Melbourne and regional Victoria will reunite before next weekend as part of further eased COVID-19 restrictions when the state hits its next vaccination target.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced the latest round of roadmap rules will take effect from 6pm on Friday, with the state forecast to reach 80 per cent full vaccination of people 16 and over sometime next weekend.
Statewide travel can resume under the changes, reconnecting Melbourne with the regions for the first time since the city’s 77-day lockdown lifted.
“That means it is a proper Melbourne Cup long weekend, informally, for people to travel, to book holidays and do all sorts of things,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
In addition, masks no longer need to be worn outdoors, and indoor entertainment venues including cinemas, gyms and retail can reopen for fully vaccinated patrons while capacity limits increase for restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Students from every year level across the state can also return to full-time, face-to-face learning on November 1.
The premier acknowledged school settings would remain “a little bit different” to normal, given those under 12 cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In the longer term, Mr Andrews laid out what the state would look like once 90 per cent of people 12 and over are full vaccinated, forecast on or around November 24.
All venue caps will be scrapped at that point, along with density quotients.
“Masks will only be required in high-risk indoor settings, such as public transport, prisons, hospitals, aged care, to give you some examples,” Mr Andrews said.
Limits on home and outdoor gatherings will also be shelved, paving the way for Christmas to return to normal.
But Mr Andrews warned Victoria’s “vaccinated economy” would remain into 2022, with those who refuse to get the jab excluded from workplaces, venues and major events.
“If you’ve made the choice, I’ll respectfully say the wrong choice to not get vaccinated then you’re at much greater risk of putting really significant pressure on our nurses, on our doctors, on our ambos … their job gets harder because you refuse to do yours,” he said.
An 80,000-plus crowd for day one of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG is on the agenda, Mr Andrews said, but every fan must be double-dose vaccinated.
Non-essential retail patrons and staff will also be required to be fully vaccinated when the state reaches the 90 per cent milestone.