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Vic records 11 more COVID deaths as lockdown end nears

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Victoria has recorded 1749 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, as the end of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown nears.

The health department confirmed the state now has 22,476 active cases, up by almost 150.

There were 68,702 tests processed and 36,751 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at state-run hubs on Monday.

The new deaths take the toll from the current outbreak to 163.

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It comes as Victoria’s COVID-19 commander suggests businesses split staff into separate groups to avoid entire workforces being knocked out by the virus as the state reopens.

With the state already managing more than 61,000 primary close contacts, Jeroen Weimar said the changes would minimise the impact of reopening on businesses and customers.

“It’s not our intention to be in a world where … every person in a pub is (a close contact) because one positive case has walked in for 15 minutes,” he told reporters on Monday.

Mr Weimar said said it was likely there would still be about 22,000 active cases in the state on Thursday when the city’s lockdown wraps up.

“There will be exposures in our shops, in our hospo and all of our other settings,” he said.

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“It’ll be down to how effective those control systems are as to minimise the impacts on other people around them at that time.”

The Victorian government confirmed it would add shorter isolation to its list of rule tweaks when the state hits its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target.

From 11.59pm on Thursday, isolation orders for fully vaccinated, non-household primary close contacts such as work colleagues and friends will be slashed from 14 days to seven.

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses, forecast by some data analysts to be as early as October 31.

Meanwhile, more than 40 Victoria Police staff have been stood down and face losing their jobs after refusing to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

NSW HAS 273 COVID-19 CASES, FOUR DEATHS

COVID-19 cases continue to decline in NSW, with 273 new cases and four more deaths.

The number of people in NSW hospitals with COVID-19 has also dropped, with 589 in hospital with the virus, 128 of whom are in intensive care.

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm on Monday, 92.1 per cent of people 16 and older have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 80.8 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.

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The state began the second stage of its roadmap out of lockdown on Monday after passing the 80 per cent full vaccination rate.

“As mobility increases across the state, case numbers will increase,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Monday.

“This is not over. There’s a long journey to go.”

NSW residents can now start planning journeys north of the border after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed her state’s plan to reopen.

Fully vaccinated travellers who test negative will be allowed into Queensland without quarantining by December 17.

That is when the state is expected to pass its 80 per cent vaccination target, but Ms Palaszczuk said the date was “locked in“, indicating it is not reliant on the state hitting that target to allow travellers to skip quarantine.

From Wednesday, fully vaccinated people can apply for a permit for travel from “red zones” in NSW to Victoria without quarantining.

They’ll need to test negative within 72 hours of arrival, and isolate until they receive another negative test result after arriving.

Fully vaccinated travellers from outside of “red zones” can travel to Victoria without testing or isolating.

Both still need a border permit.

STATE-BY-STATE CASE BREAKDOWN

NSW – 273 new local cases, four deaths

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VIC – 1749 new local cases, 11 deaths

ACT – TBA

QLD – TBA

WA – TBA

SA – TBA

TAS – TBA

NT – TBA

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