National leaders consider next COVID steps

The national plan to transition out of COVID-19 restrictions and the vaccine rollout are set to dominate discussions when the national cabinet meets on Friday.

It’s the first meeting of the prime minister and state and territory leaders in a fortnight.

Epidemiology, vaccine take-up levels, the ongoing coronavirus situation in NSW and the national COVID plan will be among the main items discussed at the meeting.

Leaders will also hear of updates on virus modelling from the Doherty Institute.

Friday’s meetings will coincide with 70 per cent of Australians over 16s having received their first dose of the vaccine.

At the moment, 69.8 per cent of eligible people have received their first dose, with just under 45 per cent of over 16s fully vaccinated.

“That 70 per cent double dose and 80 per cent double dose mark is within plain sight. Keep going Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

The most recent vaccine figures from the federal government showed there were more than 305,000 doses distributed on Wednesday.

Victoria will also become the latest jurisdiction to hit 70 per cent of its residents getting their first dose, with the state expected to reach the important milestone on Friday.

The state will also see some lockdown restrictions lifted from midday on Friday, coming off the back of the 70 per cent figure.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the new rules would include people being able to go up to 10 kilometres away from their home, an increase from the previous limit of five kilometres.

Fully vaccinated Victorians will also be able to socialise outdoors with up to five people from two different households.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will be able to socialise outdoors with others, but only with one other person from a different household.

Indoor gyms and pools will also be able to reopen in regional Victoria, with density limits in place.

In NSW, the regional centres of Lismore and Albury went back into lockdown on Thursday night, just days after restrictions lifted, after cases were detected there.

Some 1351 new locally-acquired cases were recorded in NSW, as well as 12 deaths, taking the toll for the current outbreak to 210.

One new community case was recorded in Queensland.


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