Hotel on Chapel Street in Melbourne’s inner south-east, the vaccination milestone meant he and his staff can finally get back to work.

The Union was fully booked for the next three to four days as Melburnians celebrate their freedom, and Mr Adgemis expected it would stay “really busy” until Christmas.

“Then this year, we found January and February were busier than usual, people weren’t going away as much, so we’re hoping for that bounceback then as well,” he said.

“People are keen to get out, I think we’re all in the same boat … Lockdown gets harder every time, but hopefully with these vaccines it provides a sustained period to live the way you want to live.”

He was also hoping Victoria hits the 80 per cent double vaccination threshold – which is currently anticipated on November 5 – ahead of schedule to allow venues to have increased capacity for Melbourne Cup public holiday.

At that point, Friday’s caps of 20 patrons indoors and 50 outdoors will increase to 150 and 500 respectively for hospitality venues, and retail can reopen indoors.

Victoria needs to administer another 500,000 jabs to reach that point, but Mr Merlino said on Thursday that the Andrews government would further ease rules “the moment” that was reached.

“We will bring it forward as much as we can,” he said, adding that Victoria was already “tracking ahead” of November.

Mr Adgemis admitted he was “a bit concerned with the new challenges” around checking patrons’ vaccination statuses, however, with the government placing the onus on businesses to ensure both staff and customers follow vaccine mandates.

“Dealing with people who aren’t following the rules and have had a few drinks, that’s going to be a bit of a challenge,” he said.

“People who are pro-choice and may say to you, you should let me in.”

He was also concerned about staffing the post-lockdown rush, as closed state and federal borders combined with JobKeeper severing ties employees had with their employers has led to a shortage of hospitality workers.

“The industry is going to be really demanding on everyone unless travellers can come back or there’s free travel between states, we usually get people who want to move here because Melbourne’s a good city to live in but we’ve lost those advantages now.

“We’re pretty good for now, but we don’t know if we can cater for the seven-day roster like we have before.”

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