/ 11 October 2021

Feel the freedom

Image source: AFP
Image source: AFP

THE SQUIZ
It’s the day locked down and restricted New South Welshpeople have been waiting more than 3 months for. After reaching the statewide vaccination rate of 70% for 16yos and over last week, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says residents have “earned” the freedoms that come with today’s easing. But things won’t be perfect (like his keg tapping skills…) as tens of thousands of workers get back to it and the cobwebs of the 15-week shutdown are blown off. And Perrottet asked for “respect and kindness” for workers who have to check for proof of vaccination. Yesterday, the state reported 477 new cases – the lowest number since 17 August. Since the start of the outbreak in late June, 62,865 people in NSW have been infected with COVID and 431 people have died. 

HOW FAR AWAY ARE THE OTHERS? 
It depends on your relationship with the concept of time… Too much for a Monday morning? Fair enough. The lockdown of the ACT is set to end this Friday. What the territory lacks in COVID-zero it makes up for with an extremely high vaccination rate. Chief Minister Andrew Barr yesterday said 97.1% of the eligible population aged over 12yo have had at least one vaccine dose. “We are on the path to becoming one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” he said. And with Victoria expected to hit 70% fully vaccinated in a couple of weeks, Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday said that 2 November’s Melbourne Cup will go ahead with crowds of up to 10,000 people. The state again broke the new daily case record on the weekend, but Andrews said “we’re going to normalise this virus, we’re going to move through this difficult gateway, we’re going to open up and we’re going to be back doing what we do best.”

HOW GOOD WILL IT BE TO SHAKE IT OFF?
So good, but we aren’t there yet. Officials aren’t sounding the victory trumpet quite yet. States that have largely avoided outbreaks of the Delta strain remain on high alert for new cases. South Australia, Queensland and Western Oz all had scares on the weekend. And there are still questions to be answered about protecting kids aged under 12yo. Pfizer has delivered its submission to regulators in the US for its vaccine to be clear for use by kids aged as young as 5yo. In Australia, reports say officials are hopeful jabs could be rolled out to young kids later this year/early 2022. Some believe Australia should take a “wait and see” approach, but Health Minister Greg Hunt says it will be up to the official experts to deliver their advice.

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