Victoria’s “Freedom Day” welcomed as state approaches 90-pc vaccine milestone

Since opening in March last year, Comedy Republic has had to keep its doors closed 49 percent of the time.

But things will be different in Victoria with restrictions now eased.

Comedy Republic co-founder Kyran Wheatley said being able to open up to 100 percent capacity for the very first time was “incredible”.

“I had the date that we were expecting 90 percent [vaccination] on my whiteboard for weeks, “said Mr. Wheatley.

“Every day when it changes, I would rub it and put on the new one.

On Wednesday, Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced a widespread easing of COVID-19 restrictions across Victoria.

By 23:59 on Thursday night, there were no longer density limits at hospitality locations, restrictions on home visits were removed, and masks were no longer required in most settings.

Mr Andrews said the changes were due to Victorians on the way to having 90 per cent of their population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated on Saturday or Sunday.

“You’ll be able to get back to normal,” Mr. Andrews said.

What this means is that Victorians will have more freedoms than those in NSW, where density limits still apply, including in restaurants, hospitality venues, funerals and weddings.

Mr Wheatley said having no density restrictions would make a significant difference for many.

“Tonight’s show has 35 people in 130 seats [venue], “he said.

“The difference between being open and being under restriction is basically that we will be able to make money again.”

Acceleration for sporting events, but challenges remain

Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stuart Fox says the first day of the Boxing Day cricket at maximum capacity will be special.(Getty Images: Scott Barbour)

Under the eased conditions, events with less than 30,000 people in attendance can continue for the fully vaccinated.

Major events such as the Box Test and the Australian Open will not be subject to participation or density limits but will have to send a COVID safety plan for approval.

Welcoming the changes, Melbourne Cricket Club CEO Stuart Fox said as Victorians have lived the past 18 months in confinement, the first Boxing Day would be special.

“It’s like a symbolic statement, isn’t it. We’re back, and Victorians can enjoy life again,” he said.

However, Mr Fox said they will have to be prepared to manage the crowds in a safe COVID manner.

“The main challenge for us is to get a lot of people through the gates in a very short amount of time,” he said.

“It’s about being prepared, having the Service Victoria app downloaded and proving double vaccination at gates.”

Safety measures in “major” schools

Young children in India wearing face masks in a classroom
Victorian president of the Australian Education Union, Meredith Peace, says the community understands the need for masks in primary schools.(Reuters: Rupak De Chowdhuri)

While restrictions are declining elsewhere, and schools, childcare and early childhood education are open to all ages, masks must be worn indoors in an elementary school by employees, visitors and students in the 3rd year and older.

Victorian President of the Australian Education Union Meredith Peace said the demand for masks is understandable.

“There are always challenges when you ask students to do things they have to do,” she said.

A large electronic sign saying Comedy Republic hangs from the ceiling in front of a colorful wall.
Comedy Republic co-founder Kyran Wheatley says this is the time for live performance to shine.(ABC News: Simon Tucci)

Meanwhile, business owners are preparing to serve hunters hungry for a taste of a post-locked life.

“I’m sure every single homeowner in the state is struggling to see how fast they can open the door tomorrow, how much more storage they can get in the fridge, how many more seats they can get out of storage, to get in. The doors again opens up and the people back into town, “Mr. Wheatley said.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern for 18 months, so this is the time for live entertainment, for live performance.

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