Victoria’s Covid outbreak surges with 2,189 new cases and a record 16 dead


Victoria recorded 16 Covid-related deaths overnight – the highest single-day toll in any state during Australia’s latest Delta outbreak – and 2,189 cases as Melbourne finally emerged from lockdown with residents flocking to hairdressers, cafes and pubs.

The Friday case numbers were slightly down from the 2,232 infections recorded on Thursday, with 784 people in hospital and 145 in intensive care, including 94 are on a ventilator. 

The latest infections were announced just hours after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Melbourne when the clock struck midnight and the city’s long-suffering residents were finally released from the world’s longest lockdown.

Victoria officially lifted its stay-at-home orders at 11.59pm on Thursday after the Covid-riddled state passed its 70 per cent vaccination target. 

Revellers screamed in celebration from their apartment balconies, while car horns could be heard blaring in the background as overjoyed Melburnians got their first taste of freedom since August. 

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday morning posted a gushing tweet to mark the easing of restrictions – revealing how he was ‘bloody proud’ of Victorians.

‘I’m trying not to sound like some kind of soppy Dad here, but I am proud, bloody proud of this state,’ he wrote.

Revellers stop to pose for a photo as a jubilant atmosphere washes over Melbourne as the city’s lockdown finally ended

Overjoyed Melbourne residents savoured their first drink in a pub since August as the city's lockdown lifted (pictured)

 Overjoyed Melbourne residents savoured their first drink in a pub since August as the city’s lockdown lifted (pictured)

A bartender makes a cocktail just after midnight at Angle Bar in Melbourne. Victoria is moving towards its vaccination targets and a complete reopening

A bartender makes a cocktail just after midnight at Angle Bar in Melbourne. Victoria is moving towards its vaccination targets and a complete reopening

Punters are seen dining outdoors in Lygon Street, Carlton, in Melbourne on Friday. The city has emerged from the world's longest lockdown, and as vaccination rates continue to rise, even more freedoms are less than two weeks away.

Punters are seen dining outdoors in Lygon Street, Carlton, in Melbourne on Friday. The city has emerged from the world’s longest lockdown, and as vaccination rates continue to rise, even more freedoms are less than two weeks away.

‘We’ve gone through such a hard time together, this pandemic has been exhausting in every sense of the word.  

‘The fact that we’re here today, and opening up, is only because of the sacrifices made by every one of us.’ 

The city has endured a cumulative 262 gruelling days in lockdown – a world record – with non-essential businesses forced to shut and millions trapped in their homes, banned from going outside after 9pm or travelling more than 5km. 

They are even forced to wear a mask outside, despite no medical evidence doing so stops transmission of Covid.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday morning posted a gushing tweet to mark the easing of restrictions in Victoria, describing how he is 'bloody proud'

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday morning posted a gushing tweet to mark the easing of restrictions in Victoria, describing how he is ‘bloody proud’

Now fully-vaccinated residents are finally free, celebrations mirrored a wild New Year’s Eve party in the nation’s culinary capital as partygoers descended on pubs, flashing their double-jab status upon entry to eagerly awaiting hospitality staff, who had spent much of the day getting ready for the influx of patrons. 

For others, midnight finally meant the chance to have their hair cut or get their nails done, with salons opening for the first time – and expecting to continue with round-the-clock appointments for some time to come.  

Jubilant scenes played out as swarms of residents descended on bars and restaurants to finally reunite with their mates.

Even fast food chains like McDonald’s saw staggering crowds with video showing diners lined out into the parking lot, keen to finally enjoy a late-night feast after months under a tough 9pm curfew. 

But while there’s a major sense of relief that the worst of the coronavirus crisis is now over, it’s still too early to ditch face masks which remains mandatory indoors and outdoors unless eating or drinking.

A number of other hated restrictions will also still be in place along with strict capacity limits on venues and events.

A mother and daughter are reunited at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday. Domestic travel between NSW and Victoria resumed again this week, with fully vaccinated travellers from NSW no longer required to isolate

A mother and daughter are reunited at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday. Domestic travel between NSW and Victoria resumed again this week, with fully vaccinated travellers from NSW no longer required to isolate

Shake it up!: A cocktail bartender is back in action mixing drinks as the city goes wild on its first night of freedom

Shake it up!: A cocktail bartender is back in action mixing drinks as the city goes wild on its first night of freedom

Wild scenes erupted on the streets of Melbourne as the clock struck midnight, with millions of long-suffering residents cheering on the end of the world's longest lockdown (pictured, mates at 3 Monkeys on the city's Chapel Street)

Wild scenes erupted on the streets of Melbourne as the clock struck midnight, with millions of long-suffering residents cheering on the end of the world’s longest lockdown (pictured, mates at 3 Monkeys on the city’s Chapel Street)

Cheers!: A groups of mates toast to the end of Victoria's gruelling stay-at-home orders at a Melbourne bar on Thursday

Cheers!: A groups of mates toast to the end of Victoria’s gruelling stay-at-home orders at a Melbourne bar on Thursday

Melburnians couldn't wait any longer to catch up with their mates rushing to pubs as the clocks hit midnight (pictured at Leonard's House of Love in South Yarra)

Melburnians couldn’t wait any longer to catch up with their mates rushing to pubs as the clocks hit midnight (pictured at Leonard’s House of Love in South Yarra)

Party animals hit the streets as the city got it's first taste of freedom since August when Melbourne's sixth lockdown was called

Party animals hit the streets as the city got it’s first taste of freedom since August when Melbourne’s sixth lockdown was called

A hospitality worker brings a round of shots to the table as wild celebrations go long into the night in Melbourne

A hospitality worker brings a round of shots to the table as wild celebrations go long into the night in Melbourne

Premier Daniel Andrews finally agreed to lift the brutal restrictions earlier this week as the beleaguered state neared its vaccination target of 70 per cent

Premier Daniel Andrews finally agreed to lift the brutal restrictions earlier this week as the beleaguered state neared its vaccination target of 70 per cent 

Some sick of their lockdown hairstyle even made a midnight trip to hair salons (pictured at the Flaunt It salon in Truganina in the city's outer west)

Some sick of their lockdown hairstyle even made a midnight trip to hair salons (pictured at the Flaunt It salon in Truganina in the city’s outer west)

MELBOURNE’S LITANY OF LOCKDOWNS 

Lockdown 1: March 31, 2020 to May 12 May 2020 – 43 days

Lockdown 2: July 9, 2020 to October 27, 2020 – 111 days

Lockdown 3: February 13, 2021 to February 17 2021 – 5 days

Lockdown 4: May 28, 2021 to June 10, 2021 – 14 days

Lockdown 5: July 16, 2021 to July 27, 2021 – 12 days

Lockdown 6: August 5, 2021 to October 21 – 78 days as of October 14 

The good news is that the city’s reviled and controversial 9pm curfew is now scrapped along with the 15km travel limit.

Residents can now freely move around the Metropolitan area – however regional travel is still off the cards. 

Hospitality venues like pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants are allowed to reopen for seated and outdoor service only, with a capacity limit of 20 fully-vaccinated patrons indoors and 50 outdoors.

The vaccination rate will have to surpass 80 per cent before nightclubs, dancing in venues and stand-up drinking is allowed.

General retail will also have to wait until the next vaccination milestone, predicted to be achieved in early November, before trading can return to normal.

From midnight non-essential stores can only operate outdoors or with click and collect services.  

Entertainment venues, including cinemas and physical recreation, can go ahead with a maximum of 20 people indoors and 50 outdoor.

Personal services like hairdressers and beauty salons can get back to work with a limit of five patrons after the fashion-conscious city went without a trim for 78 straight-days.

But anyone entering any non-essential venue in the state must prove their vaccination status upon entry when they check in via QR code with the Service Victoria app.

Visitors can also show the green tick in their Medicare Express app. Those who can’t prove they’ve had the jab will be refused entry.

Revellers are seen drinking at 3 Monkeys on Chapel Street as Melbourne opened up from lockdown at midnight (pictured)

Revellers are seen drinking at 3 Monkeys on Chapel Street as Melbourne opened up from lockdown at midnight (pictured)

A group of young men pose for a photo in front of the iconic Flinders Street Train Station as the lockdown lifts - meaning millions are finally allowed out late at night with the curfew scrapped

A group of young men pose for a photo in front of the iconic Flinders Street Train Station as the lockdown lifts – meaning millions are finally allowed out late at night with the curfew scrapped

A full bar waits for cocktails as party-goers celebrate the end of Melbourne's brutal stay-at-home orders - with masks still mandatory unless eating or drinking

A full bar waits for cocktails as party-goers celebrate the end of Melbourne’s brutal stay-at-home orders – with masks still mandatory unless eating or drinking

A massive queue is seen lining up at Leonard's House of Love in South Yarra as Melbourne opened up from lockdown at midnight

A massive queue is seen lining up at Leonard’s House of Love in South Yarra as Melbourne opened up from lockdown at midnight

Residents can have up to 10 visitors at their homes while outdoor gathering limits will increase from 10 to 15.  

Visitors to homes don’t have to be fully vaccinated but is highly recommended by the state government and health officials. The same rule applies for outdoor gatherings. 

Religious services, weddings and funerals will be able to take place with 50 fully-vaccinated guests outdoors and 20 indoors.

While school children from Year 3 to Year 11 will start returning to the classroom part-time.

Early childcare will also reopen for children of fully vaccinated parents. 

The long awaited reopening was originally supposed to take place on October 26, but was fast-tracked by premier Andrews who praised Victorians on their ‘mighty’ effort rolling their sleeves.

Huge lines were scene at McDonald's at midnight with customers thrilled to dine in for a change and enjoy the first late night feast in months

Huge lines were scene at McDonald’s at midnight with customers thrilled to dine in for a change and enjoy the first late night feast in months

There were some yawns but cooped-up Melburnians couldn't wait any longer to hit the town as they lined up at Leonard's House of Love in South Yarra

There were some yawns but cooped-up Melburnians couldn’t wait any longer to hit the town as they lined up at Leonard’s House of Love in South Yarra

Salons can now open to a maximum of five fully-vaccinated customers, with some even booking in for midnight appointments (pictured in Melbourne's outer west at Truganina)

Salons can now open to a maximum of five fully-vaccinated customers, with some even booking in for midnight appointments (pictured in Melbourne’s outer west at Truganina)

A wild night is in store at at 3 Monkeys on Chapel Street as Melbourne threw off the shackles of its lockdown - which cumulatively became the longest in the week since the Covid pandemic began

A wild night is in store at at 3 Monkeys on Chapel Street as Melbourne threw off the shackles of its lockdown – which cumulatively became the longest in the week since the Covid pandemic began

‘These are things we can bring forward because the Victorian community has done so well in getting vaccinated so fast and in such great numbers,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday when he announced the lockdown would finally end.

‘I could not be more proud of our community for coming forward and making these decisions to protect themselves, to protect the people they love, and to protect all of us against this global pandemic.’

‘To allow us to change the rules to open up, to normalise this, to get our friends back, to be focused on living our lives as close to normal as possible.’ 

Revellers screamed in celebration from their apartment balconies, while car horns could be heard blaring in the background as overjoyed Melburnians got their first taste freedom since August (pictured, revellers in the city)

Revellers screamed in celebration from their apartment balconies, while car horns could be heard blaring in the background as overjoyed Melburnians got their first taste freedom since August (pictured, revellers in the city)

Mr Andrews later tweeted: ‘Bring forward the haircut and tell Mum you’ll be round for dinner.’ 

Melburnians have spent an agonising 262 days in lockdown since the pandemic began in early 2020, enduring six separate stints under stay-at-home orders with all non-essential businesses forced to shut.

The city recently surpassed Argentinian capital Buenos Aires as the world’s most locked-down location. 

In the lead up to the clock striking midnight, the city was technically still in lockdown and subject to the curfew leaving Melburnians in what opposition Liberal MP Michael O’Brien called ‘twilight zone’. 

‘I can’t leave home and break curfew because science/Covid – but in 40 minutes I can travel anywhere in all of Melbourne because science/Covid,’ he tweeted. 

In the lead up to the clock striking midnight, the city was technically still in lockdown and subject to the curfew leaving Melburnians in what opposition Liberal MP Michael O'Brien called 'twilight zone'.

In the lead up to the clock striking midnight, the city was technically still in lockdown and subject to the curfew leaving Melburnians in what opposition Liberal MP Michael O’Brien called ‘twilight zone’. 

It was martinis in the moonlight for this group of friends who travelled to Melbourne's Prahran for their first night of freedom

It was martinis in the moonlight for this group of friends who travelled to Melbourne’s Prahran for their first night of freedom

Victoria officially lifted its stay-at-home orders at 11:59pm on Thursday after the beleaguered state smashed its 70 per cent Covid vaccination target late into the evening (pictured, people out on Chapel Street)

Victoria officially lifted its stay-at-home orders at 11:59pm on Thursday after the beleaguered state smashed its 70 per cent Covid vaccination target late into the evening (pictured, people out on Chapel Street)

Anyone entering any non-essential venue in the state must prove their vaccination status upon entry when they check in via QR code with the Service Victoria app (pictured, mates checking into a Chapel Street bar)

Anyone entering any non-essential venue in the state must prove their vaccination status upon entry when they check in via QR code with the Service Victoria app (pictured, mates checking into a Chapel Street bar)

Another significant milestone was also reached on Thursday with over 90 of the state having received their first dose (pictured, revellers out after midnight struck)

Another significant milestone was also reached on Thursday with over 90 of the state having received their first dose (pictured, revellers out after midnight struck)

During the gruelling lockdown period, the city has been marred by violent anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests which have seen hundreds arrested for clashing with police.

Victoria Police has also copped criticism for its heavy-handed approach to enforcing the harsh lockdown restrictions. 

But the vast majority of weary residents complied with the restrictions and raced to get vaccinated.

As well as eclipsing the 70 per cent target on Thursday, another significant milestone was also reached with over 90 of the state having received their first dose.    

‘The longest road has been journeyed in Victoria and that long road really starts to open up tonight,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

‘This is not a big opening in that first step. In the Australian way, we move cautiously but deliberately, so we can safely open up. 

‘That is the key. We want to stay open once we get open.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: 'The longest road has been journeyed in Victoria and that long road really starts to open up tonight' (pictured, a man getting a well-deserved round of beers - and a Jaeger shot)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: ‘The longest road has been journeyed in Victoria and that long road really starts to open up tonight’ (pictured, a man getting a well-deserved round of beers – and a Jaeger shot)

A reveller on Chapel Street in Melbourne is seen celebrating through a vehicle's sun roof at midnight as excited crowds took to the streets

A reveller on Chapel Street in Melbourne is seen celebrating through a vehicle’s sun roof at midnight as excited crowds took to the streets

A group of young men prepare to throw back a shot as fully vaccinated residents are now allowed back to the pub (pictured on Chapel Street)

A group of young men prepare to throw back a shot as fully vaccinated residents are now allowed back to the pub (pictured on Chapel Street)

But despite the success of the vaccination campaign, Covid cases in Victoria are still stubbornly high. 

There were 2,232 new locally-acquired infections on Thursday as well as 12 more deaths. 

The number of fatalities in Victoria since the pandemic has now risen to 1,005, with majority coming during the state’s disastrous second wave from July to October in 2020.

The total number of cases in Victoria since the pandemic reached Australians shores now sits at 73,151, with 22,889 infections still active.

There are 779 Covid patients currently in hospital in the state and 141 of those cases are in intensive care, with 96 people breathing through a ventilator. 

Mates catch up over some well-deserved drinks as the clock struck midnight and Melbourne's lockdown was finally over (pictured in South Yarra)

Mates catch up over some well-deserved drinks as the clock struck midnight and Melbourne’s lockdown was finally over (pictured in South Yarra)

While there's a major sense of relief that the worst of the coronavirus crisis is now over, it's still too early to ditch the face mask which remains mandatory indoors and outdoors unless eating or drinking (pictured, mates catch up in Prahran)

While there’s a major sense of relief that the worst of the coronavirus crisis is now over, it’s still too early to ditch the face mask which remains mandatory indoors and outdoors unless eating or drinking (pictured, mates catch up in Prahran)

A police officer is seen doing an inspection of a venue in Melbourne after the city emerged from lockdown (pictured) to ensure the remaining Covid restrictions were still being adhered to)

A police officer is seen doing an inspection of a venue in Melbourne after the city emerged from lockdown (pictured) to ensure the remaining Covid restrictions were still being adhered to)

Wild scenes played out after midnight with revellers bar-hopping long into the evening right across Melbourne (pictured outside 3 Monkeys)

Wild scenes played out after midnight with revellers bar-hopping long into the evening right across Melbourne (pictured outside 3 Monkeys)

Despite the success of the vaccination campaign, Covid cases in Victoria are still stubbornly high with 2232 cases on Thursday (pictured, mates catching up in Melbourne after lockdown ended)

Despite the success of the vaccination campaign, Covid cases in Victoria are still stubbornly high with 2232 cases on Thursday (pictured, mates catching up in Melbourne after lockdown ended)

Victoria’s path to freedom: All the changes for the fully-vaccinated from 11.59pm on October 21

'Because of everything Victorians have done, tomorrow we can start getting back to the things we love. Thank you Victoria - I'm so proud,' Daniel Andrews (pictured) tweeted on Thursday

‘Because of everything Victorians have done, tomorrow we can start getting back to the things we love. Thank you Victoria – I’m so proud,’ Daniel Andrews (pictured) tweeted on Thursday 

 Travel 

  • No restrictions on leaving home and 9pm-5am curfew scrapped with Melburnians allowed to travel freely within the metropolitan region
  • Travel between regional Victoria and Melbourne is still off the cards – unless for a permitted reason 

 Gatherings in the home and public spaces

  • Up to ten visitors (including dependents) will be allowed in a home per day 
  • Up to 15 people can gather outdoors 

Venues including hospitality, retail stores and personal services

  • Hospitality venues including pubs and clubs will reopen for seated and outdoor service only, with a capacity limit of 20 fully-vaccinated patrons indoors and 50 outdoors
  • General retail will reopen for outdoor service only with click and collect services to remain available
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas and physical recreation, will be reopened for 20 fully-vaccinated people indoors and 50 outdoors
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons can open with a limit of five patrons 

Weddings, funerals, an places of worship 

  • Religious gatherings, weddings, and funerals will be allowed to take place with 50 fully-vaccinated people outdoors and 20 indoors

Schools and childcare 

  • Students in Year 3 to Year 11 will start the staggered return to school 
  • Early childcare will reopen for children of fully vaccinated parents

Masks 

  • Masks will remain mandatory both indoors and outdoors  

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