Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett, Associate Professor Nathan Grills, a public health physician at Melbourne University, and Monash University infectious disease modeller Dr Michael Lydeamore say a number of restrictions could be relaxed to give Melburnians extra freedoms.
They told the Herald Sun the 9pm to 5am curfew should have been lifted saying it was “hard” to say how effective it has been and suggested there was no evidence it worked.
A number of outdoor restrictions could be eased, with small outdoor AFL Grand Final Day gatherings, picnics and the opening of outdoor gym equipment, basketball courts, golf and bike tracks flagged by leading experts as on the cards for the Victorian Government. Picture: Getty
“Being out after 9pm for activities within the public health rules is arguably safer than at other more crowded times – whether that’s grocery shopping or exercising,” Ms Bennett said.
“It should’ve lifted already. There is little evidence of its effectiveness when other stage 4 restrictions are in place. In my view it’s counter-productive and increases people density in supermarkets, which is what we are trying to avoid,” Prof Grills added.
The trio ruled out the idea of opening restaurants for fully vaccinated patrons but urged caution and to wait “a couple more weeks” as 70 per cent one dose was not enough protection to ensure safety while dining.
Dr Lydeamore flagged it is not safe, unless the density limit was small.
“Once case numbers begin to stabilise in Melbourne, outdoor dining might be considered a safe enough option for the fully vaccinated, given infection rates are likely to be between three and five times lower in this group,” Ms Bennett said.
Prof Grills added a system to check in for those who are vaccinated as well as unvaccinated was needed and hospitality venues should utilise more outdoor dining leading up to the warmer months.
Gladys Berejiklian has ‘shamed’ Daniel Andrews into releasing a roadmap: Panahi
Small outdoor gatherings could be allowed by AFL Grand Final Day on September 25 if residents were fully inoculated.
“People could be allowed to meet people from another household outdoors by grand final day as we could be approaching 50 per cent fully vaccinated and 80 per cent with one dose,” Ms Bennett said.
Prof Grills suggested five per group could be allowed to meet up, including any children under two, for picnics.
Dr Lydeamore said sticking to your own household on Grand Final Day was safer as a “small group” was hard to define and policing would be difficult.
Ms Bennett believes some solo activities will be permitted – such as golf – as well as exercising or simply relaxing in a park with people in your household.
“Walking to a local park and sitting for a while when away from others is less risky than strolling to the local shop and queuing for a coffee,” she said.
Prof Grills hopes to see the reopening of outdoor exercise equipment, including basketball rings, skate parks and bike tracks as the state government was no longer aiming for COVID zero.
All three believe schools will return some time in Term 4 but a cautious approach was needed, such as better ventilation and air filtering, density limits in classrooms and using campus spaces differently, and argued it was important for a child’s wellbeing to be back learning face-to-face and interacting with their friends.
Victoria ‘very close’ to meeting one million dose target: Merlino
Victoria is projected to hit 70 per cent on dose in its population on Friday with 41.4 per cent double dosed.
It will be another two weeks before they reach 80 per cent single jabs based on current vaccination numbers.
The state recorded 423 local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with only 129 linked and the remaining under investigation by health teams.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed during a doorstop at parliament on Tuesday he would reveal a roadmap out of the state’s sixth lockdown on Sunday.

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