Melbourne’s sixth lockdown to end at midnight as survey reveals first freedom priorities

Hospitality workers in Melbourne are scrambling to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of lockdown lifting.

Melburnians will emerge from lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, five days earlier than planned, as the state is expected to reach its 70 per cent fully-vaccinated target.

Federal government figures show 89.2 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 69.3 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Under the new rules, people will be able to leave their homes for any reason and travel anywhere within metropolitan Melbourne.

The curfew will be scrapped, home gatherings of up to 10 will be allowed, and hairdressers and hospitality businesses will reopen for the fully vaccinated.

Melbourne will emerge from lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, five days earlier than planned. Credit: AAP

However, in a last-minute change to reopening plans, all hospitality staff must be fully vaccinated to work.

This is despite online health directions stating authorised workers, including those in hospitality, must have had one vaccine dose by October 22 and a second by November 26.

Australian Hotels Association Victoria chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan said the government had “moved the goalposts” on the sector and has asked for a grace period to allow staff time to get vaccinated.

But Victoria’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said “there is no wriggle room” on the mandate.

With some pubs in the city to reopen at midnight, staff at hospitality venues will be allowed to go into work after the curfew kicks in at 9pm to get their venues ready, but patrons will need to wait until 11:59pm to leave home.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Victoria has recorded 1749 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, as the end of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown nears. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGE

According to a survey conducted by NAB, a top priority for about 48 per cent of Victorians once lockdown lifts, outside of visiting family and friends, is dining at a restaurant.

Forty per cent are prioritising having a haircut or beauty treatment, while one in five were keen to “get on the beers” at a pub.

About two in three of the 550 Victorians surveyed said they were going to “splurge” when restrictions lift.

Melbourne is considered the most locked-down city in the world, having endured a total of 262 days under stay-at-home orders since March 2020.

Victoria recorded 1841 local COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths on Wednesday, taking the toll from the latest outbreak to 175.

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