ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has attempted to outline a plan out of the current lockdown following backlash after he failed to describe any future beyond a four-week lockdown extension yesterday (September 14).
Frustration was also voiced around the minor easing of restrictions, which now allows people to play social golf, open houses have received the green light, and click-and-collect services can put five staff on, up from two.
Mr Barr justified the lockdown and these minor changes by saying that the territory’s health is the government’s number one priority.
“Vaccination is the main pathway to move safely beyond our current situation,” he said.
“When the nation moves forward with the national plan and crosses the 70 per cent vaccination threshold in mid to late October and the 80 per cent vaccination threshold in early to late November, the ACT’s vaccination program will put our city in a very strong position to gradually reopen.”
When the ACT reaches those rates, given its high levels of vaccination, Mr Barr does not anticipate that people will need proof of vaccination to access public or private services in the ACT.
He described better days ahead and said that the extended lockdown, which allows them to reach vaccination goals, means the ACT can work towards a safe and happy Christmas and happy holiday period for everyone.
“Right now we need to give more than 100,000 Canberrans the opportunity to get vaccinated in the next four weeks as we suppress our current outbreak,” he said.
“Whilst covid continues to circulate in our community and continues to circulate in communities just across the border, restrictions need to remain in place.”
However, the government, he said, is looking to get as many people back to work as soon as we can.
He said he is also aware of the impacts of mental health on people, saying that the government will be prioritising safe outdoor activity.
“We will move through phases, which will be triggered when the average vaccination rates across the nation, as well as the ACT have reached the required thresholds in mid to late October,” he said.
“When looking to change our public health restrictions, we will consider those national and local vaccination rates, the levels of community transmission, our testing rates, and our testing turnaround time, as well as our ability to test, trace and isolate.”
Similar to the transition out of Canberra’s lockdown last year, Mr Barr said the following types of restrictions will gradually change:
- Home visitation numbers.
- Gathering sizes will increase when it is safe to do so.
- Larger events and gatherings may remain restricted for longer.
- Density restrictions will apply to businesses, venues and facilities.
- There will be caps on the number of patrons and clients allowed to enter businesses.
- Restrictions within health care facilities will also need to be applied.
- There will be a gradual return to office buildings and workplaces.
- There will be a phased return to face-to-face learning when advised to do so.
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