Aust states hurtle towards, past vax goals

Australia’s most populous state has crashed through a key COVID-19 vaccination landmark, as the state’s southern rival inches closer to its own.

NSW reached its target of 80 per cent full vaccination for people aged over 16 on Saturday, with Premier Dominic Perrottet breaking the news on social media.

The milestone will trigger restrictions easing further on Monday, a week after fully vaccinated people in NSW exited lockdown in line with the state hitting its 70 per cent coverage goal.

Victoria is now just five per cent away from joining the 70 per cent club, triggering the end of Melbourne’s long-running sixth lockdown.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to detail when the city will reopen on Sunday, with the state set to hit 70 per cent vaccination of its over 16 population ahead of the initially forecast date of October 26.

He has vowed to ease restrictions despite Victoria reporting cases above 2000 on multiple days last week and a 15-year-old becoming the state’s youngest death of the pandemic on Saturday.

Before the major announcement, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg called for Victoria to follow the lead of NSW and reopen to the rest of the world on November 1.

“It’s time Victoria shifted gears and got back in the fast lane,” the Melbourne-based MP told reporters on Saturday.

The federal government, meanwhile, has confirmed eligible workers who live and work in locked-down parts of Tasmania can claim COVID-19 disaster payments from next Friday.

“We understand the impact these restrictions have on people’s ability to earn an income and provide for their family,” Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie said.

Tasmania breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday, reporting no new cases on the first full day of a three-day lockdown of Hobart and southern surrounds after a NSW man with coronavirus escaped hotel quarantine.

The COVID-19 disaster payments are being wound back as states hit 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets, but Tasmania (68.11 per cent) is yet to reach either.


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