The ACT government won't be pressured into rethinking the path out of Canberra's lockdown, despite Victoria unveiling a detailed roadmap for easing restrictions.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT would stick to its reopening schedule, even as the other states battling coronavirus outbreaks start mapping out a clearer picture of what post-lockdown life will look like.
The release of Victoria's roadmap has prompted ACT opposition leader Elizabeth Lee to demand the Barr government detail a clear exit plan for Canberrans, who she says are "fast losing hope that life is going to get better".
The ACT recorded another 17 cases of community transmission up to 8pm on Saturday. Only five people were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.
There are now eight people in hospital, including two in intensive care and one on a ventilator.
The territory's lockdown was last week extended until October 15, with only minor restrictions lifted, as authorities remain concerned about number of mystery cases circulating in the community.
After facing criticism from businesses groups and the ACT opposition for failing to detail a clear plan out of lockdown, Chief Minister Andrew Barr clarified that restrictions would slowly ease as Canberra hit key vaccination targets in October and November.
This would include the return of small household gatherings and reopening of hospitality venues with strict density limits, reflecting the pattern of how the city emerged from last year's lockdown.
But pressure on the Barr government to provide greater clarity on the ACT's road to freedom is set to intensifying this week after Victorian premier Daniel Andrews unveiled a "cautious", but detailed plan, to reopen his state.
The announcement came despite Victoria recording another 500 new infections on Sunday.
Under the plan, once 70 per cent of Victorians are double vaccinated - forecast for October 26 - Melbourne's pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to open outdoors, with a limit of 50 fully vaccinated people.
Thirty visitors could be allowed to gather at a home for Christmas lunch under the plan, which is contingent on health capacity. Victorians will need to be vaccinated to enjoy many of the freedoms.
"We are opening up, no doubt about that, and there will be no turning back. We have got to normalise this, we have got to pass through and beyond this pandemic," Mr Andrews said.
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The NSW government also on Sunday announced eased restrictions for residents in Sydney's COVID hotspots, who will be granted most of the same freedoms as the rest of the city from Monday.
Fronting reporters ahead of Mr Andrews' announcement, Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT would chart its own course out of lockdown.
The ACT would from Monday start reporting vaccination coverage for its over-12 population, rather than over-16s.
As of Sunday, 78.2 per cent of Canberrans aged over 12 had received at least one dose, while 54.1 per cent were fully vaccinated.
"We will follow our own path, and I think the Chief Minister has actually laid out that path," she said, adding the plan was scheduled to be reviewed on October 1.
Ms Stephen-Smith bristled at suggestions that the ACT had a "lower risk appetite" than Victoria, noting that some of the restriction being eased for Victorians have never been imposed on Canberrans. This included a night-time curfew and a limit on the distance people could travel from their home.
The Chief Minister said he will do a half-way check-in on the 1st of October. I urge him to do more than ‘check-in’; he must provide a proper plan; a proper roadmap; a roper pathway for Canberrans who are fast losing hope that life is going to get better.— Elizabeth Lee MLA (@ElizabethLeeMLA) September 19, 2021
But Ms Stephen-Smith acknowledged the ACT had taken a cautious approach through the pandemic, based on health advice and its desire to prevent Canberrans being hospitalised with the virus.
Ms Lee said Victoria's roadmap included the type of detail which Canberrans had been hoping to hear in Mr Barr's announcement last Tuesday, which she described as "woefully inadequate".
She said that under Mr Andrews' plan, Victorians would have more freedoms than Canberrans would when 70 per cent of their respective eligible populations were fully vaccinated.
"The chief minister said he would do a halfway check in on October 1," Ms Lee said on social media.
"I urge him to do more than 'check-in'; he must provide a proper plan; a proper roadmap; a proper pathway for Canberrans who are fast losing hope that life is going to get better."
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