18 October 2021

UPDATED: More restrictions to go as ACT hits 80% vaccination target

| Ian Bushnell
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chief minister Andrew Barr at a press conference

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the milestone would result in a further easing of lockdown restrictions. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

UPDATED 5:40 pm: More COVID-19 restrictions are set to be eased after the ACT reached the crucial 80 per cent fully vaccinated mark for its 12-plus population this afternoon.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said this would trigger the next step in the government’s pathway forward, with details to be announced tomorrow.

The reaching of the milestone means that the Commonwealth hotspot declaration in the ACT will cease at 11.59 pm tonight.

The Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said that under the National Plan agreed to by all First Ministers, hotspot-related support would cease two weeks later.

He said targeted and specific funding from the Australian Government to support the management of COVID-19 in the ACT would continue to be provided through the National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Response with all states and territories.

Under the National Partnership, the Australian Government pays for 50 per cent of costs incurred by hospitals and state public health authorities in managing the impacts of COVID-19 on the health system.

Professor Kelly congratulated the residents of the ACT for so wholeheartedly embracing the need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and for the contribution this has made to helping our country safely reopen.

The ACT was declared a hotspot for the purpose of receiving Commonwealth support on 12 August 2021.

A school and childcare centre have been listed as two close contact exposure locations on the ACT COVID-19 website – a construction site only at Campbell Primary from last Friday and Saturday, and Grass Parrot Room and Kangaroo Room at Narrabundah Early Childhood School from last Wednesday and Thursday.

Libraries ACT will reopen its Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong branches with reduced hours from Wednesday. More branches will open their doors from 1 November.

Maddie Williams received the first vaccine dose on 22 February. Today, 80 per cent of the Territory’s 12-plus population are fully vaccinated. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 11 am: The ACT has recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19 to 8 pm last night.

Yesterday the ACT had 33 new cases.

Of the new cases, 11 are linked to known or ongoing clusters.

There are 17 people in hospital with COVID, including nine in intensive care.

There are currently 441 active cases in the Territory. ACT Health has also reported that 79.5 per cent of the Territory’s 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated.

NSW has recorded 265 new cases and four deaths.

Victoria has recorded 1903 new cases and seven deaths.

Speed van

Mobile speed vans will step up operations from today. Photo: File.

9:50 am: Paid parking in ACT Government car parks will return on 1 November and mobile speed vans will step up operations as the ACT heads back into the first working week after the end of the COVID-19 lockdown on Friday.

The government says that with the amount of traffic increasing and more students returning to school, mobile speed vans will be back on residential streets today, especially in higher-risk zones such as near schools.

During lockdown, mobile speed detection vans primarily monitored main arterial roads, but the community can expect to see them more often and police regularly patrolling school zones.

Paid parking in ACT Government car parks was paused to support essential workers, but with the return of business and other activities, paid parking and parking enforcement will return on 1 November.

Acting Chief Police Officer for the ACT, Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier said ACT Policing would still be conducting anytime, anywhere COVID-19 compliance checks throughout Canberra, as well as monitoring road safety as traffic increases.

“Already this year, nine people have died on the ACT’s roads, and many more people have been injured. This means dozens of families grieving or coping with major changes to their lives,” he said.

“Speeding is the most common poor driver behaviour, and it is completely avoidable. I urge everyone to observe the speed limits and to drive to the conditions to stay safe on our roads.”

Only two casual contact exposure locations are listed on the ACT COVID-19 website this morning.

The foyer of the Kippax Uniting Community Centre in Holt is named from Friday, 15 October, between 10:55 am and noon.

The Kingston Foreshore Medical Centre is listed from Wednesday, 13 October, between 10:25 am and 11:20 am.

Testing numbers have fallen – only 1366 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 1:30 pm yesterday. The double-dose vaccination rate will cross the important 80 per cent threshold this week. Yesterday it was sitting at 78.5 per cent.

On the weekend, the ACT Government backflipped on border travel, expanding the bubble and allowing fully vaccinated Canberrans to travel into NSW and down the coast.

It then came under pressure from the Canberra Liberals and business groups to ease trading restrictions on businesses in line with NSW. The government may make further announcements ahead of the next checkpoint on 29 October.

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So wait… from what I’m reading here, the 80% vax rate triggers eased restrictions from tomorrow, which includes that we can visit libraries, which virtually nobody does…
Meanwhile, non-essential retail small businesses, who are going bankrupt because they essentially remain closed (click and collect and 2 ppl by appointment is barely providing an income, if the business bothers opening at all) are… who knows, probably stay the same until two weeks after the fully vaxxed takes effect…? All the while, looking out the window at their restaurant neighbours enjoying having 25 ppl indoors and 50ppl outdoors.
But that’s ok, we are 80% vaxxed so income support for those businesses and their employees will end. Allelujah!
And the clincher is that as we can get our businesses back up and running, the govt will ramp up its ways to fine us!?!?
All this on top of another obscene rate rise while they still charge ratepayers 8% compound interest on late payments?
Sorry, but what planet does Barr live on?

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